No matter our age, good nutrition plays a big role in our overall health. The healthier food we eat, the better we feel. Our diet can affect our mood and energy level but can also have long-term effects. A balanced, healthy diet provides our body with the nutrients it needs to boost our immune system, sharpen our mind and help prevent illnesses. Below are a few tips to consider to help improve your eating habits.
– Minimally processed foods. Eating foods that are minimally processed help eliminate many of the additives and ingredients that may cause us to not feel our best. Sugar is an example of one of the culprits that is often added to many of the processed foods that we eat.
– Calcium. Increase calcium intake to maintain bone health and to help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. You are not limited to drinking milk and eating dairy foods; there are many non-dairy sources including white beans, black eyed peas, almonds, canned salmon and broccoli.
– Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Incorporate foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids to improve focus and mental alertness. This includes salmon and leafy vegetables.
– Liquids. Drink plenty of liquids, especially water, throughout the day to avoid dehydration. If you don’t like plain water, consider adding a lemon or lime to your water to provide more flavor.
– Vegetables. Plan healthy vegetables to be a part of your daily diet. Most vegetables are a low-calorie source of nutrients. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber.
– Spices. Use herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of the food. Medications can make the food you are eating taste differently than usual. Add herbs and spices to your dishes to provide added flavor.
– Food temperature. Cook your food thoroughly. Food-borne illnesses can be life-threatening to older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
– Vitamins and Supplements. Consult with your doctor to identify the best vitamins and supplements for you. Medication can interfere with nutritional supplements so it is important to have a conversation with your health care team prior to beginning any vitamin regimen.
– Teeth & Gum Care. Teeth and gums change as we age, and if you have dental problems, you may find it difficult to chew and enjoy certain food including fresh fruits, vegetables and meat. Try cooked or canned vegetables and fruits which will be softer and easier to chew. Other canned items such as soups and tuna can also provide you with the needed nutrients.
As you consider incorporating changes into your diet be sure to consult with your doctor for guidance on the best nutritional plan based on your health history.