The Importance of a Healthy and Balanced Diet for Senior Strength
Be it a child, young adult or an elder adult, observing a healthy and balanced diet is important. Nourishing one’s body becomes even more important as one reaches middle age and beyond. As one gets older, eating a healthy diet can improve mental sharpness, boost energy levels, and increase the body’s resistance to sickness. More than helping the body to stay in top shape, keeping a proper diet is also key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally well.
Elder adults are extremely susceptible to malnutrition and this happens due to the following scientific reasons:
- Metabolism and appetite slow down with age
- Less caloric intake means less opportunity to absorb nutrients
- The body’s natural ability to absorb nutrients, especially specific important nutrients, decreases with age
Healthy eating for seniors is thus exponentially important for several reasons. And the good news is that it’s never too late to start building good eating habits whatever your age. Today is the best time to change one’s eating lifestyle.
Improving your diet now can help you:
- Prolong life and live it to the fullest.
Proper nutrition is reflected in studies to boost immunity, fight illness-causing toxins, maintaining a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, and cancer. Partnered with regular exercise and physical activities, a good and nutritious diet can contribute to keeping your strength and independence as you age.
- Improve mental acuteness
Adding fruits, leafy vegetables, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids helps one improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Green tea, rich in antioxidants, also enhances memory and mental sharpness as one ages.
- Improves overall wellness
Proper diet gives one more energy and therefore helps one look better, resulting in a boost in mood and self-esteem. It’s all connected—when your body feels good, you feel happier inside and out.
To start eating a healthy and balanced diet, here are a few practices to observe:
- Aim for 2 to 3 servings of fruits a day. When it comes to veggies, choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such spinach and broccoli. Make vegetables more appetizing by drizzling them with olive oil or frying with them with garlic or chili flakes. Aim eating 2 to 3 cups every day.
- Eat more fiber because it lowers your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also helps nourish your skin and help you lose weight. As one ages, digestion becomes less efficient, so it’s important to include enough fiber in your diet.
- Keep your protein sources varied. Eating high-quality protein improves one’s mood and boosts resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression. It can even help one think more clearly. Eating too much protein from processed meat products such as hot dogs, bacon, and salami may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. Instead of just eating red meat include more fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
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Does a Vegetarian Get Quality Protein and Strength?
Environmental and sustainability advocates today have created a movement for people to ditch meat and to switch from an animal-based diet to a plant-based one. Vegetarianism is thus on the rise, with people embracing the benefits of plant-sourced nutrition. This trend naturally raises the question: Does a vegetarian diet provide an individual with quality protein and strength? Also, does the vegetarian diet provide the same amount of protein compared to a meat-based diet?
To provide a short and quick answer to the above questions: Yes, eating a variety of plant-based food sources can fulfill a person’s protein and strength requirements.
In fact, even athletes and the most active individuals can perform their best on a vegetarian diet. One study from the Arizona State University found no difference in measures of strength or endurance, or even levels of lean body mass, in vegetarian athletes compared to meat eaters. The key lies in strategically planning meals in such a way that they will provide the muscles the nutrients it needs.
Proteins are composed of amino acids and nine of which are essential in the diet of adults. These are leucine, isoleucine, histidine, valine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and lysine. While there are 20 amino acids found in protein, 11 are deemed non-essential.
The need to consume the essential amino acids as pointed out by experts means that the quality of protein, we consume is important. While the pattern of amino acids in an animal-based protein is similar to that of human cells, meaning they have a higher biological value than those from plant sources, doesn’t mean that plants are “second class” source of protein. To get all the essential amino acids, the key is to eat a variety of protein from a daily balanced diet.
All these said, is a vegetarian diet good for seniors?
One way to look at it is that a vegetarian diet, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, along with lower levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, hypertension and body mass index.
To put is it simply, these benefits can properly address health issues among seniors:
1. Antiaging Effect
A plant-heavy diet can increase the activity of telomeres, which are the rebuilding enzymes found at the end of a cell’s chromosome.
2. Support on brain function
Plant-based diet is belief that can help lower the risk of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, and vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower have properties that can boost brain function and help you think more clearly.
3. It boosts energy.
Energy is linked to our digestion. Because it’s easier for a senior’s digestive system to break down plant foods than meat, a vegetarian diet can create more energy throughout the day.
As long as you consume protein from other sources, you can minimize the negative effects of cutting meat out of your diet.
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Building Muscle Tips after 40
When you hear people talk about building muscles, images of body builders and strongmen are what most people see and believe that is the point of muscle building. You may have had a lifetime of fitness or just picking it up to feel better, the science behind building muscle is about the same whether you are in your late 20s or over 40.
Use it or lose it, a term passed around where muscle fitness is concerned, maintaining muscle strength after the age of 40 is essential. This is because when you are in your 40s, just by being bedridden for a few days, your muscles and strength lose their vigor faster. Even a few simple exercises in addition to a diet, can help you maintain your independence, your day to day activities don’t become a strain, prevent falls, maintain consistent energy levels, and maintain efficient mobility in joints.
Monitor What You Eat
As we age, depending on your natural body chemistry, metabolism or how your body spends energy, becomes slower. Cutting high cholesterol foods and consuming less processed foods as much as possible. Keep up with green vegetables, fresh seasonal fruits, beans, and natural fats diet. Work in Omega-3 fats and Vitamin D for a healthier heart.
Easy Does It
You may have many obligations that consume most of your day compared to what they were when you were in the young adult stage. Because you can’t always attend regular training or intense training sessions, don’t stress it and take it easy. Forcing yourself may cause unnecessary pains or pull a muscle resulting in damage that your body may not be able to repair. Try light weights or even your own body weight with more reps. Even a light stretch here and there for one minute every day can make a difference in overall health. And after any exercise or strenuous activity, ensure that you get adequate rest such as good sleep, drink plenty of water throughout, eat right, and practice a few days to a week break. Don’t compare yourself to others who may have had a lifetime of fitness or many years your senior. Find those in similar situations as you to keep you motivated and even find muscle workout partners to learn from each other. A work out can sometimes be simply walking around the mall with friends or taking the stairs.
Do Not Ignore Pains or Discomforts that Develop
You may find that after every strenuous activity while in your 40s, your body is slower to recover. It is suggested to start off with low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, cycling, and elliptical cardio. They are any type of exercise that are easier on your muscle strain and fluid motion that is not so grinding on joints too. The rule of thumb before any type of workout is to do a warmup and after work out stretch to destress. If you feel discomfort or pain in the back, knee, shoulder, or other areas of the body while exercising, please do not ignore them. If you are known to have back pains, don’t do any heavy lifting or if you have knee issues, don’t do high impact programs that can make it worse. After consulting a physical therapist, you can work around those limitations with alternatives. For example, for lower back pain, replace lifting with squats. If you use large weight lifting machines, maybe try the smaller dumbbell presses.
Consult a Physical Therapist or Physiologist
Consulting a professional or an expert before starting any program or even muscle building is right for you after 40 will prevent injuries. With consultation, you can even get customized techniques for what works best for you with your health history and living situation. You can even find the right ways to build muscles at home with home equipment. With guidance, pain you might have otherwise felt while working out will drop and improve both mobility and performance. With your doctor, have regular blood pressure checkups, cholesterol & heart monitoring, and waistline measuring for body fat ratio. And most important of all, never be afraid to ask for help.
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