Many people are aware that dietary needs change as the body ages—and after age 50, the need to ensure proper nutrition is more important than ever. What might be less commonly known are the specific strategies for ensuring that those in the second act of life are able to get the nutrients they need. Here are a few pointers that could prove beneficial in this regard.
• Protect bones: As people age, bones weaken due to decreased mobility and mineral loss. Increasing vitamin D and calcium intake to three times per day is appropriate to prevent osteoporosis or to keep the condition from worsening. Many foods, such as cereal, bread and juice, are fortified with both these important dietary components to promote bone health.
• Boost energy levels: A vitamin B12 deficiency may be to blame for a reduction in daily energy levels. If a person tests as B12 deficient, daily supplementation is key. Feeling lethargic obviously isn’t ideal, but accepting a slump in energy can lead to decreased mobility and activity, Dietary sources of B12 include beef liver, mackerel, sardines, red meat, yogurt and fortified cereals.
• Factor in fiber: Dietary fiber is beneficial for slowing down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which decreases and stabilizes blood glucose levels. Fiber is also important for digestion, lowering cholesterol and helping maintain a healthy weight. It will help promote regular bowel movements as well. Plant foods (beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains) are the best source of fiber and tend to be nutrient-dense as well.
• Swap out salt: Taking table salt away is one step toward a heart-healthy diet. Try seasonings such as garlic powder, onion powder, dill, paprika, pepper, citrus and fresh herbs instead. There are many low-sodium and sodium-free alternatives to cook with that add a great deal of flavor and little or no salt to foods. Be aware of the sodium content of favorite sauces, condiments, and packaged and prepared foods as well.
• Watch that weight: Many seniors wonder how much they should eat to maintain a healthy weight. Most are concerned that they may gain a few pounds while recovering from surgery or a health setback. The general Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) differs for senior men and women of different activity levels. Even caloric intake must be personalized for some individuals.
• Improve immune function: Research says that at least half of one’s plate should consist of vegetables and fruit at each meal. Choose healthy animal proteins like fatty fish or lean poultry and whole grains as a source of carbohydrates and starch to round out meals. Make a point of avoiding added sugars and saturated fats and increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoid-rich foods.
The ultimate goal of these bits of advice—and many more like them—is to ensure that one’s golden years are spent as happily and healthy as possible. Bon appétit!
More good health info can be found in TurboCharged: The Silver Disobedience Edition.
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