As we age, the need for certain macro and micronutrients becomes more vital for our survival. Eating healthy, especially at an old age, can have a numerous amount of health benefits: reduce your risk of developing chronic disease caused by chronic inflammation and obesity, lower your overall body fat levels, feel better every day, and save thousands of dollars in doctor’s visits each year. The definition of eating healthy doesn’t really change much as a person ages; however, the importance of eating healthy certainly does.
Know Your Macronutrients
Macronutrients come in three major categories: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Balancing these three groups is necessary to maintaining your health at an older age. Generally, 10-30% of your daily calories should come from protein, with the other 70% coming equally from carbohydrates and fats.
Fats help store energy, absorb key minerals vitamins, builds cell membranes (the exterior for each shell), and helps build nerve sheathing. Fat has a high calorie content, clocking in at 9 calories per gram, as opposed to protein and carbs (which total 4 calories per gram). There are three types of fat: trans-fat, saturated fats, and mono/poly-saturated fats. Trans fat have no health benefits and were often found in deep-fried goods and sweets. Even small amounts of trans-fats can hurt the body and should be avoided at all costs.
Saturated fats occur in products like whole milk, cheese, coconut oil, and red meat. While it can be a contributor to heart disease, saturated fats are fine in moderation. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good” fats and are found in nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fish. Polyunsaturated fats are essential for proper bodily function and include sardines, salmon, walnuts, canola oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Many of these contain omega-3s, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack.
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel for energy; carbs are digested by your body and turned into glucose (sugar) by the body, which is absorbed by the small intestine. If the body’s glucose stores are filled, the excess glucose will be converted into fat for later energy uses. Insoluble fiber from vegetables can help protect from digestive tract diseases and are indigestible by the body. Soluble fiber is digestible in the body and includes oats, legumes, and the inner parts of some fruits and vegetables. Having enough dietary fiber can benefit your blood sugar levels and keep your heart healthy. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for your body.
Protein is a major building block of many of the body’s cells, making up more than 50% of the dry weight of cells. Protein can be found in legumes, cheese, nuts, milk, fish, poultry, dairy, and meat. Protein is more important because the body breaks protein down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle in the human body. Protein also helps build healthy skin, hair, and bones. While protein is not primarily responsible for fueling the body, it accounts for a large percentage of the health of your antibodies, hormones, and other important regulatory processes.
Having a healthy, balanced diet – along with a solid workout program – can go a long way in preventing chronic disease and promoting longevity. Carbs are the fuel of your body, fats are the storage, and proteins are the building blocks: a healthy balance of all three of these macronutrients can lead to an overall better quality of life.
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