nutrition for seniors

Eating Healthy As You Age: Nutrition Needs for Seniors

The older you get, the more important nutrition becomes. You need to be more careful about what you eat, how much you eat, and how often you are eating. With many bodily changes that go on as you age, it becomes more important to mold your diet to what benefits you the most and make sure that you are getting all of the nutrients and sustenance that you need.

Here is a guide to a healthy diet and why it is necessary and beneficial:

Your Body’s Major Changes

For starters, your metabolism slows down. This is an ongoing process that continues for your entire life, but the older you are, the slower it is. This means you have to keep a careful watch on how many calories you’re consuming because a slower metabolism means more will sit and turn into unwanted weight.

Secondly, your digestive system starts to change. It produces fewer and fewer fluids that are necessary for processing foods. This makes it harder for your body to absorb certain important nutrients like folic acids or the vitamins B6 and B12.

Thirdly, there are many factors that start to influence your appetite as you get older. As you start taking more medications, they can affect how hungry you feel during the day resulting in skipped meals. Your emotional health can also start to decline, and this often makes you less inclined to eat during the day and more inclined to skip a meal, which can severely damage your health.

What Benefits Does a Healthy Diet Hold?

A healthy diet can help you to ward off certain health conditions that might otherwise rule your life and what you eat. It can prevent constipation and heart problems and also keep away problems like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

On top of health concerns, it also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight helps to keep self-esteem high and improve emotional problems, and it also encourages you to be more active and social.

One of the most noticeable improvements when switching to a healthy diet though is that it raises your energy level significantly and leaves you more ready to take on the day.

Dietary Suggestions

  • Keep your sodium levels low. When buying foods like soup or frozen foods, compare the levels of sodium in each and try to choose the one with less.
  • Hydrate. Drinking water often is not only good to keep your body hydrated and healthy, but it gives you more energy during the day. Drinking water before every meal can also help to speed up your digestive process.
  • Pick whole wheat. Whole wheat is full of essential nutrients and fiber that are good for your body, so it is a good idea to make sure at least half of your grains are whole wheat.
  • Eat food rich in calcium. Calcium is excellent at preserving your bone health, as well as keeping low blood pressure. You can find calcium in any dairy products, but also in orange juice or dairy supplements, like almond or soy milk.
  • Eat food rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce the inflammation that can cause heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. These acids are very common in certain types of fish and can also be found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, as well as walnuts and canola oil.
  • Protein. Protein helps to power your body and keep your muscles strong. Any lean proteins like chicken, eggs, beans, or nuts are excellent sources of protein.
  • B12. Because of the changes in your digestive system, it becomes harder and harder for your body to absorb B12 vitamins. For that reason, it is important to shop for foods with B12, like cereal, or even get vitamin supplements.
  • Incorporate changes gradually. Switching your diet all at once can make it more difficult to stick to it. Try working in the suggestions gradually and work up to a complete diet turn around to give your body a chance to get used to the change.

Simple Nutrition Guide

  1. Fruits and Veggies. These should make up about half of your plate, and you should consume approximately 2-2.5 cups of each a day. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and are perfect for healthy aging.
  2. Protein. To avoid only getting your protein through meats, add beans and lentils to your diet for an extra boost.
  3. Meats. Meats should only be about 6 ounces or less of your diet daily, whether they be chicken, red meats, or fish.
  4. Grains. Aside from sticking to whole wheat, it is also important to get a healthy mix of oats and oat bran in your diet, as well as nuts and seeds. For a healthy diet, you should be consuming about 4 to 5 servings of nuts and seeds per week.
  5. Dairy. Try sticking to low-fat dairy to help reduce the number of calories and fats in your diet. For strong bones, it is a good idea to have about 2 to 3 cups of milk per day.
  6. Supplements. Because of your body’s changes, it can be difficult to get all of the vitamins and nutrients that you need to stay healthy. Supplements are a good easy way to get your body what you need, so you can stay healthy. The best supplements would be for calcium, vitamin D, B12, and magnesium.

Let Us Help

If you have questions regarding these or other concerns about assisted living communities in the Aurum Network, contact us at (978) 282-9551 or use our facility locator tool.

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