Optimized senior nutrition is important for numerous reasons, as there is a plethora of benefits that may surface following good nutritional intake. While the assistance’s of eating healthily are similar across all ages, improving senior nutrition could mend mental health, sharpen the mind, and lead to a stronger, longer life. And these 5 tips for eating healthily as you age may just make those promoted benefits a reality.
Tip #1: Accept Age-Related Changes and Senior Nutrition
Though all seniors have their unique diversities and needs, it is important to accept collective age-related changes and the accommodating senior nutrition recommendations. The following changes commonly occur and may require dietary modifications:
Declined Muscle and Bone Strength
As the body ages, fat mass generally replaces lean muscle and bone health is also apt to decline, which can ultimately reduce strength and stability. Protein and calcium are extremely valuable to compensate and prevent such changes.
Metabolism slows down mostly related to changes in body composition, as leaner body mass burns and utilizes calories at a faster rate. A slower metabolism paired with inactivity can result to weight gain and more evident physical changes.
Compromised Digestive Processes
Seniors are at risk of compromised digestive processes, including chewing and swallowing difficulties and altered nutrient utilization. Such changes increase the risk of malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies that may lead to a decline in physical and mental function.
Increased Health Concerns
Poor nutrition and age-related conditions may pose additional nutritional considerations, including salt intake for high blood pressure and carb consumption when managing blood sugars. An increase in medications also urges the need to pay attention to potential side effects, including rising blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
Tip #2: Modify and Colorify the Diet
And no, not by adding sprinkles atop your ice cream bowl… Along with balancing meals with colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy, the following nutrients bare great attention in senior nutrition
As mentioned, protein is extremely stressed in the senior population to preserve muscle strength and boost the immune system. Significant protein sources include lean chicken and beef along with plant-based proteins of beans and lentils. Find additional animal and plant-based protein sources here.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are extremely important to maintain bone strength, ultimately reducing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Milk and dairy products are naturally ample in calcium, though vitamin D is often added. Other beneficial sources include dark, leafy greens and fortified sources such as orange juice and cereals.
Inactivity and compromised digestive function puts seniors at risk for constipation. Fiber can help promote bowel regularity while also supporting good heart health. Fiber is found in fruits, veggies, and whole grains, including wheat breads and pastas, cereals, and oats. And when increasing fiber intake, heightened water consumption should follow. Not only does it encourage bowel regularity, but also reduces the risk of dehydration.
Find more on vital nutrients all seniors need here.
Tip #3: Limit Sugar and Refined Products
Sugar and other refined, convenience products are essentially empty calories, meaning they only supply calories without any sort of nutritional value. If adhering to a nutritious diet, limiting sugar and other in-nutritious products will naturally follow. Keeping sugar intake under control can be also achieved by:
Reading Food Labels
The Nutrition Facts and Ingredient labels allows consumers to identify what comprises food products, sugar included. It is important to remain aware not only of the carb count, but how much sugar is added. Words such as sucrose, fructose, and sucrose also indicate added sugar.
Naturally-sweetened fruits are a nutritious way to relieve that pesky hunger pang! For example, try topping fresh berries or peaches on protein-packed Greek yogurt or cottage cheese for healthy, lightly sweet snack. And while sugar sources such as honey and agave are considered to be natural sources, it is still important to stay cautious of their addition.
Ultimately, though, your favorite sweet treats and indulgences can still be relished. Allow yourself to enjoy that chocolate chip cookie recipe you make your grand-kids or a slice of that infamous pecan pie for special occasions. But when consuming such products, the importance of moderation cannot be stressed enough to keep sugar intake in check.
Tip #4: Get Social
Getting social is important two-fold. First off, seniors who feel isolated may become depressed, lead to a reduced appetite, and ultimately raising the risk of malnutrition. Additionally, social support is valuable in adhering to health goals and maintaining an adequate diet. Seniors can get social by:
Joining Senior Centers
Senior centers are extremely beneficial in this population, as they generally offer companionship and nutritious meals. Picking up hobbies and volunteering in the community are other ways to prevent isolation and strengthen friendships with others.
Inviting Friends and Family Over
Company of close friends and family can truly improve mental health and lessen the risk of feeling secluded. Have fun making meals and/or snacks together, even enjoying a picnic outside if the weather allows!
Scheduling Weekly or Monthly Dinners with Neighbors
Especially in a retirement community or a tight-knit neighborhood, sustain relationships with neighbors by scheduling weekly or monthly dinners. Take turns preparing meals or choose a local restaurant to try. And while you are out on the town, go see a new movie release or sign-up for a group painting class!
Tip #5: Continue Learning and Adapting
As mentioned in Tip #1, aging and the repercussions are ongoing and affect individuals differently. It is important to continue learning and adapting to age-related conditions and experiences. And remember, you do not have to be alone! Confine in close friends and family members to join in on the journey. And if needing additional assistance in healthy eating as you age, look no further than Silver Cuisine! As an extension from bistroMD, Silver Cuisine conveniently delivers well-balanced meals and snacks straight to seniors’ doorsteps. Find more information on how you can eat healthily as you age at Silver Cuisine’s homepage!