Winter is a demanding season, some parts of our country are drowning in snowstorms, roads are under ice, the temperatures are reaching record lows, and these rapid weather changes and extreme conditions are taking their toll on our physical health. I’ve previously written about how important staying in shape is (not only) for our elderly. Today I’d like to continue that thread by adding some tips on how to eat the right stuff — to get proper nutrition and stay full of energy even during the cold winter months. Read on, eating well during winter is important for all generations.
Fruits & Vegetables
Naturally, the first place on every nutrition list goes to good old fruits and vegetables. Including at least five, but even better seven to thirteen cups of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet will help you enjoy all the benefits including vitamin intake, obesity and heart disease protection and other positive effects. This beautiful article shows you exactly the daily serving sizes of various fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to include pomegranates for cholesterol reduction, citruses for vitamin C for an immune system boost, and dark leafy greens for vitamins A (good eyes and bones) and K (blood clotting prevention, hart disease prevention).
Protein is very important stuff that keeps our muscles in a good shape, it helps control blood sugar and energy levels. With insufficient protein intake we’re putting ourselves under risk of muscle atrophy and other physical malfunctions, so let’s make sure we get some every day. The daily Dietary Reference Intake of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, that is on average 45 – 55 grams per person (about 2 ounces). High protein foods include meat (beef, pork, turkey and chicken), fish (cod, tuna, salmon), cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Fiber is an excellent digestion helper and aids in haemorrhoid prevention. It helps control blood sugar and prevent heart disease and stroke. It also helps fight obesity, as it increases feelings of fullness and slows carbohydrate metabolism. Most people need more than 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consume. Sadly, the majority of Americans get nowhere near this amount. If you want to integrate more fiber into your diet, remember to increase the dose slowly and drink a lot of water as well. Whole-grain products, vegetables, nuts and seeds are great and nutritions sources of fiber.
Vitamin D + calcium
Our body is a pretty efficient vitamin D factory when exposed to 10 minutes of sunlight per day. However, the lack of sun exposure during winter needs to be balanced by eating foods that contain vitamin D and calcium. These two are dependent on each other, as vitamin D enables calcium absorption, so that your bones and joints become and stay healthy. That is important also in the context of winter falls. Aside from that, vitamin D also adds to mood control, helping to ward off depression.
Only a very few foods contain vitamin D naturally, but don’t worry – some foods are fortified with it. Here are some of the natural and fortified ones: salmon, sardines, shrimp, egg yolk, milk (fortified), cereal (fortified), yogurt (fortified), orange juice (fortified). Supplements containing vitamin D are also an option, but don’t forget to take calcium at the same time.
We can’t talk about eating well during winter without mentioning the importance of thorough and regular hydration. It’s generally harder to keep up with water intake during winter, and it’s especially proven to be problematic for elderly people.
“Water makes up most of our body and it is used in the transport of medications, for digestion, for circulation and for our joints and muscles. Water is also essential for our concentration and for our cognitive functioning. Staying hydrated in winter is important, too! Try adding a soup to your meal, have decaffeinated coffee/tea, herbal teas, vegetables and fruit juices (100% pure) or milk.” — Senior Living
Try to eat all together with the whole family, making food the social event of the day. If you or your loved one struggle with proper nutrition and keeping up with a healthy diet, it may be worth a try to look into moving to a local retirement community or a specialized meal delivery service for seniors.