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BOARDMAN Health advocate: Eat veggies



Published: Fri, July 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Young people should look to a fruit and vegetable diet now, this 83-year-old advises.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Skip the meat, eat plenty of uncooked vegetables, add a backdrop of daily exercise and enjoy years of good health and high energy.

Skeptics can simply ask 83-year-old township resident Ruth Huberman, who has spent more than four decades behind the counter of a local health food store.

The shelves at Natural Health Foods and Barbell store on Market Street here are lined with products promising some benefit to consumers' health. Customers can find powdered mixes that promise to increase energy and other products that offer overall good health and longevity.

Three days a week customers will also find Huberman behind the counter with a crown of silver hair, glasses hanging loosely around her neck attached to red string, a fit steady frame and a message about good health that goes beyond the products lining the store's shelves -- a message she says can offer today's youth unlimited energy well into their golden years.

Huberman and her husband, Max, opened the health food store more than four decades ago as an extension of their health-conscious lifestyle.

Even though the business was sold to its present owner 11 years ago, Ruth Huberman continues as an employee because she says sitting home and taking it easy just isn't her style.

"We have always been health-conscious and used to go down to a health food center in downtown Youngstown to get whatever we needed. I eventually decided it would be great to have our own store and that did it," she said. "I stay on because I just can't think about stopping."

Always on the go

Huberman's inability to stop and take it easy in her quasi-retirement years also extends over into her personal life, with set exercise and activities extending throughout the day starting with an early morning 35-minute workout in the home gym.

After stepping down from the treadmill, she enjoys a breakfast of blended fruit juice with her husband before heading off for a 10 a.m. shift start at the health food store.

By late afternoon, she is headed to the park for a two- or three-mile walk with her husband before a dinner consisting of steamed vegetables, vegetable juice and maybe a baked potato. She cooks very little of the food and does not use any seasonings.

The two days a week when she is not working are reserved for keeping the house in order and taking care of the yard.

She said her ability and desire to continue working and keep pace with a rigorous schedule at home are accredited to something other than the health food store and the dozens of health aides on the market -- she has never used any of the products.

Instead, she says, her good health and high energy come from starting a diet of raw vegetables and fruit six decades ago, before most Americans thought it to be beneficial.

"It was somewhat hard to be a vegetarian back then because it was something new and people thought you were crazy because it was so rare," she said.

Now, more people are practicing a vegetarian lifestyle, but Huberman says not enough children and young adults are getting the exercise and high-quality fruits and vegetables they need.

"Many children and younger people in their 20s and 30s do not realize that it is important to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. You would be surprised at how kids just don't eat that stuff," she said. "That is the first rule: Get more fresh fruit and raw vegetables."

Huberman, who also credits her lifestyle with keeping her off any type of medication, said younger people have only to look to her as a testament to the benefits of such a diet.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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