Eating healthily, combined with regular physical activity, can help a person live a full, active life, preserving independence into older age. Follow these simple dietary guidelines from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) to stay well into older age:
- Balance your energy (calorie) needs with physical activity – the more active you are, the more energy you need.
- Include a starchy food (bread, rice, pasta, potato, or cereal) at each meal. Choose high fibre options wherever you can.
- Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These are packed with important nutrients to help you stay well. Remember these can be fresh, frozen, tinned, or dried. Color is important – have a mixture of different colored fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, bananas, spinach, cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, peppers, sweetcorn… the options are endless!
- Protein is the building block from which muscle is made. Stay fit and strong by eating a variety of protein-rich foods each day. Great sources include lean meat, poultry and fish. Salmon, sardines and kippers are packed with heart-healthy omega 3 fats. Eating beans, eggs and nuts is a simple way of boosting protein in your diet.
- Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation.
- Keep your bones healthy by having three servings of low-fat dairy foods (milk, yogurt, or cheese) each day. Fortified dairy foods have even more calcium and vitamin D. Look out for these in the supermarket.
- Choose heart-healthy fats such as vegetable oil, olive oil and rapeseed oil for cooking and salad dressings. Spreads made from these fats are great options on bread or in baking.
- Stay hydrated. Among other things, dehydration causes tiredness, dizziness and constipation. Get plenty of fluids (water, squash, juice, milk) on board each day. As a general guide, about eight glasses should be enough.