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Aging Well: You Are What You Eat
March is National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual nutrition education and information campaign. It is designed to promote a healthier lifestyle through a healthful eating style along with physical activity. The focus is making small changes over time to achieve this. It is never too late to improve eating habits and gain health benefits.
Key Foods for Aging Well
Fish, fruits and vegetables, along with olive oil, have been linked to longevity. These key dietary components are similar to those of the Mediterranean style diet.
- Fish – Fatty fish rich in omega-3s supports heart health, brain function and memory during aging. Omega-3 rich fish include salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Are protective as they are excellent sources of antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, folic acid and vitamin C. Produce nourishes good bacteria in the body which can guard against obesity, type 2 diabetes and constipation.
- Olive Oil – May reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance. Use olive oil in place of other fats and fatty foods.
Other Components to Consider
- Optimize Protein – to offset muscle loss associated with aging. Loss of muscle is linked to weakness and loss of mobility. Include protein with each meal (20-30 grams) to maintain or build muscle.
- Maintain Strong Bones – include nutrients important to bone health; vitamin D and K, calcium and magnesium. Dairy products, sardines, salmon, and dark green leafy vegetables provide these nutrients. Ask your physician to see if you need a vitamin D supplement.
- Drink Water – sugary drinks promote inflammation, increasing the risk for heart disease and type–2 diabetes.
- Be Active – keeping active and exercising can maintain or build muscle and strong bones. Check with your physician before beginning an exercise program.
Rethink Your Plate
- Fruits and Vegetables – should make up 50% of your plate. If you are diabetic have more vegetables than fruit.
- Protein Rich Foods – should be 25% of your plate. Have fish at least twice a week, limit red meats and avoid processed meats.
- Grains – should make up the remaining 25% of your plate. The majority of grains need to be whole grains.
- Healthy Fats in Moderation – Replace saturated fats (those that are solid at room temperature) with olive oil.
- Dairy Products – Include reduced fat dairy such as plain Greek yogurt and vitamin D fortified milk.
- Spice Up Your Life! – Use herbs and spices to reduce sodium. Experiment with herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, ginger, garlic, turmeric and cinnamon. They will enhance the flavor of your meals and may have hidden health benefits.
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