Life longevity is increasing on a global scale, but with the constant avalanche of discoveries in the realm of medicine, it always seems as if we could do more. Still, adults tend to look younger and younger and the elderly can retain a skip in their step until they are deep in their eighties. It is all about the right lifestyle. While certain setbacks are impossible to avoid as we enter our twilight years, the benefits of proper nutrition and fitness for older adults are undeniable!
Accept the lifestyle change
Growth requires change. In spite of the widely accepted fact that you cannot change habits after you’ve reached a certain age, we actually never stop learning until the day we die. The change begins by accepting your condition in a realistic way. Elder care is getting more refined and technology is improving the lifestyles of all generations, including the oldest citizens.
Accept the helping hand
Therefore, it would be ill-advised to refuse these modern tools that can turn your life around. Accepting help when you need it is not a sign of weakness, and a balanced diet coupled with regular exercise can definitely improve your condition as long as you listen to the counsel of the professionals.
Food is a fuel
Biological senescence comes with age even if you are totally healthy. However, your goal isn’t to be a superhero but to adapt to the metabolic changes through proper nutrition and exercise. Dietary patterns change with age and you have to avoid the trap of eating less as your energy diminishes. Think of food as a form of fuel, but you have to choose the highest quality brand that is specially tailored to your engine. Thankfully, modern aged care communities have caught up with this and they offer diverse menus that can accommodate any type of healthy diet.
A double-edged sword
It is all about the most efficient absorption of nutrients. As the metabolism and appetite slow down, it’s true that you’ll have less opportunity to ingest unhealthy fats and sugars, but you will also absorb less crucial vitamins and minerals that keep the body running. This doesn’t only affect the immune system of the elderly, but their mental health as well.
The most necessary nutrients for a well-functioning immune system are magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, riboflavin, vitamin B complex, folic acid, calcium, potassium and thiamine. In order to cover these minerals, you have to begin with restriction. First you need to restrict the intake of certain carbohydrates, which means that refined bread, pasta, cakes and donuts are out of the question. They will mess up the hormonal balance that is delicate enough as it is.
A diverse diet
Diversify your diet with lean sources of meat proteins, or plant-based proteins if you do not consume meat, and a healthy mixture of gently cooked or raw vegetables. Divide three meals a day into five to seven modest meals and add at least one snack between two meals. This snack can come in the form of fresh fruit or, if you feel that your blood sugar has dropped, a mix of dried fruit and legumes (for example, almonds) may help.
Some fruits and vegetables are also rich in fibers, but nevertheless, you should make sure that you consume whole grains with your meals. They can be potent resources of omega-3 fatty acids and they aid in healthy digestion. Should you add a fermented product to your diet, you can bet your bottom dollar that the bacterial makeup of your gut will stay in peak condition. Once again, if you are vegan, you can settle with kombucha tea instead of yogurt or sour milk.
Overall, you should ensure that your food is never too salty. As we get older, the sense of taste tends to fade which can lead to a desperate desire to “add just a pinch more”. However, enhancing the taste of your food with salt is a dangerous game. High blood pressure becomes quite a problem with age and over-salted food can slowly but surely lead to strokes, heart attacks or, at the very least, decreased cognitive function.
Balance it out
In addition to a balanced diet, you should also balance out your daily routine and diversify it by introducing regular exercises that may put those nutrients to good use. However, you should also consult a professional trainer and your designated doctor before venturing out to a gym for a few sets of weightlifting. Start off with easy to mild routines and see where that takes you.
Make it fun
Elders that get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise on daily basis are 60% less likely to develop dementia. This is a truly astounding statistic! In spite of this, many simply choose to sit through their twilight years simply because they find exercising too difficult and boring. Luckily, there are many ways to make physical activity fun. For example, you can get involved in competitive dancing or enjoy an easy-going water volleyball session in the local pool. Pilates and yoga can also be extremely beneficial and profound experiences.
Keep your neck strong
As it has been mentioned, dementia is a frequent health issue among the elderly that don’t exercise, and the probability for developing a dementia-related illness skyrockets after we reach the age of 65. This is why you should begin every morning with a set of neck-related exercises. The neck is an extremely complex network of muscles and blood vessels, and keeping your blood pumping properly to the brain (and vice versa) should be at the top of your fitness priorities.
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Exercise with friends
People are social animals. We cannot exist as isolated beasts of burden to the relatives and medical professionals that surround us. Just as dining with friends may increase your appetite, exercising with a peer that can encourage you will also prompt you to go a step further and finish the set. If you do not partake in communal exercise sessions such as Pilates, yoga or tai-chi courses, you should find a designated gym buddy and have a blast while “pumping iron”. There is a social aspect to this that is also beneficial.
Healthy aging is only possible with healthy routines, and sometimes it can be hard to let the old habits go. Thankfully, the world has a rich depository of knowledge on how to keep your metabolism well-oiled and your body properly wound-up deep into the twilight years. With regular moderate exercising and diverse, balanced nutrition on a daily basis, you can be as productive and socially dynamic in your old age as you were in your mid-thirties.
Article written by Lillian Connors