This One Change Made Me Feel 20 Years Younger

For most of my life, I've been a health nut, exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping stress to a minimum. But in 2005, that all changed. I developed a collagen problem in my shoulder that required multiple surgeries, and after the procedures, I was in pain all the time. The discomfort wore me down, and by 3 p.m. every day, my energy was depleted. To help myself, I started reaching for whatever offered instant relief and energy -- mainly carbs and sugar. As for those long draining workouts I used to love, they were now out of the question.

My pain wasn’t going away, and after a couple of years of suffering, I felt miserable. I doubted I’d ever return to my normal self. I had come to a standstill.

My Transformation

My daughter Nicole couldn't stand to see me in pain all the time. One day, she emailed me a link to a wellness site, where women improved their health by tweaking their diets. She confessed that she thought my eating habits were prolonging my pain. I doubted that the issue was as simple as that, but before I could completely discard her theory, more links arrived in my inbox from my daughter. As I read others' stories, what I suddenly started seeing left me stunned: A whole army of women were really transforming their lives with an approach as simple as setting better eating habits.

Although I still had my doubts -- and really didn’t want to give up my pizza! -- what finally convinced me to try it was watching my daughter set the example by eating and feeding her husband and two sons in this new, healthy way. So I followed suit, filling my fridge and pantry with proteins and high-fiber foods.

And the results were astounding. It turned out my body was starving for proper nutrition. I didn’t realize that my body needed extra protein while healing. And unlike all those sugar and carbs I’d been munching on, fiber helps maintain a healthy weight, an excess of which only adds more stress -- and therefore pain -- to my body. With my new balanced diet, I was actually helping my body heal and deal with pain. I felt energized and optimistic for the first time in a long time.

Strong and Happy Beyond 50

I consider myself a smart person, but I have no idea why it took me so long to figure this one out! Once I began feeling better, I had to call my daughter and say, “You had it right!” Her response: “Well, Mom, I’m made of the same genes you are, and it’s been working for me.” It was like we had reversed roles. She was the mother, and I was the daughter.

At 53, I feel happier, healthier and stronger than ever, and I'm proud I raised my daughter Nicole to be so wise. Today, as we continue to work together in changing our diets, we are continuing to transform our lives as well. And I thank my lucky stars for that, because I couldn't have asked for a better supporter than her.

3 Nutrients You Need Right Now

As we age, our bodies require different amounts of certain nutrients to stay healthy. What’s the best way to obtain the vitamins and minerals you need? Maintaining a balanced, well-rounded diet, say the experts. If you can’t eat certain things because of absorption issues, you may need to take physician-recommended dietary supplements. Here are three essential nutrients you need now to help stay strong and healthy into your 40s, 50s and beyond:

  1. Vitamin D and Calcium
    Essential for … Bone Health
    You’ve probably heard of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that’s becoming an epidemic in the U.S. Although the ailment most often affects women (10 percent of women over 50, in fact), it turns out that 2 percent of men over the age of 50 suffer from it too. The good news: Adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium can help you maintain strong and healthy bones, according to a study in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management journal. Just be sure you’re getting enough of both calcium and vitamin D -- calcium won’t be absorbed without the power vitamin.
    Do this now: If you are between 51 and 70, aim to get 600 IU of vitamin D per day and 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day from your diet. Good sources of calcium and vitamin D include dark greens (kale, collard greens, spinach), soy beans, some fish and calcium-fortified orange juice, milk and cereals.
  2. Fiber
    Essential for … Regular Digestion
    Fiber not only helps keeps you regular -- it also may help support normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can assist in weight maintenance. Men and women between 51 and 70 should consume at least 30 g and 21 g fiber per day, respectively, says the Institute of Medicine. Just remember: If you’re ramping up fiber intake, also up your water intake.
    Do this now: Begin starting your days with a fiber-packed bowl of cereal (one to try: Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Bran Buds®), and munch on fiber-rich grains and veggies for the rest of the day.
  3. Vitamin B6 and B12
    Essential for … Healthy Blood
    Your blood supplies oxygen and nutrients throughout your entire body, so you want to make sure your blood is getting what it needs to do its job. Two key players in blood health are vitamin B6 (which helps make the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells) and B12 (which helps form red blood cells). In fact, a lack of either B6 or B12 in your diet can result in anemia, which includes symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and trouble thinking.
    Do this now: Up your intake of vitamin B12-rich noshes (salmon, trout, red meat and low-fat dairy), as well as food high in vitamin B6 (legumes, whole grains, nuts, meat and poultry). Both vitamins may also be found in fortified breakfast cereals. So, make a big salad with all of the fixin’s, or consider a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast or at snack time!

Drink coffee?

Your morning cup of joe has heart-healthy benefits. Read about it along with other heart-helping morning rituals here