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Good eating habits

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Seniors can help maintain their independence and slow the progression of chronic illnesses by combining healthy eating habits with regular physical activity

Seniors can help maintain their independence and slow the progression of chronic illnesses by combining healthy eating habits with regular physical activity. As we grow older, our bodies have significant needs for vitamins, minerals, and protein, but require fewer calories. Therefore it is important to choose nutrient-rich foods and reduce our intake of foods high in fat and calories.

Meals should be planned around fibre-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Vegetables and fruits that are dark green or bright orange and yellow (for example, broccoli, squash, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, peaches, and oranges) contain the most nutrients. Whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta provide not only energy and fibre but also important vitamins and minerals, including niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, selenium, and some vitamin E.

We also need to drink regularly whether we are thirsty or not. Although our sense of thirst declines as we age, six to eight glasses of fluid are needed daily. They might include water, juice, milk, soup, herbal tea, and decaffeinated coffee.

While we know that energy needs decrease with age, researchers are still debating by how much. An in-depth study on eating habits and their impact on aging is being conducted with men and women (aged 68 to 82) in Quebec, under the direction of Dr. Helene Payette of the University of Sherbrooke. This study is expected to teach us more about the role nutrition plays in healthy aging.

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