Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in our bodies. Creating a balance between consuming the right kinds and amounts of carbohydrates is key. Some examples are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in fiber and can help maintain a healthy digestive tract, stabilize blood sugars, and make you feel fuller longer. Maintaining these qualities can be tricky, but it is recommended that you eat at least three servings of grains per day.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 90% of older adults have hypertension, diabetes, and/or high cholesterol. While many things can be related to having a chronic disease, nutrition is a vital component. Eating healthy is important in all stages of life, but it is especially important in older adults to aid in slowing down the aging process. Consuming a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, high in fiber, low in salt and saturated fats is key in preventing chronic disease and avoid deficiencies that are common in older adults.
Fruits and vegetables
Try consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Each produce contains a unique combination of nutrients that are essential to avoid nutritional deficiencies such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
As we become older, it can get harder to digest some types of meats properly which can lead to discomfort after eating them. Focusing on plant-based proteins like nuts, soy, peas, and beans can aid this common discomfort found in older adults. Fish can also be a great option in meeting protein needs and gaining some heart-healthy fats as well. You want to make sure to vary your proteins throughout the week.
Low Fat or Fat-Free Dairy
Besides providing nutrients like protein and carbohydrates, dairy can also provide a high source of vitamin D and calcium that are important for preventing diseases like osteoporosis. You can choose options like milk, yogurt, cheese, or even non-dairy options like almond milk. If you are 50 years or older, you need 1,200 mg of calcium per day.
Foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol help reduce your risk of heart disease. Choose polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which can be found in oils, avocados, and nuts. Choose lean cuts of meats and poultry, remove all visible fat and skin before cooking and use cooking methods like broiling, boiling or grilling.
Thirst sensation may decrease with age and can lead to dehydration. Consume fluids like water, tea, and broth-based soups to stay properly hydrated. Being hydrated also allows for consistent digestion and prevents weight gain.
Maintaining a healthy weight
As we get older, our metabolism slows down due to physical inactivity and the loss of lean muscle mass which results in a decrease of caloric needs necessary to maintain a healthy weight. Stay in shape by consuming low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, include physical activity on a daily basis, and cut back on foods with added sugars and high fat. Overweight adults are at a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and some cancers. These methods have proven to be vital components to leading a healthier lifestyle for people over 50. If you have any further questions please contact your physician or your dietician.