Good nutrition and health go hand in hand. Proper diet is essential, regardless of age because it provides energy, helps maintain a healthy weight, and prevents chronic conditions like heart diseases and high blood pressure. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that most diseases that older people suffer from are linked to poor diet. For instance, osteoporosis is related to micronutrient deficiency.
The definition of healthy eating slightly changes as you age. With your metabolism slowing down, you will need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients than others. It is more important now than ever to consume foods with the best nutritional value. You should prioritize eating foods rich in minerals, fiber, and vitamins and avoid processed sugars, saturated salt, and trans fats.
Related Blog: 9 Easy and Healthy Meals for Seniors
Age-Related Challenges That Hinder Proper Nutrition
As you get older, our bodies and lifestyle change, as well as the nutrients you need to remain active and healthy. Some physical and mental changes may make it harder to get a well-balanced diet. They include:
- Poor health, making it harder to prepare food or feed yourself
- Physical difficulty such as arthritis makes it difficult to do simple tasks like cooking or shopping for groceries
- Medication can change your taste perception, cause nausea, and reduce appetite
- Low income. Most seniors have limited resources, forcing them to opt for cheaper foods that are usually less nutritious
- Change in the sense of smell and taste
- Poor dental health causes difficulty in chewing and swallowing
- Depression is common among older people, especially if you live alone. It may make you skip meals, causing health problems
Top 5 Healthy Food Choices for Seniors
Eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle support graceful aging. Healthy meals keep you energized, your mind sharp, and your body strong. But nutritional needs are different among individuals. Here are five types of food to help you maintain a healthy diet.
Colorful Vegetables and Fruits
Our digestive systems tend to slow down as we age, leading to constipation. Vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber which helps with digestion and reduces the risk of heart disease. Choose fruits and vegetables with bright colors. The deeper or darker the color, the more vitamins and antioxidants you get. You can never go wrong with red raspberries, dark cherries, blueberries, and apples. They are high in antioxidants which are good for your skin.
Leafy greens like spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, and kale are great superfoods. They contain vitamin K that strengthens bones and improves blood clotting. Here’s a tip: You can have them all year round as frozen ones have the same nutritional value as the fresh greens!
These fiber-loaded foods are a must-have in any pantry. They are an excellent source of vitamin B. Whole grains are rich in fiber, helping with digestion and protecting the body from diseases. They are widely available, and you can find them at your local grocery store at affordable prices. Best examples of whole grains include quinoa, wheat germ, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Dairy contains calcium which is essential for healthy bones. Seniors tend to suffer from calcium deficiency, leading to degenerative conditions like osteoporosis. WHO recommends 1200 mg of calcium daily for people above 50 years. Calcium-rich dairy products are cheese, milk, and yogurt. You can also use calcium supplements for your daily dosage.
As you age, eat foods rich in nutrients but without the extra calories. This means that you should stay clear of saturated and trans fats. Various foods like poultry, legumes, fish, meat, and nuts provide the needed proteins. Also, limit your portions to avoid the temptation of overeating.
Food High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids contain numerous benefits to people of all ages. They prevent inflammation that may cause arthritis, cancer, and heart diseases. These acids also keep the brain alert and improve vision by slowing down Macular Degeneration (AMD).
You can find the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as tuna, sardines, salmon, and mackerel. They are also present in walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, and soybeans.
As you age, your body may need different nutrients than it did when you were younger. Make sure to keep a proper diet consisting of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits to get the nutrients and minerals you need to stay healthy. Also, remember to always keep hydrated. Talk to your health provider if you have problems chewing, swallowing, or feeding yourself. Also, consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.