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No Nonsense Nutrition for Healthy Aging

It’s no secret that aging is a daily occurrence. A balanced diet is fundamental to all aspects of life, but most importantly as we age. I see clients of all ages, and the building blocks are essentially the same.

EAT PLENTY OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

These can be fresh, frozen, or canned. Look at the nutrition label to make sure frozen or canned items have no added salt and are packed in their own juices or water. Pick dark green vegetables for their natural levels of iron needed for red blood cell production.

CHOOSE THREE

Add three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy to your plate everyday. Dairy products such as yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, or cheese are fortified with vitamin D to help keep those aging bones healthy!

INCLUDE HEART HEALTHY FATS

Make the switch to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Use oils such as extra virgin olive oil, instead of solid fats when cooking and incorporate things like avocado and walnuts into salads and entrees

PACK IN THE PROTEIN

Protein is found in almost every cell of your body. As we age, it helps maintain muscle mass and stimulate the healing of wounds. Besides meat, significant sources of protein include: beans, legumes, nuts, and fish.

WHOLE GRAINS = MORE FIBER

Whole grains can be found in breads, pasta, cereals, or rice. Fiber, which is found in whole grains, helps you feel fuller for longer periods of time, prevents constipation, and can even lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. When looking at a box or can, look for two things: a label that says 100% whole grain and a Whole Grain Counsel stamp that indicates it has 8g or more per serving.

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INCREASE THE ACTIVITY

Set a goal to be active for 30 minutes each day. A quick and easy tip: split it into three sessions of ten minutes if your schedule is hectic. (Always check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new fitness routine.)

Age, gender, and activity level are all factors for caloric needs.

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FOODS THAT SHOULD BE CONSUMED IN MODERATION:

SOFT DRINKS, CANDY, AND DESSERT: While these items are extremely tasty, your body needs them sparingly as they can give you quick energy, but leave your body searching for more satisfaction.

LIMIT ALCOHOL: Excess calories that come from alcohol and mixers cannot be used as energy. Alcohol can also interfere with the effectiveness of many medications. One drink per day is the recommendation. One drink = 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

SCALE DOWN THE SODIUM: Too much sodium can worsen high blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke. Use fresh and dried herbs to flavor foods. Look for canned items that say “reduced sodium” or “no salt added”.

There’s no perfect equation to aging! However, you can influence the way you feel and how your body performs by what you put in.

Leslie Carr, RD, LDN is Nutrition Director of Residential Services at Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders located off of Houston Levee Road in Cordova, Tennessee. http://www.fairhaventc.com To submit questions or future nutrition topics, contact Leslie at lcarr@fairhaventc.com.

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