Ten Healthy Eating Tips For Seniors

Ten Healthy Eating Tips For Seniors

seniorsOur nutritional requirements change as we age. Here are ten ways seniors can ensure they maintain a healthy diet. 

1. Keep hydrated

As we age our awareness of thirst is actually reduced. As a result seniors may reduce their intake of fluids, particularly water as they just don’t feel very thirsty. In addition, our body’s ability to regulate its fluid balance is also lessened when we get older. Seniors sometimes also limit their intake of fluid as a way of managing urinary incontinence issues. All of these factors put seniors at risk of dehydration. Not drinking enough fluids can also result in urinary tract infections, constipation and even falls. One of the best ways to ensure adequate fluid intake is to have an allocated daily amount of water (6-8 glasses) in a large jug  in the fridge. Pouring a drink from this regularly through the day will allow seniors to track how much they are drinking. Seniors can also watch their caffeine intake as it has a diuretic effect.

2.Watch your kilojoules

As people age their metabolism slows and they lose muscle mass. They will, therefore, require less energy to carry out the same activities than previously. This means that if seniors continue to eat the same amount and type of food as before they will begin to gain weight as they are burning fewer kilojoules. The best way to combat these age related changes is to choose foods that are high in nutrients but low in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Seniors can choose wholegrain cereals/breads, vegetables, legumes/beans, fruits, reduced fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, lean meat, chicken and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. They can also limit refined cereals/breads, sweetened drinks, fried foods, many take-away foods, processed meats, cakes and biscuits, pastries, chocolate, lollies and crisps.

3. Watch your salt

One of the most noticeable changes in our eating habits as we age is changes to our taste. Our ability to taste salty flavours diminishes quite considerably over time. This can lead to seniors adding extra salt to their cooking and/or at the table. As too much salt in our diets is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease it is important to try and limit our salt intake. Instead of adding extra salt to improve flavour seniors can try using garlic, herbs and spices instead. Seniors also need to be aware that many processed foods contain hidden salt, in particular cured meats, some breakfast cereals, sauces, canned vegetables, packet or tinned soups and gravy.

4. Watch your sweet tooth

Our ability to detect sugar also decreases over time which can lead to over indulging in sweet foods and/or over-sweetening cooking. The problem with many sweet foods (ie, chocolate, desserts, pastries) is they are often high in saturated fats. There are also a lot of added sugars in processed foods that we may not be aware of. Pasta sauces, tomato sauces, mayonnaise, tinned soups, breakfast cereals and frozen meals can all be high in sugar. Seniors can try using spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon to add flavour to foods rather than extra sugar.

5. Get enough fibre

Our digestive system also undergoes changes as we get older, gradually slowing down. When food moves more slowly through the digestive tract more water is absorbed which can lead to constipation. Older people are also more susceptible to diverticulosis, a condition in which small pouches form in the lining of the large intestine or colon. If these pouches become inflamed or infected it is referred to as diverticulitis. A diet high in fibre reduces the risk of constipation and diverticulosis. There are two types of fibre and both are important for our health. Soluble fibre is found in oatmeal, oat bran and psyllium while sources of insoluble fibre include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.

6. Calcium rich foods

Seniors are in danger of losing  bone density placing them at risk of osteoporosis and fractures. As a way of countering this bone loss, seniors can participate in weight bearing exercise and eat calcium rich foods. It is recommended that seniors over 50 have 1300 mg of calcium daily. Foods high in calcium include dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese), calcium fortified soy milk, fish with soft, edible bones (canned salmon, sardines), dried figs, almonds, green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli) and tofu. A glass of milk, a 200g tub of yoghurt or 200ml of calcium fortified soy milk all provide approximately 300mg calcium. There are also calcium fortified milks available which provide higher amounts of calcium than regular milk. It is important to note that the low or no fat varieties of dairy products still provide the same level of calcium so people can choose these healthier options without compromising on their calcium intake.

7. Vitamin D

In addition to calcium, Vitamin D also plays an important role in maintaining strong bones. Sun exposure is the main way our body obtains Vitamin D. However, ageing decreases the skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D so that older people need to have more sun exposure to be able to make enough Vitamin D. Seniors who do not have a lot of sun exposure (those who spend the majority of time indoors or whose clothing keeps them well covered) are, therefore, at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the winter months. While Vitamin D can be found in certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, liver and fortified milk) it can be difficult to obtain enough from diet alone. Therefore, seniors who don’t have enough sun exposure may benefit from taking a Vitamin D supplement.

8. Limit alcohol

In the most recent Australian Health Survey, seniors in the 55-64 year age group had higher rates of drinking at risky levels than people in the 18-24 year age group. These alcohol consumption trends are a concern as the body’s ability to absorb and metabolise alcohol decreases with age. The current Australian national guidelines for alcohol consumption recommend that people drink no more than two standard drinks on any day and drink no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion. The guidelines also recognise that older people should take special care with alcohol as it can increase their risk of falls and interact with medications.

