No matter what your age, eating right is important. In each stage of life our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health. Taking control of your nutrition means taking control of your energy, and can help you maintain your weight. Some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers can be prevented or diminished with proper nutrition.
Important Vitamins & Minerals for Seniors
If you’re older than 50, it’s possible you may be losing your ability to absorb enough vitamin B12. This means it’s more important than ever that you are eating plenty of foods that provide B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat, as well as fish and seafood are great sources of vitamin B12. It could also be a good idea to ask your doctor (or a registered dietitian nutritionist) if you need a vitamin B12 supplement.
Calcium and Vitamin D
If you’re older than 70, you need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain your bone health than you needed in the past. Make sure you are consuming calcium-rich foods and beverages, and aim for three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products each day. The best sources of calcium are dairy products. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified beverages such as almond and soy milk. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried peas and beans, fish with bones, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals. Sources of vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, as well as red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. Choosing a calcium supplement or multivitamin that contains vitamin D is also recommended.
Eating fiber-rich foods will help you stay regular and may also help lower your risk for heart disease and reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Eating whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans, peas and lentils, along with whole fruits and vegetables provide dietary fiber to keep you feeling your best.
To help lower your risk of high blood pressure, consuming adequate potassium is essential. Potassium is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, so eat plenty! Reducing your sodium (salt) intake also helps with lowering high blood pressure, so select and prepare foods with little or no added salt. Try adding flavor to food with herbs and spices instead.
It’s very important to drink enough liquids so you don’t get dehydrated. As you age, you may notice a loss of thirst and certain medicines might make it even more crucial to have plenty of fluids. Remember that there are many sources of fluids. Try drinking flavored or bubbly water (with no sugar) to get hydrated. Keep water close by at all times and experiment with beverages at different temperatures. You could also try making popsicles, smoothies, or milkshakes. And don’t forget about Ensure and sports drinks.
What to do When Having Trouble Eating Healthy
Health issues or other problems can sometimes make it hard to eat healthy. Here are some ideas that might help:
Be physically active – Exercising may help you to feel hungrier if you have started losing your appetite.
Eat with a friend– Tired of eating alone? Try organizing some potluck meals or cooking with a friend.
Visit the Dentist – Having trouble chewing? See your dentist to check for problems.
Remember the fluids – Having trouble swallowing? Try drinking plenty of fluids with your meal. If that does not help, check with your healthcare provider because a health condition or medication could be causing the problem.
Get creative – Having trouble smelling and tasting your food? Try adding color and texture to make your food more enticing.
Have snack time – If you aren’t eating enough, eating some healthy snacks throughout the day will help you get more nutrients and calories.
At the Terrace Retirement Community, we focus on a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living has a huge impact on not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. There are many healthy options to choose from at every meal at the Terrace. Our menu has been carefully selected to meet nutrition guidelines to keep our residents looking and feeling their best. For more information on dining at the Terrace call and talk to Linette Beaman at 573-875-2538