After years of eating what your palate demands, your food turns into comfort food for you. These foods may not necessarily be of the greatest nutritional value and you may be oblivious to it too. Why? It’s because you have youth on your side, your digestive system springs into action, double action and maybe triple action as needed on some days. Any type of food is broken down by your system without too much ado.
Post your fifties you stop enjoying this perk from your system. With every advancing year your metabolism slows down and after you cross fifty, it’s downward trend doubles if you do not introduce foods that add nutritional value to your system. This leads to lower immunity, and a welcome shot to illness, something nobody wishes for and can be avoided if you begin introducing superfoods into your daily diet as early as possible.
Here is a self-test:
After you take the test, read on to see what needs to change in your lifestyle, what you should drop, what you should keep and what you need to introduce into your daily diet. Make notes and keep them handy, reading them regularly and inculcating them into your lifestyle. Slow and steady always wins the race.
1- Does your daily diet include a portion of any one or two portions of each food group?
Protein – lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, paneer, tofu, whole dals, curd, and soy.
Complex Carbohydrates – beans, peas, corn, whole grains and almost all vegetables.
Simple Carbohydrates – sugar, white flour, excessive dairy products.
2- Do you eat the same choices in each food group? (Proteins, Complex Carbohydrates, Simple Carbohydrates)
3- How is your food cooked? Steamed, grilled, baked, cooked in oil or fried.
4- Do you eat all food groups at each meal or skip some?
5- At what time of the day do you eat fruit, salad and raw nuts?
1 . Your plate should look like a balance of protein and carbohydrates
At breakfast: ¾ of your plate should have raw food (fruit, nuts, seeds) and ¼ a mix of protein and grain.
At lunch: half your plate should be protein and half a mix of vegetable and grain.
At dinner: ¾ of your plate should be protein and ¼ of your plate with vegetables, try avoiding grain at dinnertime.
Avoid the three white as far as possible-sugar, white flour (Maida) dairy.
2. Through the week, eat a variety from each food group, each are absorbed differently by the body and bring in their own form of nutrition.
3. A balance of all ways to cook food is sustainable for the long run. Oil consumption should be minimum, the more the food is “bhunood” the more vitamins are lost. Keep it simple.
4. I am of the opinion that if you skip eating a food group altogether, your body will also forget how to speedily digest that food group; this puts unnecessary pressure on the digestive system when you reintroduce the food group. Balance is key.
5. Raw food should always be eaten on an empty stomach, the first food of the day or three hours after a cooked meal is considered an empty stomach. If you notice a three-course meal begins with salad and then the main course, so if you decide to eat a salad eat it first, chew it well, then eat your cooked food.
Now that you understand the balance of daily eating, let’s add foods that will enhance your health, speed up your metabolism and increase immunity.
To build your own healthy diet, remember that, “foods work together in concert, you need a whole symphony for a spectacular musical piece. But if you add these super foods to your own orchestra, you’re well on your way to a healthier tune.” says Joseph Gonzales, (registered dietitian—Mayo Clinic)
SUPER FOODS FOR OLDER ADULTS
Dark green, leafy vegetables
Herbs – Spices
Calcium, Vitamin D, B-12
Water — Did you know that as you grow older, you don’t have as good a thirst mechanism; very often you think you are hungry when you are actually just thirsty. Hydrate yourself throughout the day; I personally drink a glass of water for every waking hour of the day. It flushes my system and helps the bowel mechanism. A clean gut = good health.
Berries — The ‘one-stop nutrition’ for the fifty plus, berries are high in fiber, vitamin C, anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidant flavonoids and also delay neurodegeneration. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest; men fifty or older should eat thirty grams a day, and women fifty years or older should eat twenty grams a day. TIP: wild blueberries (usually sold in the frozen food section) have three or four times the antioxidants of conventional blueberries.
Nuts — The daily recommendation of one ounce equals 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 35 peanuts and 15 pecan halves.
Nuts and seeds are an important source of healthy fats. Walnuts, flax meal and chia seeds all contain ALA omega-3 fats, which are converted to EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, apart from being rich in protein and fiber they protect your brain health too.
Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables — As we get older, our bones become softer and need more of a supply of calcium, Dark-green leafy vegetables like kale, arugula, broccoli and spinach are high in fiber, appear to boost muscle function and are heart-healthy with a rich natural source of calcium.
Fish – Seafood — Studies suggest that older adults need to be more sensitive to protein intake because their bodies are not as efficient at using protein. Fish such as salmon, cod, tuna and trout are a lean source of protein, providing B-12 and Omega-3 fatty acid, which aid older people to maintain or regain muscle
Cottage Cheese — After the age of thirty-five we start to lose bone density, adding calcium and vitamin D to our diet is essential to maintain levels, cottage cheese is a natural source.
Beans – Legumes — Beans help reduce cholesterol they’re loaded with fiber and protein and low-calorie, also rich in iron, potassium and magnesium. Have your daily dose.
Ghee — our ancestors made ghee from collecting the daily cream off the milk.
Pure ghee is a healthy fat, keeps the joints lubricated and speeds up absorption of vitamins and minerals. Cook your food in ghee.
Herbs – Spices — turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, oregano and parsley really do have nutritional value and antioxidants, They reduce the desire for extra salt in your food.
Lemon – Lime — One easy way to get calcium in your diet is to squeeze half a lemon, lime or orange into your water, you’ll also get electrolytes, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, all minerals that your body needs as an add-on and most importantly it makes your system alkaline.
Seaweed — Seaweed detoxifies some of the pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals and pathogens we’ve been exposed to during our lives. Develop a taste for it and add it to your diet. Soon.
Calcium, Vitamin D, B-12 — A daily multivitamin that is formulated for someone over fifty is the easy way out. Consult your physician and have one a day.
Our need for energy declines starting in middle age, there’s less room for drinking a pitcher of margaritas and having a basket of chips. Whether you’ve been a healthy eater your whole life or lately fallen off the nutritional wagon, it’s important to take a hard look at your diet after age fifty, adapting to a potentially slower metabolism, decline in muscle mass, weakening of bones and its density or a tendency of slowing down of bowel function is part of the deal.
The answer —
Be wise in your choices about your food, and make sure you’re getting enough nutritional bang for your buck.
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