The old saying, “Treat your body right, and it’ll treat you right,” refers to more than just getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours a night for most of us), exercising and managing your stress levels.
It also means carefully considering the foods you’re eating to fuel your body.
You know that fatigue that knocks you off your feet in the middle of the afternoon? That cracked tooth? Or that moodiness that randomly strikes and results in an ugly spat with your spouse? Could be that your body is out of whack and missing out on important nutrients; all the more reason for you to eat a well-rounded diet.
1. Your Teeth/Bones Need: Calcium
Why You Need It: Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium supply is stored in the bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and function. But since our bones are continuously remodeling themselves, they need a constant supply of calcium to reabsorb into new bone. The balance between bone reabsorption and deposition changes with age.
Where to Eat It:
Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt and cheese
Broccoli, spinach and other green leafy vegetables
Tofu with added calcium
Soy-based drinks with added calcium (soy milk)
Orange juice with added calcium
Who Needs It Most: Postmenopausal women, people with lactose intolerance or an allergy to cow’s milk, women with history of prior stress fractures.
2. Your Eyes Need: Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Omega-3s, Vitamins C and E, Zinc, Beta-carotene
Why You Need It: Nutrition plays a vital role in your overall eye health as you age and helps replenish nutrients that decline as a result of the normal aging process.
Where to Eat It: Registered dietitian Kerri Gans says that kale and spinach are both packed with lutein and zeaxanthin. You can also add berries to yogurt in the morning for extra vitamin C. Other sources:
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes and broccoli
- Vitamin E: vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts and legumes
- Zinc: oysters, beef and other meats, nuts, legumes and dairy from plant sources of zinc
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, corn, colored bell peppers, goji berries and Brussels sprouts
- Omega-3 fatty acids: fish oils from cold water fish like salmon or tuna
- Beta-carotene: carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and spinach
Who Needs It Most: In a review titled “Nutrients for the Aging Eye,” Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at Tufts University, and Helen Rasmussen, Ph.D., R.D., an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University, found that Americans over 50 are not getting recommended amounts of important nutrients that support eye health through their daily diet. The eye is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage, and the key nutrients can help diminish the oxidative stress that lead to eye disease as we age.
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