Every March we celebrate National Nutrition Month, a time to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthy habits. This month’s theme is Personalize Your Plate, and each week you are encouraged to do something different.
For instance, Week 1 has you eating nutritious foods. Week 2 empowers you to plan healthy meals. Week 3 shares tips on preparing healthy dishes and Week 4 encourages you to consult a dietician. As you discover more on building healthy habits, here are six tips you’ll want to remember.
1. Eat More Fiber
Golden rule #1: Eat more fiber! Type 2 diabetes is a common disease found in people 50 and older. Dietary fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes. Fiber is also important for digestion, lowering cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight. Beans, vegetables, fish, nuts and whole grains are all good sources of fiber.
2. Ditch the Salt
Another issue that starts to happen around the age of 50 is high blood pressure. Taking away table salt is a great way to reduce your sodium intake. Try seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika or dill to flavor your foods. You’ll also want to limit prepared and packaged foods, condiments and sauces.
3. Manage Your Weight
A healthy weight reduces the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. The best way to maintain your weight is by consuming the right amount of calories for your activity level and being active for at least 30 minutes every day.
4. Protect Your Gut Health
A healthy gut communicates with the brain to maintain optimal health and well-being. To have a healthy gut, it needs the right bacteria. Fortunately you can promote good bacteria by eating foods high in prebiotics and probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi.
5. Improve Immune Function
The immune system weakens with age. To keep it healthy and strong, you’ll want to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is believed to raise the risk for a number of diseases including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. A diet high in vegetables and lean meats and fish is good for controlling inflammation.
6. Care for Your Bones
With age, the bones weaken due to decreased mobility and mineral loss. To protect your bones be sure to increase your Vitamin D and calcium intake. The body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium. If you’re not getting enough of these vitamins from your diet, you may need a supplement.
While science still can’t explain why some people die young and others live well into their nineties, we do know that diet plays a role in our quality of life. By making the right dietary choices and maintaining a healthy weight, you can stave off many chronic health conditions that can cut your life short.