Senior Diet Recommendations

Elderly nutrition advice differs from nutritional advice for children and adults, as it targets specific nutrients and nutritional concerns that affect adults as they advance past middle age into their golden years.

Senior nutrition addresses healthy eating habits, physical activity and other factors that influence seniors’ quality of life. As you age, your body requires varying amounts of nutrients and exercise to stay healthy and fit. Therefore, you must familiarize yourself with diet recommendations that promote healthy aging.

The following sections explain how nutrition for older adults differs from adults and children younger than 64 years of age. Because seniors require different serving sizes and other eating considerations, seniors must understand healthy nutrition requirements and adjust their food choices as needed to accommodate their aging bodies. While you should obtain personalized nutrition information from your healthcare physician, the health information provided below can help you determine if you need to make any changes in your diet. No matter your age, managing a healthy diet should be a priority.

Elderly Health Information

Nutrition for older adults (adults 65 years of age and older) tends to address the amount of food being consumed and how it is being consumed. Because all seniors are unique with personal preferences and health conditions, the best diet for seniors may depend on such important factors. However, the following dietary guidelines based on the level of physical activity they engage in may apply to all seniors:

Senior Women Senior Men
Not Active 1,600 calories/day Not Active 2,000-2,200 calories/day
Moderately Active 1,800 calories/day Moderately Active 2,200-2,400 calories/day
Active 2,000-2,200 calories/day Active 2,400-2,800 calories/day

 

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Senior nutrition may require the consumption of more nutrients than they may have needed previously. The following nutrients are especially important for older adults:

  • Calcium and vitamin D. Seniors should consume more calcium-rich foods and beverages daily to protect their bones and teeth.
  • Vitamin B12. Adults older than 50 years of age are often lacking in this vitamin. Seniors can eat seafood and lean meats to obtain more vitamin B12.
  • Fiber fortifies digestive systems and can help lower the risk for heart disease. Fiber can be found in whole grains, beans and fruits and vegetables.
  • Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and preserve muscles. Potassium can be found in bananas and most vegetable.

Healthy Eating for Seniors

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), balancing your physical, mental and social well-being is essential in promoting elderly nutrition and health among older adults. In addition to preventing the likelihood of contracting some diseases like diabetes, cancer, anxiety and depression, practicing healthy senior nutrition habits can give older adults extra energy and stamina to perform daily tasks. The following elderly nutrition advice can help seniors take control of their overall health:

  • Ask your doctor about vitamins and supplements. Many seniors struggle to get all the nutrients they need from their food due to problems with eating or poor digestion. However, some pills and minerals may interfere with medications or cause medical issues. While the best way to obtain nutrients is from food, you should talk to your doctor about the benefit of adding dietary supplements if you are lacking in some nutrients.
  • Vary your vegetable intake. Like any adult, seniors should have access to various vegetables to maintain their fiber and nutrient intake. Eating vegetables like carrots, leafy greens and vibrant produce like beets and eggplant can brighten your plate and ensure your daily nutrients are obtained. Legumes can give you necessary protein, as well. You can learn how to include more vegetables in your diet,
  • Control your portion size. As you age, you may find that you do not need to eat as much in one sitting. Be sure to plan your meals accordingly and adjust your eating schedule to accommodate your new dietary needs. To do so, you can take leftovers home from restaurants and make smaller portions when preparing meals.
  • Eat in a social environment. Eating amongst friends and family is more enjoyable than eating alone, and seniors are encouraged to use mealtimes as means to interact with their loved ones. This will make eating a more pleasant experience and ensure that seniors can continue to engage in social events.
  • Drink plenty of water. Older adults may not always realize when they are thirsty. Consequently, seniors are susceptible to dehydration and other health issues exacerbated by thirst. Seniors should drink water, low-fat milk and 100 percent juice to get enough liquids.

How Seniors Can Stay Healthy

The importance of nutrition for older adults cannot be overstated, but some seniors may face challenges that hinder their ability to eat healthy. To remain healthy, older adults must understand senior nutrition requirements and address any issues that affect their ability to eat well. For instance, proper elderly nutrition may be inhibited by the loss of or inefficiency of seniors’ teeth. To combat weak teeth and gums, seniors can consume softer foods like cooked or canned fruits, soup or tuna. Seniors should never avoid fruits, vegetables or meats because of dental problems and should speak to their healthcare providers if they have trouble consuming foods.

As a senior, your sense of smell and taste may have changed over time, making foods taste bland or simply different. Additionally, some medicines may affect the way certain foods taste. Therefore, assuming the best, most nutritious diet for seniors may be unappealing to some older adults. You can use herbs and spices to add flavor to your meal but try to avoid using salt as a food additive when possible. Senior nutrition guidelines dictate that seniors should limit their sodium intake.

Another impediment to healthy eating for seniors is the condition of the food. The safety of food may be more of a threat to older adults. Seniors are at a higher risk of sustaining foodborne illnesses, and any illness can be life-threatening. To avoid the spread of food-related illnesses, you should practice food safety when preparing, storing and consuming food products. Be sure to thoroughly cook meats, eggs and fish and avoid unpasteurized dairy products.

Other recommendations to secure healthy elderly nutrition are provided below:

  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Exercise regularly to preserve your muscle strength
  • Plan your grocery trip if you are on a budget
  • Buy pre-sliced fruits and vegetables

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