We can all develop health problems at any time, but serious concerns become more likely after age 60 or so. Your genetics and just plain luck will certainly influence your health, but your fate isn’t completely out of your hands. Your lifestyle also plays a role, meaning to some degree you do have control over your future (the part concerning your health, anyway).
In particular, doctors agree that diet is one of the most important determining factors to health. Follow these tips to increase your odds of a long, happy retirement.
Balance your diet. A healthy diet is more about balance, than about loading up on one dish or eliminating another. Visit My Plate to see what a balanced meal looks like, and which foods you should include in each meal for optimum health.
Choose foods that are close to nature. Remember, the more a food is processed, packages, and shipped around the country (or world), the farther it has traveled from its natural state. That usually means addition of preservatives, colorings, and other unnatural ingredients. It’s best to stick to whole foods as much as possible, like fruits, vegetables, eggs, seafood, lean meats, and so on.
Focus on important nutrients. Balancing your diet will point you in the right direction. But since your body needs extra nutritional support as you age, remember to watch your intake of vitamin D, calcium, and fiber in particular. You might need to take additional supplements to ensure you’re getting enough of these nutrients. Depending upon your doctor’s recommendations, you might want to choose foods that are low in sodium.
Learn to read nutrition labels. If you aren’t familiar with the FDA’s current required food labels, ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist. He or she can explain how to read these labels and determine the nutritional values of foods. In particular, watch out for serving sizes, which can be misleading and overall sugar and salt content.
Drink plenty of water. You’ve heard all of your life that drinking eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day will keep you properly hydrated. Nothing has changed in that regard. Keep drinking that water!
As always, follows your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to your diet. He or she can give you advice more specifically tailored to your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for detailed explanations, or a referral to a nutritionist if you need expert help with your diet.