Maintaining health and wellbeing is vital at all stages of our lives. As we age, it becomes even more important that we make efforts to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Jinga Life spoke to Marcela Ferreira*, a Specialist in Obesity and Holistic Nutrition who told us “as we get older our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health.” Adding certain food items to your diet such as “wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, spices and herbs” are essential for healthy ageing. Marcela also recommends avoiding processed foods such as frozen meals, cured meats, and sugary items like biscuits and cakes. “Healthy eating can help control or delay health issues associated with ageing like high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and dementia.” So what vitamins and nutrients do you need for a healthy ageing process?
Fibre Fibre is an important part of our diet at any age. As we age, however, our digestive system begins to slow down. As the walls of the gastrointestinal tract thicken, the contractions become slower and fewer. This may lead to issues such as constipation. By adding fibre rich foods to your diet, digestion is promoted which allows for food to move along the digestive tract easily. fibre rich foods are also known to reduce the risk of heart disease and maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. Fibre rich foods: Wholegrain bread and pasta, brown rice, nuts, fruit and veg (which when eaten raw are especially fibre rich).
Vitamin D Vitamin D is vital for healthy bone health. If we don’t have vitamin D then we can’t absorb calcium, which maintains our strong bones. A lack of vitamin D causes osteomalacia which is a softening of the bones in adults. Vitamin D naturally occurs in our bodies when the skin is exposed to sunlight, however prolonged exposure to the sun is dangerous without an SPF so it is important to use one. In Ireland where we don’t get a lot of sun getting your hit of vitamin D from food is very important.
Vitamin D rich foods: Milk, yoghurt, juice, eggs and some fish such as tuna and salmon.
Magnesium Marcela reports that Magnesium “plays a crucial role in 300 physiological functions. It keeps your heart healthy, your immune system, and your bones strong”. As we age, our body’s ability to properly absorb magnesium decreases. “Some medication for older people decreases the absorption of magnesium” also. Magnesium rich foods: Whole grains, nuts, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
Omega 3 Omega 3’s are fatty acids. These fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation. This inflammation “can cause cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. Recent evidence has shown that these fatty acids can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keep the brain alert”. Omega rich foods: Oily fish such as sardines, tuna, mackerel, cod and salmon. If you are a vegetarian these omega 3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed, soybeans and walnuts.
Potassium Potassium is responsible for aiding in cell function. Potassium has many health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, relief from stroke, lowering chances of kidney stones, and strengthening bones. A lack of potassium is problematic as we age, but too much can also be dangerous so Marcela recommends consulting your doctor before adopting too much of it into your diet. Potassium rich foods: Bananas, prunes, and potatoes. *Marcela Ferreira* is Nutritionist, Specialist in Obesity. She is also Holistic Nutrition - a professional who is a specialist on taking care of the whole person, meaning physically, mentally, spiritually and socially- on all levels of his/her being. Marcela is currently studying fundamental course in Functional Nutritional.