A spoon full of health

With advanced age comes reduced stamina and an increased risk of ailments. A nutritious diet becomes extremely important to maintain a happy and healthy life. Here’s an expert guide on the most important elements to include in your diet post 60, many of which can be sufficed just through a spoonful or handful. By Nidhi Chawla.

Post fifty, the body undergoes many physiological and metabolic changes that impact its nutritional needs. The metabolic rate slows down and the body composition changes with a decrease in lean tissue mass and an increase in body fat. Hence, modifying eating habits becomes imperative to keep in sync with these bodily changes. Your calorie intake needs to be adequate keeping in mind a less active lifestyle and has to be mostly limited if one has a tendency to be obese.

Nutritionist Sakshi Chawla says most of what you eat should be in breads (which includes pasta and rice but does not include sweets like cake and cookies), fruits, and vegetables. The recommended fibre amount is especially important in people who are 60 years old and up. Taking more fibre than recommended can be unhealthy for your gastrointestinal tract, so follow the recommended amounts. Inconsistency in your daily nutrient and calorie ratio leads to muscle loss and this loss makes skin look aged and sagging.

  • 35% of your daily carbohydrates should be whole grain products and complex carbohydrates. These also take care of the much needed vitamins.
  • 29% of your carbohydrates should be from fruits and vegetables
  • 15% should be in proteins from light (washed) dals, meats and dairy (or soy) products.
  • Remember to get about 20% of your diet in good fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils). Recommended intake is about 20 grams of fat per day.
  • Calcium too is important as lack of it can lead to osteoporosis. Milk, yogurt, ragi, fenugreek are good sources of calcium.
  • Fluids also become essential and play a crucial role in preventing constipation, a major issue with many elders. Fluids are recommended in the form of water, buttermilk, coconut water, green tea, soups etc.

Dr.PriyankaRohtagi, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore had this to say:

  • Watch out on the portions and the calorie dense food, your body will feel slow and sluggish if you eat less wholesome foods.
  • Look out for reducing sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Season meals with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
  • Avoid fried and high fat foods. Consume healthy fats from olives, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. The fat from these delicious sources can protect your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Increase fibre to avoid constipation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing your fibre intake from foods, fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
  • Reduce simple carbohydrates—also known as simple or unhealthy carbs—are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fibre, and nutrients. For long-lasting energy and stable insulin levels, choose “good” or complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Avoid simple sugars- hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, and ketchup. Check food labels for other terms for sugar such as corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose.
  • Alternative Cooking- is by steaming or sautéing in less oil—it preserves nutrients. Forget boiling—it drains nutrients.
  • Use a rainbow of colours- Put atleast five colors on your plate. Fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients (think: melons, yams, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber).
  • Keeping the above guidelines in mind, we asked experts which of the above requirements can be met through a spoonful/ handful addition to your diet and here is they had to say.Ritika Samaddar, Chief Dietician at Max Hospital, Saket, Delhi, mentions that five important food items one must include in diet daily:

    1.     Oats for fibre and carbohydrates

    2.     Nuts for good fats

    3.     Milk and its products/ yogurt for calcium

    4.     Fluids like buttermilk, coconut water, freshlime, green tea etc.

    5.     Fruits and vegetables to add fibre

    6.     Banana (if not a diabetic)

    Sheela Krishnaswamy, Diet, Nutrition and Wellness consultant, Bangalore, highlighted three essential nutrients.

    1. Omega 3 fats – available through two spoonfuls of flaxseed.
    2. Vitamin D – available through 10 minutes of sunshine everyday.
    3. Calcium – a handful of almonds / a couple of glasses of milk / 2 cups of curd / ragi (naachini)

    Not too difficult, right? Here’s to healthy and hearty living!

    Article courtesy: Silver Talkies

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