Thrive Wellness: March Your Way To Good Nutrition
As part of the physical dimension of Thrive Wellness, in March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month it’s important and valuable to take some time to learn about proper nutrition, as well as the related elements involved. In particular, those which become even more important as we age; what essential nutrients and foods should we consume? Simply being mindful and intentional of our food choices is a great first step. Many of us can remember the age-old adage – “You are what you eat” – in some ways, this is true. Like gasoline/diesel is the fuel for many vehicles – so are food and proper nutrients, the essential “fuel” our bodies need to maintain our healthy, active lifestyle.
We should look at our overall nutrition as not only the “fuel” that keeps our “engine” running – but also as the way that we maintain and/or improve our health status. Our bodies all have a series of interrelated systems and processes, that, when healthy, are like a well-oiled machine – everything functions well together, working in unison – made possible by proper nutrition and healthy life choices. An important thing for us to remember about our nutrition – is that proper nutrition supports all bodily actions, functions, and processes – helps them to work well together --- and even contributes to preventing adverse events from happening. Yes, proper nutrition can and will help you to avoid undesirable conditions which can happen as our bodies age.
10 Ways Malnutrition Can Affect Your Body As You Age:
- MOBILITY: Your body naturally loses muscle and bone as you age; however, malnutrition can accelerate these losses and impact your independence and ability to be active. Weak muscles and bones can make it harder to do everyday tasks like walking, dressing, and bathing. Regular physical activity and a diet high in protein, calcium, and vitamin D are critical to helping you maintain and rebuild muscle and bone.
- POSTURE: Muscles and bones are needed to help keep you upright. If they are weak, you may strain your neck, back, and shoulder muscles, causing you to feel pain.
- STRENGTH: Poor muscle strength may make it more difficult to do your favorite activities.
- FALLS: Bone and joint problems are major risk factors for falls.
- HEALING: Your body’s nutrition influences your recovery since wounds need energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to heal.
- CANCER: If you are malnourished, it is more difficult to tolerate chemotherapy.
- ILLNESS: A poor immune system can increase your risk for illnesses and infections.
- EYES: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can accelerate vision loss caused by glaucoma, cataracts, and/or macular degeneration.
- BRAIN: Nutrient deficiencies may speed up the rate at which your brain loses neurons, which can impair your speech, coordination, and memory.
- KIDNEYS: A deficiency of fluids and electrolytes can cause your kidneys to overwork and affect their ability to function. This can lead to dehydration, joint pain, and heart issues.
6 Steps to Prevent Malnutrition in Older Adults:
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to stay well-nourished! Here are some tips and resources to help.
- Understand what malnutrition is and isn't. Malnourished individuals come in all sizes and can even be obese. Learn five important facts about malnutrition in older adults.
- Make smart food choices. Learn how to eat well after 50, including how to make a well-balanced plate, identify foods highest in key nutrients like protein, and more.
- Try an oral nutritional supplement. Supplements have protein, calories, and vital nutrients that can help provide complete and balanced nutrition for individuals at any stage of life.
- Take care of your teeth. Poor oral health can lead to gum disease and other dental problems that may limit your ability to eat well or eat certain foods that are vital for good nutrition.
- Consult your health care provider. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing unintentional weight loss, poor appetite, difficulty chewing or swallowing, problems with ill-fitting dentures, or other problems that affect eating.
- Find help. If it’s difficult for you to drive, prepare, or purchase food, enlist a friend or family member to help or contact Meals on Wheels to see if you can get home-delivered meals. If you need help paying for groceries, try applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Millions of older adults use SNAP to supplement their monthly food budget.
There are many reasons why being intentional and mindful of our nutrition will positively impact our health. Not only is proper nutrition important for our body systems and functioning – but it will also help our energy levels as well. Our lives are such a busy day in and day out, and just having and being able to maintain adequate energy levels is key.
Please consider using the links, websites, and resources included in this blog, as you will be able to learn steps to take towards enhancing your overall nutrition.
A perfect place to start is to speak to your physician about your health situation, as we are all different. Consider your daily water intake as well; our bodies require adequate water daily to ensure proper bodily functions.
Take a good look at the www.myplate.gov website – an official website of the United States government, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This excellent, informative site provides valuable information and suggestions for how we can intentionally make daily food choices when having our meals.
You have now taken the all-important first step to good nutrition by taking the time to read this blog – thank you for your intention you learn more about food. At the very core of the Physical Dimension of Thrive Wellness is ourselves and our health. Everything starts from there. As you learn more about proper nutrition and begin to employ the recommendations – you will not regret it, and your body will thank you. Your body will function better, feel better and have more energy, and hopefully be in a position to avoid some of the undesirable conditions sometimes related to aging – such as muscle loss, loss of bone density, and falls.
Having proper nutrition will positively contribute to you thriving, experiencing greater overall health outcomes, and having a healthier lifestyle in general.
Please stay tuned for next month’s post for Thrive Wellness updates and share this information with your friends. Invite them to subscribe to the Waypoints Learning Center. Thrive Wellness monthly blogs will post at the end of each month.
People who come to Presbyterian Senior Living come for more than just a place to live– they come to feel energized, challenged, and fulfilled; they come to THRIVE.
About Jim Mangol
Jim Mangol, Corporate Director of Thrive Wellness, supports PSL’s Thrive Wellness initiative, volunteer programming, and fitness centers. Jim has served in senior living wellness for over 22 years, bringing with him extensive experience in aging services as well as health and wellness at non-profit life plan communities. He is well known to PSL as he has been a consultant since 2016 for our Fitness and Aquatic Center programming. Jim is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, as well as a 2015 graduate of the Leading Age PA Fellows in the leadership program. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Healthcare Administration degree at Delaware Valley University. Jim is an active member of the International Council on Active Aging and the Senior Exercise Professionals of PA. Jim lives in Hatfield, PA with his wife Shannon, 3 sons: Aiden, Austin, and Anthony, and a three-year-old rescue dog named Nala. He enjoys spending time with his family, spending time outdoors, coaching youth baseball, and teaching CCD/REC.