Senior Health and Nutrition: What Seniors should be Eating
- Publish Date: 2009/06/25 - (Rev. 2018/03/15)
- Author: Stacey Crevoiserat
Outline: Tips and commonly asked questions regarding seniors diet and nutrition needs to stay healthy.
As we age, our body obviously changes and it's important that we get the nutrition our body needs based on our age.
Surely you would not feed an adolescent baby food- They have/need different diets than a new born or toddler does. It's equally important for a grown adult or senior to eat differently than they did when they were in their 30's. Here are a few tips and commonly asked questions regarding Senior Nutrition:
A Few Facts Seniors And Caregivers Should Know:
1. As activity levels decrease muscle mass often diminishes and therefore reducing the body's energy requirements. What does this mean? Well, if a senior does not adapt and continues to eat the way they did when their body required much more energy they run the risk of becoming obese.
2. On the flip side, many seniors also run the risk of not getting enough nutrients for the body due to appetite changes. It's important to develop a portion controlled diet to ensure the senior gets all the nutrition their body needs. If they aren't using up any energy and never feel hungry or tired, maybe plan some senior friendly exercises (based upon their ability) to get them more active and to build up an appetite.
3. Always check with your doctor before making any diet changes if you are on any medication. Different medicines can affect food intake in different ways; some can cause an upset stomach, some require you to take them with specific foods, while others cannot be mixed with some foods or beverages. Always check with your doctor first!!
What Does Eating Healthy Mean
Eating healthy is basically eating the right amounts of foods to provide the required nutrients to give your body enough energy for daily activities, ensure your body is functioning properly, and prevent illness and maintain longevity.
Specific Nutritional Recommendations for Seniors:
It's helpful to periodically review your diet as you age, especially if you have any medical needs. You should schedule a visit to your doctor so he/she can assist you in creating a diet specifically for you and your individual nutritional needs.
Here are a few general guidelines:
- Monitor fat intake to maintain healthy cholesterol
- Consume more calcium and vitamin D for strong healthy bones
- Reduce your salt intake to prevent water retention and high blood pressure
- Cut back your intake of sugar and dry foods
- Increase your water intake
- Participate in regular physical activity
The Senior Food Pyramid!
Yes, indeed there is a food pyramid strictly for our senior citizens of the world! It's very much like the food pyramid you should already be familiar with, only this one is adapted specifically for the different needs of older adults who have a slower metabolism and slightly different nutritional needs.
Let's start at the base. It is recommended that you drink 8 servings of water a day. (I sure hope you're thirsty!!)
Next, you should be getting six or less servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. (This is less than the traditional food pyramid where it is recommended we get at least six or more servings in this group.)
Then you should be getting no more than two servings from the fruit group and two - three servings from the vegetable group. (Again, this is less, in fact half, then the traditional food pyramid)
Now we have the dairy and meat servings. Seniors should get less than two servings from the meat, poultry, fish, beans, and eggs group. And they should also get three servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese.
As for your beloved sweets, fats and oils... use them sparingly. You're better off making them just a little treat for yourself every so often rather than a staple part of your daily intake. (But then again, that one is true for all of us!)
And lastly seniors should be getting calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12 supplements. (See your doctor for specific amounts)
Benefits to a Healthy Diet:
- Increased mental acuteness
- Resistance to illness and disease
- Higher levels of energy
- Stronger immune system
- Faster recuperation time
Everyone, young and old alike, should practice a healthy daily diet. But it seems seniors often suffer most from not changing their diet.
As we age, our bodies get older while we often still feel young at heart! So be sure to stop and examine your diet and eat accordingly! You won't regret it!