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Diet for Middle Aged People - Diet for fitness and good health

BY: vinu | Category: Food and Drinks | Post Date: 2008-08-08

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Diet has a very important role in man's struggle against diseases and disability. Nutritious diets in enough quantities along with proper exercise are major contributing factors to physical fitness and health. Faulty dietary habits due to ignorance and mis-concepts about various food items lead to malnutrition. There can be undernourishment and associated problems of over nutrition. As age advances physical activity is on a decreasing level. In addition, there are age-associated changes in body tissues, body processes and cells. Diet, therefore, requires to be tailored to the needs of the specific age group.
Some diseases of advanced age such as bone or heart diseases, diseases of blood vessels and cancer probably have nutritional components. Age associated disorders such as diabetes, gall stones, and high blood pressure also require dietary modifications. In fact, diet is one of the critical tools for the prevention of certain important diseases which are common among the middle aged population.

Many animal experiments have led the scientists to believe that overfeeding at young age hastens maturity and shortens life and over feeding after maturity shortens life and increases the incidence of some diseases.

Nutritional requirements for the normal persons and the older adult are not fundamentally very different. An important bodily change taking place with advancing age is a decrease in the number of functioning cells. This results in a decrease in the metabolic process of the body including activities of the heart, respiratory and urinary systems. Therefore, as age advances, energy needs of the body are reduced. Food intake has, therefore, to be suitably modified. However, the diet has to continue to be a balanced one for providing the body adequate nutrients such as vitamins and minerals for optimum functioning.
Many studies indicate that as a result of lowered food intake, several nutritional deficiency conditions are often seen in the ageing population. Thus anemia, deficiencies of vitamins B, C D and calcium occur more often in the older people. A significant finding has been that lower vitamin C levels and disorders of the bone like Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, are common in this group.
The most satisfactory means of promoting good nutrition is by improving the quality of diet. Intake of foods rich in vitamins such as oranges, lemon, gooseberry (for vitamins C) vegetables such as carrots and leafy greens (for vitamin A and B and Iron) milk and milk products (calcium and vitamin D) should be encouraged. Adequate cereal and pulse based diets should be used to provide the required calorie, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Good nutrition during youth and middle age has a vital role in the prevention of those disorders which end up as serious ailments at a later date.

Maintaining body weight within normal limits is an important aspect of disease prevention. This helps to avoid diseases of the heart, blood vessels and diabetes. Obesity, or over-weight which becomes more obvious around the third and fourth decade of life appears to be the basic factor responsible for development of diseases such as myocardial infarction (heart attacks), hypertension (high blood pressure), cerebral strokes, diabetes and gall stones.

Obesity or excess weight is a common form of over nutrition in most affluent societies. This occurs in those who fail, for various reasons, to match energy intake to energy expenditure. That is, there is a reduction in exercise and activity; at the same time food intake is high.

The energy taken in as food is not spent by enough activity. In addition the modern life style as a consequence of mechanization further contributes to decrease in energy expenditure.

The key to weight control is a balance of energy intake and output. Customarily, to achieve this reduction in calorie intake (eating less) is recommended during middle and later years of adult life. It is important to remember that fats provide twice as much energy per gram as do carbohydrates and proteins. Hence it is advisable to avoid fats, oils, ghee, fried foods or oily foods. Preferenc3e should be for fruits, vegetables, salads, soups and light balanced meals.

An increase in physical activity can be equally or even more important than a decrease in the calorie intake to reduce weight. One may wonder why we should be slim and active. Obesity can mean ill health and premature death.

Diet modification has been accepted as one of the methods to prevent and decrease the ill-health and death associated with degenerative disorders. As a rule of thumb it can be stated that blood lipids (fat constituents) rise with an increase in total calorie intake, increase of fat intake, particularly of the saturated type (butter, vanaspati, ghee, coconut oil and animal fat). Blood lipids do not rise to the same extent when vegetable oils such as sunflower oil or groundnut oil are taken. Therefore, unsaturated fats should be taken in preference to saturated fats. It is recommended that a maximum of 30% of calories could be derived from dietary fats.

Consumption of carbohydrates (starchy foods) specially refined foods like sugar should be cut down as these food items tend to increase blood lipids. We will be better off if we eat fewer fatty; sugary and salty foods and drink less alcohol. Eating more foods containing complex carbohydrates, such as cereals, millets, pulses, fruits and vegetables, and leafy greens is far more beneficial.

A relationship between the intake of salt and development of hypertension has been known to exist. Hypertension is rare in people whose salt intake is lower (about 2g/day). The incidence of the disease is very high in populations where the salt intake is high i.e., around 20g/day (Japan). When salt intake is restricted to 200-500 mg/day, significant reduction in blood pressure can be obtained. People, who are obese and have a tendency to develop high blood pressure, should restrict their salt intake to 3-5g/day.

Balanced Diet for adults doing moderate work

Gms. Men Women
Cereals 520 440
Pulses 50 45
Leafy Vegetables 40 100
Other Vegetables 70 40
Tubers 60 50
Milk 200ml 150 ml
Oils/Fats 45 25
Sugar 35 20

Though diabetes is not due to faulty dietary habits, diet does have a great therapeutic value in treating these patients. For diabetics restriction of calories in order to achieve ideal weight has been repeatedly stressed. Individuals with a strong family history of diabetes may increase the consumption of foods containing complex carbohydrates and soluble plant fibers (vegetables, cereals, pulses) at the expense of simple sugars. Fat intake should be minimum and adequate proteins (pulses, milk, and animal foods) should be taken.

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About Author / Additional Info: Article source: Modern Practical Psychology by Kamala Krishnaswamy.

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