At any age, it’s important to eat nutritionally so you can keep your body healthy. What constitutes a “balanced diet” looks different at various stages of life, so it’s beneficial to know what you need so your body can work at its best.
As you grow, the food you need will undoubtedly change. You might need more of some things and less of other things. Staying on top of what your body requires will help prevent a lot of possible complications. Follow these tips to ensure you’re getting the right nutrition as an older adult.
Pros and Cons of Proper Nutrition
By eating healthily, you can reduce your risk of disease, depression, and disability. A good diet lowers your chances of developing a non-communicable chronic disease and betters your mental health. As we’ll discuss, various vitamins and minerals will also improve your memory, bone strength, and blood pressure.
Not keeping up a healthy diet as you age will have many adverse effects. Many seniors experience a reduction in movement. If you do not adjust your eating habits to fit this, it could lead to a loss of independence as your body starts to encounter more and more health problems.
Additionally, poor changes in diet can lead to malnutrition, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on if you’re living alone.
How to Maintain a Nutritional Diet as a Senior
There is a lot of information out there about senior nutrition, and it can be hard to know where to start. Here are six great tips to make sure you’re feeding your body right.
1. Eat Plenty of Vitamins and Minerals
You should be taking in a decent amount of vitamins and minerals. Each one will provide you with different health benefits. Here’s a list of some essential ones and what they do for you:
- Vitamin B12: This vitamin helps you create red blood cells, promotes nerve function, and reduces your risk of heart disease. B12 is found in fortified cereals, animal-based foods, and nuts and seeds.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Besides milk products, you can also find it in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified cereals.
- Vitamins C and E: These can help your immune system. You can get vitamin C from citrus fruits, peppers, and berries. Get your vitamin E from wheat germ, nuts, sesame seeds, and plant-based oils.
- Calcium: Calcium is essential for strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. You can get it by eating eggs, leafy greens, and dairy.
- Potassium: This mineral promotes heart, kidney, and nerve health. It also prevents high blood pressure and kidney stones. You can absorb it from bananas, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, meat, poultry, and fish.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is good for balanced blood sugar levels, nerve function, and muscle health. You can get it from green vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
If you’re thinking about taking a multivitamin or dietary supplement, talk to your doctor to know which ones you may need.
2. Choose Foods With Nutrients and Without Extra Calories
Eating a healthy balance of the foods listed above will encourage your body to absorb all of its benefits. Other drinks and snacks contain empty calories – food with no nutritional value or higher calories from sugars and fats than the nutrients.
These foods are typically consumed in excess and, without nutrients, can lead to health problems. If you’re having a lot of these foods and drinks in an average day, try swapping them out with nutrient-rich alternatives:
- Cake and other baked or fried goods
- Sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks, lemonade, and sports drinks
- Fast food and junk food
3. Plan Out Your Meals
Meal prepping takes the effort out of cooking every night. If you’re a person who would rather heat something up, meal prep is a great way to accomplish this. It also relieves you of the question, “What am I going to eat tonight?” Meal prepping can help you stick to your healthy food choices since you’ve already prepared what you’re going to eat.
The USDA has even created food patterns that lay out plans for everyday meals. Prep what you can in advance and you’re ready to go!
4. Pick Foods Low in Cholesterol and Bad Fats
Eating many foods with trans fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart attacks. While we all need to eat some of these foods, the caveat is to eat them in moderation.
You can find saturated fats in whole-fat dairy products and meats, trans fats in baked and fried foods, and cholesterol in animal foods. Try limiting how often you consume these foods to keep your heart healthy.
5. Drink Water and Exercise
If you’re able to, keeping active in your senior years will help you strengthen your muscles and delay health problems. Getting out and moving is just as important now as when you were younger!
Just don’t forget to stay hydrated while you’re exercising. Drinking plenty of water will keep you alert and prevent you from fainting.
6. Talk to Your Doctor
As with many things, talk to your doctor if you need more information. They’re there to point you in the right direction. If you need advice on which foods you need more of and which you should have less, your doctor will know how to assist you.
In addition, they’ll be able to recommend multivitamins and supplements if your body needs them. You know your body the best, and your doctor will help you treat it right.
Eat Healthy as a Senior
Keeping up a nutritious diet as an older adult is key to your body’s strength. It has a phenomenal list of benefits and stops you from developing serious health problems. These tips are an excellent place to start but talk with your doctor to get suitable recommendations for you.