While you can’t stop aging, you can, in a way, slow it down. The first step toward good health in your senior years: Eat right.
“You have to feed your body good nutrition for it to run like it’s supposed to run. You have to have good maintenance,” says Joan Salge Blake, a nutritionist and a professor at Boston University. “You have to start treating your body like you do your cars and your home.
It’s never too late to reap the benefits of exercise, whether you’re 45 or 95. First of all, it simply makes you feel good to move. By becoming more active, you can also lower your blood sugar to keep diabetes under control.
“You don’t need to run a marathon to get results,” says Dawn Sherr, RD, of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “Walking, swimming, and playing with the grandkids are all great ways to get exercise.”
Follow these four steps to get started.
“Sometimes, you forget that your body is a well-oiled machine.”
Eating for Older Adults
As we age, our bodies change -- not just in how they look, but how they work. Your digestion is not as efficient. You may not drink enough water because you don’t feel as thirsty as you used to. Food may lose some of its taste -- for all sorts of reasons, including the medications you may be taking -- so you simply might not be interested in eating.
Chewing might be difficult. Or it may be physically hard to prepare a meal. Or you’re just tired of eating by yourself.
When these things cause you not to eat well, your once well-oiled machine starts to sputter.
Talk with your doctor about any trouble you have as you try to eat a healthy diet. You may want to meet with a nutritionist, too. With a good health team, you can come up with a plan that helps get you back into eating well and exercising.
Exercise is critical, too, because being more active can jump-start your appetite.
Keys to a Healthy Diet
By the time you’re a senior, you probably know the basics of a healthy diet -- things like lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, whole grains, some dairy and healthy fats, and less salt.
Some foods are especially helpful for seniors who want to eat healthier. They include:
Water: Not a food, you say? Think of it as one. Many older people simply don’t drink enough water because they don’t feel as thirsty as they used to.
“Water is so underappreciated. Our bodies are mostly water. If you’re chronically dehydrated, just think of what your cells look like,” says Robin Foroutan, a New York nutritionist. “You can’t think as clearly, you get fatigued more easily, you don’t tolerate heat as well.