“Eat it while you can” was something we would have heard often in our 20s, and this makes total sense now. Isn’t it?
All the street junk food, chips, and pakoras we could eat in college, can leave us with serious health complications now.
Yes, that roadside golgappas are yummy, but not if it’s leaving you with digestive problems. As we age, it becomes highly important to eat right, for a better life. Monitor your diet and make sure you get a good balance of fresh, wholesome foods.
Below are some dietary guidelines that would keep you healthy as you age:
- Choose heart healthy fats – We all need fats in our diet, but choosing the heart healthy fats is very important.
- Replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat – Monounsaturated fat can be found in olive oil, peanut oil, almonds, and it would help you lower your cholesterol level.
- Opt for polyunsaturated fat – This also helps to reduce your cholesterol levels, and can be found in flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, walnuts.
- Limit foods high in calories – Cut down on foods high in calories and low on nutrients. Reserve deep-fried foods, desserts and sweetened beverages, for special occasions. And avoid junk food, if your doctor has asked to.
- Add colour to your plate – Aim for five servings of veggies and fruits each day, and don’t forget to keep it colourful! Add maximum colours of fruits and vegetables each day in your plate, for example – apples, bananas, oranges, cabbages, sweet potato, broccoli, sweet corn, etc.
A colourful plate is packed with important nutrients to help you stay healthy.
- Choose nutrient-rich foods – Eating nutrient rich foods would give you all the required vitamins, protein, minerals, carbohydrates and fats.
You can get most of your calories from nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, low-fat dairy.
- Stay strong with protein-rich foods – Foods rich in proteins help to make new cells and keep your muscles healthy as you age. Including lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts and beans is a great way to get the required protein.
- Balance your food intake with physical activity – Keep an eye on your meal portion. If you are physically more active, you would need more food. If you are less active, choose smaller servings and add plenty of veggies, fruits and salad.
- 3 servings of low-fat dairy foods for stronger bones – You can have three servings of foods like milk, yogurt or cheese each day. Dairy foods loaded with calcium and vitamin D are even better.
- Cut down on salt – Too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure. Reduce the amount of salt by:
- Using pepper, herbs, lemon juice to add flavor instead of salt
- Limit intake of processed or canned foods
- Stay away from salted biscuits and chips
- Choose home-made soups and veggies without salt
- Avoid sauces, noodles, soy sauce, sea salt
- Check food labels to select foods with a low amount of salt. Too much salt is more than 1.5g (0.6g sodium) per 100g of any food item
- Stay hydrated – Many older adults don’ drink as much water as they should, and this causes dizziness and constipation. Get plenty of fluids (water, juice, milk) each day. Drinking about 8 glasses per day is mandatory.
- Choose high fiber foods – Include bread, rice, pasta, potato, or cereal at each meal. Choose high fibre options whenever you can.
Important Nutrients to Consider
As we age, our bodies needs certain nutrients to keep us healthy.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Older adults need extra Calcium and Vitamin D to maintain their bone health. Good sources of Calcium and Vitamin D are:
- Fortified cereals, dark leafy vegetables – for Calcium
- Fortified milk, cheese, yogurt – for Vitamin D
- Fibre: Fibre-rich foods lower the risk of constipation. Good sources of fibre include:
- Beans & peas
- Cereals such as porridge, brown rice and brown pasta
- Fruits and veggies
- Wholegrain bread
- Vitamin B12 and Iron: Vitamin B12 keeps your brain and nervous system healthy, while iron carries oxygen around the body. Best sources of Vitamin D and Iron are:
- Fortified cereals, lean meat, seafood – for both Vitamin D and Iron
- Vitamin C rich foods like orange juice also help your body to absorb iron
Many older adults don’t get enough of these, therefore, it’s important to ask your doctor if you need an iron or vitamin B12 supplement.
Exercise Is Also Important
Combine your diet with an active lifestyle for healthy aging.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
- If you are not exercising at all right now, start with 5 minutes of exercising like dancing, climbing stairs, and gradually increase this time.
- Check with your doctor before starting any new physical activity programme.
Don’t let growing age take a toll on your health. Eat right, eat well!
Happy aging! 🙂