The cumulative impact of the choices we make over the years can dramatically influence the health and quality of our life. The longer a person lives, the more ingrained (good and bad) habits become. There’s no better time than the present to start practicing these six strategies for successful aging.
1. Adjust protein portions.
Many Americans consume most of their day’s protein at their evening meal. Research suggests that spreading protein intake evenly throughout the day may be more beneficial for overall health and wellness. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein at each meal to optimize muscle synthesis, immune function, and satiety.
2. Feast on fruits & veggies.
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential to well-being. They also contain fiber, which promotes digestive health, improved glycemic control, and reduced cholesterol.
3. Bone up on calcium & vitamin D.
Vitamin D and calcium are widely known for their crucial role in maintaining bone health. Recent studies also suggest these two nutrients may aid in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, while boosting immune function. In addition to dairy, calcium can be found in leafy greens, nuts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and fish like salmon and sardines. To ensure adequate vitamin D levels, spend time in the sunshine and/or consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
4. Move it or lose it!
Contrary to popular belief, the Gold Standard for exercise isn’t necessarily pumping iron or running for hours on end. It’s movement a person is willing to do consistently over time. Brainstorm enjoyable ways to get active like yoga, kickboxing, biking, or dance. And remember: It’s not about getting ripped. It’s about preserving and improving functionality, longevity, and health.
5. Anticipate body changes.
It has become a common misconception that bodies should remain the same size, weight, and shape throughout adult life. However, body changes occur naturally as people age and reach new stages of life (Hello, menopause!). Rather than resenting these changes, begin shifting expectations beforehand and practice gratitude for the way bodies prepare themselves for the challenges of aging. Though gradual weight gain feels uncomfortable for some and is frowned upon by many health professionals, consider a bit of additional weight as an insurance policy during times of stress, illness, or falls. More research is needed, but what is often considered a health burden may actually safeguard against age-related mortality.
6. Prioritize self care.
Self care is key to a balanced life and effective stress management. Deliberately and consistently incorporating movement, nourishing meals, regular check-ups, adequate sleep, relaxation, prayer, time with loved ones, and other pleasurable actions promote physical, mental, and emotional health.
The impact of food, movement, and self care on physical, social, cultural, and psychological quality of life cannot be overlooked. No matter your current age, it’s not too early or too late to begin incorporating these health-promoting habits!
Blair Mize, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN is co-owner of Memphis Nutrition Group, a nutrition & lifestyle counseling practice operated by registered & licensed dietitians/nutritionists. Memphis Nutrition Group believes in a non-diet approach that promotes overall health and optimal performance without compromising the enjoyment of food. For more information call Memphis Nutrition Group at 901.343.6146 or visit http://www.MemphisNutritionGroup.com.