The Importance of Meeting Nutritional Needs As You Age

As you age, your nutritional needs change. Age related changes can affect how a body processes food, which in turn influences your dietary requirements and appetite. For elderly loved ones, the benefits of healthy eating include resistance to illness and disease, mental acuteness, higher energy levels, quicker recovery time, and better management of health problems.

As your body ages, eating well becomes key to staying emotionally balanced and maintaining a positive outlook. Good nutrition helps maintain muscles, bones, organs and other body parts in the long haul. Vitamin-rich foods boost your body’s immunity and fight disease-causing toxins. Proper diet can also reduce risk of stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, bone loss, cancer, anemia, and more.

Key nutrients are essential for our brain to do its job. Individuals who consume a regular selection of fruit, leafy veggies, fish, nuts, and other healthy foods improve their mental focus and increase their chances of preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Eating wholesome meals also provides you with more energy and helps you look better—a self-esteem boost. Everything is connected—when your body feels good, you’re happier both inside and out.

The following are some of these important changes your body undergoes as you age:

Digestive System: Your body produces less of the fluids necessary for proper digestion, making food absorption more difficult. This is why B6 and B12 supplements, as well as folic acid are critical for seniors.

Appetite: Very often seniors are prescribed different medications. These medications may affect your appetite.

Metabolism: Age slows down your metabolism. Seniors also tend to lack regular exercise routines, slowing down metabolism further. The fewer calories burned, the less calorie intake is required. Seniors are encouraged to consume food that is as nutrient-rich as possible and maintain a good level of exercise.
Emotional Health: Last but not least, elderly loved ones face many different situations, including physical issues, loss of friends, spouse, job, and these changes may result in depression, which in turn reduces appetite.

Many diseases prevalent in the elderly population can be prevented by proper nutrition. Nutritional intervention can also prevent hospitalization—malnutrition is one of the major reasons seniors suffer health problems.

Senior Care Nutritional Guidelines:

Have your loved one drink plenty of water.
Stick to healthy fats.
Include whole grains in your diet.
Include foods high in fiber.
Include high amounts of calcium.
Ensure your loved one has a proper intake of B12.

Although getting older is inevitable, it’s possible to slow down the aging process and improve the quality of life of senior loved ones. Promote healthy eating for your friends and relatives and remember to schedule regular physical exams and consultations as well.

National Institute of Aging’s Daily Suggestions for Seniors:

Fruit: 1.5-2.5 cups
Meat and Beans: 5-7 ounces
Grain: 5-10 ounces
Vegetables: 2-3.5 cups
Oil: 6 teaspoons

DASH Diet Daily Requirements: (Heart Healthy Plan for Seniors with High Blood Pressure)

Grains: 7-8 oz
Meat and Beans: 6 ounces or less of meat, fish, or chicken – 4-5 servings of seeds, nuts, and/or dried beans per week.
Vegetables: 2-2.5 cups
Fruit: 2-2.5 cups
Oil: 2 teaspoons

How Many Calories do Seniors Need?

Women over 50 who are active require 1800 calories a day
Women over 50 who are very active require 2000 calories a day
Women over 50 who are not physically active require 1600 calories a day