9. Include good fats and oils

Previously there was a focus of limiting the intake of all fats and oils in the diet. We now know, however, that fats and oils are not all the same. While saturated fats and trans fats (ie., hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated vegetable fats) should be avoided, we can include some good fats and oils in our diet. These include polyunsaturated and monosaturated oils (canola, sunflower, olive, sesame and peanut oil), as well as those found in avocado, unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews) and seeds (linseeds, pumpkin and sunflower). In addition, omega-3 oils found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are also good for us. Omega-3 oils reduce the risk of heart disease and are also thought to prevent depression, Alzheimer’s and eye diseases.

10. Find company

In our society eating is often a shared activity. If seniors are widowed or divorced they may find they lose interest in preparing food as they do not enjoy eating alone. Cooking a meal may seem like a lot of effort to go to for just one person. If seniors find themselves in this predicament they can try making lunch or dinner dates with family or friends. Joining a local club can also provide an opportunity to enjoy a reasonably priced meal in the company of others. Visiting a farmer’s market to buy fresh produce can re-energise an interest in cooking and provide a chance to chat to stallholders and other market goers.

Healthy Eating As You Get Older

Healthy eating as you get older can make a difference in your health, help to improve how you feel, and encourage a sense of well-being.      eating well as you get older

Nutrients

  • Obtain nutrients needed by the body such as potassium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, minerals, and fiber.
  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.If you have a chronic disease,  healthy eating as you get older can help to manage the disease.
  • Meet individual calorie and nutrition needs.
  • Help to maintain energy levels.

Special Nutrition Concerns for Older Adults

Our daily eating habits change as our bodies get older. Make small adjustments to help you enjoy the foods and beverages you eat and drink.

  • Add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt and look for low-sodium packaged foods.
  • Add sliced fruits and vegetable to your meals and snacks. Look for pre-sliced fruits and vegetables on sale if slicing and chopping is a challenge.
  • Ask your doctor to suggest other options if the medications you take affect your appetite or change your desire to eat.
  • Drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day. If you cannot tolerate milk try small amounts of yogurt, butter milk, hard cheese or lactose-free foods. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.

Be Active Your Way

Focus on maintaining a healthy body weight. Being physically active can help you stay strong and independent as you grow older. If you are overweight or obese, weight loss can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of disease and disability.

  • Adults at any age need at least 2 ½ hours or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Being active at least 3 days a week is a good goal.
  • Find an activity that is appropriate for your fitness level. If you are not active, start by walking or riding a stationary bike. Strive for at least 10 minutes of exercise at a time and be as active as possible.
  • Include activities that improve balance and reduce your risk of falling such as lifting small weights. Add strength building activities at least 2 times per week.
  • Being active will make it easier to enjoy other activities such as shopping, playing a sport, or gardening.
  • If you are not sure about your level of fitness, check with your doctor before starting an intense exercise program or vigorous physical activity.

Selecting Your Healthy Seniors Diet Plan

seniors diet

 

As the years go by, a human body naturally loses its internal strength. Wear and tear of the hectic life schedule maintained during the early day’s shows itself when an individual gradually crosses his 50s. But that does not imply that you must sit back at home and become weaker both mentally and physically. It is for this reason, nutrition and a balanced diet plan is necessary for seniors. However, eating healthy is not synonymous to deprivation of whatever you like. Only a balance has to be maintained between the needs of your body and mind and what you relish.

Healthy food plan for seniors should be designed in such a way that it maintains internal and external health. Seniors must be strong enough to fight against diseases and not fall sick easily, be alert, have energy and emotional stability. If a person is healthy, he/she has confidence and a positive attitude towards life. More so if he/she does not have to depend on others at every step.

 Healthy food chart to take care of body, mind and soul

A suggested healthy diet plan for seniors includes-

  • Eating fresh and healthy foods
  • Trying various foods that are nourishing.
  • Eating together with family and friends.

Foods that should be included in the seniors diet

  1. Fresh whole fruits and not juices is an important part of a senior’s diet regimen. Fruits contain a lot of fiber and also vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium like berries, apples, guavas, melons, etc. that offer various nutrients to the body.
  2. Green vegetables must be included in the diet. Leafy veggies are a source of anti-oxidants as well as vitamins and minerals. So consuming spinach, kale, broccoli, kale, carrots and other colorful veggies are important as you age.
  3. To maintain bone health which naturally deteriorates with age, you must take 1200 servings of calcium regularly. Foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, almonds must be consumed in the required amounts.
  4. Whole grains are important for the body. These are available from whole-wheat, oats, brown breads and others as a source of your daily carbohydrates.
  5. Proteins are known as body-building foods. Having lean meat, fat-free dairy products, fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, nuts, peas, etc. that are full of Omega3 fatty acids are good for the aged. But diabetics need to consult their physicians for their diet charts.

