Getting older does more than cause wrinkles and gray hair. It also changes the way your body uses food. Your metabolism, your senses and your overall health all change with age which causes a change in the way food is handled. Your oral health and medications also have an impact on your appetite and nutrition. Here are some reasons to watch your diet as you age and some tips to help you eat well for a long life.
When you reach the magical age of 40, your metabolism begins to slow down and you may become less active. The first thing you may notice is a few extra pounds around the middle although you may not have changed your eating habits. Two ways to combat this phenomenon: exercise more or eat less. Or a little of both.
Vitamins and minerals in your stomach are absorbed using gastric acid. But when you reach middle age, your stomach doesn’t make as much of the acid needed to properly absorb all the nutrients from your food. Vitamin B-12, necessary for blood and nerve health, is one of those nutrients. Your skin also becomes less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D which is necessary for bone health and helps with your mental well being.
You may also notice that your senses aren’t quite as strong as they were in your 20s and 30s. Your taste sensation for salt is among the first to weaken causing you to add salt to your food. Unfortunately this works against the potential for high blood pressure — just one of the many medical conditions that begin to appear with age.
Your oral health is also important when it comes to your dietary needs. Cavities, tooth decay and gum disease all inhibit your ability to eat and enjoy food. When you have gum issues or poorly fitting dentures, you don’t feel much like eating. And if you don’t eat like you should, you will be missing out on essential nutrients as you age.
The age related issues listed above have a big impact on your overall health because you aren’t as likely to consume the wide variety of nutrients your body needs to keep up a healthy immune system.
Choosing foods that will help you stay healthy isn’t complicated. The basics that you probably learned in elementary school still hold true with a few modifications. Today’s diet recommendations are based on a round plate instead of a food pyramid. Your plate should contain half fruits and vegetables, one-fourth whole grains, and one fourth lean proteins. For full details visit the My Plate website.
Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. These don’t have to be non-genetically modified organisms (GMO), or specially grown organic items. Choose what fits your budget and your tastes whether they be fresh, frozen or canned. Focus on the color. Rich leafy green and orange colored fruits and veggies will be your best bet for optimal nutrition. Colorful fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants and vitamins which help to prevent cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They also help boost your immune system.