As a nation we are getting older, 11% of the nation in 1996 was over 65 and this figure is set to rise to 15% by 2011. As our body ages it degenerates. Illnessís associated with this degeneration can vary from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimerís to diabetes, cataracts, hearing impairment, arthritis etc.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, i.e. not smoking and drinking excessively, not consuming fried and processed foods, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet can prevent 70% of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.
When we get older we may not eat as much as we did when we were younger for various reasons, maybe itís difficult to shop and prepare foods, or the inclination to cook falls if you are just cooking for one. However, it is still so important to feed our bodies with a balanced diet and to be physically active.
Here is a list of things you can do to adopt a healthier lifestyle:
1. Follow the food pyramid and eat a wide variety of foods, including those with high nutrient density. The darker green leafy vegetables are best, especially for eyesight and prevention of disease.
2. Eat plenty of carbohydrate rich foods (unless directed otherwise by your GP) throughout the day. E.g.: wholemeal bread, potatoes, rice, pasta etc. Excessive consumption of sugary foods should be avoided.
3. Four or more portions of fruit and vegetables should be eaten daily. Try and have a "rainbow diet" which means eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables in order to get the optimum level of nutrients.
4. An adequate intake of high fibre foods and fluids should be maintained. Oats are a great fibre rich food. For those with constipation, adding a teaspoon of linseeds to your cereal can help.
5. Meat, poultry and fish should be eaten regularly. In my opinion fish is the best protein-type food you can eat as it is easily digested. White fish contains little or no fat and oily fish contains essential oils that are extremely beneficial to the health of your arteries. Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese should be eaten daily. All older people should consume fortified milk unless otherwise recommended.
6. All fats are not bad, only the saturated type, which are generally animal based products, e.g. lard, butter etc. These fats can contribute to the major problem of heart disease. The type of fat we should be consuming is unsaturated with generally is plant based e.g. olive oil, sunflower oil. These can lead to a healthy heart and blood so the risk of heart problems is decreased.
7. >At least 8 glasses of water should be drunk each day, also for every cup of tea, coffee or alcoholic drink have a glass of water to combat dehydration.
8. Enriched foods, fortified foods and dietary supplements should be used where specifically indicated by your GP. The use of dietary supplements should be reviewed regularly.
9. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
The wonderful thing about our bodies is that it is NEVER too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle and our bodies will respond in a positive way to positive changes. Go for it and stay healthy!
Emma Buckley B.Sc www.juiceplus.ie