Nutrition Tips You Need Most as You Age

As we age, eating well can improve mental acuteness, energy levels, and resistance to illness. Nutrition tips for a healthy diet can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Whatever your age, eating well should be all about fresh, tasty food, wholesome ingredients, and eating with friends and family.

Nutrition tips

Nutrition tips.

Feed your body and mind

No matter your age or your previous eating habits, it’s never too late to change your diet and improve the way you think and feel. Improving your diet now can help you:

Live longer and stronger – Good nutrition boosts immunity, fights illness-causing toxins, keeps weight in check, and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, and cancer.

Sharpen your mind – People who eat fruit, leafy veggies, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant-rich green tea may also enhance memory and mental alertness as you age.

Feel better – Wholesome meals give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a boost to your mood and self-esteem. It’s all connected—when your body feels good you feel happier inside and out.

 

Creating a healthy diet

The key to healthy eating is to focus on the whole, minimally processed food that your body needs as you age—food that is as close to its natural form as possible. Our bodies respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors, so finding the healthy diet that works best for you may take some experimentation.

Fruit – Break the apple and banana rut and go for color-rich pickings like berries or melons. Aim for 2-3 servings a day.

Veggies – Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as colorful vegetables such as carrots and squash. Try for 2-3 cups every day.

Calcium – Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Older adults need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

Grains – Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber.

Healthy fats – Because fat is so dense in calories, a little can go a long way in making you feel full and keep you feeling fuller for longer. See The Fat Debate for more on how saturated fats may help you to maintain a healthy weight.

Protein – Adults over 50 without kidney disease or diabetes need about 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram (2.2lbs) of body weight (0.5 g of protein per lb. of body weight is close enough).

 

Getting more high-quality protein in your diet

As you age, eating sufficient high-quality protein can improve your mood, boost your resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression, and even help you think clearly. However, eating too much low-quality protein from industrially raised red meat and processed meat products, such as hot dogs, bacon, and salami, may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, or other health problems.

  • Vary your sources of protein instead of relying on just red meat, including more fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk and cheese in your diet.
  • Reduce the number of processed carbohydrates you consume—from foods such as pastries, cakes, pizza, cookies, and chips—and replace them with high-quality protein.
  • Opt for cheaper cuts of organic, grass-fed red meat rather than expensive cuts of industrially raised meat.
  • Try a “meatless Monday” each week—plant-based protein sources are often less expensive than meat, so it can be as good for your wallet as it is for your health. A “Fish Friday” can help encourage you to eat more seafood.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds instead of chips, replace a baked dessert with Greek yogurt or swap out slices of pizza for a grilled chicken breast and a side of beans.

 

Nutrition tips … cut down on sugar and refined carbs

While our senses of taste and smell diminish with age, we retain the ability to distinguish sweet tastes the longest, leading many older people to consume more sugar and refined carbs than is healthy. Unlike complex carbs that are rich in fiber, refined or simple carbs (such as white rice, white flour, refined sugar) can lead to a dramatic spike in blood sugar, followed by a rapid crash which leaves you feeling hungry and prone to overeating.

Reducing the number of starches, candy, and desserts in your diet is only part of the solution. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, frozen dinners, and many foods labeled “low-fat” or “reduced-fat.” All this hidden sugar contributes zero nutrients but lots of empty calories that can cause mood swings and wreck any healthy diet.

Slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time. You’ll give your taste buds time to adjust and be able to wean yourself off the craving for sweets and sugary food.

Instead of adding sugar, increase the sweetness of meals by using naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or yams.

Replace refined carbs with complex carbs such as oatmeal, beans, vegetables, and other high fiber foods. You’ll feel fuller, more satisfied, and have more energy.

Check labels and opt for “sugar-free” or “no added sugar” products. Use fresh or frozen ingredients instead of canned goods, and avoid fast food meals.

Don’t replace fat with carbs. Manufacturers often replace healthy sources of saturated fat, such as whole fat yogurt, with low-fat versions that are packed with sugar or artificial sweetener to make up for the loss in taste.

Avoid soda and sweetened coffee drinks. One can of soda contains 10-12 teaspoons of sugar and around 150 calories. Even artificial sweetener can trigger sugar cravings that contribute to weight gain. Instead, try switching to carbonated water with lemon or a splash of juice.

