On a recent airline flight, an attendant ended her instructions on the do’s and don’ts for our trip with the admonishment: “Make sure you do the do’s.” Good advice. In fact, it’s such good advice that it can be applied to nutrition, as well:
1. Do eat more protein for breakfast
A high intake of protein has been found to help reduce hunger later in the day, and that could help delay those afternoon munchies.
Protein-rich breakfasts — think eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, protein powder, cheese, nuts and nut butters — also help preserve our lean body mass (aka muscle) needed to maintain strength for everyday tasks. How much? Most experts say between 20 and 30 grams of protein at each meal is a good goal for most of us.
2. Do spice up your food
Besides giving our meals a kick of flavor, hot stuff like pepper, chili powder and horseradish are rich in natural chemicals that fight off disease-causing inflammation, researchers say. When we turn to pepper instead of the salt shaker, we also keep our blood pressure down and lower our risk for stroke and heart disease.
Capsaicin — the main “hot” ingredient in chili peppers — can temporarily boost the rate at which our bodies burn calories. Other substances in spicy foods also are being studied for their potential to keep cancer cells from taking hold in the body.
3. Do eat an early dinner
A longer interval between our last meal of the day and when we go to sleep may help us sleep better and prevent heartburn.
Eating earlier also allows the body to burn off energy instead of storing any excess calories in fat deposits. A recent study found that adults who ate their final meal two or more hours before bedtime had a 20 percent reduced risk for prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women compared with those who went to sleep immediately after eating dinner.
4. Do eat meals with others
Sharing food — and not just on holidays — helps us mentally as well as physically, researchers report. Studies have shown that older people who eat “in community” instead of alone are less likely to become depressed.
And studies around the world find a strong link between sharing meals and longer, healthier lives.