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Watch out! Our food needs change as we age You’ll need fewer calories, but foods rich in nutrients and fibre should keep you healthy.


rom birth, through adolescence to older adulthood, our nutritional needs can change significantly. A

baby will triple its weight in the first year of life, and a growing, active teenager needs plenty of calories to meet energy require- ments. But what happens as you approach middle age and be- yond? What should you be eat- ing, and how much? Your 50s and 60s

While many older adults still

lead very active lives, subtle changes in how your body pro- cesses food start to take place as early as age 50. Your body doesn’t absorb certain vitamins like B12 from food as well as it used to, due to a slower diges- tive system, and aging skin doesn’t con- vert sunlight into vitamin D at the same rate.

Krystal Simpson Healthy Living

Lean body muscle mass begins to

decline as people move around less and metabolism naturally slows down. When your metabolic rate drops, your body won’t burn as many calories, which means you need to eat less. So the answer is really fewer calories

but with a focus on foods rich in nutri- ents and fibre, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, low-fat dairy products, lean cuts of meat and fish. A healthy diet can help fight off some common health-related problems as you age, like constipation, high blood pres- sure, diabetes, heart disease and bone loss. It can also improve your mood, in- crease your energy level and boost your immunity. So it’s even more important to pass up the tempting cheeseburger and fries

at lunch in favour of a salad, sandwich combo on multi-grain bread with a glass of low-fat milk. Developing healthy eat- ing habits as you tran- sition into retirement will help keep your waistline from increas- ing along with your free time.

Your 70s, 80s and beyond

As you reach your mid-70s, changes to appetite levels, social isolation, and a de- creased sense of smell and taste can affect in- terest in food, which can put seniors over the age of 75 at risk of malnutrition. A steady

diet of tea and toast does not provide adequate nutrition. A recent Statistics Canada report found that as many as one-third of Canadians are at risk of malnutrition, with more women in that tricky situation than men – 38 per cent of women compared to 28 per cent of men .

Nutrients within reach Registered dietitian and certified dia-

betes educator Marni Robert works out of the offices of the River Heights Com- munity Health Services Centre, at 1001 Corydon Avenue. Her daily routine has her circulating widely through the area. Marni suggests that seniors may find

it helpful to have foods on hand that don’t require a lot of effort to prepare, but are still packed with nutrition. “Ex- amples would include a peanut butter and banana sandwich, canned tuna and salmon. You can never go wrong incor- porating fruits and vegetables into meals

and snacks as well as low-fat milk and yogurt.” People caring for an aging parent

may notice their mom beginning to skip meals: if food doesn’t taste good or smell appetizing, the parent is less likely to eat it. It’s also hard to get used to cooking for one and eating alone, she acknowledges, especially if the parent is recently widowed. Cooking and sharing a meal can be one of life’s greatest plea- sures, so don’t just stock mom’s fridge with groceries, sit down and eat with her. “There is some evidence pointing to a 30 per cent increase in food intake if one dines with one other person com- pared to dining alone.” Another factor known to increase the

risk of malnutrition is trouble chewing or swallowing. Ill-fitting dentures or loose teeth can make it difficult to chew food properly. “Chewing with dentures can take up to four times longer than with natural teeth,” Marni points out. “This may cause seniors to eat fewer protein foods and focus on easy things like soup, cereal and toast.” The need for vitamin D increases as a

person ages, so older adults are encour- aged to take a vitamin D supplement to help prevent bone loss and fractures. Canada’s Food Guide recommends ev- ery adult over the age of 50 take a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement. A doc- tor or health care provider can answer a patient’s questions about supplements. Many dining options

For more information on developing

a healthy eating plan, readers can call the dial-a-dieti 788-8248. A registered dietitian can provide a brief consultation over the phone. Programs like meals- on-wheels can deliver a nutritious, hot meal right to the door. Referrals are

New combined health and social service.

In the spring of 2013, Victoria General Hospital and community-based health and social service agencies in Fort Garry and River Heights began formally working in partnership as South Winnipeg Integrated Health and Social Services. The purpose of this community partnership is to bet- ter integrate the delivery of services to South Winnipeg in order to provide more seamless patient-focused care and in turn create a stronger and more efficient healthcare system.

It is a bit difficult to define the exact geographic region of South Winnipeg as it has evolved. It is largely River Heights/ Fort Garry/Victoria General Hospital, but it includes additional territory (for example, St. Norbert). South Winnipeg has one of the largest senior populations in this city.

Health and social services personnel will be contributing regularly to the Healthy Living column.

not needed, and individuals can regis- ter themselves or have someone call on their behalf: Phone 204-956-7711. Learn about congregate meal pro-

grams, where seniors can plan, cook and share a meal with seniors in their community. For information, visit the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s support services to seniors web page: files/resCMP.pdf Krystal Simpson is a communications officer at Victoria Lifeline, a not-for-profit service of Victoria General Hospital Foundation.

