A balanced diet is necessary for everyone to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Older adults tend to require fewer calories in a day, so it becomes more important to be sure the foods they’re consuming are full of nutrients. Often times, older adults can lose bone density and muscle mass when they lose weight which can result in mobility issues and can even increase their chance of injury. These individuals have unique needs when it comes to food and may have to modify their diet so that it is more nutritious for them and their bodies. It is recommended that they follow a nutrient-dense diet with higher amounts of fibre and avoid foods with empty calories.
Let’s take a look at which foods are best for older individuals:
Boost the Fibre
Fibre is a source of carbohydrate only found in plant-based foods. It’s an important nutrient for everyone and is especially essential for older individuals. Not only does it promote regular bowel movements, but it also lowers the risk for many chronic conditions including heart disease, obesity, and some cancers. Unlike other carbohydrates, fibre passes directly through the digestive tract to limit gas, cramping, and bowel discomfort. The amount of fibre differs for everyone, but you can start implementing fibre into your diet through high fibre breakfast cereals, whole grains, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.
Avoid Empty Calories
You may not be able to take them completely out of your diet, but you can try and limit the amount of empty calorie foods and drinks you consume. This category of foods includes soda beverages, cakes, biscuits, and chips. In your later years, you are not as physically active as you once were, so your body stores the sugars and converts them into fat which leads to weight gain. Instead, focus on eating nutrient-rich foods like nuts, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
Increase Protein Consumption
As you age, you tend to lose muscle and strength. This is a major cause of weakness, fractures, and overall poor health among the elderly. Older adults need an increased amount of protein when trying to lose weight, dealing with illness, or during hospitalization because their bodies process protein less efficiently and need an increased amount to maintain muscle mass, strength, and strong bone health. A lack of protein places them at risk of deteriorating muscles, compromised ability, slower recovery from illness, and loss of independence. When older individuals consume more protein, they also become less likely to lose their ability to function independently, including the ability to dress themselves, to get out of bed, and to climb the stairs.
Drink Lots of Water
As a natural part of the aging process, we begin to lose our sense of thirst and tend to forget to drink water. As our appetite decreases, we also lose the fluid source from solid foods. Our bodies are made up of 60 percent water so it is vital that we stay hydrated to ensure our bodies are functioning properly. Our fluid balance can also be affected by medication, stress, exercise, general health, and weather. This is problematic for seniors as they can become easily dehydrated which can become life threatening as their bodies don’t have enough fluids to carry blood to the organs. The symptoms of dehydration are extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. If you struggle to drink enough water in a day, try adding a flavour kick or invest in a good water bottle that will encourage you to hydrate all day long.
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