As we get older it is natural that our body will change physically. Our muscles, bones and joints may feel a little different as we age and this is perfectly normal. All this means is that we may need to make some adaptations to our lifestyle to help the journey of healthy aging.
It is easy to assume that a decline in body function is simply a part of aging. Perhaps little-known before now, science shows that much can be done to help maintain normal ability and function. For the aging body, balanced nutrition and regular physical activity are essential for good health. The benefits apply at all ages.
Healthy and active aging is closely linked to a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity paired with wise food choices. Good nutrition and exercise work better to slow down age-related health issues when both are a routine part of life. The right intake of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibers and protein are essential for normal body functions, from maintaining muscle to improving digestion.
Eating a variety of whole foods is recommended, yet it is not always easy to have a balanced diet. Recent research has shown that nutrients important for good health might be lacking in the diet of older adults. Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C and protein, are all key nutrients for older adults and are essential for the maintenance of good muscle, bone and joint health. A feeling of fatigue can be an early sign that the body may need more of a nutrient*. Other times, issues with weakness, mobility and regularity may arise. Special options may help to provide a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
*This can also be a sign of something more serious. If feelings persist, it is advisable to consult a physician.
The following nutrients play an important role in helping the aging body to continue to perform optimally:
- Certain vitamins are important for the body to contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. For example, vitamins B2, B6 and B12
- Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. Older people need more dietary protein than younger adults. Over time, a loss of muscle tone and feelings of weakness and limited ability to do activities may be noticed, and may each be signs of poor intake of protein
- Vitamin D and calcium are essential nutrients for bone health. Body levels of vitamin D might be too low in seniors and this can impair the ability to absorb calcium. Vitamin D and calcium work in harmony to help maintain healthy bones
- Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal functioning of cartilage. Cartilage is a key component of joints. Together, muscles, bones and cartilage play a key role in daily activities
- Adequate fluid intake is needed. Water is involved in virtually every metabolic process. Water contributes to the maintenance of normal physical and cognitive functions. Adequate hydration supports good physical and mental performance
- The World Health Organization calls people to consume at least 25g per day of dietary fibers (that’s equivalent to 6 large apples or 3 cups of raspberries or 3 cups of blueberries or 2 cups of cooked beans or lentils)