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LIFE & LEISURE
making your nervous system vulnerable to
Some people notice that as they age
their appetite diminishes. They want smaller
portion sizes, and food can seem to just sit in their
stomach; that is indeed what could be happening
if you’re low in digestive enzymes. Because protein-rich
food is harder to break down than simple carbohydrates,
some people try to manage their stomach by reaching for
foods that seem easier to digest. Toast, biscuits, cereals
and other carbohydrate-rich foods seem to go down
easier, so your diet can easily become dominated by
carbohydrates and too low in protein-rich foods.
How people affect your nutrition
We humans are social beings, and we particularly
enjoy dining with others, judging by the popularity
of restaurants, cafes and the central focus of food at
ceremonies and feast days. The family table can be a great
place to reconnect with loved ones, and preparing a meal
that others enjoy is rewarding in itself. So you can imagine
how difficult it can be, if you’ve spent most of your life
cooking for other people, to now be in a situation where
you’re the only person who will be selecting, preparing
and eating that meal, alone.
In this situation it’s tempting to reach for something
quick and easy, right out of a packet, because it’s just
you here now. Although an occasional meal of tea and
toast doesn’t do anyone harm, the occasional can easily
become the habitual when there’s no-one else about to
complain of the absence of a cooked dinner! If your life
situation has changed so that you’re now cooking just for
you, and if you want to remain well nourished, here are
two key tips for feeding an ageing body well.
High-density nutrition versus ‘empty’ foods
When you aim to stay well nourished, there are some
simple ways to increase the nutritional value of your diet.
First, seek out food with a high-nutrient density. These
are foods with a high proportion of protein, vitamins and
minerals in a relatively small package. Eggs are a great
example of high-density nutrition. They contain all the
nutrients needed to start a new life, and protein too.
Seafood and unprocessed meats are also high-density
nutrition sources. Nuts and seeds are high-density foods
too, although you may need to eat them as nut spreads if
your teeth are no longer up to munching on whole nuts.
Dark-coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrition
as well: A useful rule of thumb is that the darker the
vegetable, the more rich in vitamins and minerals it is.
‘Low-density nutrition’ is a term for foods that fill you up,
but don’t offer you much else. Many modern, processed
foods create empty meals. Sugary foods are particularly
deceptive, because they’ll push up your blood glucose
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level, giving you the illusion of being
fed. These empty foods might also
boost your energy, temporarily, which
unfortunately reinforces their reputation
as the food to reach for when you need a
lift. But they won’t provide the solid support
like high-nutrient foods.
Should you supplement your nutrition?
Some people like to give their ailing digestive system a
helping hand by utilising replacement digestive enzymes,
vitamins, minerals and protein supplements. However, this
should only be undertaken with the assistance of a health
professional as many supplements can clash badly with
prescription medications, and for people with a history
of kidney disease in their family, extra protein may be too
much for their kidneys to cope with. It’s always good to
consult with your health practitioner before reaching for
any kind of supplement.
If you’re particularly keen to maintain (and maybe even
improve) your health as you age, a consultation with a
health professional to devise the ideal diet for you could be
just what you need to look forward to a healthy and active
old age with even more candles on that birthday cake.
Olwen Anderson is a naturopathic nutritionist.
LIFE & LEISURE
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