It happens to the best of us. One day you wake up, look in the mirror and wonder, “What happened to me?” “Why do I look this old?!” Nothing seems to fit; and you look and feel tired with each pound you add to your weight every year.
Getting to a ripe old age is difficult as it is, and having weight problems can make things worse. A new study published in the Journal of the Medical Association explains that aging significantly slows down metabolism, breaks down muscles, and rearranges fat, forcing the body to keep up with these changes.
If your diet or activity level does not change to accommodate these body system changes, you could be joining an increasing number of elderly people on the fast track to obesity.
After the age of 60, people reaching their golden years experience new medical issues that may be caused or possibly highlighted by obesity: high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, diabetes, immobility, hip and knee pain, cancer, osteoarthritis, inability to function as normal, and depression—these are just a few good reasons why you should prevent elderly obesity.
With regular 30- to 60-minute daily exercises, elderly obesity is preventable. Your doctor can advise you on what kind of changes you may need to work on. Often doctors will recommend overall nutritional dietary changes such as decreasing fat and sugar intake while increasing dietary fiber.
In their series of articles on the value of medicinal fruits and vegetables, Jaime Galvez Tan, MD, MPH and Ma. Rebecca Galvez Tan, RN recommend eating more green leafy vegetables—about a cup of these per meal—in order to have a healthier weight. These vegetables are excellent sources of iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, B, C, and E and all are potent antioxidants that protect the cells of the body from getting damaged by free radicals. They’re also low in calories so you benefit more from eating them than any other vegetables.
With slower metabolism, you're burning fewer calories, making it more likely to gain weight even if you eat the same amount as before. Being less physically active can also add to fat storage.
Your doctor or nutritionist can formulate a meal plan, considering factors like age, gender, present and target weight, and presence of other medical condition.
For a more information and a sample low-fat meal plan ideal for seniors, grab your copy of HealthToday September, out now in newsstands and major bookstores.