How to help stop those senior moments before they start

search shows proven methods of pre- venting, and possibly even reversing this condition. Dementia describes a variety of symp-


toms, including memory loss, but it can also affect language and motor skills, intellectual functions, and our ability to make sound judgements. The most common form of dementia is Alzheim- er's disease, which destroys brain cells, resulting in impaired and deteriorating memory with the loss of cognitive func- tions.

Based on my integrated lifestyle ap-

proach to achieving optimum health and wellness, I’ve outlined eleven steps that are designed to help improve cog- nition and reduce the risk of demen- tia, including Alzheimer’s disease: (1) Regular Exercise, (2) Healthy Diet, (3) Dietary Supplements, (4) Mental Stimulation, (5) Engaging in Creative Endeavors, (6) Quality and Quantity of Sleep, (7) Good Oral Health, (8) Social Engagement, (9) Stress Management, (10) Avoiding Prescription Drugs that Increase the Risk of Dementia and (11) Avoiding Health Hazards.

Exercise and Balance: Choosing the right workout

Exercise is recommended to ensure we don’t lose lean muscle (sarcopenia) as we age, and it is critical for perform- ing the basic activities of daily life on a physical level. New research has proven that exercise can also make us smarter. Research is finding that different

kinds of exercise have specific effects on the brain. In older adults, aerobic exercise performed three times a week for a year resulted in improved memory (including verbal memory) tests. Lifting


s we age, one of the diseases we fear the most is dementia. Thankfully, promising new re-

weights helped improve problem solv- ing and multitasking. When combined, there were improvements in executive function and associative memory (helping to link someone’s name to their face). In one study, 109 peo-

ple with dementia were put into three groups. One group walked at a brisk pace for 30 min- utes, four times a week. Another group walked twice a week and did strength training twice a week for 30 minutes. The control group sat on their butt. The combi- nation group improved more in executive function than the aerobic or control groups. Studies have found that some of the

zheimer’s disease, incorporating Jin Ji Du Li into your daily routine may be even more important. Traditional Chi- nese medicine practitioners believe that practicing Jin Ji Du Li daily can help improve mental function, memory, and quality of sleep by synchroniz- ing internal organs and restor- ing body balance. It is also recommended for “cold feet,” neck and back problems, dia- betes (and high blood sugar) and high blood pressure. Researchers at Kyoto Uni-

Nathan Zassman Natural Health

versity asked about 1,400 people (average age 67) to stand with one leg raised and their eyes open for 60 seconds. After the test, the researchers

best ways to help improve working memory include running, surfing, and climbing trees. Dancing and stroll- ing boosts creativity. Yoga can reduce stress. Playing sports can help improve long term focus. Running and yoga can help keep the brain young. Interval sprints can help curb food cravings, and lifting weights is best at helping with problem solving. Studies indicate that reasonable levels

of resistance training (with weights or resistance machines) can help maintain brain health while increasing muscle mass and improving strength. Combin- ing resistance and aerobic exercise is ideal.

Jin Ji Du Li, “Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg”

While resistance and aerobic exercise

is critical to maintaining and improv- ing cognition and helping to avoid Al-

scanned everyone’s brain using magnet- ic resonance imaging. The researchers found that those who couldn’t balance on one leg for 20 seconds had cerebral small vessel disease (SVD), though none were exhibiting classic symptoms. SVD is associated with stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The study found that those with the shortest balance times had the lowest mental performance. Those who were unable to hold the position for more than two seconds were three times more likely to die than those who could hold the position for ten seconds or more. If you can’t balance on one foot with your eyes open for 20 seconds, you may potentially be at greater risk for demen- tia. Women the same age who could sit down and stand up more than 35 times in one minute, and who could stand on one leg for more than ten seconds, were at the lowest risk. If practiced for one minute per day on each leg, Chinese specialists believe

there to be tremendous health benefits from Jin Ji Du Li. If you have issues with memory loss, headaches, sleep, tinnitus, vertigo, or gout you may realize benefits from regular practice of this technique. I can tell you from experience that I’ve noticed significant improvements since incorporating this routine into my life- style, as I practice it each morning after I wash and shave.

Jin Ji Du Li Exercise Stand on one leg with your eyes

closed, either barefoot or with socks on. Your leg doesn’t have to be held high, just a few inches from the floor is ok at first. If you can’t keep your balance for more than a few seconds, don’t worry. With daily practice, you will eventually be able to stand on one leg for longer than two minutes, and as your times increase, your neural networks associ- ated with balance, including your three sensory circuits -vision, proprioception (sense of body position) and your ves- tibular system (inner ear) will improve. Improvements in balance generally re- sult in a more confident gait and a lower risk of falling, a significant risk factor for all of us as we age. For some, starting with your eyes slightly open makes it easier, progress- ing to closing them as balance improves. I also recommend standing next to a wall or between a doorway at first to help prevent falls. By integrating regular exercise into

our lifestyle and working on balance through Jin Ji Du Li, we can improve our gait, physical health and mental acu- ity, making it easier to remember where we put our car keys.

(Part one of a two-part series.) © 2015 Nathan Zassman. Nathan Zass- man is the owner and president of Aviva Natural Health Solutions.

October 2015

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