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Tip: Try to get at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of physical activity each week. Physical activity can be divided into 10-minute sessions several times a day, most days.

With age, your ability to feel thirsty may decrease somewhat. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. Unless your doctor has told you to limit fluids, drink plenty of fluids such as water, milk, or broth.

Try adding fluids throughout the day. You could try having soup as a snack or drinking a glass of water before exercising or gardening. Be sure to sip water, milk, or juice during meals.

Fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eating more fiber can prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. It may also help lower cholesterol, as well as lower blood sugar.

Fiber is better obtained from foods than from dietary supplements. Start adding fiber gradually. This will help you avoid stomach gas. Here are some tips for adding fiber:

The usual way that people get sodium is by eating salt. The body needs sodium, but too much can raise blood pressure in some people. Many foods contain some sodium, especially those that are high in protein. However, most fresh fruits and vegetables are low in sodium. Many canned, packaged, and prepared foods have salt added.

People tend to consume more salt than they need. If you are 51 years of age or older, all you need each day is about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt, or 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium. That includes all the sodium in your foods and drinks, not just the salt you add.

Try not to add salt when cooking or eating. Talk to your doctor before using salt substitutes. Some contain sodium and most contain potassium, which should also be limited by some people. Eat fewer salty snacks and processed foods, such as processed deli meats, French fries, or frozen dinners.

Look for the word sodium, not salt, on the Nutrition Facts label. Choose foods labeled “low sodium.” The amount of sodium in the same type of food can vary greatly between different brands, so check the label.

Tip: Spices, herbs, and lemon juice can add flavor to your food, so you won’t miss out on the salt.

The fat in your diet comes from two places: the fat already in food, and the fat that you add when you cook. Some types of fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, provide your body with important nutrients and can be good for you in the right amounts. Other types of fats, such as trans fats, saturated fats, or animal fats, can be harmful to your health. Fat gives you energy and helps your body use certain vitamins, but it is high in calories. To reduce fat in your diet:

As you age, you must be especially careful to keep your food safe so that you can eat it safely. Infections are harder for you to fight, and some foods can make you very sick. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about foods to avoid.

Handle raw foods with care. Keep them separate from food that will not be cooked or that is already cooked. Use hot soapy water to wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces while cooking.

Don’t depend on smelling or tasting food to determine if it has spoiled. Try to date the foods you put in the refrigerator. Check the “use by date” of the food. If in doubt, throw the food away.

Be sure to place food in the refrigerator no more than 2 hours after it has been cooked.

If your budget is limited, you may have to do a little planning in order to pay for the foods you need to eat. Here are some suggestions:

The Federal Government has programs available to help low-income people buy groceries. For more information on these programs or to locate the Agency on Aging in your area, contact the Eldercare Locator.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, provides the information in this document, which has been reviewed by its scientists and other experts to ensure that it is accurate. and reliable, and up-to-date.

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