 

commitments

Good Senior Diets Start by Managing Sugar Intake

Most people know what a sugar packet looks like and feels like. Most sugar packets contain roughly four grams of sugar, so they are excellent objects to use to help visualize

managing sugar intake

Managing sugar intake.

just how much sugar is in foods that people are exposed to on a daily basis. Managing sugar intake holds the key to good senior diets.

 

Excess sugar is hazardous to a person’s health in various ways. It is known to deplete minerals in bones, stimulate aging and create wrinkles, contributes to obesity, harms dental health, triggers adrenal fatigue, and much more.

 

Experts say we’re basically shoveling sugar into our mouths by the spoonful, but what does that mean when it comes to eating sweet, antioxidant-rich fruits?

 

You know it’s in your soda, your protein bars, and your cereals. Heck, it’s even lurking in your marinara sauces and salad dressings! We’re talking about added sugar, of course. And this little ingredient is making a big impact on your waistline. The pervasiveness of added sweeteners in our diets is linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

 

But in the epic rush to avoid sugar, many health-conscious consumers and low-carb dieters are starting to cut back on eating fruit.

Let’s start with this: Naturally occurring sugar is definitely preferable to the added kind. Still, you should have a general idea of how much you’re taking in each time you chow down on a smoothie or a fruit salad.

 

In general, fresh fruits are healthy, nutritious foods that are good sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. Further, they are instrumental in maintaining a net alkaline-yielding diet. Olives, dates, figs, and grapes were some of the first fruits to be domesticated, and pits from these fruits initially appear in the archeological record about 6,000 years ago in the Near East.

 

However, the common fruits we eat today bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors. Domesticated fruits are almost always larger, sweeter, and contain less fiber than their wild counterparts. Compare a Golden Delicious apple to a crab apple and you begin to get the picture.

 

Our recommendation to eat fresh fruits as your appetite dictates still holds for most people. However, if you are very much overweight or are insulin resistant, it is important that you initially limit high sugar fruits (grapes, bananas, mangos, sweet cherries, apples, pineapples, pears and kiwi fruit) from your diet until your weight starts to normalize and your health improves. Try to include more vegetables in lieu of the high-sugar fruit.

 

However, the old adage is still true: too much of anything isn’t a good thing. While there are many benefits of eating fruit, we still want to be mindful of how much fruit we’re eating because it does contain sugar.  It’s not “added sugar,” but the sugar in fruit can still have the same blood-sugar-spiking effect if eaten in excess.

 

We usually recommend getting in 2-3 servings daily, and keeping it to a serving at a time—and yes, that goes for smoothies as well. Smoothies can be large whacks of carbs and sugar, especially if there’s no protein or healthy fat that acts similarly to fiber to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar from spiking.

 

commitments

Thinking Healthy for Senior Eating Habits

As we age, senior eating habits can improve mental acuteness, energy levels, and resistance to illness. A healthy diet can also be the key to a positive outlook and stay

senior eating habits

Senior eating habits.

emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Whatever your age, eating well should be all about fresh, tasty food, wholesome ingredients, and eating with friends and family.

 

No matter your age or your previous eating habits, it’s never too late to change your diet and improve the way you think and feel. Improving your diet now can help you:

 

Live longer and stronger – Good nutrition boosts immunity, fights illness-causing toxins, keeps weight in check, and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, and cancer.

 

Sharpen your mind –People who eat fruit, leafy veggies, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant-rich green tea may also enhance memory and mental alertness as you age.

 

Feel better – Wholesome meals give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a boost to your mood and self-esteem. It’s all connected—when your body feels good you feel happier inside and out.

 

Here are tips to help you find the best foods for your body and your budget.

Know what a healthy meal looks like

You might remember the food pyramid, but the USDA recently unveiled a simpler way to help people see what they should eat each day. It’s called MyPlate. The simple graphic shows exactly how the five food groups should stack up on your plate. These are the building blocks for a healthy diet.

healthy diets for seniors

Healthy diets for seniors.

Look for important nutrients

Make sure you eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need. Your plate should look like a rainbow—bright, colored foods are always the best choice! A healthy meal should include:

  • Lean protein (lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans)
  • Fruits and vegetables (think orange, red, green, and purple)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta)
  • Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)

Remember to choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium or salt. Also, look for Vitamin D, an important mineral as we age.

 

Important vitamin and minerals

Water – As we age, some of us are prone to dehydration because our sense of thirst is may not be as sharp. Remember to sip water regularly to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion.

Vitamin B – After the age of 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves healthy. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vitamin supplement.

