Healthy Ageing By Dr Sivuyile Madikana (Herbalife NAB Southern Africa)

Ageing is inevitable, we cannot slow the process of growing older, however we can work on being healthier and the best versions of ourselves. With age, many changes occur in our bodies, like reduced muscle mass and bone density.

We also come into greater risk of heart diseases, cancers and many other conditions. The great news is that we can work on reducing some of these risks by ensuring we have a nutritious well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy active lifestyle. It is important to know what your caloric need is for your age group, sex and current circumstances. Some older adults need less calories as compared to when they were younger and more active, this could be due to the changes in lifestyle, a slowdown in the metabolic rate and difference in body composition.

Here are some considerations while gracefully growing wiser: Protein – this is a macro-nutrient that is critical in the growth and maintenance of our muscles and bones. Our diet should be made up of at least 30% of protein. However, the older we get we tend to tapper down how much protein we are eating. Some important sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and protein shakes for those who are keen to consume it in a drinkable format.

To prevent the loss of lean muscle, we need to consume enough protein to maintain muscles. Healthy fats – these are an important part of our diets because of the benefits they come with. Healthy fats have been shown to reduce the risk of heart diseases, strokes and high blood pressure, which are conditions we are more prone to with age. They lower bad cholesterol, while promoting the increase of “good” HDL cholesterol. Omega-3 poly unsaturated fats can be found in walnuts, salmon, tuna and many other Mediterranean food sources. 30% of the foods and supplements we consume daily should be made up of healthy fats – ensuring a well-balanced diet.

Micronutrients – a deficiency in these subsets of nutrients has been associated with physiological and cognitive decline. For example, the older we grow, the less ability our bodies have to absorb Vitamin B12, which is important in the formation of normal red blood cells and functioning of our metabolism. Dietary sources include dairy products and fish, however dietary supplements can also to increase vitamin B12 intake. There are other essential dietary minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron and selenium which contribute to good and healthy bone density. This is not the complete sum of things we can do to age better, however just the beginning. In order to live a more wholesome life in our older age, we need to take care of our bodies throughout our lifetime. Feeding it the right amount of nutrients to maintain a body that will keep functional and hopefully working at preventing non-communicable conditions that would weigh us down.