As we grow older, our needs and wants change. One thing that changes more than others is our dietary needs. As a senior, it's important to eat foods that are healthy to maintain strength and a healthy weight. Today, our society makes it easy to eat quick, unhealthy foods for the sake of convenience. This can pose a severe health risk to older adults over a long period. Senior nutrition is often studied by experts to learn what exactly older adults should be eating. Here are some tips for you and your family!
Senior Dietary Changes
Why is it that seniors have dietary needs different than those of a younger adult? The answer is simple. The body changes to accommodate age and when the body changes, your diet needs to change too. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “As we age, healthy eating can make a difference in our health, help to improve how we feel, and encourage a sense of well-being.”
Some of the changes your body goes through are:
- Your metabolism slows down. As seniors begin to age, it is common for their metabolism to slow down because exercise is less common. With a slower metabolism, it is common for older adults to gain weight due to excess calories if they are not careful about what they eat. This is why it is also essential for older adults to exercise often.
- Your digestive system experiences changes. Older adults produce fewer fluids in the stomach, making it more difficult to break down food and absorb essential nutrients. When you consume fewer nutrients, it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy body.
- Diet may affect your emotional health. Growing older not only takes a toll on our body, but it can also affect our minds. It is common for seniors to experience stress or anxiety at an older age. Eating healthier can reduce the risk of experiencing anxiety because some foods put people in a better mod!
- Appetites change. Senior nutrition differs from a younger adult diet. Older adults eat less, which can make it harder to consume all the vitamins and calories one needs to be healthy.
Healthy Food Habits for Seniors
Many foods and diets can be beneficial to seniors. Many of the foods advertised today are not very healthy, especially for older adults. So, what foods should you be eating as an older adult? If you or a loved one are currently living in an assisted living community or memory care, it is possible that many of these food tips are already in a dietary regimen. If not, it never hurts to ask to have some of them included in your diet. These food tips are also easy to incorporate into your evening dinners at home! Some of them are:
- Include nutrients such as fiber, potassium, vitamin D and vitamins B3, B6 and B12 into your diet. This is to make sure you’re getting what you need to be healthy. These are essential to mental health, bone strength and gastrointestinal health.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks. This may seem obvious, but many older adults experience weight gain, deterioration of teeth, and anxiety from beverages filled with sugar and caffeine. Water is also great for the body and stimulates the mind when you’re hydrated.
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. This is essential to living healthy as a senior. Fresh fruits may contain large amounts of vitamin C and other essential nutrients that your body loves. Fresh vegetables are often loaded with vitamin A and are great for your brain.
- Avoid salt. Salt tastes excellent in food, but it's not great for your body. Diets that are high in salt can cause a series of diseases and conditions that you want to avoid. Diabetes is closely linked with salt consumption. Try using spices to flavor your food instead!
- Consult your doctor. While there are many tips and tricks out there that are helpful, the best person to know what is right for you is your doctor. Try asking them what foods are best for you and see if you can incorporate their suggestions into some of the meals you already enjoy.
At HarborChase, we value health and fitness and want our residents to know what's best for their diet. It is essential to keep you and your family healthy. While some of these suggestions might not be as tasty as what you usually eat, keep in mind that eating healthy doesn't always mean you're eating something that doesn't taste great. Get creative and include some of these tips into recipes you usually make. We're sure they'll turn out great!