Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Eating a variety of foods from all food groups can help supply the nutrients a person needs as they age. A proper diet and a healthy life go hand in hand, especially for older adults over the age of 65. There are specific food groups that have specific health benefits, but generally, a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat is the key to a healthy, disease-free life.
As you grow older, so does the operation in your body changes not just in how you look, but also in how your body operates; for instance, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. It may take longer for you to digest meals. You may not drink enough water because you don’t feel as thirsty as you used to. Food may lose some of its taste, so you simply might not be interested in eating.
Micronutrient deficiency is shared among the elderly due to factors such as reduced food intake and lack of variety in their diet. The reasons for this might simply be ignorance on the need for healthy nutrition, ignorance on the right nutrition, or financial constraints. However, nutrition has a direct effect on the quality of your life. Inadequate and improper diets are not only responsible for under nutrition, but also puts you at risk of becoming overweight or underweight. It can weaken your muscles and bones. It also leaves you vulnerable to chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart diseases.
A well-balanced diet, good nutrition, and regular exercise are the key cornerstones of good health and vitality. Eating healthy is eating the right amounts of foods to provide the required nutrients to give your body enough energy for daily activities, ensure your body is functioning properly, and prevent illness and maintain longevity. Since a single food can’t provide all the nutrients we need, so it is important to include a wide variety of food group in the diet e.g. Fruit and vegetables, Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and other starchy foods, Dairy and alternatives, Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and other proteins.
How much of these food groups you should take in?
As a secondary source of energy when you don’t have enough fat and carbohydrates to draw from, healthy protein levels are especially important in senior citizens. Women over 50 years of age are expected to take in about 46 grams of protein a day as the absolute minimum. While men over 50 should try to get at least 56 g of protein in their daily diet. Remember, these are minimum recommendations. Your health and weight status will directly determine how much protein you should be eating.
The main focus at this point is to focus on the right kind of fat. Of course, we know that the likes of saturated fats and Trans fats are deadly and harmful to your health and well-being. They should be avoided as much as possible. However, essential fatty acids are required to enjoy a healthy life. Fat is calorie-dense, at 9 calories per gram. So you need to watch how much fat you ingest, no matter how old you are. It is important to note that women need between 320 and 660 grams of healthy fat each day. Men should aim for 400 to 720 grams of daily fat after age 50.
Women above the age of 50 should be consuming about 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day, depending on their physical activity level. You may find you have less energy and more muscle problems as you get older. As a result, you may become less mobile and burn fewer calories through physical activity. While Men should eat 2,000 to 2,400 calories each again depending on how active they are. As an older adult, 20% to 30% of your daily caloric intake should be fat.
Now that you know the basics of a healthy diet. Creating Healthy food as you get older
Eating nutrient-rich foods will help you get the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats you need.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables:
Not only are fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and are low in fat. They also help prevent heart disease and some types of cancer. There are many varieties to choose from including fresh, frozen, dried and tinned.
You should choose fruit tinned in juice rather than syrup, and vegetables in water rather than brine. Eat more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens or broccoli, and orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. Make veggies more appetizing by drizzling them with olive oil, sprinkling with goat cheese, or frying with garlic
Eat Enough Fiber:
Fiber is important because as people get older, the digestive system becomes weaker. Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are important because they slow down digestion, giving the body enough time to absorb nutrients in the foods consumed. Fiber-rich foods also reduce constipation.
Eat enough calcium:
The diet should be rich in calcium because calcium prevents osteoporosis and builds strong bones and teeth. As people get older their bodies’ capacity to absorb calcium decreases and since the bones and teeth still require calcium, the intake has to be increased. Sources of calcium include dairy products and spinach.
Eat enough Vitamins:
Vitamin D is also important in bone health for older adults. We mainly get Vitamin D from sunlight, and smaller amounts from foods including margarine, dairy products oily fish, cereal and milk. Also, Vitamin C is very important to your body as a senior. Vitamin C deficiency causes problems such as bleeding gums and delayed healing. It also contributes to low iron levels because Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron from plants.
It is important to stay hydrated all the time. You might not feel thirsty but always make sure you are drinking fluids e.g. tea, soup, or even water-rich fruits and vegetables but preferably water regularly. You can set a target for eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
Everyone wishes to look youthful even in their old age. Sensible and healthy food habits right from childhood balancing physical activity delay aging, increase life span and add to the quality of life.