As we age it becomes even more important to have a diet that provides the right nutrition so that we can maintain our health and independence. Often a big concern is getting all the healthful foods we need while living on a fixed income. Understanding your nutritional requirements and how those requirements change with age is the first step planning your meals. This guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to make the best dietary changes and ensure your health.
Your Diet and Aging
As we grow older our metabolism slows, which means that we need fewer calories than when we were younger. The nutrients we need also changes with age. This is why choosing the right foods for this stage of your life is especially important. You want to get the best foods for your money and ones that give you the best nutritional support, as well.
Dietary protein is important at all stages of life for maintaining lean muscle mass. Since protein is the primary source of amino acids, the cellular building blocks, having an adequate amount ensures that of our cells can repair themselves and that our immune system remains strong. Seniors should avoid protein that is too dense or tough to chew, yet lean enough not to add unnecessary fat to your diet. For seniors, the daily intake of protein should include three servings of the following high-protein foods for a total of 45 to 50 grams.
- Lean beef
- Shredded Pork
- Beans and Legumes
- Protein drink supplements
Fruits and Vegetables
It will come to no surprise to you that fresh fruit and vegetables are healthy, providing many of the essential nutrients our body’s need at every age. As we get older some may be more difficult to digest, however. This is important to keep in mind as you shop for foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also cost more than many on a fixed income can afford. Shop in-season to lower your grocery bill. If you can’t find fresh versions, buy the “fresh frozen” versions. These are picked in season and flash frozen, therefore maintain many of the same nutrients. Avoid overcooking vegetables as this reduces their nutritional value. Pressed juice is a great way to get in your daily needs without feeling overly full. You should have 4-6 servings of fruits and vegetables each day for optimal nutrition.
The American Heart Association recommends whole grain foods because they are less processed and have better nutritional value than other refined bread and grains. They are also easier for seniors to digest and have fewer hidden ingredients that are unhealthy. Whole grains are packed with nutrients like B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, and selenium. You may not be aware that rice: wild, white, and brown are considered whole grains as is quinoa and corn. Other whole grains include:
- Whole Wheat
- Oats and oatmeal
- Rye and Pumpernickel
Your diet should consist of 3-4 servings of whole grains each day. A serving size is equal to one ounce.
Low-fat dairy is an excellent way to make sure you have adequate calcium intake to protect your bones. Make sure that your dairy is fortified with Vitamin D, as you will need to replace this key nutrient as you get older. Dairy is also a good source of protein. Milk is the best source of dairy to provide your body with calcium that is easy to absorb. Low-fat cheeses are great too. Avoid processed cheese as these contain hidden ingredients that are not good for your body and are often more difficult to break down. Other sources of dairy like yoghurt and Kefir can help the balance of probiotic (healthy bacteria) in your gut which provides ample immune support. You should have
If you find that your appetite just isn’t what it used to be, ask your doctor or healthcare provider about supplementation. This is important because there are instances when certain foods and supplements interact with medication in a harmful way. With a healthy diet, seniors can enjoy longevity and independence while taking life with more vigor.
Residents at Glenvale Villas can cater for themselves in their own fully functional kitchens, or use our restaurant to dine. Our chefs spend a great deal of time making sure residents have a nutritionally balanced and interesting menu.
To learn more about Glenvale Villas, a private aged care community that provides supported living, connect with us today.