Good nutrition…the secret to staying strong!

Joe Bradshaw

We have all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ but is this true and if so can we take this message and make it part of our everyday lives? What foods should we eat to keep us in good health? Making the right food choices can have a dramatic effect on our health and on the way we look and feel.  Here we focus on protein and energy (calories) – which are key nutrients for health, strength and well-being.

As we get older, our muscles start to age and as a consequence need a little more care and attention to help to keep them at their best.  Past the age of forty, our muscle mass will drop by around 8% each decade, and this accelerates after the age of seventy.  This can lead to a gradual loss of strength and can result in everyday tasks becoming harder.  To combat this, the right food choices and keeping active become even more important. 

Many people assume that having enough protein is just for body-builders down the gym!  Did you know that as we age we need more protein?  Protein is essential for the growth and repair of body tissues.  Eating enough protein helps to maintain our lean body mass (muscles) and strength.  So, as we age it is important to choose foods high in protein such as beans, lentils and pulses, tofu, fish, eggs, lean meat including chicken and turkey to help meet our body’s increased protein needs.  Try to include protein rich foods at each meal. This is important even if you have a poor appetite as this will help to maintain the stores of protein in our muscles.  Devon Farm Kitchen has a range of meals that are high in protein, including the vegetable and tofu curry, Brixham fish pie, salmon with sweet and sour veg,  fishcake with teriyaki noodles and the baked field mushroom which is packed full of lentils. 

Eating regularly throughout the day helps your body get the energy it needs to function properly. This energy will help to ensure that you use the protein you eat to keep your muscles strong. If you are losing weight unintentionally, don’t miss meals, and try to include extra energy-rich foods such a pudding after one of your meals each day. You could also try snacks in between meals.  If weight loss continues, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for advice.

So, we can apply the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ to our everyday lives by choosing the right foods to fuel our body and keep our muscles strong.  Keeping as active as you can will further support strength and well-being.  Further information on staying strong as well as information about local exercise groups is available via your GP practice or online.