We all need a bit of a change in our food as we get older – a switch in nutrient needs to meet the change in metabolism.
But, differences in the actual food we eat can also impact our mental status as we age too. With the winter months being colder at this time of the year for some it has bearing on how we feel as well. So, if the intake of some food versus others can help mentally, as well as for our age, we get a double beneficial impact. Bring in the known fact that food and mental health weigh on BG control too, and it makes sense to consider food type and what we should focus on for our age.
Overall in a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience the researchers found that younger people age 18-29 did much better eating meat or foods higher in protein value, which helps increase serotonin levels. This can help them feel less distress and overall aid with success in school, job and health. For those who are older than 30 years of age it was found that avoiding foods that are more of a stimulant, such as caffeinated coffee and higher glycemic/sugary foods, was beneficial. These foods seem to impact mood in a negative manner due to having less nutritional value as well as raising blood sugar levels. As older adults (not old, just older!), we benefit from food with more antioxidant value such as plant based foods – this helps to decrease oxidative stress as we age and keeps us feeling mentally better.
At this time of the year many people feel a bit of holiday stress and a bit down mentally. If we can adjust what we eat at this time, and engage in some activity it can help keep the stress under control and aid with mental calm. As we age our need for different nutrients from foods changes and may increase for certain micronutrients in order to keep us healthy. From the standpoint of diabetes management, at whatever age you are, focusing on overall balance in meals is a good place to start.
With the start of a New Year upon us, lets aim for getting back to basics by eating from all the food groups, and as Michael Pollen says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.
If you have questions about eating well in 2018 give our office a call and set up an appointment with Jennifer Smith – RD, CDE.
Additional resources for information about Glycemic index and food effect on mood and health: