Diet Tips to Aging Gracefully

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Managing Middle Age Health Challenges through Diet

Middle age, can be a great period depending on how you look at it, it’s a period you see your toddlers change to mini adults, your spouse becoming more and more the other half of you and you notice you can never be a boy or girl again. It’s actually a mix of sweet and bitter, ups and down. It provides a memory lane of either accomplishments or regrets, goals attained or missed opportunities and is also a time for re-evaluation of habits, self-identity and personal objectives in life. However, as fun as it sounds, there are several physical and health crisis that may surface as one hits mid-life.
But how do we define middle age? We can say it is the mid-point between cradle and old-age, the point between being too young to enjoy life and the other extreme when we can no longer delight in normal enjoyments of life such as good music, dance, travel, dishes, fashion, sports etc. So by a rule of the thumb, middle age can be defined generally to be ages between 45 and 65 years.
aging gracefully
Photo Credit: Pixabay Photos
Middle age comes with health challenges as it becomes a defining moment for various medical conditions such as primary hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, benign prostatic hyperplasia (Prostate), erectile dysfunction, menopause, senile cataract, primary open angle glaucoma, arthritis, coronary heart disease, just to mention a few. Consequently, periodic visits to the hospital for whole body check-ups are a must, to be able to keep enjoying good health during this wonderful stage of life. Truly there is no substitute to expert care by qualified physician!
However, as the famous quote attributed to Hippocrates goes – “Let food be thy Medicine….” it is important to pay more than the usual attention to one’s diet as one ages. This is imperative, given that several of our diet, has been implicated as either causing or worsening existing medical conditions. Also, the fact that prevention is better than cure underlines the need for maintaining healthy eating habits as one reaches middle-age bracket, so as to avert medical conditions due to unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits. To age gracefully, one needs to focus more on eating foods that heal, foods that improve health….rich, healthy foods in place of empty calorie and junk foods.
Here are a few pieces of advice about healthier dietary options for the prevention and management of some common health challenges during middle age.
Hypertension
  • Reducing salt intake – Flavoring foods with natural spices low in sodium e.g. ginger, garlic, turmeric instead of using salt based seasonings, Also, it is wise to avoid addition of salt to meals at the table. This is a no-no. Stop!, if you have been doing so.
  • Avoiding fried foods – Grilling foods e.g. fish, meat, potatoes etc., instead of Frying.
  • Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables. Make green leafy and cruciferous vegetables your friend… lettuce, pumpkin leaf, kale, cabbage, zuchini, spinach etc
  • Reduce intake of canned food, soda and processed foods. They usually contain high sodium, high trans fat and unhealthy preservatives.
  • Choosing healthier fat options such as olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil over saturated fats. Go less on butter and palm oil.
  • Eat more of lean, skinned white meat than red meat.
  • Drink lots of fruit juices and vegetable smoothies. They have been shown to provide huge health benefits. for example, some individuals have reported significant reduction in systolic blood pressure with beetroot juice supplementation. But do not consume any natural food or product in excess. Too much of a good thing, can be bad. I will give yet another example. Moringa juice is claimed to reduce blood pressure, but excessive intake have led to hypotension crisis, which is as deadly as hypertension.
So my dear reader, many have had success managing Hypertension using DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), so can you! Its not only about drugs!!
Diabetes
  • Portion Control – Take moderate quantity of food
  • Choose foods with low GI (GI – glycemic index is a measure of how fast sugar from the food enters the blood) e.g., it has been shown that the local cassava derivative (Eba or Garri) may have a lower GI compared to processed wheat.
  • Reduce the intake of sugary fruits such as watermelon, oranges, ripe pawpaw and banana, and begin to enjoy less sugary fruits and veggies such as avocado, cucumber, garden egg, tomatoes, lemons, guava, bitter melon e.t.c.
  • Go nuts with nuts! – Nuts are super foods when eaten in moderation (e.g. walnuts, macadamia nuts, coconuts, almond nuts, peanuts e.t.c
  • Eat fibre – Always add a portion of vegetable or salad in your meals, especially dark leafy vegetables such as Pumpkin, Spinach, Lettuce and Amaranthus… also cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower e.t.c.
  • Avoid refined sugar – As much as is possible, limit intake of processed foods, fast foods and confectionaries, because of their high sugar content.
  • Cut out heavy alcohol consumption.
Menopause
  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits
  • Begin to enjoy snacking moderately on nuts
  • Drink milk from plant sources e.g. soy milk, tiger nut milt e.t.c, often. This is better tolerated that cow milk, in advancing age.
  • Take in Calcium / Vitamin D supplements (as needed).
Sleep Disorder
  • Eat foods rich in nitrates and tryptophan such as Beetroot Juice, Honey and Banana. They are natural sleep inducers and anxiety relieving agents.
Erectile dysfunction
  • Eat food rich in Omega-3 dietary sources (fish and sea food)
  • Reduce food with high phytoestrogen such as Tiger nut, soy milk. Instead eat lots of anti-estrogenic diet such as cabbage.
  • Try eating Brazilian nuts in moderation (2 or 3 seeds daily), and thank me later.
  • Incorporate brief intermittent exercises (15 – 20 minutes a day). It has a positive effect on testosterone levels (consult your doctor on the appropriate exercise, suitable for you).
age gracefully
  • Maintain healthy weight, Fight obesity!
  • Eat foods or drinks rich in nitrates such as beetroots, lettuce, spinach and carrots.
Good nutrition remains a gold standard for health living. However, too much of a good thing may prove harmful. So before embarking on a new diet, or supplements, see your doctor.
Also see specialists for diagnosed conditions such as
Hypertension –Cardiologist
Diabetes Mellitus – Endocrinologist
Prostate problems, Erectile Dysfunction – Urologist
Cataract, Glaucoma – Ophthalmologist
Unusual bleeding, discomfort around the female genitalia and other menopausal issues – Gynecologist
There are many more experts, cannot list all here but just seeing a qualified medical practitioner is a sure way to receive good direction.
In conclusion: One way to healthy middle age period is to maintain a good dietary habit, be physical active, get moderate, regular exercise and good routine checkup with your doctor. Also, maintain good wonderful relationship with your spouse and family. All these improves overall health and well-being.
 
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