The Importance of a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle for Seniors
It’s no secret that if you want to live your best life, then you need to make sure to eat a healthy diet and find time for regular exercise. However, while following a healthy lifestyle is important at all stages of your life, it’s especially important to be mindful of your diet and fitness levels as you age. Seniors are especially vulnerable to age-related diseases, yet many still fail to meet their minimum nutritional and fitness requirements.
The fact is, poor diet has been linked to numerous serious health concerns, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Without a doubt, a balanced diet and active lifestyle are absolutely essential for healthy aging.
What is a Healthy Diet?
The concept of “eating right” is surprisingly controversial. And, depending on who you ask, you may find yourself getting a wide variety of answers. While a healthy diet can take on many different shapes, most dieticians can agree that eating a diet full of whole foods (as close to their natural form as possible!) is ideal. Furthermore, you should avoid foods that are heavily processed, full of unhealthy fats, and have added sugars in them.
That means that if you want to enjoy a healthy diet, then you need to focus on foods like whole grains, lean protein, and — of course — plenty of fruits and vegetables. Getting enough of vitamins and minerals from food sources (and not supplements) can help you stay healthy, as well. By making sure you have a diet that’s balanced and nutritious, and maintaining a healthy weight, you can help make sure that you live a longer, happier life.
Healthy Diet = Focus on Foods with Lots of Vitamins and Nutrients
Not all foods are created equal. Some foods are better for you and, if you’re wanting to stay healthy, there are a few things that you should probably reach for more often. Certain foodstuffs have been associated with better health, and by eating them more frequently, you can possibly see improvements to your overall well-being. For instance, it’s been shown that a diet high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E (in addition to zinc and copper), can help dramatically reduce your risk of developing AMD.
Furthermore, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent cognitive decline as you age and can help improve your memory. Research has indicated that your diet can affect your risk of developing cancer, and focusing on getting enough selenium, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D, folic acid, and certain antioxidants can be beneficial. Conversely, avoiding excess sugar, red meat, and refined carbohydrates can also help you avoid cancer.
A Focus on Exercise
Of course, eating a healthy diet is only one piece of the puzzle. If you want to be healthy, you also need to incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that you need to immediately rush out and start training for a marathon. And while there’s certainly a time and place for strenuous exercise (with the approval of your healthcare provider), even gentle exercise can be remarkably beneficial. Even something like walking can be incredibly good for you, while also minimizing your risk of injury.
Not only can regular exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also help you avoid the so-called diseases of aging. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help you ward off Alzheimer’s disease, various types of cancer, diabetes, and CVD. Even better, a mere half hour of exercise per day can help you stay fit and healthy! That’s just 150 minutes per week. And less time then you spend eating every day.
If you’re wanting to start eating better and exercising, there’s no time like the present to begin. As a senior, you face unique challenges in eating a balanced diet, as it’s natural for your appetite to decline as you grow older. However, if you make a conscious effort to select more nutritious foods, you can avoid the complications that can arise from a poor diet.
Wanting to avoid certain foods due to a lack of flavor is fairly common as we age. But it’s still no excuse for resorting to an unhealthy diet. If you’re struggling to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, there are many ways you can help stimulate your appetite. While reduced taste can make foods seem less palatable, adding flavorful spices and seasonings (but avoiding excess salt) can make these foods more appetizing to you.
While fresh produce can certainly be more expensive than their processed counterparts, choosing in-season fruits and vegetables can help lower your grocery bill. Programs like Meals on Wheels can also help bridge the nutritional gap, too. Finally, a gentle exercise regimen can be a great start in helping you stay fit and healthy as you age.
The Final Word on Healthy Aging
There are numerous different factors that can affect your health as you age. And some of these (such as genetics) may be out of your control. That said, there are some things that you can control, such as what you eat and your level of fitness. Make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs to help you enjoy your golden years. You can do this by consuming a diet that is balanced and nutritious. And don’t forget to get plenty of exercise each week.
It’s understandable to feel a little bit daunted about overhauling your diet and lifestyle. So, be sure to be compassionate toward yourself. However, by making these vital changes today, you can help make sure that you live a long and healthy life — free from disease and illness — tomorrow.
Author Bio: Karyl Trejo is a medical content writer with a degree in Psychology–who also works as a licensed optician. When Karyl isn’t drafting medical research articles on topics such as wound care, health and wellness, and diet, she can be found working on her science-fiction novels.
Thank you to Karyl for her informative contribution to our overall understanding of how good nutrition affects our well-being. And thank you for spending time with us today. Wishing you the best of health!