Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age.
Assimilating our nutrition to the natural aging process of our body can help us maintain long term good health. Here are some tips for older adults (> age 60) to maintain their health through wiser nutritional choices
- Older adults have decreased caloric requirements, and the body becomes less efficient at absorbing some key nutrients. In addition, the ability to taste food declines, thereby blunting appetite and some foods become difficult to chew or digest. Choose a mix of nutrient-rich foods from all food groups prepared well so they are easy to chew and to get more nutrients for fewer calories.
- Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health. Consume three servings a day of low fat dairy products to get enough calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Other calcium-rich foods include fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, and canned fish with soft bones.
- Eat high protein foods with each meal and with snacks, rather than just at dinner. Eat one serving of lean meat, poultry, beans, eggs, milk, nuts, or seeds at each meal
- Our ability to recognize thirst lessens with aging and certain medications can also increase the risk of dehydration. It is vital to stay well-hydrated throughout the day and choose hydrated liquids like water or 100% juice.
- The motility of the digestive tract also slows down with aging. Eat foods high in fiber to help with digestive regularity, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts. Fiber also decreases the risk of heart disease controls weight, and prevents diabetes.
- Increasing potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower the risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium. Also, select and prepare foods with little or no added salt.
- Vitamin B12 levels can often be lower in older adults due to reduced ability to extract it from food and B12 is important in the production of red blood cells and to maintain healthy nerve function. Focus on foods high in vitamin B12, such has fish, meat poultry, eggs, milk and milk products.
- Magnesium levels can also drop due to decreased absorption with aging. Furthermore, some medications that older people take, such as diuretic can reduce absorption. Eat as many unprocessed foods as possible, including fresh fruits and vegetables, plus nuts, whole grains, beans, and seeds, all of which are rich sources of magnesium.
- Omega 3 fats, found primarily in fish, have a wide range of benefits, including improving arthritis, slowing progression of age-related visual loss, and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. Older adults should try to have two servings of fish or vegetable sources of omega-3 a week, especially salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel and/or soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil.