Health practitioners and nutritionists always recommend to maintain a healthy diet and to follow a routine of exercising and eating meals on time. There have been many concepts about healthy eating, but the most current advice is perhaps to ‘eat less’ or ‘restrict fat’. Not many of us are convinced by this concept. There have been many debates and discussions regarding nutrition and diet and all we have learnt is that deprivation is not the solution, creating a balance is. It is essential to get the right type and amount of foods to support a healthy lifestyle. While practising a healthy diet, one must not resist their urge to eat; in fact, one should eat whenever they are hungry and stop only when they feel satiated.
Following a healthy diet is associated with various health-benefiting properties. According to a recent study, a healthier diet pattern is associated with 25 per cent lower likelihood of developing physical impairment with ageing. Many studies have examined how our diet plays an important role in regards to our physical function, especially when we are ageing – basic everyday chores like bathing, getting dressed, carrying groceries or climbing stairs, while others’ who do not maintain a healthy diet, their abilities diminish.
In this study, published in ‘Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging’, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital analysed the role of a healthy diet and found that this highly adaptable factor can have a large influence on maintaining physical abilities of older people.
“Diet can have specific effects on our health and can also affect our well-being and physical independence as we get older,” said senior author, Francine Grodstein.
“What excites me about our findings is the notion that we have some influence over our physical independence as we get older. Even if people can’t completely change their diet, there are some relatively simple dietary changes people can make that may influence their ability to maintain physical function, such as eating more vegetables and nuts,” Grodstein added.
Grodstein and her colleague Kaitlin Hagan examined data from a total of 12,658 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, tracking them from 2008 to 2012.
In the initial stage, all the participants were evaluated on their ability to perform physical activities like bathing/dressing themselves, walking one block or several blocks, walking more than one mile, bending/kneeling, climbing stairs, lifting groceries, etc. The men also filled out a food frequency questionnaire with responses ranging from “never or less than once per month” to “six or more times per day.”
The team used criteria from the Alternate Healthy Eating Index-2010 to assess the quality of each of the men’s diets and assign an individual score. These criteria included six food categories for which higher intake is better (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids).
Researchers found that higher diet scores (meaning better diet) meant a low risk of physical impairment. The team also noticed that higher intake of vegetables and nuts, and lower intake of red or processed meats and sugar-sweetened/carbonated drinks lowered risk of physical impairment.
Follow these six steps to have a healthy and fit body:
- Avoid processed or packed foods. Eat fresh and organic food more.
- Include more protein and carbohydrate-rich foods in your diet. Adding more food groups to your diet will also help to add more nutrients to your diet.
- Minimise the intake of fat, salt and sugar in your diet. Use rock salt instead of regular table salt and jaggery instead of sugar.
- Eat healthy snacks in between your meals. Snacks like trail mix, makhana, nuts and seeds are tasty yet healthy.
- Avoid unhealthy and fatty beverages. This is a must-do! Swap all your carbonated drinks with healthier options like nimbu pani, jaljeera, coconut water, etc.
- Get regular exercise.
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