Limit Aging Through Preventive Nutrition

by Manila bulletin - While it might be true that with age comes wisdom, it is also true that racking up years also means being subjected to physical changes. Although it’s a bitter pill to swallow, aging is a phenomenon that creeps up slowly and manifests in more ways than one.

Early signs of aging might be observed with subtle limitations in carrying out physical functions such as getting tired easily and body pains following strenuous activities. There are also emotional repercussions like difficulty in dealing with stress, increased anxiety and a notion of deterioration that comes with feeling more restricted and less valuable.

“This is part of a continuum. As you are born, you live your life and you mature and things change. Just like an engine, you have to have some support for the human body to work better,” says Dr. Jeff Inciong, director of Weight Management and chief of section on Surgical Nutrition and Metabolic Support for St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Apart from its obvious effects like decrease in strength and loss of functional capacity, the body is also subject to more significant changes like loss of muscle mass and increase in body fat. “As you age and your lifestyle changes, you become more sedentary. There is less physical activity and because of that there is likewise a decrease in protein synthesis,” Dr. Inciong explains.

While daily exercise plays a big role in limiting the effects of aging, it takes no less than an overall healthy lifestyle to preserve one’s wellbeing. One such factor that demands careful attention is diet and maintaining a balanced nutrition. However, as bodily functions deteriorate as one grows older the digestive system’s efficiency also suffers resulting in improper absorption of essential nutrients.

The practice of preventive nutrition is vital in order to suffice for this deficiency. An effective way of dealing with this issue is taking nutritional supplements. “The use of oral supplements has been proven to give benefits to healthy adults. It helps in improving the ability to perform daily activities and it can help your total nutrient intake without substituting for food,” shares Ma. Eloisa Villaraza, registered dietrician for Pagsanjan Medical Clinic and General Hospital.

One specific component that aids the function of the digestive system is the presence of fructooligosaccharide or FOS. FOS is a prebiotic, soluble fiber which was discovered to be helpful in nutrient absorption. “The main advantage of having FOS in food is it supports growth of good bacteria and suppresses the bad bacteria. It also supports the function of immune cells in the gut and increases the absorption of calcium and magnesium,” Villaraza explains.

FOS helps stimulate the growth of a beneficial group of bacteria called bifidobacteria which aids in maintaining the digestive tracts balance. The increase in bifidobacteria results in better absorption as well as improves detoxification and elimination processes. And as Dr.
Inciong points out that more than 50 percent of our total bodily immunity is found in our gastrointestinal track, the proliferation of these beneficial bacteria also enhances the body’s immune system.

FOS is present also in natural food such as bananas, onions, tomatoes and wheat. On the other hand, as far as supplements are concerned, FOS can be found in brands such as nutritional drink Ensure, which is also a good source of 28 other vitamins and minerals that helps with the body’s over-all nutrition.

It’s never too early to listen to what the body needs. Knowing what is happening and what the body needs is just the first step towards keeping healthy. “Choose the right food, sleep earlier and do exercise. It’s always an interaction between exercise, nutrition and having a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Inciong counsels.
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