How Healthy Eating Affects Aging

Cheerful senior couple preparing vegan meal in kitchen

Since it’s the holiday season, there’s no better time than now to talk about one of life’s greatest pleasures – eating! Food is not only tasty and rich in culture and tradition, it’s also an important key to living a longer, healthier life.

But that doesn’t mean you’ve got the license to go to town on every snack you see. It’s more about what you eat and how you eat it. Here’s some insight into how food and nutrition affect senior health.

Prevent the loss of muscular and physical strength

As we get older, our bodies get a bit slower: our reflexes, immune responses, personal best marathon times – and even our metabolism. Metabolism is the process of turning food we eat into energy our bodies use. When this slows down, we become more vulnerable to unwanted weight gain and other critical health conditions. For older women, 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day is considered sufficient for metabolism to break down, while 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day is recommended for older men.

But why does metabolism slow down at all? It’s actually linked to age-related loss of lean body mass – the muscles we need to stay strong and mobile to live a healthy lifestyle. And that’s something that good nutrition can help prevent, or at least slow down. Start by including whole grains, fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, and natural dairy products in your diet while also ensuring proper portion control.

Portion control reduces stress on the body

We may love eating, but our body struggles to cope when we eat too much. Do you ever feel sluggish and tired after a big meal? That’s because it takes a lot of energy to digest and metabolize food. The more we eat, the harder we’re making our bodies work. If we eat big portions every day, we’re also creating more stress for our internal processes.

Stress, whether it’s mental, emotional or physical, is unhealthy for your body. The stress caused by overeating is much like the stress of a demanding job – it leads to early aging, heart problems, a weakened immune system, diabetes or even a shorter life.

Taking a simple step, like introducing portion control, helps you enjoy the food you love while limiting the negative impact on your health.

Simple swaps can make healthy eating easier during the holiday season

We live in a time of convenience food, but good cooking methods and simple food substitutes can make your meals far more nutritious.

  • Microwave dinners – Sure, they’re easy. And it may be a good idea to have a few in the freezer in case a big storm blows in. However, they’re less than ideal for everyday nutrition and are not typically part of a healthy lifestyle. Microwave dinners are usually high in sodium, which negatively impacts heart health, cholesterol, water retention/bloating, as well as accelerated aging. Instead, prep your own meals and freeze them in advance, or find healthy meal delivery services. 
  • Fried anything – Anything fried or deep fried should be a rare treat. That will help you age slowly and avoid chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and liver disease. If you are frying, use olive oil or canola, as these are healthier oils with low levels of linoleic acid. Even better, invest in an air fryer to support your healthy lifestyle. They require  just a tiny amount of oil and the results will be just as tasty! 
  • Processed protein – Proteins are very important at every stage of life. They help to repair and build strong muscles – but it’s important to choose the right proteins for your diet. Processed meats like ham, bacon and sausage are high in fat and sodium, so swap them out with chicken, lean mince, fish or even vegetables like beans, peas, and tofu.

Healthy, balanced dining at UMC at The Shores

Food is such an important part of our daily lives. It means time spent dining together, an opportunity to be creative and even explore other cultures. Healthy eating as you age is not just about giving up bad habits, it’s about expanding your horizons and finding new ways to support good nutrition. Therefore, ensuring your physical and mental wellness comes first.

At UMC at The Shores, we pride ourselves on the tasty, healthy food we offer to our residents. We work with a wide range of health conditions and senior dietary needs to deliver meals that tantalize the taste buds and support a longer, more enjoyable life.

For more information on senior health, as well as how we work to support a healthy lifestyle, please contact UMC at The Shores today at:

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