April 01, 2008
Janet Knight, RD
Good lifestyle choices are an important component of healthy aging. Good food choices and an active lifestyle can help you feel younger and prevent, or delay, health problems that often come with aging. As our bodies age, we lose about ½ pound of muscle each year after the age of 30. This means that our body's metabolic rate, the rate at which our bodies burn calories, decreases with age. Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular activity helps with:
- regular sleep patterns
- blood pressure
- minimizing muscle loss
With all these benefits, start exercising and take advantage of what it can offer.
A good exercise program includes both strength training and aerobic exercises. Strength training helps maintain muscle tissue while aerobic exercise helps the circulatory system and encourages the loss of fat. Ask your doctor before starting any exercise program.
After age fifty, certain vitamins need special attention because changes occur in how our bodies digest food, absorb nutrients and excrete waste. It is important to eat nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains (oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, corn tortillas) and a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables. But, most people are not getting the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. One serving is equal to:
- ½ cup cooked vegetable
- 1 cup raw vegetable
- 1 piece of fruit
- 1 cup berries or mixed fruit
- ½ cup 100% juice (limit to ½ cup per day)
Are you getting enough? You might consider taking a multivitamin to fill in nutrient gaps. Look for one that meets no more than 100% of the RDA's. Don't forget, a vitamin won't offset a bad diet. Fruits and vegetables also supply a large portion of the fiber we need in our diet. Adequate fiber (25-30grams per day) and adequate fluid intake (about 64 oz. per day) will help avoid constipation, help with weight control and improve cholesterol levels. Look on the nutrition facts label for "dietary fiber" and choose whole grain breads and cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
It's never too late to make some healthy changes in our lifestyles. Think about what you can start doing today to make it a healthier tomorrow.