Eating healthy is important for people of all ages. The foods we consume have a major impact (positive and negative) on our physical and mental well-being. A good diet and nutrition plan is especially important for young children and the elderly, as the former are still growing and developing, and the latter are naturally subject to weaker immune systems.
The Importance of Healthy Aging
Although there are millions of physically fit older folks, many of whom rival younger generations in terms of daily activity (the obesity rates in this country have skyrocketed in the last decade); many older people contract illnesses and diseases far easier. Our bodies naturally become weaker over time, which is why it is imperative for individuals aged 55 and older to evaluate their current nutrition requirements.
Of the many bodily changes that occur, the most important ones are a gradual slowing of a person’s metabolic rate (which makes it more difficult to lose and maintain healthy weight levels), less fluid production that hinders one’s absorption of vital minerals and nutrients (e.g. Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid), and fluctuations in appetite for people who take daily medication.
We all may experience these nutritional restrictions at some point in our lifetime, so knowing how to effectively combat them is crucial. Fortunately, a few dietary recommendations will help you maintain peak health and stave off a wide array of conditions that can result from a compromised immune system, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Top nutrition tips for the elderly
• Eat plenty of fruits, veggies and grains – These foods contain the greatest amount of vitamins and nutrients compared to any other group, so aim to incorporate at least two servings into every meal.
• Eat smaller portions more often – Since seniors are at a disadvantage with regard to nutrient absorption, splurging on calories lumped into three daily meals is not recommended. Instead, a healthier approach is to divide your daily food intake into 5 or 6 smaller meals, as this will counteract slow digestion problems that are common in the elderly. Nutrition is not just about what kind of food you eat, but how you eat it as well!
• Consider the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)– This diet plan was specifically formulated for older individuals, particularly those who suffer from heart-related health afflictions. As such, it consists primarily of whole grains, meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables, albeit in custom proportions. The DASH diet is also helpful in reducing your sodium intake and increasing the amount of foods that can help lower blood pressure through crucial nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
• Drink adequate amounts of water – As humans, we are comprised of over 80% H20; it plays a vital role in every bodily process. As stated, given the issues older individuals face in terms of fluid absorption, greater fluid intake is a must. Avoid caffeinated beverages as much as possible, as caffeine is a natural diuretic, though it can aid in the removal of excess fluid retention.
• Last, but certainly not least, it is important to understand your proper caloric intake. Women need slightly fewer calories per day (1600 to 2000) than men (2000-2800), with the higher numbers applying to individuals that live very active lifestyles. Ultimately, the best elderly nutrition advice you can get is from your doctor.
– This article was provided by Griswold Home Care, a national home care service. Griswold offers home making services such as meal preparation, meal planning, and grocery shopping just to name a few. Contact Griswold Home Care today to explore the wide range of services.