Great Food Choices as You Age

Written by Rita Kennen

Practical self-help advice to keep you successfully healthy. The more you know the more fun it is to fuel your body and your health.

"We are finally unraveling the functional substances nature has hidden in her treasure of produce, food that literally speaks to our cells in an intimate way, food that affects your physiological function and manipulates your genetic predisposition to developing disease."       
Kathie Swift, R.D.

Kathie Swift is a master nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, a health resort in Lenox, Mass. First, Kathie talks about the relationship between aging and nutrition.

Success Television: Are my nutritional needs any different now than they were in my 20s?

Kathie Swift: We need to recognize that chronological age and biological age aren't the same, that as we age, we become more "different" physiologically. Consequently, nutritional needs may vary significantly between two 60-year-olds.

Nutritional needs change as we age. Total calorie need goes down, nutrients and mineral needs go up.
Foods may influence whether or not we get certain diseases.
The term, "biomarkers," describes measures that predict our risk of disease.  

Debate continues among some of the most respected nutrition researchers in the country as they try to formulate age-related nutritional recommendations. So many factors affect nutritional needs and must be considered unique with each aging individual. Those include: activity level, medications, hormone balance, health status/illness, etc. But if I must generalize an answer to your question: Energy (calorie) needs generally decrease as needs for antioxidant protection via many nutrients and minerals, such as calcium for bone health protection, increase.

Success Television: What's meant by the term biomarkers? It comes up frequently in research on nutrition and aging.

Kathie Swift: The term describes biological characteristics that draw meaningful correlations between chronological and functional age. They are the body's early warning indicators of premature aging. Familiar biomarkers include blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat or lean muscle mass, activity and stress level, smoking status, etc.

Longevity medicine today recognizes new biomarkers such as hormone assays, detoxification profiles, bone density and measures of bone absorption and reabsorption, vitamin/mineral analyses, etc., to help predict how well we will age and our risk of developing chronic disease.

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