It’s always important to have a nutritious diet, but as you age, what’s on your plate becomes even more important.
Because conditions such as high blood pressure are more common in those who are over 60, a healthy diet while aging becomes even more vital to avoid serious health complications.
Add to this the fact that your metabolism and sense of taste change as you age, and you can see how this can become more of a challenge throughout life.
At Conway Medical Center we want you to have the information you need to make the best decisions possible for your health. That’s why we’ve compiled these essential eating tips for seniors.
Important Healthy Diet Eating Tips
1. Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Protein
Protein is a vital component that helps grow tissue and maintain your body’s system. Be sure to have 45 to 60 grams worth of protein. In addition, make sure that you select lean proteins such as chicken, fish or other lean meats.
2. Eat Foods Higher in Antioxidants
Research is still ongoing on how antioxidants can help manage or even prevent chronic illnesses. According to Harvard Medical School, it’s more beneficial to eat foods rich in antioxidants than to take antioxidant supplements.
Eat more foods such as:
- Bell peppers
- Dark leafy vegetables
3. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Calcium
While you are aware of how important calcium is to your bones, did you also realize it was a vital mineral for your nervous system? It plays a crucial role in ensuring proper muscle contractions and blood clotting.
Adequate calcium in your diet is important to keep you from developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes brittle bones and leaves you vulnerable to fractures.
Dairy foods remain some of the best sources of calcium, and it is easier for your body to absorb calcium from foods instead of supplements. If your doctor does prescribe dietary supplements, be sure to take them as directed and remember that vitamin D is needed to adequately enable your body to absorb calcium.
While the amount of vitamin D you need must be determined by your physician, in general, those 19 to 70 years old need around 600 IU and those over 70 should aim for 800 IU
Good dietary sources of calcium [link to National Osteoporosis Foundation page here: https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/ ] include:
- Sardines and salmon
- Collard greens
There are also many other foods that are fortified with calcium that can be excellent choices. Just speak with your doctor for more information.
4. Drinking Plenty of Water Is Vital
Did you know that the sensation of thirst decreases as you age? This means that older adults may be prone to dehydration.
Water is needed to ensure your body functions are performing as they should, which is why it’s always a good idea to have 48 to 64 ounces of fluid a day (roughly 6 to 8 glasses of water). We also recommend decaffeinated beverages and low-fat milk.
5. Continue to Select Foods Low in Cholesterol and Fat
It’s very important to avoid saturated fats and trans fats in order to have a healthy diet while aging. These are usually found in fast-food, store-bought sweets and fried foods.
Other Important Eating Tips About a Healthy Diet and Aging
Your Metabolic Rate Changes
Our metabolic rate changes as we age. Your body’s basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy it takes to complete basic functions such as breathing or maintaining your heartbeat.
For older Americans, this metabolic rate declines, which means it can be much easier to gain weight. Weight gain can lead to obesity, which places you at risk for several diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In addition, it’s also important to remember that we need fewer calories as we age.
Our Final Eating Tips: Your Taste Buds Change as You Age
Did you know that your sense of taste and smell changes as you age? These senses may weaken, causing the foods you once enjoyed to be replaced by a different taste. Smoking and medications are some contributing factors.
To make sure you preserve your senses of taste and smell:
- Drink plenty of water and remain hydrated
- Avoid salt when possible
- Use herbs and spices to flavor your food
- Stop smoking if you smoke (your doctor can help!)
Meeting regularly with your primary care physician allows them to have “snapshots” of your health. Through these appointments, they can help determine how you can live the healthiest life possible in addition to screening you for certain diseases and cancers.
Conway Medical Center: Compassionate Care for All Ages
Since the 1920s, physicians and health care professionals at Conway Medical Center have safeguarded the well-being of the community by offering the highest level of quality care.
We have continually offered the latest in medical technology, from advanced imaging services to robotic surgery.
Searching for a physician? Get to know our primary care doctors near you to schedule an appointment.