Dietary Measures For Those Above 40

Eating greasy and indigestible food, overeating, excessive sleep, ignoring one’s ailment at the beginning, and lack of exercise are the causes of diseases of the heart related to ‘ kapha’ “.                                                    

Charak-Samhita,
Suthrasthana
A proper diet is essential for keeping the body healthy and protecting it from various diseases. One diet plan may not be right for everybody. Hence a person should not get stuck to the most popular notion that, nutritious food is fat free and full of fiber and that you can eat what you want, whenever you want. An optimal nutrition is that which prevents not only deficiencies but also promotes vibrant life and prevents degenerative diseases. But even the most nutritious diet does not guarantee a long and diseasefree life. Active and healthy seniors require a good balanced diet to increase their odds of staying healthy. It increases their immunity and hence helps in preventing some of the serious diseases. An old concept of fewer intakes of calories as a person gets older, should be dismantled. The 70+ pyramid (a food guide pyramid) outlines the “nutrient dense” choices essential for the elderly consumers. This pyramid has not been adopted as an official USDA teaching tool and is just a suggestion.
Given below are the dietary measures for the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease, brain vessel disease (stroke), high blood pressure, diabetes, overweight, high blood cholesterol / uric acid, and for those above 40. A diet especially advised for the prevention of cancer has also been indicated.

Tea and coffee To be taken in moderation. Tea should be light, brewed and not boiled. To be avoided in high blood uric acid cases.
Milk Skimmed milk preferred.
Sugar Low consumption of sugar advisable. Restricted for diabetic patients.
Bread Brown bread preferred.
Egg Only white portion of the egg should be taken.
Salt Should be used sparingly, 2 – 4 g per day.
Condiments and spices Permissible in moderation.Their excessive use causes stimulation of the appetite , and may cause overeating.
High fiber food Reduces the risk of heart disease and several types of cancer. Strongly recommended for the prevention of cancer. It includes:a) whole wheat, gram, maize or similar flour (bran to be taken along with it )
b) Whole pulses.
c) Unpolished rice.
d) Plenty of vegetables – cooked or salad.
e) Porridge (dalia), cornflakes, oats, preferably with skimmed milk.
f) Roasted grams.
g) Sprouted beans, grams, peas, moong, etc. All edibles as well as sproutable legumes, grains and seeds may be used.
Cheese Chedder cheeses commonly available in tins to be avoided.
Cottage Cheese May be taken since it is prepared from skimmed milk.
Curds and yogurt Permissible, if prepared from skimmed milk.
Oils To be used in minimal necessary quantities for cooking. Polyunsaturated oils like safflower, corn, sunflower, soyabean, cottonseed oils, etc. are recommended. Oil once used for deep-frying should not be reused. A low fat diet is also useful in the prevention of cancer.
Butter / ghee 20% permissible.
Onion and garlic May be taken, particularly while using butter/ghee. They tend to lower serum cholesterol and other lipids.
Pickles May be taken sparingly as they contain excessive salt.
Meats Fish and chicken, i.e., white meats are permissible, but refrain from red meats. In high blood uric acid cases, all meats, including fish, are forbidden.
Soft drinks May be taken occasionally. Cola drinks are harmful in high blood uric acid cases. A squeeze of lime-juice added to a glass of water can be taken.
Alcoholic drinks Avoid, for prevention of cancer. However, if one drinks, one should consume alcohol only in moderation. High blood uric acid cases should abstain from alcoholic drinks.
Smoking/tobacco chewing Strictly prohibited, particularly for the prevention of cancer.
Vegetable soup Permissible.
Fruit Only low calorie fruits should be taken, e.g. apple, orange, watermelon, papaya etc.
Sweets To be generally avoided. Not advisable in cases of diabetes.
Dry fruit To be generally avoided especially cashew nuts.
Chocolate Not recommended in blood uric acid cases. Can be taken occasionally.
Ice cream Ice cream prepared from skimmed milk with a little sugar or artificial sweetener may be taken.
Cakes and pastries May be taken occasionally.
Pastry/ fast/ junk food Should be sparingly taken, as we do not know what oil, etc. is used. Home-cooked food is ideal.
Water Two to three litres of water should be taken every day. Take water either before or after meals, only if you are thirsty. Plenty of water may be taken between major meals. More water is required during the summer season.

Resource: “How to prevent common serious diseases” by Mr. Ajit S. Puri

Other important instructions:
  1. It is ideal to have a low / moderate calorie diet. Do consult a calorie reckoner while planning your diet.
  2. Take light meals frequently rather than heavy meals at large intervals.
  3. Overeating should be avoided.
  4. Light tonics may be added under the advice of a physician. People with undernourished organs may suffer on account of a poor diet.
  5. Adequate fiber content in food helps in controlling constipation.
  6. Both calcium and vitamin D absorption decrease with age; this has adverse effects on bone health and increases the risk of fractures. The ability to absorb the amount of vitamin B12, needed for normal nerve function, also decreases with age, hence it should be made another key nutrient in the diet.
  7. Dehydration is a chronic problem for many seniors. Decreased thirst sensation is common with aging. Dehydration also worsens the symptoms of constipation. Adequate fluid intake should be there, though coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages don’t contribute toward this total fluid intake. They all act as diuretics, causing loss in water content.
  8. People who cannot tolerate regular dairy products should prefer lactose-free milk and “active culture” yogurt.
By employing the above laid principles you can improve your diet and lead a healthier and productive life. A balanced diet, in addition to exercises, forms a winning combination.

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