Healthy Seniors Guide To Nutritionadmin
As we get older, our bodies change, and so do our nutritional needs. It’s important for our health to focus on proper nutrition in order to prevent illness and age gracefully. In fact, as we get older and our bodily functions start to change, proper nutrition becomes even more important to maintaining health and wellness. Understanding the ways in which nutrition impacts health is one of the keys to health as an older adult.
How Our Bodies Change With Age
As we age, our bodies and the way our bodies process food begins to change. If we continue to eat the way we did when we were younger, we will suffer ill effects as a result.
First, as you get older, your metabolism will slow down naturally. Often this becomes more notable when you start to slow down and reduce your activity level. Less exercise means you are not burning as many calories, and as such you need less food to maintain a healthy weight. Since you are eating less, you need the food you do eat to be nutrient-rich.
Additionally, your digestive system is going to change. As you get older, your body produces fewer fluids necessary to digest food. Certain nutrients, like B-vitamins and folic acid, are more difficult to absorb.
You may also find that your appetite changes, either due to the aging process or due to other health conditions and medications. If you are not feeling hungry, itâ€™s much less likely you are going to get enough nutrition. Loss of taste and smell can also occur. When food no longer tastes or smells good, it’s harder to make yourself eat it. If you are struggling with appetite, this might be a contributing factor.
Finally, as we age our emotional health is often affected. If you struggle with depression, you may not be interested in eating. Sometimes emotional concerns can cause older adults to turn to food for comfort, and the result is eating too much and gaining unwanted weight.
Healthy Eating For Seniors
If you feel that your diet is lacking in nutrition, you can take some steps to change it. First, take a look at what you are eating, and determine if you are eating too little or too much. Itâ€™s important to consider your height, weight, activity level, and age. Talk to your doctor to determine what your caloric intake should be, then make changes to encourage proper portion control.
Next, strive for a variety in your diet. Meals should consist of a small serving of protein, ample fruits and vegetables, and some whole grains. If you are eating too much of one category of food, you are missing key nutrients.
Finally, consider following a healthy eating plan. Here are some suggestions:
The USDA makes several recommendations on nutrition especially for seniors. Make sure your diet is getting you close to the recommended amount of all of the necessary macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
If cardiovascular disease is a concern, the American Heart Association’s DASH diet can help. This diet is low in bad fats and salt, while high in nutritional value. The DASH diet recommends 4,7000 mg of potassium, 500 mg of magnesium, and 1,240 mg of calcium in a 2,000 diet. Increased servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains to increase fiber intake are also recommended.
MyPlate is an eating plan from the USDA that outlines the proper balance of dairy, grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. By filling in your plate with proper serving amounts, you can improve your nutrition and help ensure you are getting the right nutrients you need, without counting calories and measuring potassium or magnesium amounts.
Common Nutrients Seniors Are Missing
Unfortunately, seniors are often missing crucial nutrients they need for health and graceful aging. This can be due to poor absorption or poor dietary choices. Some of these nutrients include:
Calcium deficiency can increase the risk of bone conditions common in older adults, and unfortunately the modern American diet rarely contains enough calcium.
Responsible for creating red blood cells and improving nerve function, B12 it often lacking in older adults because they cannot absorb it from their food well. Increasing B12-rich foods can help make up for this lack of absorption, or consider taking a supplement.
This essential B vitamin helps prevent anemia, and many older adults who don’t eat enough produce lack sufficient folate levels. Breakfast cereal or increased produce intake can help.
Adults need 4,700 mg of potassium a day to help lower blood pressure, improve cell function, and keep bones strong.
Magnesium affects around 300 physiological processes in the body, and it is found primarily in unprocessed foods.
If you are struggling with digestive regularity, a lack of fiber could be the reason. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system running smoothly.
Top Tips For Senior Nutritional Needs
So what can a senior do to maintain a healthy diet? Consider these popular tips:
- Consume more unprocessed produce. Raw fruits and vegetables improve nutrition and nutrient absorption.
- Focus on nutrient-rich foods. Because you are eating less, the food you do eat needs to be packed with nutrition.
- Consume sweets and highly salty foods at a minimum. It’s fine to enjoy an occasional sweet, but make sure the sweets are in fact occasional.
- Avoid empty calories. Chips, soda, and desserts have no nutritional value and high calorie content, so opt for something more substantial. Remember, food is fuel!
- Avoid saturated and trans fats, but don’t be afraid of some healthy unsaturated fats, which the body needs for proper nutrient absorption.
Healthy Eating For Seniors
The way you eat is just as important, and even more important, as an older adult as it was when you were younger. Take the time to focus on nutrition, and your body and mind will thank you by working well for years to come.