Your body changes as you age, which is why it’s crucial to stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet. Good nutrition gives you energy, helps control your weight, and prevents some diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some types of cancers.
Conversely, malnutrition contributes to a progressive decline in health, reduces physical and mental activities, and increases the use of health care facilities. This goes to show that the food you consume as you get old not only impacts your health, it also affects the quality of your life.
To stay healthy and active as you age, incorporate the following into your diet ASAP:
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, around 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and around 44 million people in the world have low bone density. Half of the adults aged 50 and older are at higher risk of breaking a bone, which is why improving or maintaining optimal bone health is essential as you age.
Consuming calcium-rich foods is one of the best ways to strengthen your bones. Along with collagen, calcium makes bones strong and flexible by providing structure to your skeleton. Your heart, nerves, and muscles also need calcium to function properly.
Increase your calcium intake by consuming more cheese, yogurt, winter squash, and almonds. Canned sardines and edamame are also excellent sources of calcium.
Iron is important for aging adults because it carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body. Not receiving enough iron from your diet can trigger several symptoms, namely extreme fatigue, weakness, inflammation of the tongue, brittle nails, and cold hands and feet.
Some of the best sources of iron are nuts, dried fruits, whole wheat pasta and bread, legumes, and dark leafy vegetables. Oatmeal paired with bananas is an elderly-friendly recipe as oats are packed with iron — one cup of cooked oats contains around 1.2 mg of iron.
Vitamin C plays many important roles in seniors’ health. This vitamin protects the body from the effects of free radical damage and strengthens the immune system. Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, vitamin C also supports healthy skin by improving skin tone and reducing visible signs of aging.
You can get vitamin C from citrus (like grapefruit, lemon, and oranges), bell peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, and strawberries. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli, are also rich in vitamin C.
The main role of potassium is to maintain normal levels of fluid inside your cells. Potassium also supports normal blood pressure and helps muscles to contract. Without enough potassium in the body, you’ll feel tired all the time, experience muscle cramps, and have abnormal heart rhythms. Potassium deficiency also causes numbness, confusion, and increased urination.
Potassium can be found in many food sources, namely dried fruits (like apricots and raisins), winter squash, avocado, bananas, beet greens, and beans. Consuming more mushrooms, cucumbers, and peas also increases your potassium.
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You’ll live a healthy life even as you’re aging when you regularly consume foods rich in vitamin A. This vitamin protects the eyes from night blindness and age-related decline, lowers your risk of certain cancers and supports a healthier immune system. Studies also show that vitamin A supports bone health, reducing your risk of fractures.
To enjoy the health benefits of vitamin A, consume more leafy green vegetables (like kale, broccoli, and spinach), tomatoes, beef liver, fish oils, and eggs. Salmon, bluefin tuna, and king mackerel are also high in vitamin A.
Folic acid is another nutrient essential for older adults to stay healthy. Meeting the body’s recommended daily folic acid requirement prevents memory loss, forgetfulness, and aphasia, a language disorder caused by damage to the brain. Folic acid also helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and regulate appetite in older adults.
Folic acid is found in many sources such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, whole grain, and liver. Fresh fruits such as blueberries also provide folic acid properties which is especially beneficial for pregnant woman for the spine and bone development of their unborn child.
Also, fruit juices, seafood, eggs, and fortified supplements can also give the folic acid that your body requires.
As you can see, living a healthy life as you age isn’t that difficult. Improving your diet is usually enough to achieve that goal. As long as you’re consistent with your efforts in eating healthy, you can still have the best, most active life regardless of your age!