Healthy Aging: What do we know?

Healthy Aging: What do we know?

Aging is a taxing process


Aging is a taxing process on our bodies that often times impedes our ability to maintain optimal health. The following are a few small steps you can take to help maintain your health, function, and independence as you get older. From improving your diet and levels of physical activity to getting regular health screenings and managing risk factors for disease, these behaviors can have positive impacts on many different areas of health and well being.


The National Institutes on Aging, recommends the following:


Get up and moving!


Exercise and staying physically active are considered cornerstones of healthy aging; 30 minutes a day is all it takes! This can be broken up throughout the day if needed. Being physically active does not require you to hit the gym. Activities such as gardening, walking, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help you stay fit and continue to do the things you enjoy.


Pay attention to your weight and body shape


Many health problems are linked to being overweight or obese including: This being said however, thinner is not always better. Research shows that older adults who are thin (BMI of less than 19) have an increased mortality rate compared to those of a normal weight (BMI of 19 – 24.9 depending on height and weight). Being or becoming thin as an older adult can be a symptom of illness or disease, or an indication of frailty. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about any weight concerns, decisions to lose/gain weight, or unexplained weight changes.


Mindful eating


While proper food choices and portion sizing are key elements of mindful eating, special attention should also be paid to a food’s glycemic index value. The glycemic index represents the relative rise in blood glucose level two hours after consuming a particular food. This value is determined by the quantity and type of carbohydrate the food contains. Some examples of both low and high glycemic index value foods include:


Low – fruits, veggies, high-fiber grains & breads

These foods decrease hunger and have a minimal effect on blood glucose levels. Plus, they are full of nutrients our bodies need!

High – White breads, pastas, refined grain products, junk foods.

These foods tend to cause the highest spike in blood glucose levels and contain minimal nutrients.


Vitamin and Mineral


Another aspect of nutrition that should be focused on and prevented, is vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Low concentrations of vitamins and minerals in the blood are often a result of poor nutrition intakes, usually caused by poor dietary choices. A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables can lead to low carotenoid, which is associated with a heightened risk of skeletal muscle wasting in older adults.


Vitamin E.


Further, low levels of vitamin E (especially in women) is correlated with a decline in physical function. Healthy eating behaviors and getting enough physical activity is not just about weight control, it can help protect you from health issues that present themselves more frequently among older adults.


For more detailed information on smart food choices and healthy aging, visit:


**If you are concerned about how your dietary choices and activity level may be affecting your health, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider.

Torie Beckwith, VSC Nutrition Coordinator