As we age, our nutritional needs change. Seniors and older adults have different needs than children and younger adults. Many seniors also require fewer calories than they once did depending on their level of physical activity. Older women need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories while older men need between 2,000 and 2,800 calories.
Certain medications and health conditions can also impact our nutrition. For instance, someone with diabetes, celiac or heart disease will have different dietary guidelines than someone who doesn’t. There are several things that seniors should keep in mind when it comes to nutrition:
- Increase Protein
Seniors can often benefit from adding more protein to their diets. Not only can this help reduce muscle loss, it can also boost mood and support clearer thinking. Lean meat and seafood can be a good source of protein, but nuts, seeds, and beans can be as well for more plant-based protein. Milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, soy or a meal replacement bar with added protein are all ideal sources.
- Increase Fiber
Fiber promotes improved digestion and can reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes. It can also enhance your immune system.There are two types of fiber: Soluble fiber is found in oats, oat bran, peas, rice bran, legumes/beans, apples, and citrus fruits. Examples of insoluble fiber include whole wheat flour, wheat bran, rye, cabbage, carrots, brussel sprouts and nuts.
- Mediterranean Diet
Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for seniors. This type of diet involves replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods and limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month. It also includes pasta and fresh bread. It includes very little processed foods so that seniors gain more benefits from the natural vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for helping to manage high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Spice Things Up
As we age, our sense of taste can change. Medications can also affect how foods taste. A healthy option is to add more herbs and spices to meals to enhance the flavor. Fresh herbs can make dishes more flavorful without increasing calories, sodium, or other unwanted elements.
- Incorporate Tomatoes
Tomatoes hold a lot of nut
ritional benefits. They’re high in antioxidants, lycopene, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene, and potassium. They’re also very versatile and low in calories. Tomatoes can boost heart health and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, build stronger bones, support improved eyesight, aid in digestion, and potentially help lower cancer risk – all of which can be concerns for seniors.
- Find the Right Texture
Dentures and difficulties with swallowing can affect senior nutrition. Preparing foods that are easy to eat and digest can promote a healthier appetite and diet. Ensure that foods are still flavorful and diverse even when softened, thickened, or pureed. Look out for popcorn, sticky candy and nuts. Instead choose sugar-free gum, olives and seedless grapes.
- Stay Hydrated
Along with eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, seniors should also ensure that they’re drinking plenty of fluids – especially water. Staying hydrated helps with digestion and overall wellbeing. Seniors may feel less thirsty as they age, but it’s still important to keep drinking throughout the day. Add more flavor to beverages with slices of lemon, lime, or other fresh fruits.
Eating a well-balanced diet is important at every age but can help support a healthier, more active lifestyle for seniors. Check out the NIH (National Institute of Health) website for more information about Senior Nutrition. If making meals is a challenge, or your senior struggles because they’re eating alone, consider the benefits of an in-home caregiver. A caregiver can keep your loved one company, assist them in meal prep and grocery shopping, and ensure they’re eating right each day.
If you’re looking for a companion for your senior and someone to provide the level of support they need to live more safely as they age in place, call Always Best Care today at 1-(267) 217-7059. We’ll work with you to ensure your senior receives the care they need to maintain as much independence as possible.
Contact David Baim at Always Best Care, Plymouth Meeting, Pa at firstname.lastname@example.org