Why is nutrition important
for healthy aging

As we baby boomers age, diet and nutrition play a bigger role in determining how we feel. The digestive process slows down and become less efficient. We must eat foods that can be digested easily and provide us with the nutrients we need to age successfully.

Good nutrition supplies us with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients our body needs to function both mentally and physically and reduce age related risks of heart attack, diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases.

But a healthy diet is only as healthy as your digestive system. Absorbing the nutrients from the foods we eat also depends on good digestion. It's no longer just what we eat that affects us, but how much, when and how we eat. For lots of tips for improving digestion, press here.

An aging body burns calories less efficiently and stores more fat and less muscle. The proportion of fat to muscle can increase by as much as 30%. The padding of body fat under the skin usually thins out in our arms and legs and becomes more dominant around the stomach area. Since fat burns less energy than muscle, we tend to get rounder even though we aren't necessarily increasing calorie intake. Exercise and a diet rich in nutrients and low in fats can reverse this process.

Good nutrition begins with eating a variety of foods from all the food groups:

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. The USDA recommends that at least half each meal should consist of fruits and vegetables. They provide fiber, and vitamins and nutrients important in fighting chronic diseases.

Whole Grains

Whole grains

Examples of whole grain foods include whole spelt pasta, whole rye bread, whole wheat cereal, oatmeal, barley, quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat. Stay away from refined grain foods. Read labels and look for 100% whole grain foods. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber as well as a variety of nutrients that include several B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.

Iron serves to oxygenate the cells and guard against anemia which can cause fatigue, weakness, cold extremities, decreased energy levels, shortness of breath, irritability, dizziness, impaired immune system functioning and slowed mental functioning.

High Protein Foods

High Protein Foods

Focus on eating more poultry and fish rather than red meat. Quinoa , nuts, seeds, beans and eggs are also good sources of protein. Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Dairy Products

Dairy products

Limit dairy products to one or two servings a day. If you like dairy foods, eat low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese. Whole-milk products contain saturated fats.

Dairy products have traditionally been thought of as a good source of calcium. But today we know that most of the calcium from dairy products is very hard for humans to absorb. In fact there is scientific evidence that indicates milk products could be harmful to our health.

Excellent alternative sources of calcium are: leafy green vegetables such as kale and broccoli, baked beans , fortified soy milk, and canned fish.

Fats and Oils

Fats and Oils are not included in the basic food groups, but are essential for a healthy body and mind

tips for improved nutrition

And in spite of all we know…

It takes a little more time and effort to prepare a nutritious meal and most of us, although we have good intentions, fail to eat right some, if not most of the time.

So, how do we start eating right?

Eating right takes more time and planning, but don't try to change your eating habits overnight. Learning how to eat healthy is a process.

Below are healthy eating tips to improve nutrition:

  • Choose a healthy diet plan as a guide.
  • Become aware of what you eat by keeping a food journal. How many fruits and vegetables are you eating? How much refined sugar and flour is in your present diet? How often do you eat out?
  • Read the ingredients. Take the time to read the Ingredients and Nutrition Data on packaged foods. Labels can be misleading and you may be getting more or less than you bargained for
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Have a supply of frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables as well as fresh, so that you always have a variety to choose from.
  • Start an organic garden using any available space in your yard. Learn to grow, maintain, and harvest vegetables.
  • Plan a few meals for the week. Be realistic in your menu planning. Keep it simple and choose foods from all the food groups every day.
  • Gradually make healthier choices like using whole grain rice instead of white rice. If you don't like the taste, try a different brand.
  • Use unrefined sugar in your coffee or tea, for example honey, agave, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.
  • Try quinoa and other healthy products you've never tried. You'll be surprised how good some of those health foods are.
  • Adapt existing recipes using healthier ingredients.

Do your best to eat smart, exercise, and keep a positive attitude and you will look and feel a lot better. Don't beat yourself up when you do stray. Get back on the right track and don't look back.

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