When you hear the term “well-balanced diet,” you probably aren’t thinking about eating to prevent falls. However, how you fuel your body can have an impact on your balance and ability to safely stay on your feet. Eating clean and healthy helps your body’s processes to run smoothly, which keeps you in top shape and “well-balanced” in more ways than one.
However, changing your eating habits is often easier said than done. Rather than leave you with an abstract command to “eat better,” we broke it down into five improvements you can make to your diet to help prevent falls.
5 Eating Habits to Make or Break
Avoid overeating: As you age, your metabolism slows down and your body needs fewer calories. Because of this often-unrecognizable shift, many older adults find themselves facing weight gain without any noticeable changes in their diet. Figuring out your caloric needs is important for your overall health but also for fall prevention. Being overweight can negatively affect your balance and make you more likely to lose your footing. Make sure you aren’t accidentally overeating by tracking your weight and making nutritious choices.
Avoid under-eating: When your body isn’t receiving enough fuel, you might find yourself getting lightheaded or weak—two conditions that can easily lead to a fall. Learn to recognize your hunger cues so you can ensure you’re giving your body the resources it needs. Take care to eat enough protein and carbohydrates for the energy you need to get through your day.
Stay hydrated: As you age, your thirst sensation can decrease. Certain medications are also more likely to cause dehydration, which makes drinking enough water especially important for older adults. Dehydration can cause you to feel “woozy” or lead to a headache that may compromise your awareness. Drink water consistently throughout the day to avoid having to recover from a water deficit.
Eat calcium-rich foods: Your bone health is significantly affected by the foods you eat. Choose foods like dairy products, fish, and leafy green vegetables that are high in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients important for bone health. Strong bones are important for not only preventing falls but also avoiding serious injury should a fall occur.
Eat berries: Adding a handful or two of berries to your daily diet can lead to any number of healthy side effects—from improving your immune system to decreasing your risk of cancer—but they also contain lutein, which promotes healthy vision. Eye health is important for avoiding falls, so it’s nice to know something as delicious as a strawberry can help contribute to healthy vision.
Avoiding a fall probably isn’t at the top of your list of reasons why you should clean up your diet, but it’s certainly a bonus reason for doing so. After all, any reason is a good reason to eat a nutritious diet, right?
Want more tips on how to feed your body right? Check out our healthy eating guide here!