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How to eat well, age well and prevent falls

The following article is written by the Peninsula Health Falls Prevention Service.

It’s Falls Prevention Week at Peninsula Health.

Do you know someone wasting away on a diet of little more than tea and toast? Do you have an elderly friend or relative who believes that now that they are older it’s okay to be thin and that it is normal to fall? They may feel they don’t need much food, especially protein. Well, we would like to equip you to combat these myths!

Maintaining muscle and bone strength while ageing is vital in order for older people to lead independent and active lives, reduce their falls and injury risk, and enjoy improved health and well-being.

Here are our top 5 tips for people over 65 years to eat well, age well and prevent falls:

1) Include protein rich foods at each meal and after strengthening exercises.

Protein rich foods include:

    • Meat, fish, poultry and eggs
    • Dairy and soy products
    • Legumes, nuts and seeds

2) Consume 3 to 4 serves of calcium rich foods each day.

A serve of calcium rich food is:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) of milk, custard or calcium
  • Fortified soy milk
  • A small tub of yoghurt (200g)
  • 2 slices of cheese (40g)
  • 3 scoops of ice-cream
  • Sardines in oil or salmon with bones (100g)

3) Regular safe sun exposure for vitamin D.

Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, making sun exposure the best source of this important vitamin required for strong bones and muscles. In Victoria, the face, arms and hands should be exposed to sunlight for different times depending on the season:

September to April: A few minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon most days of the week.

May to August:  About 2 to 3 hours spread across the week.

People with naturally darker skin need 3 to 6 times longer in the sun than those with fairer skin. Your doctor can determine if a vitamin D supplement is recommended.

4) Eat well for a healthy heart.

A Mediterranean-style diet can prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

    • Eat a variety of plant foods each day including fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals and sourdough breads and legumes and nuts.
    • Use extra virgin olive oil.
    • Eat fish or seafood twice a week and yoghurt every day.
    • Drink wine in moderation, only with meals and if appropriate, as advised by a doctor.

5) Be physically active every day.

A variety of exercise types are recommended across the week:

  • Strength and balance exercises to build muscle and bone and to reduce the risk of falls.
  • An active lifestyle each day, e.g. walking, doing housework, local sports or activities.

For more information on falls prevention, please contact the Falls Prevention Service on 5976 9011