As we get older, our bodies find it more difficult to metabolise the food that we eat in an efficient manner. Illness and stress can also cause deficiencies to occur. As I have covered in the last few blogs, one of the most common health problems we are likely to encounter is anaemia in varying degrees from mild to dangerous levels. The aim is to consume a diet rich in the specific nutrients needed to maintain healthy blood but it is difficult to visualise when someone simply tells you to eat B6, B12, Folate etc. So I have put together those nutrients with the foods that contain them so that you can just pop to the supermarket and fill your trolley.
I would suggest that anyone who like me is 60+ should include these foods on a regular basis in your daily diet.
This specific eating plan includes the foods that will provide you with the necessary nutrients for healthy blood but do remember that if you are exhibiting any symptoms that indicate you are anaemic you should go to your doctor and seek medical advice. You will find those in one of the previous posts which are linked to below.
As always I do stress that it is better to ‘cook from scratch’ but there are certain staples that you can include in your pantry. Many people prefer an easy start to the day with a bowl of cereal and perhaps a piece of toast. Cereals today are very different from our childhood when all you got was the grain. Today I am afraid you are likely to get a lot more sugar and salt which somewhat negates the benefit of the wholegrain. If I have cereal I have porridge oats but for the sake of variety do check the labels and buy wholegrain varieties with as little sugar as possible.
In recent months there has been a lot of speculation about wholegrains in our diet in relation to what is referred to as our ‘gut brain’. I covered the topic in an earlier series on digestion but my opinion remains the same. Provided you are not celiac or have chronic intestinal problems, wholegrains are essential in our diets to provide B vitamins, other nutrients and fibre. We certainly need less as we get older because our activity levels drop but carbohydrates from grains are needed to provide the fuel that we require for our energy levels. Drop those too low and your fatigue will be intensified. You can still eat carbohydrates from potatoes and other root vegetables and add in one or two portions of grains per day depending on your exercise levels.
Here are some suggestions for the main meals of the day plus snacks.
Breakfast choose one selection per day and rotate so that you are getting variety and different nutrients.
- Most cereals have B12, B6, Folic Acid and Iron – check the labels to establish that. Some will be added as fortification but if it is a wheat cereal it will have natural nutrients.
- Have cereal or porridge and a glass of orange juice to help the digestion of iron with Vitamin C. Have some soaked prunes on your porridge or chopped dry prunes on your cereal, as these are high in iron.
- If you are not trying to lose weight then have a piece of wholemeal toast with butter and marmalade as well. Better to have small amount of good quality chunky marmalade than a watery processed diet version.
- Sprinkle a dessertspoon of wheatgerm on the top of your cereal or your porridge as this has B6, iron and manganese together (B12, B6, Folic Acid, Iron, Manganese and Vitamin C)
- Half a grapefruit with two pieces of wholemeal toast and marmalade. (Vitamin C –Manganese)
- For a cooked breakfast you could have poached egg on two pieces of wholemeal toast with an orange juice. (Manganese, Vitamin C, B12 and B6)
(A tip here is to avoid wheat bran, as this can actually prevent absorption of iron. As can unfortunately too much tea so do try and restrict your intake to no more than three cups a day of good quality leaf tea rather than the processed bags. Coffee has some health benefits too and a cup or two of fresh ground coffee with some hot milk is fine. If you have high blood pressure however you might have ground decaffeinated instead.
- Have a mid-morning snack as part of your healthy eating plan. You could have a handful of the mixed seeds and nuts (B6, Manganese)
- 2 mandarin oranges (Vitamin C again, to help the iron you have already ingested to be absorbed)
- A banana (B6)
- Slice of wholemeal toast with mashed banana (Manganese and B6)
Assuming this is your main meal of the day – choose from the following meats:
- · Lamb
- · Chicken
- · Turkey
- · Salmon
- · Beef
- · Lamb’s liver
(try to have liver at least once a week) (folate, B6, B12 and iron)
- · Potatoes
- · Wholemeal rice or pasta (manganese – folate)
Lots of vegetables including every day a serving of a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach (Folate-Iron) Cauliflower (raw) (Vit K), Broccoli (calcium)
Use olive oil or good quality sunflower oil for cooking or as a dressing (Essential fatty acids and Vitamin E)
- Nuts and seeds. For men pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of Zinc and helpful to keep the prostate healthy.
- Slice of wholemeal toast with butter and a thin slice of mature cheddar.
- Home-made wholemeal scone with butter and sugar free jam.
- Fruit such as oranges.
- Yoghurt live with no sugar but chop up some fruit such as berries into it.
If you are not going to hit the dance floor every evening, having a heavy meal at night can cause digestive problems and provides energy that you are not going to use up.. This will result in storage of the excess around your middle. If it is your main meal of the day keep your grain and other carbohydrates to your lunch and eat protein with lots of freshly prepared salads and vegetables. A smaller amount of carbohydrate up to 2 hours before going to sleep is fine. As you will see from the lists one piece of toast, one piece of Pitta bread,
Assuming this is a lighter meal.
- · Scrambled Eggs on toast (B6, B12, Folate, Manganese)
- · Omelette and Green leafy mixed salad (B6, B12, Folate)
- · Wholemeal Pitta bread with chicken or tuna and salad filling (B6, B12, Iron)
- · Eggs Florentine – baked egg on spinach with some hollandaise sauce
- · Homemade wholemeal pasta in tomato sauce on toast.
- · Small tin of sugar free baked beans on wholemeal toast.
- · Seafood cocktail on with clams – cockles – prawns. Serve on half an avocado Slice of bread and butter.
- One of the snacks from above that you have not already had.
- Cup of Cocoa (iron)
- Cup of Ginger Tea and a wholemeal digestive biscuit (Manganese)
- A banana (B6)
As you can see from the above eating plan, there are many foods that will help keep your blood healthy. Get creative in your own kitchen, using fresh unprocessed ingredients and you can’t go wrong.
That is the end of the series on our life blood and I hope you have found interesting.
Previous posts in the blood series