Looking after your health – keep it colourful
How should you keep healthy when you reach your later years? Although many aspects of living a healthy lifestyle remain the same as when you were younger, there are some differences too. In this article Dra. Carolina Pérez Iglesias from Quirónsalud Hospital provides us with advice about the dos and don’ts for a long and healthy life.
The body is a complex and well-balanced machine that never ceases to amaze. Throughout our life time it grows, changes, adapts and suffers abuses from our lifestyle. Who hasn’t taken good health for granted when they were young?
As you get older, the body can be less forgiving. At the same time most of us realise that we need to look after it just a little bit more carefully. In this article I’m going to explain why things can start to go wrong and what steps we can take to minimise and prevent this.
What to avoid
So, what’s not so good for you? A number of factors can be described as contributing to the aging process:
• Environmental pollution
• Multiple medication
• Fatty diet
• Lack of rest
• Too little exercise
Of course, some of these things are difficult to avoid. Depending on where you live, environmental pollution can be a fact of life. We are lucky that in this part of Spain there is relatively little congestion and we are not living in an industrial zone. Spain is a large country with a relatively small population and this must be to the good of our health.
Similarly, if you have had a serious ailment then medication is something that is hard to avoid. Many of us have to live with diabetes, a heart condition or high blood pressure and a well-stocked medicine cabinet is a fact of life. However, it can be easy to become locked into a cycle of medication dependency and awareness is growing of the need for a more personalised diagnosis.
Then there are those factors that are well within our control. We can all reduce our alcohol intake and take better care of our diet. Introducing a little exercise and managing our day with the body in mind, well – that’s up to us.
The right food
It’s important to eat little and often. I recommend five meals a day but without over eating. You should always stop before feeling completely full. It can be done! Of course, it’s also about what you eat as well as when. You should have between 3 to 5 pieces of fruit a day and always eat a salad with your lunch and at least one fresh vegetable with your evening meal.
A lot of this is about balance. Meat should only be eaten twice a week and fish three times a week. Take care with your salt intake and make sure you have around 20 to 35 grams of fibre from vegetables or cereals every day. Cut out sugar and white flour and increase the quality of the protein you digest.
The way that fresh products are preserved is also important. If you do manage to get some vegetables into your diet, make sure that they are as fresh as they can be. Straight from the tree or ground is best but if you can’t manage this then frozen comes second. Least healthy are the vegetables that have been preserved in jars or tins. However, these are still better than nothing.
The right drink
You may not always feel thirsty, but keeping up your liquid intake is vital. And that doesn’t mean alcohol! You should be drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. If you’re not too keen on water from the tap then flavoured water can be a good alternative. I also recommend that you have around three dairy products a day (preferably lactose-free) but never after your main meals.
Keep it colourful
If this doesn’t sound like you’re current diet and you’re groaning at the idea, remember that good food needn’t be boring. A lot of what we like to eat is down to presentation, colours and textures. There’s lots of good food out there, sometimes it’s a case of trying something new and being adventurous in the way it’s presented. Go on, give it a go!
And don’t forget…
We all know it’s not only about nutrition. Physical activity, having a good social life and hobbies you enjoy, are all beneficial when it comes to your health, whatever age you are. In Spain we are lucky that the beautiful climate makes it so much easier to enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, cycling and swimming. Take advantage of this and join a group, take a partner or go on your own.
Keeping healthy needn’t be boring and with a little imagination you can convert the guidance here into the perfect recipe for you.