Eating well and staying active are two very important steps you can take to lower your risk of chronic disease and enjoy a long and healthy life. Here are some tips that can help.
Tip 1: Eat a healthy diet
As you get older, you need fewer calories but more nutrients. Follow the advice in Canada’s Food Guide to make sure you get the nutrition you need each day. There is specific advice for older adults, since nutrient needs change as you age. Read more in the article older adults eating well.
Tip 2: Plan ahead to have healthy meals and snacks
When you plan ahead, it is easier to make healthy food choices. Use the Unlock Food Menu Planner to help you keep track of your weekly meals. You can also find nutritious recipes and get healthy eating tips.
Tip 3: Get enough calcium and vitamin D
The need for both calcium and vitamin D increases after age 50. Calcium can help lower the risk of osteoporosis. Enjoy three daily servings of calcium-rich Milk and Alternatives. If you do not get enough calcium from food, Health Canada recommends calcium supplements. Canadians over age 50 should take a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 ug (400 IU).
Tip 4: Lower your sodium intake
Healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium per day. However, 60% of older adults consume closer to 3400 mg. Having too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for developing heart disease. Cut back on sodium. Flavour your foods without using salt and learn how to make lower sodium food choices.
Tip 5: Get the right types and amount of fat
Some fat is essential in the diet. Canada’s Food Guide recommends having 30 mL to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) of unsaturated fat each day. Choose olive oil, canola oil, soy oil, non-hydrogenated margarines. Cut back on foods made with saturated and trans fats, such as butter, shortening and lard. These can raise blood cholesterol levels. Read the facts on fats and learn why fat plays a role in heart health.
Tip 6: Get active
Being physically active helps you:
- Keep your strength, balance and coordination
- Maintain your good health and independence as you age
- Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.
Try to get at least 2 and a half hours of physical activity each week such as walking, cycling or swimming. Here are some tips for getting active.
Tip 7: Get enough fluids
Drinking fluids throughout the day is very important. Sometimes older adults may not drink enough or may not notice thirst. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fainting and low blood pressure. These may put you at higher risk for falling. Having enough fluid can help with regularity. Fluids also move nutrients through the body and cushion your joints and organs. Learn more about how much fluid you need each day.
Tip 8: Get enough fibre
Men age 50 and over require 30 grams of fibre each day, while women require 21 grams daily. Fibre helps keep you regular. It also may help lower your cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Fibre-containing foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts. Many Canadians do not get enough fibre. Here are some tips for adding more fibre to your eating plan.
Tip 9: Get enough vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells. It is found in meat, chicken, fish and milk products. As you age, your body becomes less able to absorb vitamin B12 from food, so you may not get enough. Talk to your doctor about your B12 status. You may need to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take a supplement.
Tip 10: See your doctor
It is important to have a yearly physical exam. Your doctor can take tests to catch problems early so that you can take proactive measures.
There are many things you can do to be healthy for as long as possible. Make sure you eat well, get enough of the nutrients you need and stay active.
Last Update – May 16, 2022