Good eating habits don’t become less important as we age; in fact, the older we get, the more our bodies appreciate nutrient-dense food and healthy habits.
While individual health problems may require specialized diets, there are some general guidelines that apply to most adults over the age of 50. Always talk to your doctor before starting any new diet plan.
The National Institute on Aging has a concise list of diet recommendations to live well over the age of 50. The top recommendation is to avoid ‘empty calories’ or foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. This list includes soda, chips, alcohol and most sugary treats. Sandra Hart, who works at Brentwood’s Health Hut, concurs.
“Avoiding sugars – and foods that turn to sugar – is important, even for our vision,” Hart stressed. “Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup in processed food and soda is very important, also.”
When choosing foods, include fruits and vegetables of different colors, especially dark green. Incorporating fiber into your diet can keep your stomach and bowels healthy and lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber is found in those fruits and veggies as well as beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Be careful when increasing your fiber intake, though – too much too soon can cause cramps and gas.
As we age, our bones become more brittle, so take in plenty of calcium along with vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium. Limit sodium to 1,500 milligrams, or two thirds of a teaspoon, per day. For flavor, add herbs and spices to your cooking instead of salt. Drink plenty of healthy fluids, like water, and skip flavored beverages and energy drinks, as these contain high amounts of both sugar and chemicals.
Basic nutrition guidelines suggest that active adults consume between 2,000 and 2,200 calories per day, while those living a less-active lifestyle should limit themselves to 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day. Choosing calories that are high in nutrition is important.
Speak to your doctor about your diet. Specific health issues, medications and lifestyles may limit dietary choices.
To contact the Health Hut, call 925-634-5361.