Guest Article: Putting Good In To Get Good Out: Adopting a Healthy Diet
Written by Madison Hill
There are usually a few adjustments seniors can make if they want to maintain good health while aging. Exercising, abstaining from tobacco use and moderating alcohol consumption are among the most well-known suggestions. Equally as important (and occasionally overlooked) is incorporating a healthy diet as part of everyday life. Doing so is a preemptive attack on a range of maladies including strokes, diabetes, and heart-attacks.
Vitamins and Minerals
The human body depends on a variety of vitamins and minerals to maintain homeostasis on a daily basis. Although types and quantities will vary depending on the individual, there are a few that most people need to supplement.
This mineral is the building block of the body’s skeletal system. As seniors age, bones become more susceptible to fractures and osteoporosis. In order to combat this threat, there are a variety of ways to obtain adequate amounts of the mineral. Calcium fortified beverages (like milk, orange juice, and almond milk) are great vessels. Broccoli and tofu are also great options, and of course—calcium supplements are great, too.
- Vitamin D
The human body needs Vitamin D in order to be able to properly absorb calcium. Fortunately, the body can get its daily recommended dose from approximately 10 minutes of sunscreen-free sun exposure. If sunshine is not an option (due to weather, health issues, etc. consider consuming Vitamin D friendly foods. Mushrooms, eggs, and specific fish species are all great sources, as well as any food or beverage stating that it’s “Vitamin D fortified”.
- The B-Vitamin Series
There are 8 types of B vitamins, and all of them are important for the body’s energy supply, healthy blood circulation and digestive health. Many B vitamins can be found in dark green, leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli. Additionally, the majority of cereals and breads are fortified with most (if not all) of the B vitamins.
Of course, if incorporating nutrient-rich foods is not an option (due to illness, allergies, etc.) consider talking to a doctor about taking supplements like a daily multivitamin or cod-liver oil pills.
Avoid Sugars and Salt
Steering clear of sugar in cookies and cakes seems easy enough, but it is important to be aware of items that have a surprising (and often excessive) amount of the sweet stuff. Most flavored yogurts, cereals, and certain meal replacement bars have 20-30 grams of sugar per serving. Often times, significant amounts of sugar can be cut simply by choosing a “plain” version of the product (unflavored Greek yogurt, for example). Beverages are another place that sugars can sneak into, but reading the nutritional information on the product’s label helps avoid this trap. Sodium is another one to avoid; too much is bad for the heart. Replace salt in recipes with a new spice like smoked paprika or cardamom, and consider marinating food in salt-free sauces to infuse flavor.
Fruits and Veggies
As noted above, fruits and veggies are often vitamin, mineral, and water rich. Fruits are usually high in sugars, so it is best to stick to the recommend 1-2 servings per day. This will satisfy the sweet-tooth while still giving the body a boost. Vegetables are generally low in calories, have low (to negligible) amounts of sugar, and have an abundance of vitamins and minerals. As such, feel free to incorporate broccoli and cauliflower into a daily snack, or add an extra helping of kale to each meal. With so many benefits (and almost no negatives) it’s hard to over indulge in veggies (so eat up!).
Eating a healthy diet is a great habit to pick up, especially while aging into the golden years. Making simple dietary changes can stunt (or even eliminate) the need for certain medications while boosting the body’s overall performance. So be healthy—from the inside out!