Healthy, happy older couple on a walk

How to protect your health as you age

Ageing is an inevitable part of life, and something to be celebrated. However, some of the physical changes associated with ageing can be unwanted and our bodies don’t always reflect how young we feel on the inside. There is no need to resign yourself to old age, though. It is never too late to begin good habits, and adopt an anti-ageing lifestyle that benefits both your body and mind.

Eat an anti-ageing diet

Diet is possibly the most important factor in how to improve health in your later years. Throughout your life, it is always important to eat a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruit, oily fish, whole grains, and lean protein. However, certain tweaks should be made to your diet in older age to reflect the health conditions and specific concerns associated with ageing.

Eating right in older age can help prevent and ease a range of age-related health problems.

What to put on your plate

It is common to lose bone density as you get older, which in some cases can lead to osteoporosis. Ensure you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D and protein. Dairy products like Greek yoghurt, eggs and cheese are great sources, as well as sardines.

Keeping your weight down is another important step you can take to look after your health as you get older. Not only does maintaining a healthy weight reduce the risk of you developing many diseases, being lighter is much easier on your joints.

Arthritis is very common in older people, so make sure you are eating a joint-friendly diet incorporating omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and anti-inflammatory compounds found in spices such as ginger. Include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables in your diet, such as spinach and broccoli, and snack on nuts and seeds to promote good joint health.1

Your metabolism slows as you get older, so you probably won’t need as much food as you once did. However, make sure you don’t become dehydrated and drink water throughout the day. Avoid fizzy drinks as they can rob the bones of calcium. If constipation is a concern for you, then ensure you are eating enough fibre in your diet.

Avoid salty foods as these can raise blood pressure and cause water retention. Choose to cook at home as much as you can, and if possible, try not to rely on convenience foods such as tinned soup, which can be extremely high in salt. Do not season your foods with salt if you can avoid it, and choose pepper or anti-inflammatory spices instead like cayenne pepper instead.

Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin A which is good for maintaining eyesight as well as keeping the eyes moist.2 Vitamin A has been linked to a slower progression of the age-related eye condition macular degeneration.3

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Your skin will benefit from a vitamin E-rich diet, so include nuts, spinach and avocado in your meals. You can also use vitamin E topically in skin creams, which helps your skin stay supple, hydrated and comfortable.

Make sure you enjoy a varied diet, and choose whole foods rather than processed. Processed foods, although convenient, are often lacking in nutrients that become even more important as we age.

Move your body

Did you know that exercise helps with the everyday aches and pains associated with ageing? Exercise also benefits your cardiovascular health as well as helps to control weight. Keeping your body active should be part of your daily routine. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your day, which can include walking, yoga, badminton, swimming or even gardening. Be sure to stretch and warm up before exercise to reduce the chances of strains and sprains.

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How to stay mentally sharp

To enjoy good health in older age, it is important to work out your brain as well as your body. You may have heard that learning a new skill is great for improving cognitive function, and that is especially true in the older demographic.

A 2013 US study on memory in older adults showed that focusing on learning a new activity, such as quilt-making and digital photography for three months dramatically improved the memory of the participants of the study compared to those who did not learn a new skill.4

It is not too late to learn a new language, play a new musical instrument or pursue an area of learning that has always sparked your interest. Look for classes locally, or search online for more information about what is available in your area.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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Sources
  1. . [Online] https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/daily-life/diet-and-arthritis/how-can-changing-my-diet-help-my-arthritis.aspx.

2. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18848318.
3. [Online] https://nei.nih.gov/amd/summary.
4. [Online] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797613499592?papetoc=&.

Senior Health