Ageing is associated with biological decline, but there are choices we can make to push back against this process. It is very possible to live a long, active life if we continue to promote our health through nutrition and lifestyle choices we make. What are those choices?
Here are some highlighted guidelines from the recent Food Safety Authority of Ireland report on nutrition for older adults:
• Include high quality protein sources in the habitual diet such as meat (avoid poor quality, fatty cuts), poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. This helps prevent muscle decline.
• Consume 1 portion of oily fish per week to protect against heart disease (salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel).
• Fibre plays an important role in digestive health, and it also helps prevent heart disease and colorectal cancer. Try to make carbohydrate intake from high fibre sources. Think fruit, vegetables, beans, and wholemeal/wholegrain breads, rice, and pasta. Increase fibre intake gradually as too much too soon can cause digestive discomfort. As fibre intake increases it is also important to note the need to drink more water must also be considered.
• One third of older adults exceed recommended free sugar intake. These are generally sugars added to food products by manufacturers. It doesn’t mean foods such as biscuits need to be eliminated completely, but the balance of food types may need to be adjusted.
• Sense of taste diminishes with age which can lead to increased salt intake. Use herbs and spices to increase flavour instead.
• Vitamin D plays a key role in bone health and deficiency increases the risk of fracture. A daily supplement of 15 micrograms (600 IU) is recommended.
• Regular physical activity such as daily aerobic, dynamic, and flexible to whatever capacity possible greatly enhances the impact of nutrition on immune competence.
• Fortified foods (milk, certain cereals) can help with vitamin intake, and fruit, vegetables and salads daily can also help bolster this.
There are many more detailed guidelines across a range of nutrients. It’s a fantastic report.
Healthy ageing is a key issue for all of us.
Making certain lifestyle and nutritional choices day to day helps ensure we live better, for longer.