Keeping Strong with Good Nutrition
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Keeping Strong with Good Nutrition

Researchers into the aging process have worked for decades determining what makes for enduring vitality and quality of life into our elderly years, and much of the exploration into age-related syndromes has found that the idea that growing old means growing frail is a myth.

Much of the physical characteristics we associate with old age, and stereotype when portraying old people in media, such as stooped posture, a shaky, unsteady gait or immobility, or needing mobility devices such as canes, walkers, or scooters, are influenced by the musculoskeletal structure. Important discoveries have helped us to understand what causes the musculoskeletal structure to decay with age, along with finding ways to prevent and treat conditions that compromise born health and firmity, such as osteoporosis.

One of the most important strategies that has emerged in the prevention of osteoporosis and other forms of musculoskeletal weakness is diet. Research has indicated that diet at the levels of vitamins, minerals, food groups, and patterns all play an important role in the health of our muscles and skeletal systems. Current research has indicated that there are several steps you can take to bolster bone health.

Eating more fish is extremely beneficial. If you don’t include fish as a regular part of your diet, you may want to consider upping your intake. Studies have shown that both men and women with diets including a serving of fish more than three times each week gained hip bone mineral density over a timeline of four years, compared to individuals with low to moderate fish intakes who actually lost hip density over that same time period.

Along with fish, and this tip and the last one go hand in hand, but make sure to include adequate protein in your diet. Published studies have shown that a protein rich diet, which includes protein derived from both plant and animal sources, will preserve lean muscle mass and overall strength, especially in the legs of older adults. This can reduce the likelihood of falls in older adults, which is the number one preventable cause of injuries in the elderly.

Dairy intake, specifically milk and yogurt, was associated with a bone mineral density in the hips, but not the spine. Cream, on the other hand, was associated with a lower overall bone mineral density. What this means is that treating yourself to ice cream or a cream tea may be improving your mood and soul, but unfortunately not your bone health.

Higher doses of vitamin D taken daily can lower the risk of falls and fractures, particularly in frail seniors. Research found that nursing home residents who took 800 International Units of vitamin D daily were 72 percent less likely to fall than those residents getting lower amounts or no vitamin D.

Red wine was also identified as particularly beneficial for bone health in women. Moderate ingestion, defined as one glass per day, offered the maximum protection. However, intakes beyond this show negative effects on the skeleton. Observations emerging from studies on alcohol show that specific compounds in wine in addition to the alcohol may also have protective effects.