Foods high in bad fats, sugar and chemicals are directly linked to many negative emotions, whereas whole, natural foods rich in nutrients – foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes – contribute to greater energy and positive emotions. Marilu Henner
As we get older we tend to find that we have far more aches and pain than we did when we were kids and, if we’re not careful, we can start to use them as an excuse not to move so much which will then make the pain worse and launch us into a vicious circle which will ultimately lead to us doing nothing more than sitting in a chair, wondering what the hell happened. The medical profession often speaks these days about ‘preventative medicine’ which involves taking pills for something that you don’t have but might get at a later date; we can do the same thing with food and, happily, food usually doesn’t have any side effects!
One of the most common ailments we suffer from as we get older is osteoarthritis which is, basically, inflammation of the joints and typically caused by wear and tear. It can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful and our natural response is to try and protect our joints from further damage by not using them so much but experts believe that this will make the problem worse and we should be making sure that we do exercise especially stretching, cardio and strengthening. However, we can also look at what we eat to relieve the symptoms:
- Oily fish: high in omega 3 fatty acids which will help to reduce inflammation; if you don’t eat fish then soybeans will do much the same thing
- When you cook or make salads, opt for extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and walnut oil, again sources of omega 3 and good for reducing inflammation
- Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables which are stuffed full of antioxidants which protect the body from free radical damage, a possible cause of arthiritis
- Matcha tea: with seriously high anti-oxidant levels, this super tea is great for helping to reduce inflammation
The foods listed above are also good for helping to look after your heart; another major health concern as we get older! You can also add fresh berries, broccoli, avocados and almonds to the list, all of which are great for lowering cholesterol and improving heart health.
The other thing we have to watch out for as get older is diabetes (although it is becoming more common in the young too these days) which is caused by the pancreas not working as well as it should resulting in a build-up of sugars in the blood which can lead to other life threatening illnesses. Before we have a look at what we should eat, let’s have a look at what we shouldn’t eat:
- Anything that is loaded with refined carbohydrates so try to stay away from fast food restaurants and take-aways
- Anything really sugary such as doughnuts, cream cakes, fizzy drinks and sweets (although small amounts of dark chocolate, 70%+ cocoa content, is good for you)
- Breakfast cereals with a high sugar content – try to stick with porridge or muesli (just check the box to make sure there’s no added salt or sugar)
As far as what we should eat – all of the foods that are good to help with arthritis and all the foods listed that are good for your heart health; there is definitely a pattern emerging here isn’t there! You can also add:
- Apples which, like other fruits, contain anti-oxidants but have also been shown to reduce the risk of getting diabetes
- Asparagus which has been shown to help keep blood sugars regulated
- Quinoa which can help reduce spikes in blood sugar and will keep you fuller for longer so you’re less likely to snack on sugary stuff
So, basically, if you want to avoid the ailments and illnesses that plague people as they get older:
- Avoid processed foods
- Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables
- Keep moving!