Balanced Eating for a Healthy New Year
The new year is the perfect time to reset your eating habits from indulging in holiday treats to building healthy habits that will keep you going all year long.
Here are a few tips for balanced eating that are certain to start your new year off right:
1. Go Green
Plant-based foods are the foundation to a healthy diet and play a vital role in delivering the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to ward off conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables that represent a rainbow of colors will liven up your plate and diversify your diet. It is recommended that women aged 51 and over have 2 cups of raw or cooked vegetables per day, and 1.5 cups of raw fruit. For men, these recommendations are 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit.
2. Pack in Protein
Protein offers several benefits including appetite suppression due to it slow-digesting nature and trigger of satiety hormones. Lean proteins such as chicken or turkey are best, though be aware that sodium may be contained even in fresh poultry as the result of taste-enhancing solutions that contain salt. Ask the deli to ensure the meat you choose does not have added sodium, and pay close attention to the nutrition label on processed meats to limit your sodium intake. Though some fat is acceptable, try to limit sources high in fat, such as red meat. There are also many vegetarian protein sources that you may incorporate into your diet, including eggs, cheese, nuts, beans, tofu, and yogurt.
3. Stay Hydrated
Just as important as selecting the right foods, liquids are also crucial for a healthy body. Water should be your go-to beverage throughout the day. Unsweetened tea and coffee are also good choices, but beware sugar-packed beverages marketed as orange, cranberry, or apple juice that often contain little natural juice. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, with a recommendation of one drink per day for women, and two for men.
4. Take Your Vitamins
Though food should be your main delivery system of vitamins via a balanced diet, as the body ages, so too does its ability to absorb certain vitamins. For example, vitamin D, necessary for calcium absorption, is typically delivered via the sun through our skin. As the body ages, skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing the vitamin. A similar situation exists for B12, which is typically absorbed from the food breakdown process with the help of gastric acid in the stomach. Aging can reduce these acids and thereby miss absorbing B12 from food. Therefore, these and other vitamins may be best delivered on a supplemental basis, so check with your doctor to ensure you are getting the correct amount for your specific situation.
A sensible diet and active lifestyle are your best defense against age-related ailments. Learn more about these tips via the National Council on Aging, ChooseMyPlate, and your personal health care professionals. Make 2018 a year full of healthy choices to live your best life!
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