Food for Thought…
and Good Health
Grace J. Petot
If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment
and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found
the safest way to health.
—Hippocrates, c. 460–377 BC
Successful aging is dependent on genetic and lifelong behavioral and environmental factors. We cannot do much about our genetic heritage but are able to manage many of the other influences during our lifetime. Because we take food and eating very much for granted, dietary habits and food patterns are not often considered to make up a very large part of our personal environment. However, they represent some of the greatest influences on successful aging (Nicolas, Andrieu, Nourhashemi, Rolland, 8c Vellas, 2001; Weindruch & Sohal, 1997). Over the past 20 years, there has been greatly increased interest in understanding the relationships among diet patterns in early life and health and wellbeing in later life. These relationships represent one of the public health challenges we are facing today (Koplan & Fleming, 2000).
Among the 10 leading causes of death in the United States in 2000, 5 have been shown to implicate dietary behaviors as risk factors. They are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease (Anderson, 2002). We are learning that dietary habits throughout