Healthy Ageing: What Role Can Nutrition Play?

Healthy Ageing: What Role Can Nutrition Play?

by Niamh Lonergan | 23rd Sep 2021

Let's face it, we don't stay young forever! Proper nutrition is so important to keep our bodies strong and healthy as we get older, including preventing decline in cognitive function. There is a strong association between diet and cognitive function including it's role in the prevention of cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease as well as improvement in the quality of life of those living with such disorders. But what are the types of dietary patterns that we should be following to keep ourselves healthy during the ageing process and to help prevent cognitive decline?  

There are some dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet that have been associated with healthy ageing including slower cognitive decline. These dietary patterns include plenty of fruit and veg, polyunsaturated fats, lean protein sources like chicken and fish and legumes, reduced intake of salt and high salt foods and reduced intake of processed foods and refined sugars. 

1. Lots of fruit and veggies!

As we get older, our diet can become less varied and rely more on convenience. This often this leads to a decline in fruit and veg consumption. Remember,  there are many convenient ways of adding fruit and veg into your diet including fresh, frozen, tinned, or dried! Colour is important to introduce more variety and excitement to your plate – have a mixture of different coloured fruits and vegetables each day such as apples, oranges, bananas, spinach, cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and sweet corn. 

2. Healthy fats

Incorporating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into the diet is important for healthy ageing and can also help to reduce cholesterol levels. Foods that are rich in these healthy fats include walnuts, oily fish and seeds. Our Almond and Sesame Salmon with Sweet Potato is a great source of polyunsaturated fats containing omega 3 rich salmon!

3. Lean protein sources 

Our protein requirements increase as we age, but it's important to look at our sources of protein as well as the quantity. Mix up your protein sources to include both lean protein and plant based sources- chicken, turkey, fish, lentils, tofu, beans there's so many to choose from! 

4. Limit salt intake 

The highest contributors to dietary sodium, apart from table salt, are processed meats, bread and baked goods, dairy products and packet sauces. eating fresh food as much as possible will help to limit your salt intake. In addition, salt intake can also come from pre-prepared vegetables such as frozen chips, mashed potatoes and tinned produce which don’t even taste salty. It’s a good idea to check the labels of tinned goods such as beans, pulses and vegetable, including tinned tomatoes, as some manufacturers add salt to the water. Choose the unsalted options if possible! Eating fresh food as much as possible will help to limit your salt intake; here at Gourmet Fuel we use fresh produce and use herbs and spices for flavour instead of adding salt in order to help our customers control their salt intake!  

Important nutrients as we get older include: 

Low intake of many nutrients has been shown to be associated with poor health in older people and a higher risk of cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. Important nutrients to consider including calcium, folic acid, iron, vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids. 

Calcium

As we get older we need extra calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Eating low fat dairy products as well as fortified cereals, green leafy veg and canned fish can help to get your calcium and vitamin D intake in. Try our Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi for a calcium rich dinner! 

Omega 3's

Fish is packed with heart-healthy omega 3 fats or for plant based sources try nuts and seeds. 

Iron and Vitamin B12

The best sources of iron and vitamin B12 include red meats, fortified cereals, beans and lentils, lean meat (chicken/turkey) and some fish and seafood. Taking a vitamin C-rich food like orange juice at meal time or a pepper in your lunch or dinner can help your body to absorb iron.

Book in for a nutrition consultation with us to learn more about how we can help you to optimize your nutrition and to stay healthy as you get older! 

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