Our relationship with food is complicated at best, but it is one that is key to understanding both our emotions and mental states as well as providing fuel and the nutrients we need to restore or maintain our body. When we think about ageing, one of the biggest things to remember is that this really begins on the inside. Our gut microbiome – which refers to the ecosystem of trillions of microbes that live in our body – is what we need to be thinking about to keep our gut, and therefore the rest of our body, happy and healthy.
There’s a direct connection between the food you eat and the way in which your body responds. From your brain to your kidneys, what you eat on a daily basis strongly influences the aging process. Not only should you avoid highly processed and greasy foods, but increase the amount of anti-aging foods you consume. Antioxidant-rich foods help reduce free radicals in your body – which are molecules that promote cancer development and the effects of aging. Swap margarine for olive oil and butter – and burgers for fish. Basically, you want to consume a whole food diet that is rich in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
It’s believed that gut health becomes particularly important as we get older because our gut is responsible for helping us to digest everything we consume so we get the maximum nutrients from our food.
Reasons why gut health is important
- It keeps your immune system strong – good gut health will help to regulate your immune system and keep nasties at bay.
- It promotes the growth of new brain cells – probiotics and the live bacteria you can include in your diet to help keep your digestive system happy can help promote the growth of new brain cells.
- It boosts your memory – studies show that probiotics can help boost your memory, as well as help with cognitive function.
- It helps give you an energy boost – with proper nutrient absorption, you get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that give you a better dose of energy.
But as we age finding new inspiration in the kitchen can be difficult as for many living alone and cooking for one is not much fun. Some tips for helping mealtimes become a pleasure include
Make it a social occasion – even if you are living alone, invite friends or family round for regular meals. This doesn’t mean you always have to cook for everyone, which can get stressful and expensive. Instead, suggest that everyone brings along a dish to share. That way, you get to try a variety of things in one meal!
Spend time planning new recipes to try – whether you pull old cookbooks off your bookshelf or go searching for recipes online, find something new to try out so you’re not always old favourites – your taste buds will thank you!
Try a new place to food shop – instead of heading to the same supermarket for your weekly grocery shopping, try venturing into a specialist grocer to get some new food inspiration.
Even if you are very restricted in how much you can prepare and cook for yourself there are solutions, one solution can be to have a companion cook with you. Our care companions are skilled at preparing nutritious meals with you or for you, as well as shopping and cleaning up. So if you or a member of your family would like some assistance, please call Perth Care + Companion Company on 08 9276 1520.