Eating for Longevity: Five diet tips for healthy aging.
Yes, you absolutely can improve your life expectancy by changing your diet. More importantly, you can prolong the quality of your life through diet. You can not only reverse any damage that’s been done, but also reap the benefits today, tomorrow and in 50 years time.
The secret to healthy aging is consistency and maintenance. Follow these tips to create sustainable habits that will help you to maintain good health well into your senior years.
1. Enjoy carbs, just choose the wholemeal option.
Avoiding carbs is the most common mistake people make with their diet. Carbs are not your enemy. Refined carbs have given carbs a bad name. Bloat, energy dips, moodiness, inability to be satisfied by meals? Refined carbs may be to blame.
Everything in moderation, but the fewer refined carbs you eat, the better.
My advice? Enjoy that soul-enriching, refined spaghetti Bolognese at your favourite restaurant on a Friday night, but enjoy the wholemeal pasta at home. Refined food doesn’t deserve a place on your shelf. You deserve the good stuff.
The more complex carbs you eat, the merrier! Complex carbs should make up around 50% of your total daily energy intake. If you don’t know what complex carbs are or why you should be eating them, read this article.
2. Double your veggie intake.
I don’t know who you are, what’s in your fridge or how much you dislike kale, but you would benefit from eating more vegetables, I guarantee it.
89% of the Australian population does not eat the recommended 5-6 serves of vegetables per day.
5 serves equates to:
5 cups of salad or
2.5 cups of cooked vegetables per day.
That single leaf of lettuce on your sandwich? Nice try.
And just in case you were wondering, it’s almost impossible to over-eat with vegetables taking up half your plate. You won’t gain weight, but you will feel more satisfied from your meal and gain a hell of a lot of nutrients. What’s not to love?
3. Incorporate more antioxidant-rich foods.
Eat mostly real food. If it came from a tree, bush or lake, it’s probably good for you. All fresh, whole foods contain antioxidants that fight oxidation and inflammation, the biggest contributors to aging and disease. Another reason to eat your vegetables (Tip #2).
You may wish to incorporate foods that are known for their exceptionally high antioxidant content, such as berries, bitter green vegetables, dark chocolate and spices (particularly clove). Here’s a list of other antioxidant rich foods.
Eating more whole foods and fewer packaged foods will benefit your health markedly. If you’re going to eat something from a package, don’t trust food manufacturers with your health. Learn to read ingredients and make informed choices in the supermarket. Check out my tips on reading ingredients.
4. Use extra virgin olive oil.
Forget butter, canola and coconut oil. Extra virgin olive oil is hands-down the most evidence supported oil for good health. Make sure your oil is extra virgin, as regular olive oil doesn’t offer the same benefits. Your heart will thank you later.
Other healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and salmon are great options too.
5. Be mindful of your calcium and vitamin D intakes.
As the aging population increases, so does the prevalence of osteoporosis. A condition of weak bones, this is already one of the biggest concerns amongst older generations.
The good news? Diet and exercise can have a significant impact in preventing this condition. Calcium and Vitamin D are the key nutrients to consider.
Make sure you are getting 1000mg/day of calcium from food and going outside to expose your arms for 10-20 minutes per day. If you want to know more about how to meet your calcium requirements, click here.
Get your blood tested to see how your vitamin D levels are tracking – you may benefit from supplementing in the winter months. Keep in mind, regular strength exercises can significantly assist with maintaining bone strength.
Be kind to your body and your body will be more inclined to be kind to you. Follow these tips, eat whole, nourishing foods and feel good within yourself so that you can focus on the important things in life. There’s no better time to start these good habits than today.