Although many of you consider yourselves to be young, I have found that many people who are 'older' consider themselves to be young too. I've also met 35 year olds who feel old inside and out, and those that feel 25. It's perspective! But, whether your young-young, middle-aged-young, or older-young, the more information we have the more we can prepare to be our best at any age. These 6 areas that cause common problems for people as they age, may help you, your parent or grandparent. So pass it on. According to Diane Meehan (an M.S., R.D. who is a performance dietician focusing on nutrition research and counseling corporate clients on weight loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, and food allergies and intolerances) “by the year 2030, the US Census Bureau projects that one in five Americans will have reached 65.” Based on that statement and the fact that we are living longer, she states that many older adults have at least 1 or more chronic conditions. Here are six health challenges she feels that we face as we age. Although I can tell you from personal experience, a lot of it is psychological - the fear of birthdays (haha), and the many changes that occur which can freak us out or challenge us to be better. You choose! SARCOPENIA – this a reduction in lean body mass. It leads to a lower total body protein and functioning of the immune system. It also contributes to not healing as fast and becoming frail. According to Ms. Meehan, opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care found that those of us who consume 25-30 grams of high quality protein at each meal maximize protein synthesis and reduce the impact sarcopenia can have on us. Based on her recommendations - proteins that are best are fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Also taking omega 3’s, eating lean meats and healthy fats help us as an energy source. You can add branched chain amino acids to your routine to maintain and repair muscle or creatine to help lessen muscle breakdown and support cognitive function in older populations according to Ms. Meehan. Just be sure to check with your medical professional before making changes like this in your diet. Educated opinions vary greatly. Whey or vegan protein smoothies with some veggies blended in are a great source of good protein. It just so happens that we carry a great, high quality, easy-to-mix protein from EXOS Fuel in whey and vegan, with options for vanilla or chocolate. We tested many proteins before we opted for this particular one so I am definitely a fan! What I love about it most, besides the flavor, is how easy it is to use - no clumping, chalky taste or heaviness when added to foods. POOR GUT HEALTH - It’s mostly about the food, however, if you take medication regularly it can have an impact on your digestive system functions. Many meds deplete or prevent your metabolism from kicking in. They can interfere with absorption, and how nutrients are used in our bodies “leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and food sensitivities such as lactose and wheat intolerances” Diane’s recommendations align with what we hear over and over again from any good nutrition expert; drink more water and eat more fiber rich food – fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Fiber and drinking enough water are important to help us eliminate the toxins in our body. Eating more fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, tempeh and kimchi help with balancing microflora too.
LOSS OF BONE DENSITY – this can lead to osteoporosis, and it’s not just found in women either. Women lose bone density quicker after menopause, but men catch up when they reach the age of 65 or so. Calcium and vitamin D are the nutrients most associated in helping with this problem. You can get these through foods like eggs, leafy greens like kale, broccoli and spinach, and fish like salmon. Get your blood tested for vitamin D and follow your health care professional's advice on supplementation if you are deficient. (Lack of vitamin D in the body affects more than just bone density). Bone loss is impacted by lack of exercise too. So be sure to get in at least 2 days a week of weight resistant exercise to maintain your healthy bones. EYE HEALTH – according to Ms. Meehan we can support eye health by eating diets high in antioxidants – compounds that neutralize cellular damage. Collard greens, turnips, zucchini, brussels sprouts , berries, and kiwi can aid in keeping up. Dry Eye? There was a small study done that found that those experiencing dry eye who took omega 3 supplementation were more likely to have the symptoms lessen or disappear. Include chia, flax, fish, avocado and nuts in your weekly food preparation to help dry eye too. For glaucoma (which can occur at a pretty young age), choline (chemical messenger) is critical. A few foods that have choline are egg yolks, fish, legumes, and lecithin. There is a choline supplement to help as well.
A Healthy Outside starts with a Healthy Inside
BRAIN HEALTH – okay so most people over-stressed and over 50 have experienced a reduction in cognitive function occasionally. We can take supplements like ashwaganda to balance out the stress and eat a colorful array of veggies and fruits to allow our brains to work optimally! Regular physical activity also help with clearing out the cobwebs from our brain, and can act as an anti-depressant with no bad side effects. So consider moving everyday for at least 30 minutes to optimize body functioning - brain included. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT – if it’s within our ability, we can minimize weight gain by not slowing down or stopping the minute we feel an ache or pain. Sometimes, pushing through minor problems by walking or stretching will carry you over the hump. Another thing to think about is to seek out a health care professional that you trust who can help you to keep moving through all the years in your life. Injuries that occur young and left unresolved don't usually disappear, but show up years later. A trained, established and caring doctor of physical therapy can help, as well as a sports and spine doc. Be sure you are not handed off to someone who has just started out in PT – most don’t have the practical hands on experience yet to help with your inability to move like you want to. To manage weight, consistently performing 30 minutes of movement a day will help greatly. It can also help with a reduction in the risk of diabetes, heart disease and depression. Walk, swim or find your favorite activity and do it safely and daily for 30 minutes. Change it up – if walking is your thing, consider walking at a normal pace and increasing the intensity of your stride for short bursts to increase potential fat loss. If you strength train, change up your movement patterns and perform exercises that provide an increase in heart rate in a short period of time, and then go back to a lower paced exercise for fat loss. For all of you young-young people, kudos for taking care of yourself now through movement and nutrition. It's a great investment in your future, and you are a great role model to all the kids in your life!