Why it’s important to eat well as you age

Food can sometimes feel like a chore (especially if you’ve spent years in the kitchen feeding your family!), but a healthy diet can help to improve your mental sharpness, energy levels and immune system.

Good nutrition isn’t just for growing bodies. Eating well in your senior years is important too and will help to support the various changes your body is going through.

Your diet needn’t be complicated though – the most important thing is to focus on whole, minimally processed food with as much variety as possible, bearing in mind that your body may not tolerate all the foods it used to.

Use the suggestions below as a guideline:

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Why? Because they’re rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. Aim for 2 to 3  fruits daily and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables. The more diverse (and colourful) your choices, the more health benefits.

Opt for high-quality protein. Protein plays many important roles in the body. It helps with tissue growth and repair; provides enzymes for digestion, muscle contraction and energy; balances pH and fluid levels; and helps to stabilise moods. However, not all protein is created equal and too much processed protein (salami, bacon, etc) will have an adverse effect. Eat high quality meats if possible, and include vegetarian sources such as fish, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.

Eat more fibre. Dietary fibre is good for bowel function and lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It can also help to maintain a healthy weight. Good sources include apples, bananas, oat bran, lentils, beans, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and whole grains.

Choose healthy carbs. Whole grain carbohydrates are rich in nutrients and fibre, and help to balance blood sugar levels, making them a better choice than refined grains and sugars. Give priority to foods such as brown rice, barley, oats and legumes, and minimise processed cereals and breads, white rice, cakes and other baked goods.

Include “good” fats. Foods rich in omega 3s can help to protect the body against disease and support healthy brain function. Avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, cheese and dark chocolate are helpful choices.

Don’t forget about calcium. Our bones become more brittle as we age, so it’s important to consume adequate amounts of calcium through foods such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, canned fish, tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale. 

Hydrate with water. Our sense of thirst declines as we age, placing us at greater risk of dehydration. Remember to sip water regularly and drink herbal teas such as Rooibos to avoid complications like mental confusion, constipation and urinary tract infections.

 * Some information sourced from:

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