Along with each stage of life come age-specific ailments that a certain change in diet could help alleviate. If you are experiencing age-related ailments, now is the time to step back and take stock. There are options that can help keep you healthy, and it starts with your diet. Here is a good place to start to get your eating habits on track.
- Weak bones and painful joints
A common source of discomfort, ailment, and injury for the elderly is discomfort in the shoulders, back, and knees. According to an orthopedic surgeon practice in St. Louis, surgery should be the last option. Orthopedic Associates says, “When possible, our doctors prefer to address shoulder injuries with non-surgical treatment such as cortisone injections or physical therapy.”
If you are feeling pain in your joints, try foods that fight inflammation. Such as fatty fish, garlic, broccoli, turmeric, and ginger. To strengthen your bones, bolster your diet with calcium and limit your alcohol consumption. Eat foods rich in calcium are milk, kale, sardines, yogurt, broccoli, watercress, and cheese.
- Weight gain and a slower metabolism
The CDC states that over a 3-year study done in 2007 to 2010, they found that more than a third of older adults were obese. This number is expected to double by 2050.
As we age, our metabolism slows down, the mechanism our body uses to turn the food we eat into energy. There are various ways to avoid weight gain, limiting caloric intake is one option. However, a recommended approach is to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods and not empty calories. Instead of reaching for that breakfast roll, reach for a piece of fruit. Small changes to your overall diet will add up. Other helpful tips are to eat smaller meals throughout the day. This gives your body a smaller digestive load to deal with. Make sure you are getting enough fiber in your diet, as that will improve digestion. Constipation is a common trouble at this age; focusing on increasing your fiber intake will alleviate this ailment, too.
- Cardiovascular disease
Affecting more than a third of men and women between the ages of 45 and 54, cardiovascular disease refers to heart-related illnesses. Mayo Clinic defines it as conditions that involve blocked or narrowed blood vessels that can lead to chest pain, heart attack, or stroke. While genetics do play a role, one’s diet can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Many studies have proven that a healthy lifestyle and diet can reduce heart disease risk by up to 80 percent. Focus on eating foods that are prepared at home so you can be in control of salt and fat intake. Both of which are not heart-healthy foods. Look for foods that are in their most natural state. Fish, berries, nuts, oatmeal, dark beans, tofu, spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli are all excellent foods for heart health.
- Dementia, memory loss, and mental health
Dementia refers to a range of ailments associated with mental decline. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease comprises the majority of dementia cases. The good news is that what you eat affects your brain. A diet rich in lean protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats will help fight inflammation, which has been shown to be an early marker of Alzheimer’s.
Other foods and diet habits that are said to ward off dementia include the following:
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- Avoid processed and packaged meals and foods
- Limit red meat consumption
- Keep coffee and turmeric in your diet
- Include fruits and vegetables
- Copy the Mediterranean style of eating: olive oil, fresh produce, whole grains, omega 3-rich fish, etc.
Each stage of life comes with its share of blessings and challenges to face. So it should not surprise us that our diet needs change as well. Knowing what changes to make will keep you eating well and living strong.