We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related risks of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes!
Protein is needed to maintain and rebuild muscle. Strong muscles help to protect bones and joints, keeping arthritis pain at bay. Sources of protein include poultry, fish, eggs, soy, nuts in limited quantities, dairy, and lean meats.
“Carbs” have become a dirty word, but there are carbs that are beneficial to the body. Complex carbs from vegetables and grains are often called “good carbs”. Good carbs fill you up, create energy in your body, and provide minerals such as folate, potassium, and dietary fiber. Simple carbs, are sugars. They include (refined white sugar), fructose (sugar in fruit), lactose (sugar from milk). While fruits have vitamins minerals and fiber, and milk has calcium and vitamin D, empty carbs are found in corn syrup, honey, refined white sugar, and molasses. These sugars have very few nutrients, but plenty of calories.
Fat provides energy, but not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats such as beef, pork, veal, butter, shortening, and cheese, can wreak havoc with blood cholesterol and plaque levels. Trans fats or hydrogenated fats are found in stick butter and processed foods such as crackers and cookies. These fats are not beneficial to the body.
Polyunsaturated fats such as liquid corn oil or soybean oil, and monounsaturated fats that are found in olive oil, avocado oil, and nuts, are healthier fat alternatives.
Sufficient daily amounts of water decrease the body’s fat deposits, and keep the kidneys functioning properly. If the kidneys don’t work to capacity, some of the toxins from the kidneys end up in the liver, decreasing the efficiently of the liver. Drinking sufficient water decreases fluid retention because the body relaxes and does not store water in feet, legs, and hands, which happens when the body feels that its survival is threatened.
How your diet changes with age:
With aging comes a decrease in energy and with it a decrease in calorie intake. Your doctor or a dietician can help you to determine your ideal calorie intake.
Hormone changes can move your body from less muscle to more body fat, especially around the middle. Increasing your activity, building your muscles, and limiting saturated fats can counteract some of these changes.
Your bones lose mineral content more rapidly as you age, especially for postmenopausal women because of estrogen loss. By increasing calcium and vitamin D you can help prevent osteoporosis.
Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) can occur naturally inside both the heart and the brain. Heart healthy foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can have a positive effect on cholesterol, high blood pressure, and prevent heart disease, and stroke.
As you age, make your food work for you and keep your body as healthy and strong as possible through the process.