While it's important to eat well, you also need to adjust your eating habits as we get older.
For example, the easiest way to get all the zinc your body needs is to have a plate of steamed oysters.
Nutrition needs can change dramatically.
We produce less saliva as we age, so food isn't as easy to digest and swallow.
We experience changes in taste and appetite, so we eat less.
We also have less stomach acid, which means that we don't digest foods or absorb nutrients as well as we used to.
In a study of 205 older adults.
Many of whom had weakened immune systems.
Researchers found that a third of them were low in iron, zinc, folate, vitamin BI2 and protein.
Once the folks began getting the necessary nutrients.
They had significant jumps in levels of disease fighting immune cells.
Doctors don't always think to check for nutritional deficiencies in adults.
This is unfortunate.
Because a simple lack of nutrients can be mistaken for more serious illnesses.
Doctors have seen people who thought they were having trouble with senility.
And who couldn't take care of themselves anymore.
What they had were nutritional deficiencies.
Zinc, for example, is an essential mineral for maintaining a healthy immune system.
It's a nutrient that requires adequate amounts of stomach acid for absorption.
When acid levels decline, getting enough zinc can be a problem.
This is especially true in people who are taking antacids.
Just six shelled morsels deliver 77 milligrams of zinc, 513 percent of the DRA.
Crab is also good, with 3 ounces providing 7 milligrams, 47 percent of the DRA.
Many older people have trouble getting enough B-vitamins.
Which are essential for keeping the nerves and brain healthy.
As we age, the lining of the stomach changes, making it harder to absorb these nutrients.
After age 55, it's particularly easy to be deficient in vitamin-B6.
Potatoes and bananas are your best bets for bringing in the B6.
One potato provides 0.5 milligram, 25 percent of the DRA, and a banana has 0.7 milligram, 35 percent of the DRA.
To get more folate (also a B-vitamin).
You need to eat greens and beans, particularly pinto and kidney beans.
A half-cup of either of these beans provides over 100 milligrams of folate, more than 25 percent of the DRA.
Spinach is another good source of folate, with 1 cup containing as much as an equal amount of beans.
Finally, you can get plenty of vitamins-BI2 in meats and other animal foods.
Clams are a top performer: 20 small steamed clams provide an astonishing 89 micrograms of vitamin-B12, 1,483 percent of the DRA.
As bones get older, it's essential to get extra calcium to prevent them from becoming brittle.
Many people believe that they can't eat dairy foods because they're 'lactose intolerant', but in fact, most people can eat moderate amounts of dairy without trouble.
Low-fat milk, skim milk cheese and yogurt are your best sources of this bone building nutrient.
One cup of fat free yogurt contains 415 milligram calcium, 41 percent of the DRA.
Skim milk is also good, with one glass providing 302 milligrams, 30 percent of the DRA.
Iron is another mineral that can be tough to get in the correct amounts.
Some people don't get enough, while others get too much.
To be safe, we recommend having your doctor do a blood test for anemia.
If it turns out that you do need more iron, you won't have any trouble getting it.
Many super-foods including lean meat and seafood contain an abundance of iron.
Cream of Wheat and other fortified cereals are also good, with 5 milligrams of iron per serving, 29 percent of the DRA.
EAT LESS & LIVE LONGER
Even though we may need to eat more of certain foods in order to live longer, researchers are finding that the opposite can also be true.
People who eat less, seem to "live longer and live younger".
Research has shown that laboratory animals on a restricted calorie diet have lower blood pressures.
Higher levels of healthful, high density lipo-protein cholesterol.
And lower levels of potentially dangerous blood fats called triglycerides than their all-you-can-eat companions.
In fact, the lean eaters outlive the non-lean kin by about 30 percent.
Some researchers believe that one of the ways in which calorie restriction works.
Is by shifting an animals metabolism to survival mode so that they use the energy they take in, the most efficiently.
Right now, researchers are testing calorie restriction on primates.
Which will give us a better indication of how well it will work in people.
So far, all the signs, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, are indicating that it will be beneficial.
The research is still preliminary.
So it would be a mistake to start cutting calories if you're already at a healthy weight.
But it does seem likely that cutting unnecessary calories from your diet will help stretch your life span a little bit longer.Tweet
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