March 19, 2018
Nutrition plays a key role in aging well. Use these 7 tips to adopt a healthy diet at any age.
While most of us know that good nutrition is a key factor in determining how well we age, many of us aren’t exactly sure what constitutes a healthy diet. It seems as if there is a new diet being touted on television as the latest and greatest way to eat almost every week. It’s no wonder people are so confused, so we’ve collect 7 tips to help you age well with healthy eating habits.
March is National Nutrition Month, a time to raise awareness about the role a healthy diet plays in successful aging and what credible research says we should base our diet on.
7 Tips to Help You Age Well
Here’s what we know about healthy aging and diet:
- Fruit and vegetables: You can reap the rewards of a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants by creating menus comprised mainly of fruits and vegetables. Brightly-colored vegetables like spinach, beets, and kale, as well as deep-colored fruits like blueberries, black berries, and tomatoes are all good options to incorporate in to your diet. These foods can also help to decrease inflammation in the body.
- Protein: Older adults often fail to eat enough protein to keep their muscles and bones strong. Easy-to-prepare, low-fat protein sources, such as poultry, fish, legumes, beans, eggs, and nuts, are often best for seniors. Avoid protein sources that are high in fat, such as red meat.
- Dairy: Older adults are often diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes it is because they don’t spend as much time outdoors soaking up vitamin D from the sun’s rays, while other times it is because their body doesn’t process vitamin D and calcium properly. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone loss, bone fractures, and osteoporosis. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are all rich in vitamin D and calcium. Mushrooms, canned tuna, and sardines are other good choices.
- Limit refined sugar: Most of us eat far too much sugar, often without realizing it. The American Heart Association guidelines suggest that American women limit sugar intake to just 100 calories per day (about six teaspoons or 20 grams) and men to 150 calories per day (about nine teaspoons or 36 grams). The best way to keep sugar from creeping in to your diet is to read food labels, even for things that seem healthy. Ketchup, yogurt, fruit juice, protein bars, salad dressing, and canned fruits can all be hidden sources of sugar in your diet.
- Whole grains: Quinoa, oatmeal, grits, brown rice, wild rice, and whole-grain bread are all good things to include in your diet. These fiber-rich foods help stabilize blood sugar and manage cholesterol while also promoting digestive health.
- Avoid trans fats: By now you’ve probably heard that trans fats are bad for you, but like many people, you aren’t sure why. It’s largely because these unhealthy fats are linked to heart disease and other chronic health problems. Trans fats are especially high in some fast foods and convenience foods like frozen dinners.
- Stay hydrated: Water is another key part of a healthy diet. It helps flush toxins out of the body while also encouraging bowel regularity and a healthy immune system. If you or your senior loved one aren’t big water drinkers, foods like spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, melon, berries, cucumbers, and grapes all have a high water content that promotes hydration.
One final tip to help you create healthy menus for yourself or a senior you love is to take advantage of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) calculator. The DRI was created by the Department of Agriculture to help calculate daily nutrient goals. Enter your height, weight, age, and activity level to receive a personalized report for everything from vitamin C to fiber.
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