The term ‘senior citizen’ no longer evokes images of blue rinses, zimmer frames and beige polyester clothing. Baby boomers are seemingly more healthy and youthful than ever, enjoying active and energised retirements. Just think of some of our most fabulous, glamorous ‘seniors’ like Helen Mirren,and Tom Jones who like a fine Bordeaux, seem to get better with age.
By 2050, for the first time ever, the world population will have more people over age 65 than children age 5 and younger. Baby boomers (those born post 1946) are therefore are more important and significant generation than ever before and will impact our socio economic climate for years to come.
Despite their increasingly youthful appearances however, researchers claim baby boomers are at risk of more disease than previous generations, triggered by their increasingly sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition. Despite apparent improvements in medicine, healthcare and standard of living, today’s 60 years olds are less healthy than their immediate predecessors. Age related illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancers are more prevalent than ever.
However such illnesses do not have to be an inevitable part of growing old. With good nutrition and lifestyle there is no reason why you cannot maintain great health into the winter of your life.
During our lifetimes our nutritional requirements do change quite significantly. It is therefore important to make sure that your diet is tailored specifically for your advanced years.
It is a popular belief that over 60’s require less calories, however they actually need more of certain nutrients than younger adults. As we age, our body becomes less efficient at producing and absorbing certain vitamins and minerals.
In theory we should get all vital nutrients from our food, but this can be a challenge for even the healthiest among us. Changes in farming techniques mean that foods are simply not as nutrient dense as they once were.
A good quality supplement is therefore recommended at all ages, but especially during older age. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for so avoid cheaper vitamins from the supermarket that are full of fillers, and invest in food state vitamins from brands such as Cytoplan. A specially formulated multivitamin for over 50’s will ensure you get the complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Alzheimer’s is a concern for many, and by 2025 there will be 1 million people in the UK living with the disease.
The Mind diet advocates 10 foods which they claim reduces the risk of alzheimers by 35%. This includes green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries and whole grains. It is advised that red meat, cheese, margarine, pastries and sweets are avoided.
Osteoporosis (meaning porous bones), is a common concern for over 60s. This degenerative disease occurs as bone density decreases, increasing risk of fracture. Post-menopausal women are particularly prone to the disease due to increased oestrogen production. Your doctor will no doubt recommend a diet high in dairy to prevent osteoporosis. However dairy is not the best source of calcium. It is highly acidic, and mucus forming, and most humans cannot digest the lactose it contains properly, which leads to conditions such as asthma and eczema. The body needs magnesium in order to absorb calcium so supplementing with calcium alone is not enough.
It is therefore a good idea to eat a diet rich is calcium and magnesium rich foods such as cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli. Sardines are also calcium rich and have the added bonus of containing B12 that is a key nutrient for brain and nervous system health.
Exercise and muscle strengthening also helps prevent the osteoporosis. For best results, aim for 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
Vitamin D depletes with age and there are only a handful of foods that contain it. Fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines are all good sources of the vitamin. For vegetarians, vitamin D sprays are a simple way to supplement your diet.
Vitamin B12 absorption
Aging decreases the body’s ability to absorb B-12 in the small intestine, which may lead to a deficiency. The Institute of Medicine advises that over 50’s supplement synthetically with a good quality supplement.
While it’s true that our body’s change as we age, illness and disease is not inevitable. Eat a nutrient dense diet, made up of whole natural foods and keep sugar, caffeine, dairy and gluten to a minimum.
Smoothies and juices are a fantastic way to supplement your diet.
These easy recipes are packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
Supergreen Juice- Bursting with essential minerals such as magnesium which maintains normal muscle and nerve function.
2 medium apples
3 celery stalks
½ thumb of ginger
2 cups spinach or kale
Wash and juice all contents, removing pith of lemon and lime before juicing
Simple Superfood Smoothie
Rich in fibre, vitamin C, K, vitamin E, B6 and potassium, as well as packed with plant based protein, this smoothie is a great way to start the day.
1 tspn chia seeds
1 tspn hemp seeds
1 glass of coconut or almond mylk
Blend all ingredients
For more information, contact naturopath nutritionist Amy Huggins
Health & Happiness