We tell children to eat healthy so they can grow big and strong, but often forget it is important to eat well at any stage in life. Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to prevent a variety of chronic diseases that become more common as we age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of Americans are living with a chronic disease. These chronic diseases, which include heart disease and diabetes, are a large part of healthcare costs in the US and are one of the leading causes of death in the country.
We can prevent many chronic diseases by following a healthy diet and exercise routine. Eating right also lowers the risk of obesity, one of the main risk factors for chronic disease. Staying healthy doesn't just mean living longer, it can also mean living a happier life with fewer doctor visits and lower healthcare costs.
Making healthy food choices later in life is as important as it was in childhood. As people age their metabolisms slow down, which can affect appetite. Taste buds can also change, which is why it's important to use various herbs and spices in place of salt and sodium, according to ChooseMyPlate.
Choosing nutrient-rich foods, such as nuts and berries, over calorie dense foods, like potato chips, is an excellent way to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and active. Adding food fortified with vitamins such as cereals and milk is another way to get those necessary nutrients.
For people who have difficulty chopping fruit and vegetables grocery stores now carry pre-sliced fruit and vegetables from pineapple to butternut squash. Utilizing the pre-packaged section of the supermarket can be an easy way to ensure a varied and nutrient-rich diet. If chewing is a problem, there are a variety of canned fruit and vegetables with no sugar or salt added that can be easier to chew.
A big part of healthy eating is making sure you are getting enough fluid. Drinking enough water helps with digestion and nutrient absorption, according to the National Institute on Aging. Water is the best thing for hydration, but 100% fruit juices with no added sugars are another option as are low-fat and fat-free milk.
While it is always best to get your vitamins and minerals through food, some may also benefit from added supplements. It is always important to talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your diet as they can interfere with some medications.
Making the right food choices is essential at any stage of life, but can be one of the best things you do for your health as you age. For more information on healthy eating see the National Institute on Aging’s page on healthy eating.