Senior Nutrition: 9 Foods to Eat to Ensure Optimal Health
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), older adults should increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables by one to two servings daily. This is to help cut their cardiovascular risk by 30%.
However, in a 2019 senior report conducted by the United Health Foundation, since 2002, there are an additional 11 million seniors between the ages of 65 to 74. And while they have decreased their chance of early death by 22%, both obesity and diabetes have increased by 36%.
Senior nutrition is different than that of younger adults. But there's not a ton of education on healthy eating for seniors.
We want to change that. Keep reading for senior nutrition tips.
Senior Nutrition Begins by Knowing What a Healthy Plate of Food Looks Like
The nutritional pyramid has changed since many seniors were children. That's because scientists now have more information on what a healthy, balanced diet looks like.
One easy way to make sure you're eating properly every meal is by heading to the USDA website to use their MyPlate website. You'll learn about the five basic food groups to incorporate into every meal.
Read Nutrition Labels
Never trust the front labels of pre-packaged food. It's very rarely telling you the full truth about what's really in their food.
Instead, learn how to read the back where the nutrition labels are located. It will list all of the ingredients by order of amount.
You'll also learn how much fat, sodium, and calories are in each serving. Don't assume the package contains only one serving.
Eat Real Food
To ensure you get the nutrients, you need to get and stay healthy, aim to make your plate look like a rainbow. Bright, colored foods are always the best choice.
So is eating real food. Pre-packaged foods are very rarely healthy. They're high in fat, sodium, sugar and rarely contain real food ingredients.
Instead, stick to eating the following:
Fruits and vegetables (red, green, purple and orange)
Low-fat dairy (milk and alternative milk)
Whole grains (whole wheat pasta, brown rice)
Lean protein (seafood, eggs, beans, lean meats)
Look for foods high in fiber and low in salt or sodium. Look for sources such as salmon, tuna, and mushrooms that are high in Vitamin D.
Many seniors are dehydrated, and they may not know it. It's often more difficult for a senior to recognize that they are feeling dehydrated.
Aim for drinking six 8 ounces of water each day. Avoid consuming too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages which are dehydrating. Avoid beverages like sodas and sports drinks, which contain a lot of sugar.
If you don't like the taste of water, try adding fruits like lemons, limes or strawberries for flavor. You can also try vegetables such as cucumbers to improve the taste.
Ask for Help
One major reason nutrition for seniors is difficult is that many seniors struggle to afford and prepare healthy food.
Ask family and friends to help you care for yourself by helping you prepare nutritious meals. You can also sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Stay Healthy During the Summer Months
While senior nutrition is vital to stay healthy and strong, it's not the only step you should be taking. Heat and humidity also affect your health.
When the months turn hotter, it's important to know how to take care of yourself. Click here to learn ten summer safety tips.
Interested in more articles on senior health? Head to our blog to read more.