March is National Nutrition Month
by David R
Over the past few decades, there have been countless advances made in the medical field that have helped to create treatments and cures for diseases that previously had none. Despite this research, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure continue to weigh down modern society and have only served to highlight how important nutrition, diet, and exercise continue to be in the prevention of costly and deadly diseases. To this end, March is National Nutrition Month and there are a number of important nutrition points that everyone, especially the elderly, should keep in mind. By following a health diet and maintaining proper nutrition, chronic medical problems can be prevented before they even start.
How is Nutrition Related to Cardiovascular Health?
One of the common questions that people ask is how proper nutrition relates to their overall health. In reality, nutrition goes a long way in determining how healthy someone will be years down the road. Therefore, it is important to start young and make sure that children have a healthy diet because it will impact them when they get older. Because heart disease is one of the most common diseases and killers in society, it is a good idea to examine just how proper nutrition impacts someone’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease down the road.
Proper Nutrition Keeps Blood Pressure Low: One of the ways that nutrition will impact someone’s health is through their overall blood pressure. High sodium contributes to an increased reasbsorption of water through the kidneys. This water leads to an overall increase in the blood volume in the body. With this increase in blood volume comes an increase in blood pressure. This elevated blood pressure can damage organs such as the kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels, leading an increased chance of an adverse event occurring.
High Cholesterol can Damage the Heart: if someone eats a significant amount of fatty foods, their overall cholesterol is going to increase. This increased cholesterol will start to deposit on the walls of the blood vessels and will eventually start to clog these vessels. If one of the coronary arteries becomes clogged with a cholesterol plaque, this can lead to a heart attack. Depending on the location, size, and timing, it could potentially be fatal. These clots can also form in other locations, such as the lungs and the brain, which could also be fatal. People should try to minimize the cholesterol they consume.
When people get older, their nutrition needs will start to change. There are a number of important nutrition tips and tricks that the elderly population should try to follow to reduce their risk of developing complications down the road.
Prevention of Bone Fractures
One of the most common problems that plague the elderly is bone fractures. Most people are familiar with the commercials that show the elderly falling over and getting hurt. There are numerous reasons that this is a problem, including that people’s muscles start to weaken as they age, leading to balance problems and increasing the propensity for falls. In order to prevent bone fractures, it is important to keep those bones as strong as possible. There are two nutrients that elderly individuals need to make sure that they consume to keep their bones as strong as possible:
Calcium: This is, perhaps, the most important nutrient for keeping bones strong. Bones are made up of a network of calcium and everyone should make sure that they consume their daily recommended amount of calcium so that it can be deposited in their bones. Calcium can be found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Those who are truly concerned about the amount of calcium that they are consuming should take a calcium supplement.
Vitamin D: This is often overlooked; however, it also very important for making sure that the bones are kept strong. Vitamin D is required for the bones to take up the calcium in a proper manner. Vitamin D helps the cells in the bones, such as the osteoclasts and osteoblasts, deposit new bone and recycle old bone in a proper manner. Vitamin D is very easy to obtain; people simply need to step outside and allow the sun to do its job; however, people who are found to be vitamin D deficient can also invest in a supplement to alleviate this problem.
Mental Health: Nutrition is Just as Important
As people start to get older, dementia starts to become more and more of a concern. One of the most valuable resources that elderly individuals have is their mind and the elderly should do everything in their power to try and protect this valuable resource while staving off dementia. Multiple clinical studies have demonstrated that following a diet that is similar to the DASH diet (used to lower blood pressure) and a Mediterranean diet can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and help the elderly preserve their cognitive function. In order to follow this diet, people need to invest in foods such as berries, nuts, and salads. These foods are packed with numerous vitamins and minerals that are important for preserving neuron function while limiting the damage that blood pressure can cause to the vital cells of the brain. The diet also encourages people to use olive oil to cook at home because this has fewer calories, less fat, and will help to prevent people from gaining weight and elevating their blood pressure. Finally, red meat should be avoided; however, poultry and seafood is important for making sure that people get enough protein to keep the rest of their body strong.
Cardiovascular Help Should Not Be Overlooked
Lastly, it is important to come back to the top and discuss the role of nutrition with regards to cardiovascular health. Elderly individuals should try to take care of their heart and vascular system which means taking care of their blood pressure. They should try to reduce the amount of salt that they use because this can lead to an elevated blood pressure, damaging many of the body’s vital organs. Next, try to minimize the amounts of sweets and high-fat foods which can lead to the development of atherosclerosis which can damage the body’s blood vessels. Finally, all of this should be combined with a healthy amount of exercise that will help to keep the heart in shape. Following this advice can help to reduce the risk of an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or stroke.
It is important to note that while these nutrition tips can help prolong someone’s life and prevent complications of chronic medical problems from taking root, proper nutrition is only one part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Everyone has their own genetic code which is going to play a major role in someone’s overall health. Positive nutrition should always be paired with proper exercise to receive the full benefit of a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition continues to be a problem in this country and everyone, regardless of age, should strive to maintain the healthiest diet possible. There are ways to make proper nutrition tasty and people should not hesitate to reach out and ask for help if they feel they need it.