By age 40, the aging process is already in motion, and it's difficult to reverse. After 40 years old, a person's muscle mass can begin to decrease by approximately 8 percent each decade. Focusing on nutrition as preventative medicine can help slow this progression. Barbara Grufferman, author of "Love Your Age" and "The Best of Everything After 50" summed it up best: "It's not about lengthening life, but having a good and active life."
The biggest challenge in promoting nutrition as preventative medicine is education. "Proper nutrition starts and ends with education," said Josh Hix, the co-founder of meal delivery service Plated. Starting introductions to nutrition early with things like home economics classes and Alice Water's The Edible Schoolyard Project are valuable, but all agreed there is still work to be done.
Stephen Lincoln, founder and owner of The Protein Bakery, sees the need for education on a daily basis. "Two different customers come in, and they have very different opinions about the amount of sugar in a product and how much is too much," he said.
Nutrition education is key for change, but there's no consensus on how to alter the landscape. With so many different lifestyles and food experiences, it's unlikely that one approach will work for everyone.
If a personalized approach to nutrition is the way to go, there is still work to be done. "It's not a sexy message that there isn't just one diet that works for everyone," said Dana Leigh Smith, senior editor at a health and wellness magazine. Ebenezer Samuel, editor at a fitness magazine, agreed. "I'm trying to tell people that there is no quick fix. It may take three months to get in shape."
Carl Bialik, data science editor at Yelp, thinks emerging technology will make an individualistic approach more possible. "I would like to see more app and technology-driven approaches for showing people what food is doing to them," he said. Yelp has found a way to differentiate types of food in photos uploaded by their users. Bialik suggested this technology could be used in an app that tracks the impacts of food choices and then creates personalized recommendations.
We may be a long way from that app, but Abbott dietitian Abby Sauer suggests we can begin by emphasizing the positive parts of good nutrition. Instead of seeing healthy eating as a chore, people can learn the basics of good nutrition, what works well for them and enjoy the lifelong benefits.