Healthy Diets for Seniors

Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet are important, especially during later years in life.

Failing to maintain healthy living habits can lead to several health issues including cardiovascular problems and weak bones. You can also avoid suffering from malnutrition by eating food rich in nutrients like fiber, vitamin D, calcium, potassium and more. These and other vitamins are essential to living a healthy lifestyle as a senior.

Implementing a healthy diet and changing your eating habits can help you live a longer, healthier life. You should also be aware of general misconceptions about eating habits when you age as they tend to be misleading and cause health problems.

Furthermore, make sure that you obtain adequate and reliable information about nutrition, and consult with a nutritionist before making any major changes to your diet.  Learn more about healthy eating habits for seniors by reading the informative sections below.

The Consequences of Malnutrition

At any point in your life, it is important that you maintain a healthy and balanced diet. However, carrying a healthy diet is even more important as you age. You should keep an eye on not only on what you eat but how much you eat too. Failing to do so can cause you to suffer from malnutrition which can lead to other health issues, so make sure you include the right nutrients in each of your meals.

Some issues you will prevent by following a diet rich in nutrients include:

  • Having a slower healing time for wounds and injuries
  • Increases your risk of hospitalization
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakened immune system
  • Muscle weakness and decrease in bone mass

You will also be able to implement a healthier diet by understanding better how nutrients work. Keep in mind that malnutrition happens when you fail to include different types of nutrients in your diet. Therefore, dietary restrictions that you implement inadequately can lead to malnutrition.

For instance, you may limit your protein or fat intake to treat some medical conditions. However, failing to implement these changes properly can ultimately affect your health.

What to Eat as a Senior Citizen

Adopting a healthy diet not only helps you avoid the risk of malnutrition, but it also has many benefits. Improving your body strength, mental health and keeping your metabolism working efficiently, are some of the benefits of including plenty of nutrients in your diet.

However, you might be wondering which foods you should include in your diet. A good rule of thumb is to include a good portion of vegetables or fruit with each meal. This food group is essential as they are full of vitamins and antioxidants that are good for your health. However, these food items may be expensive when you buy them fresh at the store.

Many seniors neglect including fruits and vegetables to their diet because it may be expensive for them. Luckily, more affordable frozen alternatives are just as good in terms of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables you should consider to obtain plenty of nutrients are:

  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Dark Cherries
  • Avocadoes
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes

Diary is another important food item you should include in your diet. Milk and other dairy products, like yogurt and cheese, are rich in vitamin D. Moreover, you should also include whole grains like bread, oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice. It is important that you do not implement a diet that limits or restricts your consumption of these items as they are an important source of fiber and B vitamins.

If you eat meat, consider consuming only poultry and fish as a leaner alternative to red meat. Regularly eating pork and beef can lead to an increase in your cholesterol levels. Therefore, you should eat this type of protein only occasionally. Consider limiting your serving size of any meat to the size of approximately a deck of cards.

You can make up for your protein serving size by including other sources of protein, which can also be beneficial if you are a vegetarian. Alternative sources of protein include:

  • Beans.
  • Eggs.
  • Legumes.
  • Dairy Products.

Additionally, make sure that you include a good portion of healthy fats to your diets. For instance, fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna, are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. These items are important as they help you lower your risk of heart disease and from suffering depression. You should take at least two servings of fatty fish each week to maximize the benefits that this healthy food item provides.

Supplementing Your Diet

As a senior, you should also pay additional attention to specific vitamins and nutrients. You can supplement your diet with specific food groups to ensure you are getting other essential vitamins like vitamin B6, b12 and folate. For instance, cereals with added vitamins are a great source of these three nutrients.

Eating whole grains and organ meats will also contribute to a healthy diet. Foods like liver, poultry, and fish will help you ensure that you include important b vitamins in your diet. Finally, you should eat dark greens, beans, and peas to add folate to your food intake.

Supplementing your diet with vitamin D is extremely important to ensure that you maintain healthy, strong bones. Adding foods rich in calcium to your meals will also lower your chances of suffering a fracture or break during a fall. A good source of these nutrients is dairy products.

However, if you are lactose intolerant, you can also find good amounts of calcium and vitamin D in dark green and leafy vegetables like kale or broccoli. Being out in the sun will also help you obtain the vitamin D you need.

Another important nutrient you should consider is fiber. Getting enough fiber will help you improve your digestion, and it also lowers your risk of suffering from heart disease and adult diabetes. Include beans, whole grains, and vegetables in your diet as they are rich in fiber.

Furthermore, you should include food items rich in potassium, which will help you lower your blood pressure. You can find potassium in potatoes, yogurt and bananas.

Common Food and Nutrition Myths

There are several myths regarding food and nutrition habits that seniors citizens should have. Most seniors believe that after the age of 60 the metabolism slows down, so seniors need only a few nutrients. However, this is false. In fact, your metabolism becomes less efficient as you age, and you should consume even more nutrients to live a healthy life.  

Another misconception is that as a senior, you do not need to worry about obesity. But the truth is that being overweight is a problem across all age groups. Lack of exercise and a surplus in your caloric intake will increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

You should strive to maintain a balanced diet, rich in nutrients and add exercise to your daily routine. Implementing these healthy living habits will help live a healthier, longer and more enjoyable life.