Calcium rich foods can support bone health , and you might need more than you think . Aim for 3-4 serves / day of calcium rich dairy ( 250mL milk , 200g yoghurt or 40g cheese ). Other good sources include fortified plant milks or fish with soft , edible bones ( eg . canned salmon or sardines ).
Vitamin D is made in our skin when exposed to the sun , so if you ’ re not getting out much , or need to be very careful with sun exposure due to medications , you may need to take Vitamin D supplements ( see your GP for advice ).
Think about what you drink
You ’ ve likely heard it before – water is the best drink to keep you well hydrated . But actually fluids like tea , milk , soups , juice and even coffee count too ! As we age , our sense of thirst may become less ‘ sensitive ’ to levels of hydration in our body , meaning we don ’ t drink enough . And becoming dehydrated can put dangerous pressure on vital organs like our kidneys , liver and heart .
While everyone ’ s needs will be different , a good guide is to aim for 4-6 cups of hydrating fluid each day ( and when it ’ s hot , you ’ ll likely need more ). Alcohol is dehydrating , so keep it to a minimum . A good guide to whether you ’ re drinking enough is the colour of your urine – which should be light yellow / straw coloured , not concentrated and dark .
Keep up the protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient throughout our lifespan – it ’ s made up of amino acids , which are literally the building blocks of our body . As we age , protein is especially important to support our immune function and muscle mass ( important for balance , strength and wound healing ).
Some great sources of quality protein include lean red meat , chicken , fish , eggs , and dairy foods . But let ’ s not forget plant based protein foods like legumes , wholegrains , soy products , nuts and seeds .
Make sure you ’ re eating enough fibre
Essentially , fibre is the indigestible part of plant foods , that helps to hold water in bowel motions ( making them softer and easier to pass ) as well as nourishing our good gut bugs . Different fibres will play different roles in our digestive system , so once again , diversity and variety in our diet is a good thing .
} Resistant starch – reach for bananas , cashews , oats , legumes and ‘ cooked and cooled ’ starches like fried rice , potato and pasta salads .
Make friends with grains
Whole grains contain fibre , B group vitamins ( key for energy metabolism ), antioxidants and good fats . As already discussed , they can play a vital role in maintaining gut health and regulating bowel function . Whole grains can also help keep blood sugars more stable and research tells us they may even be more protective against bowel cancer than fruits and vegetables !
Some easy , cheap whole grain foods to make part of your everyday diet include :
} Oats and other breakfast cereals based on wholegrains } Brown or wild rice } Barley , cracked wheat } Wholegrain breads and crackers
Enjoy healthy fats
In recent years , we ’ ve learned that cutting out all fat doesn ’ t make food healthier ( in fact it often means products with more added sugars and mysterious fillers ). Healthy fats can actually improve our cholesterol profile , protecting us against heart disease and stroke . Here are some delicious ways to include healthy fats in your diet :
} Use healthy spreads like avocado , nut butters and tahini . } Cook with good quality extra virgin olive oil ( which stands up well to cooking at high temperatures ). } Eat more nuts and seeds ( one serve is a small handful or
30g ). } Add oily fish like salmon , trout , mackerel or sardines to your menu .
Embracing these seven healthy habits - together with regular exercise – should have you aging well . However , age brings with it challenges that mean it might not always be that simple , so make sure you consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian if you need individual dietary advice .
FEATURE ARTICLE SUMMER
Here ’ s a few examples of different fibre sources :
} Soluble fibre – think oats , legumes , fruits and vegetables , nuts and seeds .
} Insoluble fibre – this is the ‘ roughage ’ found in minimally processed fruits , vegetables and wholegrain varieties breads and cereals .
YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 7