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The turning of a new year is always a great time to refocus your priorities and set long-term goals that will help guide your life. Around this time of year, you’ll often hear your friends and family make commitments to quit smoking or work on a new skill, but one of the most popular resolutions each year is changing a diet.
At any age, making positive changes to your diet can drastically improve your physical and mental well-being. Although picking up some more fruits and vegetables at the grocery store is a great start, understanding exactly how different food interacts with your body will provide the valuable knowledge needed to make a lasting impact on your diet.
While there are a number of factors to creating a diet that's right for you, including antioxidants throughout all stages of life will help grow and sustain one’s health. Let’s review how adding antioxidants to your diet can help the body and mind at any age.
Toddlers & Children
It’s no secret that toddlers and children can be very picky eaters, especially when you put vegetables on the plate. Even though their cooperation can be tough at times, consistently serving healthy foods to your young ones will make an impact on their growth and how they perceive healthy foods later in life. In fact, kids that eat a healthy balance of fruit and vegetables are less likely to become obese and develop health issues later in life.
So what’s the secret to making your kids like eating fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants? Make it fun and rewarding! Toddlers and children live in an imaginative, almost dream-like world where their superhero parents help shape real-life responsibilities into fun little activities. Use this to your advantage and try some of these methods to get your kids more excited about their fruits and veggies:
• Make a vegetable tray together
• Have them organize fruits and vegetables by color
• Setup a reward system for eating all their healthy foods
• Take them to farms to pick their own local produce
• Engage them with appropriate kid's cartoons online like VeggieTales
It’s important to not get too frustrated and give up when building this habit with your children because these antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are crucial in their early development years. Natural sources of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, will help them fight off infections and promote healthy bone growth. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables with antioxidants, so just keep your kids munching on them regularly and their bodies will get what they need!
As your kids have grown into their teenage years, a healthy diet with antioxidants is just as important. They may become involved in more physically demanding activities but a proper diet will also keep their minds sharp in school.
For young adults engaging in physical activities, understanding how the human body burns calories is a great way to appreciate the fuel they ingest. Sports require a more curated diet that’s considerate of what the body needs for energy exertion and muscle repair—in which antioxidants play a role. These same factors also apply to those entering a physically demanding workforce.
A young adult's nutrition affects how efficiently the brain works and antioxidants are a piece of that puzzle. This is important not only for schoolwork but antioxidants also help ward off anxiety and depression.
At this stage in life, it’s time to start thinking about how neglecting your diet by regularly choosing processed or fast foods will affect your health too. These lower-quality foods lack the essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly. Continuously consuming processed foods can lead to health issues like heartburn, IBS, and diabetes developing before your older years.
In the later years of adulthood, roughly between the ages of 30 and 60, staying consistent with a diet can be the most challenging. When so many factors consume your daily life, like work, family obligations, and maintaining a home, putting effort into eating well can easily fall to the bottom of your priority list. Try taking just 30 minutes every few days and build these food preparation habits to keep healthy foods readily available:
• Prepare small containers of fruits, vegetables, and nuts for a quick snack
• Cook an extra portion at dinner to freeze for a busy day
• Download a food-tracking app with reminders and easy recipes
The reality is: adulthood is when your body is already becoming a product of what it consumed in previous years and is still developing in that same way. Antioxidants still play a role in managing health conditions and preventing other issues from developing.
In this age range, oxidative stress, which is caused by a lack of antioxidants, can become a growing threat to your health. Some of the health conditions that can be influenced from oxidative stress are heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. An easy way to monitor your blood pressure from home is with a blood pressure monitor. Using one of these devices at home gives you the ability to check your blood pressure when you’re feeling unwell, or on a regular basis and communicate the results back to your primary care physician.
In your elderly years, keeping up with a diet resolution might be easier given the freedoms of a long-awaited retirement. This is also the time when a balanced diet is arguably the most important since seniors are the most prone to developing serious health conditions and have trouble fighting them off.
Once again, antioxidants fight to keep an elderly body and mind in top shape on multiple fronts. While antioxidants still work at preventing the health conditions mentioned previously, they also help prevent cataracts which is an eye condition more commonly diagnosed in seniors. As you age try to incorporate some more vitamin C and E rich fruits into your diet to keep your eyes healthy. For seniors with cancer, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that trigger the creation of cancer cells. Even if you don’t have cancer you still have free radicals as they are an unavoidable part of life, so try to naturally neutralize them through antioxidant-rich foods. The combination of a healthy diet with natural foods, antioxidants, and exercise in the elderly years will help keep the immune system strong and prepared to make more memories with the family.
Depending on the state of a senior's health, getting to the grocery store to stock up on healthy foods may not be as easy or possible as it once was. In these cases, it’s wise to seek the help of local friends and family that will visit the grocery store with you or pick up extra groceries on their personal trips. Another option to get your groceries while staying home is grocery delivery services, which now cover most of the United States.
Starting a diet doesn’t just mean eating healthier, it’s an opportunity to better understand what you’re ingesting and the impact it has on your overall health. At any age, it’s important to eat well to give your body the best chance of fighting off various health issues that are influenced by poor diet choices. If you keep consistent with your diet throughout the year while avoiding fast foods, your body and mind will thank you for years to come.
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