Eating well shouldn’t end in your 30s or 40s.
Healthy eating provides adults 50 and older with many benefits including increased mental awareness, resistances to illness, higher energy levels and better health and body management.
As we age, it is important to provide our bodies with the best possible nutrients to ensure we remain healthy, both physically and emotionally. Like children and young adults, those 50 and older should eat fresh and clean foods to stay healthy and fit.
Look to these tips to stay fit, happy and healthy.
- Focus on whole fruit items instead of juices. Whole fruits will provide you with more fiber and vitamins. Try to work close to two servings of fruit into your daily diet.
- Look to dark, leafy greens like spinach and broccoli and orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots and squash to up your antioxidant intake. Close to two servings of colorful vegetables are recommended by the USDA.
- Choose whole grains over processed white flour foods to consume more nutrients and fiber. The USDA recommended that older adults consume 6 to 7 ounces of grains per day.
- Adults 50 and older should vary sources of protein. Adding more fish, beans and dairy if possible can greatly increase health and fitness.
- Drink more water. As people age, it becomes increasingly more easy for them to become dehydrated. By sipping water throughout the day, older adults can decrease their chance of getting common illnesses such as urinary tract infections and constipation.
- Make sure to get enough vitamins, specifically Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Look to foods like fish and other seafood, liver, red meat and dairy to increase Vitamin B12. Vegetables like spinach, collards, white beans, some fish and orange juice and milk are high in Vitamin D. Many of these foods will also help to increase calcium intake.
- Reduce your sodium intake. As it becomes easier for older adults to become dehydrated, decreasing your sodium intakes can help to alleviate this problem. It will also help to decrease water retention and high blood pressure. Make sure to read labels and understand the sodium content of your foods.
- Take the time to enjoy “good” fats. Foods like olive oil, salmon and many nuts are high in monounsaturated fats. These fats can help protect your body against many diseases by controlling LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and increasing HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels.
- Avoid bad carbohydrates. Bad carbs like white flour, refined sugar and white rice have been stripped of all bran, fiber and nutrients. These foods also tend to digest quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. To increase long-lasting energy, include carbs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Be aware of hidden sugars. Added sugar is common in breads, canned soups, canned vegetables, pasta sauces and fast food. Check labels for ingredients and eat foods that contain corn syrup, molasses, fructose or sucrose. Eat fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned ones and try to eat low-carb or sugar free versions of breads, pastas and snacks.
- Include as many colors on your plate as possible. Fruits and vegetables rich in color mean rich in nutrients — blackberries, melons, spinach, tomatoes and carrots are great sources of color and nutrients.
- Avoid repetition. Don’t get stuck in a rut where you eat frozen dinners or fast food consistently. Though everything is okay in moderation, these types of dinners should not be consumed regularly. Think fresh and cook it yourself.
- Cut back on sweets. Everyone enjoys cake, cookies, pies and other sweets. It may not be detrimental to your health to enjoy a piece of cake every once in a while, but to consume too much added sugar on a daily basis isn't a good idea. Look to natural sugars in fruits to curb your sweet tooth.
Visit the USDA at choosemyplate.gov for more tips and tricks on how to stay healthy as you get older.