Q: I’m now officially a senior citizen. What should I eat to maintain my health and fitness as I age?
National Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 25th! This day is designed to educate seniors on the importance of health with aging and how to achieve health and fitness goals.You may know that as we age, it may become more difficult to maintain proper nutrition, and muscle loss occurs at a faster rate, leading to a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. This is why it is so important to not only exercise on a regular basis, but also eat the right diet. Some of the more common diseases that occur more frequently with age include osteoporosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and vision loss. We can, however, slow the onset and progression of these diseases with a proper diet and exercise. Below are some ways to prevent these diseases through diet:
- Osteoporosis – Calcium and vitamin D are the two most important nutrients when it comes to bone health. Low fat dairy products, soy products, canned sardines and salmon, and yogurt are good sources of both of these nutrients.
- Arthritis – Because arthritis is an inflammatory condition, it is beneficial to focus on anti-inflammatory foods such as fish rich in omega-3s, soy, olive oil, cherries, low-fat dairy products, broccoli, green tea, citrus fruits, whole grains, beans, garlic, and nuts.
- Cardiovascular Disease – The main focus for cardiovascular disease is to increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy. It is also important to reduce the amount of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in your diet.
- Cancer – Foods that can help prevent cancer contain many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Some of the foods that have been proven to help fight cancer include berries, dark leafy green vegetables, garlic, grapes and grape juice, and tomatoes.
- Vision Loss – The most important nutrients for maintaining eye health and preventing eye diseases are beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc. You can get these nutrients through oysters, legumes, nuts and nut oils, citrus fruits, spinach, peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
Trying to pick one or two of these foods as part of your meal at a restaurant is one easy way to boost your nutrition with an eye on staving off these conditions. Also try introducing these ingredients into your cooking at home and experiment with new recipes. Be sure to combine 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week and 2 or more days of strength-training to your routine in addition to following a healthy diet to get the full benefit.