Healthy Eating Tips for the Elderly
–By Taranjeet Kaur, metabolic balance® coach & senior nutritionist, AktivOrtho™
Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs and other body parts strong. Eating vitamin-rich foods boosts immunity and fights illness-causing toxins. A proper diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anemia. Also, eating sensibly means consuming fewer calories and more nutrient-dense foods, keeping weight in check.
1. Fruit – Focus on whole fruits rather than juices for more fiber and vitamins and aim for 1 ½ to 2 servings or more every day.
2. Veggies – Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Try for 2 to 2½ cups of veggies every day. In case you find it difficult to chew, have your salads grated or chopped finely.
3. Calcium – Maintaining bone health as you age depends on an adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Older adults need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.
4. Grains – Be smart with your carbohydrates and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and fiber. Reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates, you consume—from foods such as pastries, cakes, pizza, cookies and chips—and replace them with fish, beans, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu, chicken, low-fat dairy and soy products.
5. Omega-3 fatty acids: These have been proven to reduce inflammation, which can cause heart disease, cancer and arthritis. They can be found in many different types of fish, canola oil, mustard oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, cauliflower, broccoli etc.
6. Protein –Try to divide your protein intake equally amongst your meals. Have a protein at each meal. It’s important to vary your sources of protein, so include fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk and cheese in your diet.
7. Water – As we age, some of us are prone to dehydration because our bodies lose some of the ability to regulate fluid levels and our sense of thirst may not be as sharp. Keep a water bottle with your name so that you know how much water you drink. Keeping yourself well hydrated helps avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and helps in the removal of toxins.
8. Vitamin D – We get most of our vitamin D intake—essential for absorbing calcium and boosting muscle—through sun exposure and certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk). With age, our skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin, especially if you’re obese or have limited sun exposure.
9. Reduce consumption of processed and packaged foods. Choose fresh foods with lesser artificial colour and preservatives. Avoid sugar sweeteners.
10. Avoid skipping meals – This causes your metabolism to slow down, which leads to you feeling sluggish and making poorer food choices later in the day.