Vitamin D – With age, our skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin, especially if you’re obese or have limited sun exposure.

 

 Study the Nutrition Facts labels

The healthiest foods are whole foods. These are often found on the perimeter of the grocery store in the produce, meat, and dairy sections. When you do eat packaged foods, be a smart shopper! Read the labels to find items that are lower in fat, added sugars, and sodium.

 

Use recommended servings

To maintain your weight, you must eat the right amount of food for your age and body. The American Heart Association provides recommended daily servings for adults aged 60+.

 

Senior eating habits … stay hydrated

Water is an important nutrient too! Don’t let yourself get dehydrated—drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day. Tea, coffee, and water are your best choices. Keep fluids with sugar and salt to a minimum, unless your doctor has suggested otherwise.

Stretch your food budget

Want to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help you afford healthy food when you need it. Over 4 million older Americans use SNAP to buy food, and the average senior receives $113 each month.

Visit BenefitsCheckUp.org/getSNAP to see if the program can help you.

home care

Overcoming Roadblocks to Healthy Eating

Were you aware of all the great material on elderly diet and nutrition care available from US agencies? We like to follow several of these sites and we will use some of the best articles on our blog. This one includes some awesome tips on healthy eating. The basis for this article came from the National Institute of Health.

You create a healthy eating pattern by making good choices about your foods and drinks every day. These guidelines are flexible to help you choose an elderly diet and nutrition of foods and drinks that you like, that are available in your area, and that fit your budget.

Sometimes it’s hard to make smart food choices. Here are some suggestions from Go4Life to help you overcome barriers to healthy eating.

Does food taste different?

Your sense of taste or smell can change with age. Medication side effects and other things also can affect these senses. Try using lemon juice, vinegar, or herbs to boost the flavor. Ask your doctor whether your medications affect taste and about food and drug interactions.

Do you have problems chewing food?

People who have problems with their teeth or dentures often avoid eating meat, fruits, or vegetables and might miss out on important nutrients. If you’re having trouble chewing, see your dentist to check for problems. If you wear dentures, ask your dentist to check how they fit.

Is it sometimes hard to swallow food?

If food gets stuck in your throat, less saliva in your mouth might be the culprit. Drinking plenty of liquids with your meal might help. Talk to your doctor about the problem.

Are you just not hungry?

Try being more active. In addition to the other benefits of exercise, it may make you hungrier. Lack of appetite sometimes is a side effect of medication—your doctor might be able to suggest a different drug. If food just isn’t appealing, vary the shape, color, and texture. Look for a new vegetable, fruit, or seafood you haven’t tried before.

Are you tired of cooking or eating alone?

Try cooking with a friend to make a meal you can enjoy together. This is where our aides come in, yes?

Also, [ook into eating at a nearby senior center, community center, or religious facility. You’ll enjoy a free or low-cost meal and have some company while you eat.

Quick Tip

For more ideas on healthy eating, read What’s on Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging.

 

Elderly Diet and Nutrition Habits

Were you aware of all the great material on elderly diet and nutrition care available from US agencies? We like to follow several of these sites and we will use some of the best articles on our blog. The basis for this article came from the Department of Agriculture.

You create a healthy eating pattern by making good choices about your foods and drinks every day. These guidelines are flexible to help you choose an elderly diet and nutrition of foods and drinks that you like, that are available in your area, and that fit your budget.

Dietary Guidelines

The Dietary Guidelines suggests that people 50 or older choose foods every day from the following elderly diet and nutrition guidelines:

Fruits—1½ to 2½ cups
What is the same as a half cup of cut-up fruit? A fresh 2-inch peach or 16 grapes.

Vegetables—2 to 3½ cups
What is the same as a cup of cut-up vegetables? Two cups of uncooked leafy vegetables.

Grains—5 to 10 ounces
What is the same as an ounce of grains? A small bagel, a slice of whole grain bread, a cup of flaked ready-to-eat cereal, or a half-cup of cooked rice or pasta.

Protein foods—5 to 7 ounces 
What is the same as an ounce of meat, fish, or poultry? One egg, one-fourth cup of cooked beans or tofu, a half-ounce of nuts or seeds, or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Dairy foods—3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
What is the same as 1 cup of milk? One cup of plain yogurt or 1½ to 2 ounces of cheese. One cup of cottage cheese is the same as a half cup of milk.

