World Health Organization defines healthy ageing as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”. Healthy aging is a continuous process of raising opportunities to improve and maintain mental and physical health and quality of life.
With aging comes degenerative changes like bone loss, memory loss, weakening of digestive system, weakening of your senses, loosing elasticity of your skin, weight gain and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disorders. To age healthy, it is extremely important to take care of what you eat because as we age, the metabolism slows down and the calorie requirements decreases but the nutrient requirements remain the same.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Ruchika Jain, Chief Dietician at Fortis Hospital in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, revealed, “A balanced diet containing a sufficient number of fruits and vegetables and whole grains gives us a good amount of fiber which is very good for controlling weight and cholesterol. It is also considered cardio-protective and heart-friendly. As far as age is concerned, as the age increases we need to take a high-fiber diet to help us control diabetes, weight issues, cholesterol issues as well as heart issues.”
She added, “Eating a balanced diet with all food groups: whole grains, enough fruits, vegetables and salads will protect you from various chronic diseases and lifestyle disorders as you age and we must also include healthy fats like good sources of omega-three, like almonds, walnuts and low-fat dairy. Avoid trans fats and junk food like processed food items and packaged food items. Junk food should be avoided instead, whole foods can be included in your daily diet and raw salads should be included. As we age, our metabolism also decreases. So, to improve the metabolism, regular physical activity with small frequent meals and not having very heavy meals will also help.”
She highlighted that fruits and vegetables are loaded with various phytonutrients, various vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein, Zeaxanthin, xanthin and allicin. They have anti-cancer properties as well as anti-aging properties and they act as free radical scavenging properties which helps us with healthy aging.
Asserting that eating a healthy and balanced Indian diet is very important where you have control over the portion size at the same time get all the poshan (nutrition), Dr Meghana Pasi, Nutrition Consultant at MyThali, Arogya World, advised:
1. Choose nutrient-dense foods which are full of nutrients but low in calories. Look for foods that contain more vitamins, minerals, fiber, complex carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats.
2. Switch from:
a) Refined grains to whole grains and millets
b) Full fat / whole milk to low fat / fat free milk and milk products
c) Solid fats (butter / cheese) to vegetable oils (olive, mustard, groundnut)
d) Snacks loaded with sugar and salt to snacks like nuts, seeds, sprouts, chats
e) Red meat to lean poultry, eggs and seafood
f) Fried snacks to baked, roasted, sautéed, steamed, shallow fried options
3. Have seasonally available green veggies and colourful fruits to reduce risk of inflammation and boost immunity.
4. Read nutrition facts labels while selecting packaged foods. Go for low sugar and low salt options.
5. Replace salt with herbs, lemon, spices.
6. Include complete protein sources in your meals like milk, fish, lean meat, eggs. Vegetarians can have soyabean, legumes, nuts and seeds, pulses and dals, paneer, milk.