As our body ages, our eating habits and diet, in addition to how our body processes food, can change. Despite these changes, there are a number of things that we can do to maintain a healthy diet and allow our bodies to continue to thrive. Eating well is essential to our independence, physical health, mental health, and resistance to illness. Following are four easy steps that can be taken to ensure a healthy diet as one ages.
- Know what a healthy plate looks like. Using resources like the USDA’s My Plate (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/) can help you visualize what your desired daily food intake should look like.
- Eat meals that are rich in nutrients. Preparing meals that are loaded with essential nutrients can have a number of health benefits. For example, eating foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish, flaxseed, walnuts, can reduce inflammation, decrease risk for heart disease, and even help prevent cancer. Also, consuming approximately 4 cups of calcium, even if it is through a supplement, each day can improve bone health and lower your blood pressure. Finally, striving to eat all of the colors of the rainbow when eating fruits and vegetables will help to get you all of your daily essential vitamins. Preparing meals filled with these and other nutrients can greatly help to ensure a healthy diet and maximum health benefits.
- Limit sodium intake. Consuming a lot of sodium on a regular basis can cause problems for our bodies, including causing our blood pressure to rise. There are a number of food sources that are loaded with sodium, including frozen, processed foods, and restaurant foods (both fast food and sit-down restaurants). In order to limit your sodium intake, you should eat a lot of fresh foods and grains. Making these items a part of your regular diet will naturally decrease the amount of sodium in your diet.
- Hydrate–Drink a LOT of water! As we age, often times we are simply not very thirsty. However, our fluid intake is essential. Our bodies crave fluids, and in order to stay our best physical condition, we need to continue our consumption of fluids. Water is the best way to hydrate our bodies, but natural juices and other liquids can be helpful too, so be sure to drink up!
As we age, healthy eating is possible, and can begin today by making simple changes in the foods you buy at the grocery store. By following the four simple suggestions above, you can enjoy a number of health benefits. From living longer and stronger to improving your mental health, eating right can improve your overall health, making you feel better and able to enjoy life to its fullest.