A senior’s nutritional needs are different from those of a young adult in their twenties – it’s a fact. As your body changes with age, you must begin to prioritize healthy eating even more than before.
Based on your gender, height, weight and activity level, you may need less calories, but every senior requires the same, if not more nutrients. How should you change your diet to make sure you’re feeding your body what it needs?
Health Challenges Seniors May Face
A range of reasons could affect your enjoyment of foods and your desire to eat. Age brings diminished taste. You may not be as physically active and your metabolic rate slows. You could have dentures that make it impossible for you to eat certain foods.
Part of the reason a senior’s nutritional needs change is because many aging adults are dealing with health complications they didn’t use to face. If you’re taking medication for a health condition, it could cause side effects like decreased appetite. If you struggle with depression or you’ve faced an emotional trauma like the loss of a loved one, you may not want to eat at all or may only want to eat certain types of food that may not be the best choice for your overall health.
Why Worry About Your Nutrition?
From normal aging changes to complex health conditions, a senior’s nutritional needs are harder to meet, but still just as important, if not more so. Seniors are at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more. Good nutrition may be the central way aging adults can avoid these conditions and continue enjoying good health throughout retirement. While it may take extra time and a serious commitment, the payoff could include many additional healthy years of life.
Design a Healthy Diet
When you begin to eat less, it’s even more important that you make sure what you eat has a high nutritional value. It all starts with designing a healthy diet. Here are the food items you should be eating:
- Fruit: eat a variety of different fruits in all shapes and colors. If you have trouble chewing, you can eat canned fruit, as long as it doesn’t have any added sugar or preservatives.
- Vegetables: leafy-green vegetables like kale and spinach have antioxidants your body needs to fight off disease. Blend fruits and veggies in a smoothie to boost your daily consumption.
- Whole Grains: at least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains such as whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta.
- Lean Meats and Seafood: salmon, chicken and grass-fed beef are great options for your daily servings.
- Dairy: dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese provide the calcium you need, but try to choose low-fat or fat-free options.
Important Vitamins You Need
Some of the ways a senior’s nutritional needs change includes how vitamins are absorbed. Due to a decrease in stomach acid, it’s harder for seniors to break down vitamin B12 from food. Also, it’s harder for an older adult’s body to absorb the vitamin D from sun exposure. Not enough vitamin D means calcium absorption will be less efficient.
Even if you eat less calories as an older adult, you still need the same amount of nutrients, especially these three, because they preserve strong bones. Talk to your doctor and consider adding supplements if recommended.
Are You Covered?
While a senior’s nutritional needs are important, getting the right medical care in a timely manner is also key to a long, healthy life. If you’re not satisfied with the breadth and price of your health coverage, call My Senior Health Plan and learn about your options.