Nutrition and Seniors – Getting Your Daily Dose
Research shows, a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy, but you still need healthy nutrients from your food. Unfortunately, research shows that many seniors are not eating as well as they should, which can lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition takes on many forms in the elderly, along with a variety of vitamin deficiencies. Malnutrition is due to under nutrition, nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.
Common nutrient deficiencies include inadequate intake of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, folic acid, and niacin. Malnutrition may also be the result of several other risk factors, such as:
- Fear of personal safety, affecting the ability to go grocery shopping
- Financial concerns
- Lack of interest in cooking or eating alone
- Loss of smell resulting in a loss of satisfaction that can lead to poor food choices
- Diminished ability to taste flavors, sweet, or salty
- Decrease in basal metabolic rate and physical activity, thus reducing caloric needs
- Dentures that do not fit can lead to avoidance of hard and sticky foods
Apparently, nutrition plays a vital role in the quality of life in older people. Verifying, preventative medicine and focusing on healthy eating habits are crucial to your overall well-being. Ensuring adequate nutrition and proper intake of vitamins and minerals will help keep our seniors feeling more vital and ultimately healthier. The types of food listed below are the recommended nutrition for older adults according to one presentation from Tufts University.
- Fruits and vegetables: Whole fruits and vegetables are rich in essential nutrients and fiber. Choose fruits and vegetables with intensely colored flesh. Choose canned varieties packed in their juices or low-sodium.
- Healthy Oils: Liquid oils and soft margarine provide important fatty acids and some fat-soluble vitamins.
- Herbs and spices: To enhance the flavor of foods and reduce the need to add salt, use a variety of herbs and spices
- Fluids: Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids can come from water, tea, coffee, soup, and fruits and vegetables.
- Grains: Whole-grain and fortified foods are good sources of fiber and B vitamins.
- Dairy: Fat-free and low-fat milk, cheeses and yogurts provide protein, calcium and other essential nutrients.
- Protein: Protein-rich foods contain many vital nutrients. Choose a variety including nuts, beans, fish, lean meat, and poultry.
As a general guide, recommended daily quantities are listed below. Of course, this will vary by person, and it is recommended to consult with your physician or a nutritionist for personalized recommendations.
- Fruits — 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups
- Vegetables — 2 to 3 ½ cups
- Grains — 5 to 10 ounces
- Protein — 5 to 7 ounces
- Dairy — 3 cups
- Oils — 5 to 8 teaspoons
You need fewer calories, as you grow older your metabolism slows down. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. Meaning it’s important to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.
Start with gradual changes. If your current diet is a lot different than the recommended one, make small changes every week. Incorporate one or two new foods once or twice per week. As you get used to it, you may want to add it more often. Also, be sure to avoid empty calories, which are foods with lots of calories but very few nutrients, such as soda and alcohol, chips, and cookies.
Happy Nutrition to You!