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What’s the Overlap Between Healthy Eating and Disease?

Joyful adult daughter greeting happy surprised senior mother in garden

You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, and most people recognize that when they eat foods that aren’t exactly healthy, they don’t feel the greatest. But, there’s a difference between eating a healthy breakfast to feel good about yourself and actually investing in a nutritious diet to fight off diseases.

Yes, “you are what you eat” can actually ring true. The idea of food as medicine is nothing new, but we live in a society where prescription medications are the norm. More than 131 million Americans take at least one prescription, and while many of them are necessary, you might be able to fight off or manage underlying diseases with healthy eating, rather than relying on medication.

Eating healthy is especially important for seniors, as you’re at a greater risk of developing certain diseases with age. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle throughout your golden years to mitigate or relieve some common pervasive diseases.

What’s the Connection Between Food and Disease?

Certain foods can boost your health, while others can do more harm than good. While you might recognize that eating fried foods and ice cream every day isn’t good for you, you might not realize just how dangerous certain foods really are — especially as you age. According to the National Council on Aging, some of the top foods seniors should avoid include:

  • Fried foods;
  • Unpasteurized dairy products;
  • High-sodium foods.

These choices have been linked to everything from high blood pressure to diabetes. Because seniors are often at a higher risk of these diseases to begin with, eating a diet that lowers that risk should be your top priority.

Eating for Your Health

If you already have a specific health condition like GERD or poor circulation, consider talking to your doctor about adopting a diet that can help with your symptoms. For example, some of the best foods to help with acid reflux include green vegetables, foods high in fiber, and low-acid fruits. Foods that improve circulation include raw nuts and seeds, berries, celery, and citrus fruits.

Even serious conditions like diabetes can be helped through your diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are all great for managing your symptoms. Make sure to talk to your doctor about any changes you’re making to your diet or anything you want to start including.

One reason people tend to get so overwhelmed by specific diet plans is that they over-complicate them. Nutrition doesn’t have to be confusing. Rather, you should focus on maintaining a diet that makes you feel your best, and one that will keep your body strong and healthy as you get older.

Healthy eating comes with a variety of benefits. It boosts your “good” cholesterol and prevents diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also can improve your mood, energy levels, and can make you feel happier about your life.

As you age, things change. You might be less active than you used to be. You might struggle with things like loneliness or finding a sense of purpose. Eating to maintain your physical and mental well-being is a great way to jumpstart other areas of self-care in your life so you can age comfortably. The better your nutrition, the more inspired you’ll be to take care of yourself in other ways.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Nutrition is a major piece of the puzzle when it comes to aging gracefully and healthily. However, it’s still just that — one piece. Another important thing to put into practice as you get older is physical activity. Exercising is important for everyone, but it becomes especially necessary as you age and want to look and feel your best.

Exercise doesn’t have to be tedious, or even strenuous. Find activities you enjoy doing, or try something new, like:

  • Taking a dance class;
  • Swimming;
  • Yoga;
  • Hula hooping.

If you want something more “traditional”, simply taking a walk around your neighborhood every day can make a big difference in your overall well-being. Regular physical activity will improve your balance, reduce the risk of falling, strengthen muscles and bones, and improve your stamina. It also reduces the risk of diseases like colon cancer, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. If you’re going to be including more physical activity in your daily routine, make sure you’re maintaining a diet that fuels your body properly. Some of the best foods for an active lifestyle include berries, nuts, leafy greens, lean protein, and legumes. Not only will these foods give you the energy and strength you need to stay active, but they can also help to fight off additional health issues, such as digestive problems.

Written By

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, aging, wellness, and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

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