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Stay Healthy This Summer With These Nutritious Tips

As the weather warms up, it's time to focus on nutrition and wellness to help you get the most out of the summer months. Whether you're enjoying a meal out at one of our dining venues or preparing a healthy meal in your Independent Living apartment, choosing nourishing ingredients can help you get the nutrition and hydration you need. Let's explore some enjoyable ways to stay safe and healthy this summer.

1. Seasonal Snacking

Most older adults need at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day. However, knowing how much is in a serving can be tricky. When it comes to fresh, leafy veggies, around 1 cup counts as one serving. Other examples of serving sizes include:

  • One whole fruit roughly the size of your fist
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or canned fruit
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or canned cut vegetables
  • 1/4 cup of fresh fruit juice

Building healthy snacks around fruits and veggies can be helpful if you're struggling to fit enough portions into your regular meals. Consider serving raw vegetable crudites with fresh hummus or salsa or adding a handful of berries to a cup of Greek yogurt for a protein-rich snack.

Seasonal, local produce is often healthier than out-of-season crops because it doesn't have to travel as far from farm to plate (flash frozen being the exception). Furthermore, crops grown in the correct season have the perfect conditions to thrive, allowing them to be picked ripe, which leads to tastier produce!

Fortunately, McLean, VA, is home to a wealth of farmers' markets bursting with the best summer produce. The McLean Farmers Market is just a 9-minute drive from Vinson Hall Retirement Community. Alternatively, head to the Fresh Farm Market in nearby Arlington, where you'll find over 40 sellers offering locally-produced fruit, vegetables and other artisan products.

2. Hydration Is Vital

The guideline to drink eight glasses of water a day works for most people most of the time. However, older adults often need to drink more during warmer weather to stay hydrated. As a senior, you have a higher risk of dehydration due to body composition changes, and many older adults feel less thirsty as they age.

If you find drinking a whole glass of water difficult, try taking regular sips throughout the day. Adding slices of fresh fruit and herbs to water can boost the flavor if you find plain water too boring, and upping your intake of water-rich veggies can also help reduce your risk of dehydration. Fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers, grapes and tomatoes, have a high water content and can help refresh you in hot weather.

Certain medications and health conditions can impact the amount of water you need. Not drinking enough can also affect the balance of electrolytes in your body, and it's worth considering drinking a hydration formula to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. The health care team at the Vinson Hall Retirement Community can help you determine how much you need to drink depending on your unique health needs. Dehydration can increase your risk of health issues, such as urinary tract infections and kidney damage, so it's a good idea to learn how to spot the signs. Symptoms of dehydration in seniors often include:

  • Infrequent urination
  • Dark urine
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

3. Soak up the Sun

Your vitamin D needs increase as you get older, and you should increase your intake to around 800 IU per day at age 70. Getting enough vitamin D is essential for bone health and immunity and could help promote healthy brain aging. Vitamin D-rich foods include fatty fish, cod liver oil and certain fortified cereals, juices and milk.

Summer provides the perfect opportunity to top up your vitamin D levels because your skin produces this vital nutrient when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, you can get a healthy dose of vitamin D by enjoying time outside in our community gardens or visiting the beautiful outdoor spaces around McLean.

4. Oranges and Greens

The glut of summer produce makes it easier than ever to eat the rainbow. Dark, leafy greens, such as arugula, spinach and collards, contain high levels of vitamins C, K and A and are rich in folate, which is vital for healthy cell function. Furthermore, leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants to reduce your risk of certain cancers.

Orange foods, such as carrots, summer squash and oranges, are also rich in carotenoids. These compounds give them their vibrant color and help reduce inflammation. They're also rich in vitamins A and C and provide plenty of fiber for healthy digestion.

Healthy preparation techniques can help you get the most out of these health-boosting ingredients. Avoid adding too much salt or fat to dishes, and consider steaming vegetables to retain as many nutrients as possible.

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At Vinson Hall Retirement Community, we support our residents to enjoy healthy lifestyles through our outstanding senior wellness programs. Book a visit today to discover your Independent Living options.

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