Ruth Clark: Time to say goodbye


Published: 8/31/2023 2:07:36 PM
Modified: 8/31/2023 2:07:00 PM

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this column for the last 10 years. I love it whenever I meet one of my loyal readers when I am out and about town. Also, the discipline of writing monthly has been a fantastic way to build my skills. But it is time now for me to move on to new things. My husband (who edits this column for me every month) and I want to travel more and pursue some of our interests in more depth.

As you know by now, I believe that we have profound control over what happens to our health and well-being. Traditionally, it has been accepted that our genetic makeup is unchanged and gets passed on from generation to generation. In other words, we are born with a genetic blueprint and are stuck with it for an entire lifetime. But new research tells us by changing the environment around our genes we can turn on genes that are helpful to us (tumor-suppressing genes) and turn off unhealthy (inflammation-promoting) genes as well. This is called epigenetics, which means to me that you can grow more youthful!

I want to leave you with a summary of the three most-important lifestyle habits that you have heard me talking about over the years that have a significant impact on your epigenetics, which helps you to stay vital and slow down the aging process.

Three tips to help you grow more youthful

1.  Eat foods for their epigenetic value. This can help your genes support a better aging experience. Without making this too complicated, your genes are affected by DNA methylation. Foods, particularly plant foods, can have a direct impact on methylation.

You have heard this many times, but one of the best things you can do for your health is to eat more vegetables every day. This is true for a number of reasons, especially the impact on methylation. You should eat at least two cups of greens and two cups of cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, kale, radishes, etc.) This is not difficult if you think about incorporating them into all your meals and snacks. Beets are also a great choice because they help to turn up the methylation power of your diet.

Other great foods that you can layer in for more methylation include raw seeds like sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, good-quality clean protein of about six to 10 ounces per day and organic eggs. If you are 60 or older, you need more protein than the average person and should shoot for about 10 ounces per day or the equivalent.

Foods containing polyphenols such as green tea, berries, spices, herbs (particularly rosemary), dark chocolate or cacao, nuts, flax seeds, and shitake mushrooms can improve your ability to impact your epigenetics. It can be easy to add these foods to your diet if you make them a priority.

2.  Take care of your microbiome.  Did you know that approximately 80% of your immune system resides in your gut? Since aging well is dependent on a resilient immune system, it makes sense to put some focus here.

It’s not easy in the modern world we live in to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Exposure to stress, toxins, genetically modified foods and poor food choices directly impact our gut. The key is to make sure you have a higher ratio of healthy bacteria (known as probiotics) to unhealthy bacteria such as E. coli and C. diff.  And be sure you have lots of diversity when it comes to your healthy bacteria.  This takes some work! Sugar and refined carbs are a major culprit. Check out my blog post at for tips.

3.  Move your body every day. Many people believe that muscle aches and joint pain are a symptom of growing older. I disagree. I will be 72 years old next month and this is not my experience. The more you move, the better! Motion is like lotion to your joints – it gets the synovial fluid moving.

Notice I didn’t say you need to go to the gym. Though, if that is what you love, do it. But be careful not to overdo it. The key is to adapt your routine as your body changes. That is sometimes hard because we get attached to our routines. But if you push yourself too much it can cause an injury which could take a long time to recover from.

For those of you who aren’t regularly exercising, the message is to just do it. It is never too late to get started. Start slow with maybe 10 minutes of walking on a slight incline and increase it from there. It is a fantastic way to notice and enjoy the beauty where we live for all four seasons.

There are many other things you can do to age gracefully. Keep it simple and consistent and you will be amazed at how great you can feel.  Please join me @ruthclarknutrition on Instagram so we can stay connected. Thank you for all your support over the years.

Ruth Clark, author of the best-selling book “Cool the Fire: Curb Inflammation and Balance Hormones,” is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a master’s in public health and over 35 years of experience. She lives in Sharon and her practice is 100% virtual. Clark specializes in mid-life and older women who are struggling with weight, mood and fatigue to regain their energy and vitality. You can reach her at

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