Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand, especially for seniors over the age of 65. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most of the diseases that older people suffer from are the result of a lack of a proper diet.
However, older people face many new challenges that only make it more difficult to eat right:
As we age, impulses from our touch, smell, and taste receptors decrease, so our senses are diminished. It takes a stronger stimulus to smell or taste food, and this is the main reason for the loss of appetite in the elderly.
Also, for this reason, they often over-salt food, which is harmful to health.
Side effects of medications
Some medications cause nausea, reduce appetite, and change the way you perceive food. In this case, the side effects can prevent you from eating, and you end up skipping meals.
Deterioration of teeth and oral health
Dental problems, such as missing teeth, jaw pain, bleeding gums, and periodontal disease, significantly impair chewing, making it less likely that you will eat healthy.
Lack of finances
Older people have limited resources and are more concerned about money. Therefore, they can save on food by buying cheaper food, which in most cases is less healthy.
10 most useful foods for older people
Let’s take a look at the foods that are good for the elderly. Let’s start with the basics. By this, I mean a balanced meal or nutrition program for seniors that consists of:
- Carbohydrate-rich foods such as buckwheat and brown rice.
- Protein-filled foods such as fish and beans.
- Fruits and vegetables (five servings per day).
You can also prepare meals rich in the following nutrients:
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
These fatty acids are important for people of all ages, including the elderly, because they help avoid inflammation that can cause cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease.
Recent evidence has shown that these fatty acids may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and support brain function.
They can be found in fish, mainly sardines, tuna, mackerel and salmon. They are also found in flax, soybeans, and walnuts. Nutritionists recommend serving omega-3 fatty acids twice a week.
A diet rich in calcium
Calcium helps our bodies build and maintain healthy bones. It is known to lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, surveys show that as we age, we consume less calcium.
The body’s need for calcium is so important that if you don’t have enough calcium, it starts to reabsorb it from your bones. This makes your bones fragile and brittle, leading to osteoporosis.
Calcium-rich foods are mainly dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as green vegetables and herbs that are fortified with calcium.
The World Health Organization recommends that people over the age of 50 consume 1200 mg of calcium daily.
Foods rich in fiber
As we get older, our digestive system slows down. The walls of the gastrointestinal tract soften and contractions become slower and weaker, which can lead to constipation.
Fiber-rich foods promote proper nutrition by moving food through the digestive tract. These foods are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Fiber-rich foods include nuts, bran, whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice, brown bread, fruits, and vegetables.
As you age, your body’s ability to store water decreases, so you often don’t feel thirsty.
However, your body still needs water.
Dehydration causes drowsiness and confusion among other side effects, so it is important to stay hydrated. If you are following a recommended high-fiber diet, you should drink plenty of water because fibers absorb a lot of water.
The most reliable way to check for dehydration is to observe your urine. If it is straw yellow and clear, it means that you are hydrated, if it is dark or bright yellow, it is a sign of dehydration.
There is an exception for elderly people with kidney or liver disease; the amount of recommended fluid should be prescribed by your doctor.
Foods rich in iron
Iron plays an important role in the body. It is part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body.
When you don’t consume enough foods with a high iron content, your body develops a condition we all know as anemia. This leads to increased fatigue. Therefore, it is recommended to consume more greens, beets, and liver.
Foods rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties that are believed to prevent cancer and heart disease. It is also involved in the production of collagen, which gives elasticity to the skin and gets rid of dead epidermal cells.
It also helps repair bones and teeth and aids in wound healing. This essential vitamin can be found in fruits and vegetables: lemon, orange, cabbage, kiwi, bell pepper.
Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium in the body, slowing down the rate at which bones lose calcium. This helps maintain bone density; hence, preventing osteoporosis.
New evidence suggests that it may also protect against chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid osteoporosis. Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D can be found in the following foods: eggs, milk, yogurt, juices, and tuna.
Foods rich in vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining the nervous system, red blood cell and DNA production. As you get older, absorption of the vitamin from food is more difficult. In foods, cyanocobalamin is found in eggs, yogurt, and milk. However, it is advisable to include supplements in your diet to make up for the vitamin deficiency.
Foods rich in potassium
Surveys show that many older adults do not take the recommended 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Potassium in cell function lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of kidney stones.
It is found in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, prunes, and potatoes.
Magnesium plays a crucial role in 300 physiological functions. It keeps your heart healthy, your immune system strong, and your bones strong. As you get older, your body’s ability to absorb magnesium decreases.
A lot of magnesium is found in foods such as beans, spinach, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Eat right and it will ensure you a healthy and happy old age!