Let's start with the basics… I really believe that age is just a number and that our mood plays a very important part in our everyday life. I will also agree with the people who -when you ask their age- answer that they are as old as they feel! This may not be scientifically based, but being in a good mood and maintaining our health at all ages are certainly very important factors that affect #healthyaging.
So, for those of you who want to know how to be robust in an older -in number- age, I have the following advice that you should keep in mind, always in combination with the advice of the specialist or doctor who treats you.
Advice No1: Have a general medical check-up!
As you very well know, prevention is better than cure. This applies to all ages. So, make a schedule and set a specific date in the year to do your general blood tests. Along with these tests, schedule all other check-ups that need to be done, always following the instructions of the doctor who is treating you. This date should be consistent in your schedule and not something that you postpone from month to month. Think of it as a gift to yourself! You should also remember that -on average- when a disease is discovered in its early stages, is much more likely to be cured.
Advice Νο2: Nutrient density is a must!
As we get older, we tend to consume less food, fewer calories, and -therefore- get fewer vitamins and minerals from food. That is why, at this age, it is necessary to focus on the nutrient density of meals and not to skip meals as well. In other words, aim for a balanced diet that contains all the macronutrients (lean protein, good fats, complex carbs, and water) and that is -of course- rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Also, in case you have difficulty consuming the 4 or 5 meals a day, you can simply reduce the amounts of each meal a little. We want these to be complete and rich in nutrient density! If you want to see the benefits of a balanced diet, then you just have to do it long-term! You should also know that experts advise people over the age of 65 to focus more on nutrient-dense meals than simply meeting their daily energy needs with any food. This is because -in this way- there seem to be more benefits for the body.
You should know that while we’re growing up, the muscle mass of each body is reduced and the adipose tissue is increased. This process related to the reduction of muscle mass and age is known as "sarcopenia". This is why experts recommend consuming enough protein from different sources, so that there is -as little loss as possible- in muscle mass.
Advice No3: Avoid fad diets!
The main problem when someone follows a fad diet is that he/she does it mainly for weight loss, without prioritizing health. So, at older ages, it is even more necessary to follow a balanced nutrition program - as we said above. I understand that the possible weight gain -especially in women during menopause- is an important factor that affects health in general and mental health in particular. However, the loss can also come with a balanced, nutritionally dense diet; it may just take a little longer.
We should also set achievable goals, as far as the weight loss part is concerned. The benefits of a balanced diet and exercise are truly countless and -at the same time- scientifically proven. So, do not do unnecessary tests and waste your time, unless of course you have been advised otherwise by a health scientist who knows your medical history!
Advice No4: Love fibers!
It seems that the process of digestion can be significantly affected, especially at older ages and especially when the person does not eat a balanced diet. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, cereals and pseudo-cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains, in general, are good sources of fiber and ideal to enhance digestion and bowel function.
Certainly, proper hydration of the body and -of course- the consumption of water will also help in the proper and daily bowel function.
Advice Νο5: Physical activity is necessary at any age!
Specifically, the WHO advises healthy adults over the age of 65 to follow the same guidelines that apply to adults under the age of 65. That is, to do moderate-intensity aerobic activity for 150 to 300 minutes per week, or 75 to 150 minutes of intense exercise, or a combination of these. In fact, for these ages, muscle strengthening is necessary, as well as functional training to maintain and improve balance.
Advice Νο6: You may need a supplement!
The main elements in which an older person may not be able to meet their needs through diet are vitamins D, B6, B12, folic acid, and calcium. In this case, the ideal thing to do is to take a supplement. As you probably know, osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases that occur in older people. Especially vitamin D and calcium play an important role, as they help in bone health, making it less prone to fractures. Each body, of course, can have other deficiencies and this depends on the person’s general habits. Make sure you consult your doctor or another specialist before taking any supplement.
I think this blog post gave you some important tips that we should all follow, regardless of age! The only sure thing is that strength and longevity are achieved by paying attention and taking care of ourselves!
This article was written in collaboration with the scientific advisor-sports nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr, INDI.
The website akispetretzikis.com offers as a service a variety of articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.