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The new norm with regards to nutrition seems to be the ages-old wisdom of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

The Harvard Medical school newsletter, in “Nutrition 101: Good Eating for Good Health”, makes the clear connection between diet and health. Within all the specifics they discussed, the one point they made is that “…good eating should not be considered a punishment, but an opportunity.” I couldn’t agree more.

By saying no to foods with green peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, pumpkin and tomatoes (so, pretty much good-bye Italian food L) my indigestion rarely raises its fiery head any more. And when it does, I can always trace it to something I’ve eaten. Given that OTC brands like Prevacid and Xantac inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, taking them only contributes to a lack of well-being.

So what do you do if you have indigestion? My sure-fire recipe is to chew three or four papaya enzyme pills (widely available at nutrition stores and on-line) with a chaser of 2 ounces of aloe vera juice. (I like OKC brand available at Wal-Mart and some Asian markets.) This combo’s like swallowing a fire extinguisher – without any negative side-effects. An added bonus with Aloe Vera is that it can work wonders for IBS sufferers.

Eating well yields huge rewards in the form of more energy, better sleep, nicer skin and an overall feeling of well-being. The people in the world who live the longest eat 75-80% vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, legumes, some grains and just 0-20% animal protein. And they drink lots of green tea. How does your eating stand up to that?

When you pay attention to your body, during and after eating, you’ll become aware of signals it sends about the food you eat. Heartburn suggests intolerance to something you’ve eaten. Rather than medicating yourself, try and determine which food caused it and then eliminate this food from your repertoire and see if that makes a difference. Some foods cause inflammation and you may suddenly notice that one or more joints begin to ache. Some foods can cause a headache, or bloating, belching and other digestive issues. Sometimes you might wake up and your eyes and extremities are swollen. What did you eat the night before?

When you start to notice any tightening, bloating, swelling with 24 hours of eating something, you begin the process of understanding and mastering food’s powerful effects on how you feel. Then you become in control… and that is the opportunity.

Be a Savvy Senior. Start to notice a connection between certain foods and discomfort anywhere in your body and make decisions about what to eat based on foods that make you feel good.