Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle Amid Increasing ChallengesEditorial Staff
With careful planning, you can take charge of the aging process
The over 65 demographic has been and still is one of the fastest growing age groups in America. While regular exercise and sound nutrition are vital components to overall health for any person, older people face a unique set of challenges that make staying healthy more difficult. Someone unfamiliar with these challenges might not realize how difficult maintaining a healthy lifestyle in one's golden years can be. Most seniors can fondly recall the days they could eat whatever foods they chose and not having to worry about either the quantity or content of what they were consuming. What they probably didn't think much back then was the real possibility that aging might affect their ability to taste, smell, and even see. While such developments are unfortunate they are still challenges which can be and should be conquered. With careful planning and a focused approach it is still quite possible to eat well, live healthy, and take on the aging process.
While it would be impossible to define the exact nutritional requirements of over 65 demographic, much research exists that when considered and used can be of assistance in dealing with popular nutritional issues. One of the biggest challenges is the body's tendency to have more trouble absorbing nutrients when it ages. This challenge is coupled with the fact that calorie needs decrease with age due to a slowing metabolism. The solution lies in making nutrient dense foods a bigger part of your diet. Nutrient dense foods are known to provide vitamins and minerals without an excessive amount of calories. Lean meats, low fat dairy products, plain breads, fruits, and vegetables are some good examples. One of , if not the most essential component of good health at any age is getting enough water. This is of even greater concern as you age. Research has shown that dehydration occurs even quicker as you age. Its important to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day even if you don't feel thirsty. Its also important to remember that water can come from a number of different sources including milk, fruit juices, and even foods such as soups and fruit. While caffeinated beverages contain water the caffeine they contain can actually cause your body to lose water. If you enjoy caffeinated drinks, try to do so in moderation.
Some readers might be wondering about where the use of vitamin supplements enters the equation. While supplementation can provide benefits its important to remember that following a strict nutrient rich diet should be able to give you all the nutrients that you need. It is advisable to first consult your doctor before beginning to take a supplement. Failure to seek a medical opinion first can cause you to waste money on unneeded supplements and can even lead to harmful results if you aren't fully aware of your unique needs. It has been reported that nearly 85% of older persons are living with one or more chronic diseases. This is an unfortunate statistic but once again it is simply a matter of regulating one's diet. Maintaining a diet thats high in nutrients is essential, you might also need a specialized diet that is lower in fat, sodium, and/or sugar. Once again, contacting your doctor and discussing your situation is the smartest first step you can take. Also be sure to discuss how any medications you are taking will affect your new diet. Lowering the amount of fat, sodium, or sugar in your diet doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of all the things you like. Many times its simply about fixing your favorite foods in a different way (i.e. baking instead of frying). Instead of adding salt to your vegetables why not try adding some garlic or sage instead. You might even discover some new favorites in the process.
Not all of the nutritional challenges one faces when they grow older are physical in nature. Rising medical costs and a slumping economy may have a noticeable effect on the types of foods you are able to afford. Losing a spouse also presents its own set of problems. When shopping at the grocery store finding bargains, economical alternatives, and shopping strategically become even more important. Store brands are cheaper than their name brand counterparts and almost always have the same exact ingredients. While buying in bulk is known to save one money make sure that you select foods that can be stored efficiently and consumed before they are set to spoil. Preparing a larger quantity of food and storing leftovers for future meals is also highly advisable. For those that can't or simply don't like to cook convenience meals are always an option. Many of these meals are of very high quality. However, use caution when choosing these meals and get in the habit of reading nutrition labels to select meals that are in line with your dietary needs. Along with eating right it is important that seniors do their best to stay active. The health benefits are numerous and extend far beyond feeling better in just a physical sense. There are many types of activities available. Try to choose activities you enjoy and can do with a friend. As always consult first with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. While aging is a part of life, sound nutrition and regular exercise can help to make the journey far more enjoyable.