According to the National Institute on Aging there are many benefits to eating well as you age. Your daily food choices can make an important difference in your health and in how you look and feel. Eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits. Eating well reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some types of cancer, and anemia. If you already have one or more of these chronic diseases, eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them. Healthy eating reduces high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes. Eating well gives you the nutrients needed to keep your muscles, bones, organs and other parts of your body healthy throughout your life. Eating well helps keep up your energy level too. By eating enough calories you give your body the fuel it needs throughout the day. Your food choices also affect your digestion. For instance, not getting enough fiber or fluids may cause constipation. Eating more whole-grain food with fiber, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may help with constipation. Making one change at a time is helpful in changing your eating habits. Eating well isn’t just a “diet.” It is part of a healthy lifestyle that you can start now and stay with in the years to come. Some small changes you can begin taking today is to remove the salt shaker off your table or switch to whole-grain bread, seafood, or more vegetables and fruits when you shop.
The National Institute on Aging in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests for a healthy diet to eat a variety of healthy foods, fill up half of your plate with fruits and vegetables and limit solid fats and added sugars.
Some suggestions are:
- Try to choose grain products made from whole grains.
- Vary your veggies. Brighten your plate with vegetables that are red, orange and dark green.
- Eat more fruit. Try some you haven’t eaten before.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs and nuts.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Get plenty of fluids each day such as water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and low-sodium broth-based soups.
- Limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
If you have specific medical conditions, be sure to check with your Doctor or Registered Dietitian about foods you should include or avoid. You can start making positive lifestyle changes today. Eating well can help you stay healthy and independent – and look and feel good – in the years ahead.