If you are 65 or older, you are part of the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. And proper nutrition should be one of your main concerns. A healthy diet will help you stay healthy. And good health is your ticket for an active and independent lifestyle in your later years.
The benefits of a healthy diet go way beyond keeping weight under control. Good nutrition can:
- Help prevent or manage chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease
- Give you energy for everyday activities
- Keep bones and muscles strong so you can stay active
- Help keep you from catching colds, flu, and other illnesses
- Help you recover more quickly from illness, injury, or surgery
- Help your bowels stay regular
Maximizing your nutrition with the right food
Although caloric needs decrease with age, your need for most nutrients stays the same or, in some cases, increases. At the same time, many seniors have less of an appetite. So older adults need to focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to food.
- Select high-fiber foods. High-fiber foods can help keep you regular, control weight, and lower your risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fiber also helps with constipation, which affects up to 1 in 5 people over the age of 65. Whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, vegetables, and fruits are all examples of good sources of fiber.
- Eat your vegetables and fruits. In addition to providing fiber, fruits and vegetables are rich sources of many vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants. These nutrients can strengthen your immune system and help ward off disease. Eat them - raw or cooked - with lunch and dinner and for snacks.
- Choose lean protein. Lean beef, turkey breast, fish, and chicken with the skin removed are good choices to lower the amount of fat, calories, and cholesterol in your meals. Beans and peas provide protein as well as nutritious fiber and iron.
- Eat healthy fats. Healthy fats provide essential fatty acids and help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Eat less butter and fewer high-fat dairy foods, fatty meats and fried foods. Replace them with olive or canola oils, nuts and seeds, natural peanut butter, trans-fat-free margarine, avocados, and fatty fish, such as salmon.
- Eat calcium-rich foods. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products are high in calcium and help keep your bones strong as you age. They are also supplemented with vitamin D, critical for calcium absorption. If you have trouble digesting or do not like dairy products, try reduced-lactose milk products. Also try greens, soy-based beverages, tofu, or calcium-fortified orange juice.
- Choose foods fortified with vitamin B12. Many adults over the age of 50 have difficulty absorbing adequate amounts of this vitamin. Therefore, they should get this nutrient through lean meats, eggs, or fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals. Vitamin B12 supplements are sometimes warranted. Talk with your health care provider to ensure that you are consuming enough vitamin B12.
- Drink plenty of fluids. It's common to feel less thirsty as you get older, but your body still needs the same amount of water. As a result, many seniors are at risk for dehydration and constipation. Aim for six to eight cups of fluid, unless your doctor tells you to drink less because of heart or kidney problems. Along with water, a glass of juice, low-fat milk, or decaf coffee or tea can count toward your fluid intake.
- Snack smart. Limit high-fat and high-sugar snacks like cake, candy, chips, and soda. If you are not up for three full meals, plan for several healthy mini-meals throughout the day. A piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, natural peanut butter on whole-wheat toast, turkey on a mini wheat pita, a small bowl of bean or vegetable soup, or a hard-boiled egg and some raw veggies are good examples.
- Go easy on the salt. To ward off high blood pressure, keep salt intake to a minimum. A healthy diet that includes nuts, low-fat dairy, plenty of fruits and veggies, and a few servings of whole grains per day will also help keep blood pressure in check.
Food is one of life's pleasures. But it is also an important aspect of staying healthy buy levitra online as you age.