A healthy diet keeps your body strong, your mind sharp, and can help slow the aging process. It also lowers your risk for high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, and some cancers.
Eating nutritious foods can help you adjust to the natural aging process and retain your youthful vigour. Here are some tips for eating well.
Eat more fruits and veggies
One of the best ways to make healthy choices is to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Small steps make a big difference to your health; add an extra fruit or veggie to meals and snacks. Need a little inspirations? Check out Half Your Plate for lots of tips.
Here to help: The Healthy Eating for Seniors handbook includes recipes, menu plans, and information on good nutrition. The handbook is available in English and French and has also been culturally adapted and translated into Chinese and Punjabi.
Reach for high quality foods
To maintain a healthy weight eat foods high in nutrients and avoid high-calorie foods that provide few nutrients. Eat foods rich in fibre, including vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids - especially water - to keep your digestive system healthy. An easy way to be sure you’re eating the right amount of food to meet your energy and nutrient needs is by following Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Did You Know?
You can make big improvements to your health by losing as little as five pounds. It’s never too late to begin making small steps to better health.
Muscle up with protein
Some of the changes that occur with age are loss of muscle and an increase in body fat. Muscle loss is a concern because strong muscles can help prevent falls and fractures. New evidence shows that you can maintain and build muscle by eating more protein as you age, and doing resistance exercise (by using light weights, for example). Eat at least three meals a day and include high quality protein such as beef, chicken, eggs, fish and dairy at every meal.
Focus on healthy fats
It’s important to include healthy fats in your diet from a variety of sources such as fish, nuts, and seeds. For good heart health avoid trans-fats, often found in processed foods.
Keep your bones strong
Calcium works together with other bone-building nutrients, such as vitamin D, to maintain strong and healthy bones and teeth. To help prevent osteoporosis, get regular physical activity and eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D like lower-fat dairy and canned salmon. Adults over 50 years of age should take a daily supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D and follow Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Power up with B vitamins
Getting enough of the B vitamins – especially vitamin B12 – is important as you age. People over age 50 need about 2.5 mcgs of vitamin B12 daily. Many older adults don’t absorb vitamin B12 very well, so eat foods with added (fortified) vitamin B12 or take a supplement every day.
Watch your sodium
Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure and lead to stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. A healthy adult needs only 1500 mg (about 1/2 tsp.) of sodium per day. Reading food labels is an easy way to monitor your sodium intake.
Boost brain power
Many foods help keep your brain healthy. They include:
- A variety of vegetables and fruit, grain products, lean meats, fish, nuts, beans, and lower-fat dairy products or alternatives.
- Foods rich in B vitamins such as whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, rice, dairy, beans, meats, vegetables, and fruits.
- Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and other foods (such as flax seeds).
- Lower-fat foods, vegetables and fruit to reduce the risk of heart disease or other conditions that may affect brain activity.
For trustworthy nutrition information, dial 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian. Call Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, or TTY (Deaf and hearing impaired), no cost.
Fast Fact: If everyone ate five to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day, the current cancer rate could be reduced by as much as 20 per cent.
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