Healthy eating has never been easy for anyone. Most of the time it is very difficult to say no to taste buds and cravings which divert our decisions from choosing a healthy meal to eat and ending up eating unhealthy. Ageing comes with a lot of health challenges if proper diet and lifestyle are not matched. To live a life that is worth celebrating, staying healthy is the most basic requirement.
Healthy eating may have a different definition for everyone but it comes with a guideline for the elderly. Ageing is like a refining process, you need to filter and choose among the foods that serve the best nutritional value as per your body’s needs. Metabolism and digestive capacities are affected with age. The body takes more time to digest and process heavy food items and the slowing down of metabolism can lead to various health issues. The food for old people has to contain certain nutrients that support their overall health.
With the sedentary and less active lifestyle these days, reaching the age of 50 and above often seems like a milestone for many people. The older adults who have reached this age and are ready to move into their second innings receive signals from the body to make diet changes and lead an active lifestyle. The nutritional needs of the body might be different for every senior and recommendation may change as per age but healthy eating and taking care of what you eat is very important to make golden years really golden.
It is never late to admire yourself and take care of your health. Consult a dietician and follow tips for a healthy and sustainable routine.
Before moving on to the tips of healthy eating for seniors, let us understand the daily calorie requirement of the ageing seniors:
|Level of Activity
|Female Age >50
|Male Age >50
10 ways for seniors to improve their diet
Bones are an integral part of the body and are affected gradually with age. Bones start to weaken with age due to less activity and loss of minerals. Osteoporosis is a very common condition observed in the elderly and even in people of age above 50 years, especially in females. Light exercise and eating right can bless your bones.
– Adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D are needed to strengthen the bones.
– Including cereals, slices of bread, and juices helps.
– One tablespoon of nonfat powdered milk contains 50 mg of calcium, it can be used in different recipes to support bone health.
If the daily body requirement is not met, multivitamins and calcium supplements prescribed by a doctor can help meet the daily intake.
Energy levels can vary for seniors. Lifestyle changes and food habits can be a great way to boost daily energy levels among the elderly. The deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals is a major cause of energy. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a major cause to reduce energy levels among seniors. Regular tests must be conducted among senior citizens to identify the levels of vitamins, minerals, and salts in the body. If any deficiency appears, it shall never be ignored and always be taken care of as a priority. Ignoring the signals of the body may lead to health problems like osteoporosis, weak heart, gastric issues, weak liver, indigestion, and constipation.
– Yoghurt: 8 ounces (oz) of yogurt contains 1.1 mcg of vitamin B12
– Low-fat milk: 1 cup of low-fat milk contains 1.2 mcg of vitamin B12
– Cheese: 1 oz of cheese contains 0.95 mcg of vitamin B12
– Other foods include cereals, nutritional yeast, and eggs.
Maintaining good health becomes easy with the regular inclusion of fiber in the food you eat. As people age, their tendency to develop diseases increases and hence it becomes even more important to eat right. Fiber-rich food helps prevent diabetes among seniors as it slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream and helps maintain blood glucose levels.
– Green Vegetables: Cucumber, salads, and beans
– Leafy Vegetables
– Whole grains
Daily intake of fiber for the senior citizen’s
Males >50: 28 grams
Females >50: 22.4 grams
Salt adds taste to the food we eat but consumption of more salt comes with health issues such as high blood pressure and increased sodium levels among seniors which may lead to heart problems. Balanced salt is important as sodium levels need to be maintained among seniors to prevent attacks.
– Prefer sodium-free alternatives
– Remove table salt from the table
– Use seasonings such as pepper, roasted cumin, fresh herbs, citrus flavors,garlic powder, and others to enhance taste
– Avoid prepared and packaged food
– Monitor sodium intake and prefer home-cooked fresh meals
Managing a healthy weight is important at every age as both the conditions of being underweight and being obese come with their own range of health problems. Most of senior citizens face the challenge of managing weight as the lifestyle might not allow them to be averagely active or they might be recovering from a disease or a medical condition that involves less or no activity. As we saw the daily calorie needs among the senior citizens, if the calories are watched and food is enjoyed in proper proportions, weight management is not as difficult as it seems to be.
– Get a personalized diet chart from nutritionists
– Talk to your doctor about health problems and seek suggestions for food
– Follow a light exercise routine of at least 30 minutes a day
– Watch the daily calorie intake
Gut health is very important for the GI (Gastrointestinal) function. Good bacterias that help in the digestion of food also known as probiotics are found naturally in the gut and they enhance GI function and calcium absorption.There are natural nutrition boosters in the body. Senior citizens can face poor gut health in case they are diagnosed with any kind of infection or disease that requires the consumption of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria and affect the gut. This may result in poor GI function and in turn cause other health problems.
– Eat foods like bananas, garlic, asparagus, and whole grain foods.
– If you are consuming antibiotics, take a daily probiotic supplement after consulting with your visiting doctor.
Include yogurt in the part of your meal as it is a very good source of probiotics.
Seniors are prone to diseases and infections as immunity and the ability of the body to fight diseases decreases as you age. Several health predicaments can occur among senior citizens like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. These conditions can prevail and even prove fatal. To enhance immunity and prevent the causes of such diseases, one must follow a good diet and healthy lifestyle.
– Make vegetables and fruits a part of each meal.
– Prefer whole grains to complete the carbohydrate requirements of the body.
– Include foods that are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and flavonoids.
– Dark berries, cocoa, tea, citrus fruits, and vegetables shall be consumed.
– Avoid added sugars and saturated fats.
– Primary plant-based diet also helps boost immunity.
Don’t forget water and don’t forget to stay hydrated. Water has its own nutritional value to meet the hydration level of the body. Consumption of a little number of liquids consistently throughout the day helps your body stay hydrated. Tea, coffee, water, milk, and healthy smoothies can be a choice of liquids to love. Avoiding sugary and salty drinks can help towards better health. Seniors often face frequent urination problems, in such cases, medical help and hourly monitoring of the consumption of fluids are suggested.
Illness caused due to food can be common among seniors if they are eating out or consuming unpasteurized dairy products or raw meats. Food safety is important and seniors must take very good care of the food items they choose to eat. Reading the food labels, checking nutritional values, etc. can help plan meals better. Avoiding the foods that the body might resist or you might be allergic to can also prevent any food-related illness. It is better to be safe than to be sorry. Eat safe, stay safe.
The food we eat gives us nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and transforms them into energy but it might not be enough all the time. As per the individual needs of senior citizens, there may be a need for a particular vitamin or mineral that is essential for the body but is not met with a regular diet. In such a case, one must seek suggestions from the doctor regarding vitamins and mineral supplements to support the holistic health of the senior or an elderly loved one.
A healthy outside starts from within. Celebrate the relationship between you and your body with the only connection that is HEALTH and the middleman that is FOOD. Healthy eating is a way of life, it is indispensable to develop routines that are easy to follow, realistic, and achievable. Investing in healthy eating and investing in yourself for you are the best project you will ever work on. Celebrate the greatest wealth of all time that is good health.
Ans. Food that contains all the essential nutrients required by the body and helps improve overall health is considered healthy food. All the foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are considered healthy.
Ans. It can be challenging to encourage senior citizens to eat healthy especially when they are sick and need to satisfy their taste buds. But there are always ways to explain. Discuss the advantages of eating healthy and a balanced diet with the senior in a polite manner. Explain to them the benefits of eating healthy and how it can help them improve overall well-being. Never be judgemental about their body shape, weight, eating habits, and routine, just talk to them with empathy and help them make better and healthy choices.
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