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Does What You Eat Really Matter in Your Retirement Years?

By Joe Carson September 14, 2021 Health and Fitness

We all know that as our bodies age, numerous changes take place. Some of these changes are good, some not-so-good, some we know about – some we do not.

For instance, you may not know that nutritional needs are among the top items that can change the most with age. However, some common misconceptions and fallacies surrounding these changes can have severe consequences if not properly managed.

Today I would like to take the opportunity to provide some clarity, guidance, and helpful information which will empower you to make choices that improve daily performance while diminishing the risk of preventable medical issues. 

Myths and Facts About Nutrition

Below are some of the more common myths and the scientifically supported facts which help to set the story straight: 

Myth #1

Those 65 and older have slower metabolisms with lower activity levels and do not need as many nutrients daily. 

Fact

Though overall energy needs may indeed change, the number of nutrients needed to remain healthy increases as we age, making eating nutrient-dense foods more important as portion sizes often need to be substantially smaller to maintain a healthy body weight.

Myth #2

Healthy weight management is not essential for those of retirement age. 

Fact

Maintaining a healthy body weight not only makes it easier for your body to function as it should while reducing health issues, but it also makes getting around much easier and less exhausting. Overweight elders who become sedentary lose mobility much faster and overall require substantially more care going into advanced age.(This extra care can cost thousands of dollars per month.)

Myth #3 

It’s ok to skip meals if you don’t feel hungry.

Fact

Skipping meals regularly can be detrimental, leading to irregular blood sugar levels, increased fatigue levels, diminished cognitive function, digestive system issues, disease brought on by nutrient deficiencies, and significantly lowered immune function.

Myth #4

In general, overall good health has very little to do with nutrition, and as you age, it is more important to eat only the things you like. 

Fact

Arguably, clean/healthy nutrition is more critical for achieving/maintaining good health than just doing regular exercise. As you age, the body becomes less forgiving with the things you choose to put into it, and the quality of what you consume becomes more crucial.

Good to Know 

The everyday items listed below are among the worst for sound weight management, keeping your body healthy, and promoting a positive energy balance.

Simple Carbohydrates

These are the sugars and starches that cause you the most problems as far as weight and blood sugar control. When consumed, these immediately begin to impact insulin levels which also aids in facilitating fat storage. 

Examples would be: All items sweetened with sugar, white bread, white rice, bakery goods, candy bars, sugar-sweetened sodas, granola bars, yogurt, etc. 

When it comes to carbohydrates, your body needs and HAS to have them, however not in the fashion that we’ve become accustomed to as a society. Natural and complex (un-processed/high-fiber) carbohydrates are the best rule of thumb for controlling blood sugar and body weight. 

Gluten

This is a protein found in wheat that does not break down into essential amino acids (which are building blocks for cell structures). Instead, these proteins attach themselves to the internal lining of the intestines, causing permeability of the intestinal wall and allowing waste and bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

This issue could lead to elevated blood toxicity, irritation in the gut, and autoimmune disease. Conversely, a daily diet with low or eliminated exposure to glutens poses no risks or side effects and will promote increased digestive health. 

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame (Equal), sodium saccharin (Sweet’n Low), sugar alcohol (sorbitol, glycol, xylitol, etc.), sucralose(Splenda). *ALL NATURAL Stevia is an excellent substitute! 

Though these products intend to reduce calories, lower sugar content in foods, and create “healthier alternatives,” most do just the opposite and can be quite toxic (for example, aspartame is synthesized into formaldehyde as it is digested).

Food Additives/Processed Foods

These chemicals are added to our commercially produced foods. Most are utilized as flavor enhancers,
color enhancers, shelf stabilizers, and preservatives.

Examples would be sodium nitrate, saccharine, caffeine, olestra, food dyes, agene, Ethelene glycol, dulcin, and a HUGE list of insanely long words that we do not have space for. Not only can these have ill effects on their own, but cumulatively can inhibit efficient metabolic function, distort nutrient absorption, and foster weight gain. 

Alcohol 

Alcohol is known for – and consumed for – its inebriating properties, but also has the undesired effects of being linked to heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, compromised metabolism, and enhances the side effects of multitudes of other substances through interaction leading to severe organ damage and, like cigarettes, even death (with regular portion sizes exceeding 5oz).

Extreme caution must also be given when taking prescription medications as alcohol consumption can cause adverse reactions or negatively impact the efficacy.

All of the above are very easy to limit, replace, or remove altogether and still enjoy an expansive palate of foods, beverages, and treats that make life fun and keep your body healthy!

What food habit myths have you heard? Why do you think they are myths? Do you think this kind of information is helpful for everyday living?

Let's Have a Conversation!

The Author

Joe Carson has a passion for helping retired adults and adults approaching retirement to combat the physical effects of aging through the power of movement. Joe established Age-Well Arizona after recognizing a significant need in the Valley of the Sun for compassionate and proficient Wellness Professionals to help the large population of retired adults maximize their Arizona retirement experience.

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