What our body needs to operate at its best changes throughout our lifetime. We go through two main phases of change; before and after the age of around 30. We all know the importance of consuming calcium and energy rich foods as we grow and develop, but when we enter the second phase of change – what do we need to do to keep healthy for the long term?
At Four Seasons Health Care we advocate three key guidelines for healthy eating in older age. Eating well not only helps you to maintain a healthy weight but also gives you the energy to keep moving. Regular exercise contributes to wellbeing, keeping you satisfied and happy! But one step at a time…
1 – Variety is the spice of later life
The phrase You Are What You Eat is true at any age and an adventurous palate is just as beneficial when we’re young as when we’re older. A varied diet consisting of healthy whole foods (avoiding or limiting foods that are processed or full of sugar and fat) has been shown to benefit mental, as well as physical, health.
Studies show that microbes in the gut produce serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood and emotion, proving that what we eat has an impact on how we feel. Plus, a varied and balanced diet is interesting to our minds, providing everyday excitement at meal-time, as well as being good to our body. It’s never too late to try a new cuisine, experiment with different vegetables or swap a biscuit for a sweet piece of fruit.
2 – Refuel in proportion to your energy needs
Our bodies change in composition as we get older. If two adults weigh 65kg, but one is 70-years-old and the other is 24, it is likely the 24-year-old carries a higher percentage of muscle and the 70-year-old a higher percentage of soft tissue.
It might not be fair, but it’s a fact. Younger people are generally more active than those who are older and so younger bodies require more fuel for burning, while in later life any excess energy from food can turn to fat. Adapting to our body’s decreased need for energy is important in later life. This means listening to when your body is full and decreasing portion size accordingly. You might find that you prefer one larger meal during the day and two smaller, or even several much smaller meals throughout the day instead. Whatever your preference, just be sure to make your plate balanced for good energy and health.
3 – Enjoy a fish dish every week
Fish is known for its health advantages and these are particularly pertinent to older people. Oily fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, helping to fight against heart disease, which can be particularly beneficial for those who have a history of heart disease. These acids can also help to combat rheumatoid arthritis, easing swollen and tender joints while aiding grip strength and mobility. There is also increasing evidence Omega-3 can help to preserve eye health and prevent cognitive decline.
When it comes to good eating in later life, the same sensibilities apply but above all it’s about listening to your body as it changes and keeping a balance of good fuel and good fun in your diet.
To celebrate British Food Fortnight we have brought together recipes which showcase the best of British, featuring seasonal produce in popular regional dishes, which will jog memories and inspire residents to experience childhood and family favourites.
Four Seasons Health Care is one of the UK’s largest independent health care providers with over 180 care homes across the UK; find a home near you.
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