Eat for Your Age
We often hear references to people acting their age, but what about eating for our age? As our bodies mature, they require a different balance of nutrients to support this stage of development. When we consider our health and maintaining a healthy weight, it is easy to only think of watching calories; however, not all calories are created equal! Getting the right balance of nutrients is what supports our bodies to age well and reduce the risk of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, bone loss, stroke, and much more.
Eat for your Bones: Vitamin D and Calcium
Falls are among the most common trips to the hospital for older adults. While healthy bones won’t prevent a fall, it will help prevent hip or other fractures that can lead to permanent disability or even death. Women over the age of 50 should consume 1,200mg of calcium daily. Men between the ages of 51 and 70 should consume 1,000mg of calcium a day, and those over 70 should consume 1,200 mg per day. Great sources of calcium are found in dark leafy greens, soybeans, low-fat dairy, and almonds.
Vitamin D is the other part of the equation because it actually helps your body absorb calcium. While exposure to sunlight causes your body to make vitamin D, many older people don’t get enough that way, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Fish, eggs, and milk are just a few great sources of Vitamin D. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels and to suggest the appropriate supplement for you.
Eat for your Heart:
Reduce Sodium: Many pre-packaged items from the grocery store, while convenient and inexpensive, are often costly to our health as we age. Cooking meals from scratch at home allows individuals to control the amount of salt, sugar, fat, preservatives, etc. that can make our diets unbalanced. The same goes for eating out at restaurants. By controlling the menu and preparation, we are equipped to make good decisions for our health.
Try and get a significant amount of protein from non-meat sources. For example, fruits and vegetables like avocado, broccoli, peas, and sweet potatoes are high in protein. Also, legumes like soybeans, lentils, beans and peanuts are a wonderful sources of protein. Getting enough fish or fish oil in your diet is also important for keeping our heart healthy.
Eat for your Brain
As we age, we are most concerned about maintaining healthy brains and good working memory. There are some super-foods that are powerful tools in our diets that fight off disease. Blueberries are really key for brain health as well as salmon, the good fat of avocados, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. From increasing good blood flow to the brain to fighting off stress, we can improve our learning capacities and help support healthy brain function simply by adding these foods into our regular diet.
Drinking enough water is really crucial as we age. The older we are, the more we tend to lose our thirst that triggers the need for water. As our bodies are mostly comprised of water it is crucial to lubricate our organs, flush out toxins, assist in digestions, etc. Getting enough water is also helpful in preventing common issues like urinary tract infections or dizziness and headaches from dehydration.
Supplement What You Eat
Always consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplements or vitamins. Your diet is a powerful tool for getting what your body needs, but sometimes vitamins and supplements can help us balance our intake and give us the extra boost that we need to meet our health goals. When your doctor prescribes a new medication, always ask what lifestyle choices you can be making to help support your body and reduce your risk for further diseases. Below is a wonderful resource from the National Institute on Aging which lays out the average vitamin and mineral supplements needed for people over age 50:
-From National Institute On Aging
When it comes to treating our chronic diseases, we tend to think of medications as the primary prescription, but a proper diet may be just what the doctor ordered. By eating nutrient-rich foods we can intentionally prevent or reverse the effects of a great deal of diseases that affect our bodies as we age. While it may seem difficult to change your diet, it is certainly easier and less costly to make changes in what you eat, rather than coping with the consequences of disease later in life. Be well and bon appetit!
Published on June 16, 2014.