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Stopping Stumbles through Good Nutrition

By Dixie Havlak, R.D.

Eating well can help to prevent some of the causes of instability and falling.

Stay alert and energetic

Prevent low blood sugar episodes that can leave you light headed and weak by eating regular meals and snacks. Include some protein with each meal and limit sugary foods to occasional treats.

Maintain strength and energy

Get adequate iron to prevent anemia be eating at least 4 oz. of meat each day. Beans (legumes), eggs, and soy products can be substituted for some of your meat, but dairy products do not contain much iron. Nuts, dark green vegetables, and fortified cereals and enriched breads can be good sources of iron, as can prunes and raisins.

Muscle and joint health prevent falls

Vitamin D is receiving a lot of attention for its role in preventing falls by maintaining muscle and bone function. The only dietary source is milk, and it would take 5 cups a day to get adequate amounts. In addition to drinking some milk and taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, most mature adults should be taking a vitamin D supplement, perhaps in combination with calcium and magnesium.

Getting enough protein in combination with doing strengthening exercise is vital to maintaining muscular strength. Meat and dairy foods are the biggest sources of protein.

Getting adequate Omega 3 fatty acids be eating fish, walnuts, soy and flax, and possibly be using fish oil or flax supplements can diminish the inflammation that may aggravate joints.

Maintain healthy bones, blood pressure and muscles

The minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium are essential for maintaining good blood pressure and also maintaining strong, mineral rich bones. Eat 2-3 dairy products a day and take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement for calcium. Use additional calcium/vitamin D supplements or calcium/vitamin D fortified drinks and cereals if needed.

Get magnesium by eating whole grains, legumes, nuts, and meats and dairy products. Pump up your potassium by getting lots of fruits and veggies in your diet…5 or more servings a day. Dark green and orange colored choices, citrus, and potatoes are good sources.

Drink lots of fluid to prevent dehydration, which can make you weak and less alert

Any liquids will do, but drink a full glass at each meal and several other times during the day. Avoid sugary low nutrient drinks like sodas and sweetened teas.