As we age, proper eating can make a difference in our health, help to improve how we feel, and encourage a sense of well-being. Aging bodies need certain foods to promote good health. Vital nutrients daily can help prevent common senior health problems like heart problems, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, and constipation.
Senior nutrition is unique because as we age, our bodies change! Metabolism greatly slows with age. As a result, our bodies burn less calories and we need to eat less in order to maintain a healthy weight. Also, it is important that what we do eat is high in nutrients. Our digestive system also changes with age. Our bodies produce less of the fluids that it needs to process food in our digestive systems when we get older. These changes can make it harder for our bodies to absorb important nutrients like folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
Simple changes can make a big difference! These are a few simple adjustments from the USDA Food Guide that can be made to our diets to help our aging bodies:
Water first: we need half our body weight in ounces of water every day — so if you weigh 150lbs, you should be drinking at least 75oz of water every day
Exchange sugary drinks for water instead
Veggies most! Make at least half of your plate vegetables — fruits are great, too, but are high in sugars so vegetables should be the main focus
Make at least half of your grains whole grains
Eat slowly — this will help you to eat less and prevent choking
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals — and choose the foods with lower numbers
Add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt
Ask your doctor to suggest other options if the medications you take affect your appetite or change your desire to eat
Drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day. If you cannot tolerate milk try small amounts of yogurt, butter milk, hard cheese or lactose-free foods. Calcium is very important for aging bones