Fitness Carter

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Healthy diet vital for older adults - U-T San Diego

A healthy diet is important at any age, but it’s particularly important for older adults.

The natural process of aging requires seniors to eat healthy and maintain their physical and mental activities, said Dr. Adam Pacal, of Sharp HealthCare in San Diego.

Adults are somewhat in control of their aging because they have the power to prolong their lives by staying active and taking in nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, experts say.

On the average, adults over the age of 65 need 1,500 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day, according to the National Institutes of Health. Seniors’ needs are similar to what a younger person requires, but they need stronger bone density and more strength.

Dr. Adam Pacal, of Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, also said calories need to be watched if older adults over 65 aren’t active or at least walking every day.

Calorie counts for the average man and woman should be limited to 2,000 and 1,600 calories a day, respectively, to maintain a healthy weight, Pacal said. Older adults who gain weight run the risk of contracting high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Balance is also compromised.

“Balance is really crucial when you get older, because falls are extremely dangerous,” said Pacal.

Balance training is a complex process that requires vision, muscle strength and a sense of how the joints are moving. Maintaining leg muscles and flexibility will train a person to handle weight-bearing activity. Older adults can enlist the help of a physical therapist for balance training.

An easy method of testing balance is to stand on one leg for 30 seconds, Pacal said.

On the holistic side, chiropractic doctor and nutrition specialist Christine Farlow, of Escondido, encourages everyone, not just the aging population, to stay away from processed foods and foods from confined animal feeding operations, and switch to strictly whole foods, such as grass-fed animals.

Grains, for example, are promoted as healthy, yet processed grains are responsible for belly fat, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, she said.

Farlow also said the majority of the population is eating genetically engineered food.

“Basically, if it is not USDA-certified organic, you are eating genetically engineered food,” she said.

She added that low-fat diets are another taboo topic and disagreed that cholesterol should be low.

“This idea about low fat is really what’s making people fat,” she said, adding that low-fat diets rob people of the fats they need for brain function and general health.

She said low cholesterol sets people up for memory problems and many other health issues.

Farlow’s said her goal is to combine body, mind and spirit.

“We are whole beings,” she said. “Someone could come in with a problem and we deal with it nutritionally, and then we find out there is an emotional component. Trying to look at one part of the body instead of looking at the whole is like taking a piece out of your watch and expecting it to run.”

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