As we approach 70 and beyond, there are many changes in our bodies that require special nutritional needs.
"Once age 70 hits, usually there are chronic diseases that have popped up such as heart disease, diabetes, and maybe even a recurrence of cancer," board-certified dietitian Tara Collingwood, MS, tells Newsmax. "Things like arthritis and sleep disorders are also quite common. Sleep is critical to good health, and many people have trouble sleeping in their older years."
Advanced age also brings chronic inflammation along with cognitive decline. "In addition, we tend to slow down," says Collingwood. "That means we aren't burning as many calories nor are we exercising as much as we used to. This leads to loss of muscle mass and reduces our metabolism."
Here are recommendations on how to tailor your nutritional need to combat the effects of aging:
- Watch portions. "You probably need fewer calories, so pay attention to the amount of food you put on your plate," says Collingwood. Include a protein at every meal to help preserve muscle mass, says Christine Ritchie MD, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Aim for 23 to 30 grams of protein, such as a small chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, or a burger, according to AARP. Also, do not skip meals. It's better to eat smaller portions more often.
- Add fiber. Digestive issues are common as we get older, says Collingwood, so make sure you are getting enough fiber from fruits with their skins on, whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. "Drink plenty of water to keep things moving through the digestive tract," the dietitian adds.
- Watch sodium intake. To prevent or control heart disease, reduce the amount of sodium you consume and watch your intake of saturated fat. Also, eat a rainbow of fruit such as blueberries and strawberries. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate just 1 cup of blueberries daily for 6 months showed improved vascular function and higher levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol, according to AARP.
- Supplement with omega-3. With inflammation and cognitive decline rising, Collingwood suggests eating fatty fish such as salmon and sardines regularly. "If eating fish is not something you enjoy, take an omega-3 fish oil supplement that has a combined total of 1,000 milligrams of DHA and EPA fatty acids," the expert says.
- Increase dairy for your bones. According to AARP, around 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. Eating more calcium along with vitamin D can help preserve bone strength. People over 70 should aim for 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily, which you can get from dairy products, leafy greens, broccoli, and almonds. According to Healthline, one of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of vitamin D is to spend at least 5-15 minutes outside in the sunshine twice weekly. It's not present in many foods, so supplementation is another way to increase your intake. The recommended daily intake or RDI for vitamin D is between 600 IUs daily for most adults and 800 IUs daily for those over the age of 70.
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