If you’re over 40 and exercising to improve your health, do you need extra nutrition? It depends on the frequency, intensity, and duration of the exercise, according to the latest issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
An article in the July/August edition found that in general, nutritional needs do not change much for older individuals who exercise regularly, but those needs do change moderately for the purposes of chronic-disease risk avoidance. Author Kathleen Melanson, who is with the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Rhode Island, recommends a heart-healthy diet focusing on unrefined plant products, low-fat sources of protein, low-saturated and trans fats, high fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients. Older exercisers also need to make sure they stay hydrated, get adequate protein, and consume enough antioxidants, said Melanson. She also added that sports drinks are generally unnecessary for events lasting less than 60 minutes and could provide unwanted calories, sugars and sodium for older exercisers. Instead, choose naturally occurring sources of electrolytes.
Daily exercise is as important for seniors as it is for younger folks. In fact, patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease who performed better on a treadmill test had less atrophy in the areas of the brain that control memory, according to a recent study. Magnetic resonance imaging showed less shrinkage in the hippocampus region of patients’ brains in the Alzheimer’s patients with higher fitness scores. (In Alzheimer’s, the hippocampus is one of the first parts of the brain to suffer damage.) Exercise and physical fitness have been shown to slow age-related brain-cell death in healthy, older adults.
Of course, try as they may, some seniors never lose their childhood sweet tooth, and questions abound regarding the best choices when one needs to indulge. For instance:
Q: Are Italian ice desserts low-calorie choices?
A: Italian ice has become increasingly common in restaurants and at larger grocery stores. While its light, refreshing flavor is due in part to a lower sugar content than many popular frozen desserts, that doesn’t mean it is low-sugar. Each four-ounce serving, which can have as much as four to six teaspoons of sugar, provides roughly 50 to 100 calories. However, that’s still a lower calorie choice than a similar serving of ice cream, which provides from 140 to 270 calories, or even sorbet, which can contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar and 125 calories per serving. Also note that restaurant portions and the pre-packaged sizes sold at grocery stores are most often 6 ounces, which slightly raises the calorie content.
So whether young or old, certain regular exercise and a low sugar intake are key components of good health; seniors, however, may have to be a little more careful about their dietary choices.
Copyright 2008 Creator Syndicate, Inc.