By: Chris Phillips, Sprenger Dining Services
It’s projected by the year 2030, 22%of the world’s population will be 65 years old or older. You probably don’t need me to tell you, but this is a large amount of people! In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the same demographic only accounted for 4% of the world’s population at the beginning of the century. Chances are, if you don’t fall into this category, you know someone who does. Someday you’ll fit this category and it’s important to know what you can do to improve not only the number of years in your life, but the quality of those years.
It’s commonly known as we age, we’re more susceptible to disease and disability. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and other chronic degenerative conditions all affect the elderly.
There are different techniques and care plans for each condition, but the one thing that can help with all of these conditions is proper nutrition. It will give your body the necessary nutrients to fight any chronic condition and prevent it from becoming worse.
If something like proper nutrition is so important to your health it must be hard to maintain, right? The answer is no!
Older people don’t need to ingest as many calories as younger people due to factors like a slower metabolism, but they do need to make sure they maintain a proper level of minerals and vitamins. This can be done by choosing nutrient dense foods like fruit, fat free cheese and whole wheat crackers instead of sugar filled snacks like cookies and ice cream. Choosing fish, poultry and soy protein foods like tofu will give you your necessary protein. Calcium can come from low-fat milk, calcium fortified orange juice and broccoli. Vitamin B12 can be attained by eating low-fat meat, poultry, fish and fortified cereals. Get your Vitamin D from fortified milk and milk products, and fatty fish. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables for fiber and top it off with 6-8 glasses of water a day.
When preparing food, you should bake your food instead of incorporating other techniques, such as broiling. High heat causes foods to develop toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products. These AGEs can contribute to hardening of the arteries, wrinkles and stiff joints and should be avoided to achieve optimal health.
Don’t let diminished senses keep you from maintaining healthy nutrition. Add flavor to your food by using low sodium seasonings, such as lemon juice, ground pepper, curry pepper and fresh or dried herbs of all types. Diversity in color and texture of your food can make your food look more appetizing. If you’re having trouble eating, try eating small meals throughout the day instead of three big meals to increase the appetite and stimulate the senses.
One day age catches up with all of us, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Adopt these techniques and you can age well while fighting whatever chronic conditions life throws at you.