Oils—5 to 8 teaspoons
What is the same as oil added during cooking? Foods like olives, nuts, and avocados have a lot of oil in them.

Here’s a tip: Stay away from “empty calories.” These are foods and drinks with a lot of calories but not many nutrients—for example, chips, cookies, soda, and alcohol.

 

how many calories

Here is how many calories you need.

How much should the elderly eat?

 How much you should eat depends on how active you are. If you eat more calories than your body uses, you gain weight.

What are calories? Calories are a way to count how much energy is in food. The energy you get from food helps you do the things you need to do each day. Try to choose foods that have a lot of the nutrients you need, but not many calories.

Just counting calories is not enough for making smart choices. Think about this: A medium banana, 1 cup of flaked cereal, 1½ cups of cooked spinach, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or 1 cup of 1% milk all have roughly the same number of calories.

But, the foods are different in many ways. Some have more nutrients than others do. For example, milk gives you more calcium than a banana and peanut butter gives you more protein than cereal. Some foods can make you feel full than others.

 

How many calories do people over age 50 need daily?

A woman:

  • Who is not physically active needs about 1,600 calories
  • Who is somewhat active needs about 1,800 calories
  • Who has an active lifestyle needs about 2,000-2,200 calories

A man:

  • Who is not physically active needs about 2,000 calories
  • Who is somewhat active needs about 2,200-2,400 calories
  • Who has an active lifestyle needs about 2,400-2,800 calories

 

Here’s a tip: Aim for at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of the physical activity each week. Ten-minute sessions several times a day on most days are fine.

  

Common eating problems of senior adults

 Does your favorite chicken dish taste different? As you age, your sense of taste and smell may change, and foods may seem to lose flavor. Try extra spices or herbs to add flavor. Also, medicines may change how food tastes. They can also make you feel less hungry. Talk to your doctor if this is a problem.

Maybe some of the foods you used to eat no longer agree with you. For example, some people become lactose intolerant. They have stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea after eating or drinking something with milk in it. Your doctor can test to see if you are lactose intolerant.

 

water intake

Water intake is key.

Seniors and water intake

 With age, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Drink plenty of liquids like water, milk, or broth. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.

Try to add liquids throughout the day. You could try soup for a snack, or drink a glass of water before exercising or working in the yard. Don’t forget to take sips of water, milk, or juice during a meal.

 

Elderly diet and nutrition … How much fiber do I need?

 Fiber is found in foods from plants— fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eating more fiber might prevent stomach or intestine problems, like constipation. It might also help lower cholesterol, as well as blood sugar.

It is better to get fiber from food than dietary supplements. Start adding fiber slowly. That will help avoid gas. Here are some tips for adding fiber:

  • Eat cooked dry beans, peas, and lentils often.
  • Leave skins on your fruit and vegetables if possible, but wash them first.
  • Choose whole fruit over fruit juice.
  • Eat whole grain bread and cereals.

Drink plenty of liquids to help fiber move through your intestines.

 

The story on salt

 The usual way people get sodium is by eating salt. The body needs sodium, but too much can make blood pressure go up in some people. Many fresh foods contain some sodium, especially those high in protein. However, most unprocessed fruits and vegetables do not have much sodium. Salt is added to many canned and prepared foods.

People tend to eat more salt than they need. If you are 51 or older, about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt—1,500 milligrams (mg) sodium—is all you need each day. That includes all the sodium in your food and drink, not just the salt you add.

Try to avoid adding salt during cooking or at the table. Talk to your doctor before using salt substitutes. Some contain sodium. And most have potassium, which some people also need to limit. Eat fewer salty snacks and processed foods, such as lunch meats.

Here’s a tip: Spices, herbs, and lemon juice add flavor to your food, so you won’t miss the salt.

  

The story about fat

 Fat in your diet comes from two places—the fat already in food and the fat added when you cook. Fat gives you energy and helps your body use certain vitamins, but it is high in calories. To lower the fat in your diet:

  • Choose cuts of meat, fish, or poultry (with the skin removed) with less fat.
  • Trim off any extra fat before cooking.
  • Use low-fat dairy products and salad dressings.
  • Use nonstick pots and pans, and cook without added fat.
  • Choose an unsaturated, monounsat­urated, or polyunsaturated vegetable oil (such as olive, canola, or vegetable oil) for cooking—check the label.

Don’t fry foods. Instead, broil, roast, bake, stir-fry, steam, microwave, or boil them.

Elderly diet and nutrition