As people get older, the likelihood of having a medical health issue increases. From physical degradation like genetic pattern hair loss to cardiovascular issues, the body can become afflicted by various conditions as the body ages. What you put in your body has a serious effect on your overall health, from the state of your skin to the condition of your organs and musculoskeletal system. As time goes on, there are many options you can take to improve or maintain your health. One of the easiest ways to attain this is to clean up your diet.
Good nutrition is especially important for older individuals, as nutritional needs change while aging, with certain nutrients requiring an extra focus. By reducing processed foods and relying on whole foods—whole grains, moderate animal products, fruits, and vegetables—you can take active measures to improve how you feel. Rather than focusing solely on specific “wonder” foods you can add to your diet, including kale or pomegranate seeds, let’s take a look at the most helpful nutrients for aging adults.
Fiber is one of the best things for your body, as it ensures that you stay regular, and it can even lower your risk for heart disease and Type-2 diabetes. The easiest way to get large quantities of your fiber into your diet is to eat natural foods such as whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Even a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk and fruit can provide you with a numerable amount of fiber.
If you feel as if you’re having issues consuming enough fiber on a daily basis, consider seeking out your physician to talk about fiber supplements. You might feel bloated and uncomfortable when first increasing your fiber intake, but your body will become acquainted with it over a short period of time.
Healthy fats are often those free from trans and saturated fats. The benefits provided by healthy fats, especially those including omega-3s, are numerous, from reducing symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis and age-related macular degeneration to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Fats rich in omega 3s can be found in foods such as salmon, tuna, soybeans, walnuts, and flaxseed. Consider tossing some tuna onto your salad or mixing in flaxseed with your oatmeal to increase intake.
An essential B vitamin known for its links to anemia, folic acid should be an important part of your daily diet. While there is insufficient data to determine whether a lack of folic acid has an effect on hair loss, many people believe it to be true. People with diets lacking fruits and vegetables or whole-grain cereals are likely to be lacking in folate—most whole-grain cereals are fortified with extra folate nowadays. Yet, if you are lacking and still having a hard time meeting your goals, you should speak with your doctor about a folic acid supplement.
Calcium and Vitamin D
These two nutritional sources are vital to ensuring bone health as you age. The two are often discussed together, as vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from food. The benefit of both cannot be understated, as both help the body in great ways. Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones, saving them from possible fractures, which older individuals are often at risk of.
Along with helping to absorb calcium, vitamin D also helps the body prevent certain diseases, from multiple sclerosis to autoimmune diseases.
It’s imperative that you have both in your diet, whether consumed from (dark) green leafy vegetables, whole-grain cereals, fruit, milk, canned fish, yogurts, eggs, or more. Since we receive vitamin D largely from direct sunlight on our skin, older individuals are often not getting enough, as the ability to absorb the vitamin decreases as we age. If you are not spending much time outdoors, or are having issues restructuring your diet, discuss the possibility of a paired supplement with your doctor.
You’ve probably heard of the benefits of vitamin B12, and for good reason. It is necessary for creating both DNA and red blood cells. Furthermore, it helps to maintain a healthy nervous system. As we get older, humans have a more difficult time absorbing vitamin B12 from their food. To remediate this issue, you should consider taking a vitamin B12 daily supplement. While you might be getting some B12 from your diet, whether from lean meats or seafood, there’s nothing wrong with checking to make sure you are getting enough.
When it comes to overall physiological health, including the immune system, heart, and skeletal system, magnesium has a hand in keeping every one of these systems in top shape. Similar to vitamin B12, we, unfortunately, have a harder time absorbing magnesium from our food as we age, and processed foods tend to have far less magnesium than natural sources. To ensure you’re getting enough, consider either taking a dietary supplement (most calcium supplements will often contain magnesium) or simply eat as many unprocessed foods as you can, from vegetables to fruit, nuts to beans, and more.
This might seem unnecessary, but water should not be overlooked. Dehydration has countless negative effects upon the body, from fatigue to poor skin condition, thinning hair to headaches, lowered blood pressure to low urine output. Your best bet is to track your water intake across the day. Recommendations tend to vary on the person and their type of activity, but the average adult is said to usually need six to eight glasses of water per day.
You might not think about it, but a deficiency in any of these nutrients can have an effect on your overall body, from having joint point, fatigue, or dizziness to increasing hair loss/thinning. While there are treatment options available for such conditions, a proper diet with the right nutrients is a sound, preventative measure to protect your long-term health.
Author Bio: Shane McCarthy is the Content Director for Capillus, the world’s first, clinically-proven, FDA-cleared laser cap to treat hair loss. Shane works to share informative and engaging content based off of the struggles and prevention of adult hair loss and thinning. In his free time, he enjoys spending time out on the water wakeboarding and fishing.