Light exercises are extremely good for maintaining physical and mental health of seniors. Exercises improve digestion, help to keep the bones and muscles active and when you feel strong within yourself you can conquer the world even if you have grown old.

Nutrition Myths

We are consistently fed with information to perceive the world around us in certain ways.  From soaps to medicines, foods and drinks to almost every essential item we buy, our choices are driven by the campaigns that are meticulously planned by apparent experts in fear psychology.

One of these perennial misinformation campaigns is a plethora of nutrition myths. We have been convinced to believe certain nutrition myths that must be debunked.

Nutrition Myths

  • Let us start with something that almost everyone has heard or has been told. Carbs or carbohydrates are bad for your health. Any food item or dish that is apparently rich in carbohydrates is not considered as healthy food for seniors, adults or kids. Carbohydrates should not be demonized. It is sugar and processed carbohydrates that need to be avoided. There are healthy carbohydrates like wholegrain bread. What we should avoid is overly processed foods. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body and it is necessary for a plethora of vital functions.
  • A diet should be rich in protein. This is one of the nutrition myths that have caught on in an era when millions are obese and eating more protein is seen as the Holy Grail of weight loss. Eating more protein will make you over weight. Even lean proteins are not always healthy. Over a period of time, protein adds more fat than healthy carbohydrates. The average adult or senior consumes more proteins than necessary. Also, plant based proteins like beans or legumes are healthier. So if one has to recommend healthy food for seniors that is rich in protein then it would be beans and legumes instead of red or white meat.
  • People are advised to shun carbohydrates and endorse protein. The irony is that protein cannot be absorbed by the human body or by the muscles without carbohydrates. It is similar to the nutrition myth that milk is quintessential for optimum bone health. For strong and dense bones, you should consume calcium rich foods. But calcium alone wouldn’t achieve anything. One also needs vitamins, especially D and K, for strong bones.
  • Many people believe that any healthy food for seniors should be low on calories. Calorie has been flagged as the most menacing element in our diets. Unfortunately, the focus is on calories when we must focus on nutrition. It is not calories that matters but the source of those calories. A thousand calories from sugar rich foods or those that are a source of bad cholesterol is worse than two thousand calories from plant based diets that are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Eating Healthy In Your Senior Years

 eating healthyEating healthy for seniors!  Want to stay fit and keep your mind sharp as you age? Looking for the best ways to maintain your health? If so, start by making small changes to your diet. What you eat affects the way you look and feel. A well-balanced diet can add years to your life and ward off diseases. It may also reduce the need for medications, ease the pain, and increase your energy.

The Importance of Good Nutrition for Seniors 

Seniors have different nutritional needs than younger people, so it’s essential to keep up with the changes in their bodies. Eating healthy can reverse aging and minimize its impact. As you age, your metabolism slows down. This increases your risk of weight gain and muscle loss. Thus, you need to eat fewer calories and choose high-protein foods that help preserve muscle. Protein also has appetite-suppressing effects, so it curbs hunger and fills you up quickly.

Eating healthy is important at any age, but its benefits can be even more noticeable as you get older. If you don’t pay close attention to your diet, you’ll gain weight and develop chronic diseases. Seniors with diabetes or insulin resistance should avoid excess sugar and eat small, frequent meals. Those with cardiovascular problems need to cut back on sodium and trans fats. If you have poor digestion, get plenty of fiber and stay hydrated. Consider switching to a gluten-free diet. Older adults who are lactose intolerance can try lactose-free milk and calcium-fortified foods.

What Does a Eating Healthy Senior Diet Look Like? 

Your diet should consist of lean meat, fish, vegetables, seeds, raw nuts, and whole grains. Consume nutrient-dense foods with few calories, such as chicken, salmon, tuna, oats, and leafy greens. Eat local and seasonal produce as often as possible. Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day to prevent high blood pressure.

Avoid foods containing refined grains, trans fats, added sugar, and cholesterol. Cook your own meals and replace salt with herbs and spices. Fill your plate with kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkin, and other high fiber foods. This way, you’ll keep your digestive system running smoothly and avoid insulin spikes. Additionally, a high-fiber diet can lower your risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

Get Enough Vitamin D 

Make sure you get enough vitamin D in your diet. Proper intake of vitamin D can help prevent depression, bone disorders, autoimmune diseases, flu, obesity, and glucose intolerance. This nutrient maintains bone density and lowers your risk of osteoporosis. It also supports cardiovascular health and lung function, regulates insulin levels, and slows down aging. Since most people have vitamin D deficiency supplementation is highly recommended.

Eating Healthy Fats 

Seniors shouldn’t be afraid to eat high -fat foods, such as walnuts, pistachios, avocado, and olive oil. Not all fats are created equal. Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids keep your heart healthy, lower inflammation, and reduce bad cholesterol. Just make sure you limit saturated and trans fats, which are found in processed meat, margarine, butter, and junk food. If you’re overweight or have high cholesterol, choose low- fat dairy products and avoid fried foods.