It is true at any stage of life, but particularly true in the later stages of life – mobility is decreased by excess weight. The issues can become so serious that if the weight is not dropped it can be the tipping point between aging at home or institutional care. The good news is that, for the vast majority of people, this can be resolved not by dieting, but by practical, common sense lifestyle changes. This information is uncomplicated and easy to understand, but it will take some effort to drop the weight and increase your health.
There are several things you can do, but the number one thing that adds pleasure and an increase in health is learning and implementing healthy nutrition and getting some exercise.
The recognition and understanding of what is healthy is changing. Research is showing that the most important factors to healthy eating are keyed on whether it contributes to a healthy gut and if it provides the nutrients necessary for the body to function at its best.
You will be happy to know that weight loss may require you to eat more food. Yes, you read that right. Most people consuming the typical American diet need to drastically INCREASE their consumption of vegetables. More and more research is showing that the current recommendations for vegetables are woefully lacking. The Feminine Review has adopted The Wahl’s Protocol™ guidelines for vegetables and fruits. The Wahl’s Protocol™ recommends three cups of vegetables and fruits from each of three categories: leafy greens, sulfur and color. This amounts to nine cups of vegetables and fruits per day. This may seem like a lot, but this takes the place of all processed foods and most of the carbohydrates people who are overweight are usually eating. For a complete breakdown of what the three categories consist of click here.
Eating plenty of vegetables has all sorts of impact on health. The most obvious may be the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables that give the body what it needs to perform vital functions. However, vegetables also provide beneficial bacteria for the gut along with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Beneficial bacteria aid in digestion and provide a healthy environment for the gut. They also produce some vitamins right in the small intestine, such as vitamin K and vitamin D (and possibly B vitamins as well), that are immediately available for the body to absorb them. Vegetable fiber is necessary to regulate digestion and help the food pass through the intestines properly.
The easiest way to get this many vegetables and fruit into your diet it is to replace most carbohydrates, even whole grains, with vegetables. Americans eat way too many carbohydrates, which contributes to weight gain. Carbohydrates are in all grains and sugars.
Cutting out virtually all refined carbohydrates is another important step in weight control. Most of the vital nutrients, including all of the fiber, have been stripped from refined grains. A food stripped of fiber and nutrients isn’t very filling, so it takes a lot before a person feels adequately full resulting in eating a lot of calories for very little nutritional value. Refined carbohydrates also include most sugars, so all soft drinks and baked goods made with refined grains and sugars should be eliminated. Do not replace this with artificial sweeteners, as they are toxic chemical mixtures that cause all sorts of serious health problems.
For the amount of bulk vegetables provide, they are low in calories compared to eating the same amount in refined carbohydrates, which makes them more filling. When choosing grains, always choose whole grains. They take a bit longer to cook, but it’s not really a problem since they are easy to cook and all that is necessary is to start cooking them a little earlier than you would processed grains.
Americans typically eat cereal or other bread type carbs and sometimes an egg for breakfast. An easy way to replace carbohydrates with vegetables is to skip the breakfast cereal entirely and eat vegetables for breakfast. There is no need to do away with protein for breakfast, but vegetables and/or fruit should always be consumed with the morning meal. One easy way to do this is to drink a green smoothie for breakfast rather than having a bowl of cereal. Green smoothies are a drink of vegetables and sometimes fruit liquefied in the blender. When eaten with some protein and fat either included in the smoothie or eaten at the same time (like an egg), they make an excellent breakfast and can include over half of your nine cups of vegetable and fruit servings for your day. Some people find that their energy increases so much they don’t need or want their morning coffee anymore. Here an article on how to make a healthy green smoothie: How to Make a Green Smoothie. Always add some sort of fat with your vegetables, as it is necessary for proper absorption of the nutrients and is more filling. Some options are nuts, seeds or a healthy oil like coconut or flax seed oil.
According to the pamphlet Water: Why You Should Be Drinking It, by the Panhandle Health District 1, 75% of the American people are chronically dehydrated. This can lead to fatigue and a slower metabolism, as well as constipation and other issues. The average woman should drink around 8 cups per day and the average man about 10 cups. This can be accomplished by having a glass of water handy at all times. Some people like to add a piece of fruit or vegetable or a drop of essential oil like lemon or peppermint for flavor and added nutrition.
Many people mistake thirst for hunger due to a weakened thirst mechanism. That is why some people will reach for a snack and find it doesn’t satisfy. This is because food doesn’t really satisfy thirst. If you feel hungry, try having a drink of water first and see if that satisfies you. The same is not true of hunger, however, because drinking water can often curb hunger. If you are hungry close to a meal, try drinking a glass of water to tide you over until your meal is ready.
The next step to weight loss is to get moving. Even if you have very limited mobility now, ask your doctor how much you can safely do. Even a few extra steps around the living room every hour or so is a start. The idea is to get up and get moving as much as you are safely able and gradually increasing the amount until you have full range and are able to exercise regularly. This does not require an exercise routine, but it does require getting on your feet as much as possible and doing some exercise that includes weight bearing. Your geriatrician should be able to give you some great ideas on increasing your fitness level. It is never too late. My grandmother used to start exercising before she got out of bed in the morning by doing stretches. She was active and mobile until age 95.
If you have a yard or a small garden plot, gardening can be excellent exercise. Walking is also excellent, especially outside (rather than a treadmill) to get some vitamin D production going. To make it more fun, take a friend. Get your grandchildren out there with you or anyone you can convince to enjoy a nice daily walk. As with any other exercise, start slowly and work your way up.
For those who have been eating a lot of carbohydrates and especially those who have been eating refined foods, the addition of the recommended vegetables servings should be worked up to. If you are not used to that many vegetables, adding them all at once can cause digestive upset. Take it slow and easy like the exercise and work into it over a period of weeks. For some of you, it might take a couple of months. These recommendations will not only help bring weight to a manageable level, but they will usually lead to an overall improvement in health. Many conditions that may be attributed to aging may in fact be due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise, so they are reversible by dietary changes and regular exercise. Not only can mobility improve, but overall health and well-being can significantly increase when the underlying dietary issues are resolved and exercise is included in daily life.
For further information:
Water: Why You Should Be Drinking It, Panhandle Health District 1 and Title X, Idaho State Family Planning
This article first appeared on Aging Options: http://www.agingoptions.com/blog/2013/08/20/practical-ways-to-reduce-weight-and-increase-mobility/
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