A Balanced Diet
There’s nothing as important as eating a balanced diet. It helps you to maintain your health even as you get older. When you eat a balanced diet, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight, get the required nutrients, and stay energized. Your risk of developing chronic health conditions will also reduce. Examples of chronic diseases include diabetes and heart disease.
A report by the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging states that 1 in 4 older Americans does not get the right nutrition. When you experience malnutrition, then you’re at risk of being underweight or overweight. Poor nutrition weakens your muscles and your bones. You also become more vulnerable to diseases.
The best way to meet your nutritional needs is by eating foods that are rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and other nutrients. Reduce your intake of processed foods, trans and saturated fats, and salt. It is also important that you adjust your diet to be able to manage chronic health conditions.
Age causes a change in your habits and needs
As you age, your appetite, nutritional needs, and eating habits may undergo drastic changes.
You may not need many calories in your old age to maintain a healthy weight. Overloading with calories leads to weight gain.
You won’t have as much energy as you should, or you may even have problems with your joint and muscles. As a result, physical activity reduces and you burn fewer calories. Loss of muscle mass is also inevitable. This causes a reduction in metabolism, thus lowering your calorie requirements.
Appetite loss is common among the elderly. You may also lose your sense of smell and taste as you get older. This can lead to less eating.
If you’re not burning many calories through physical activity, then a reduced food intake may not be a problem. But on the other hand, you may need to get plenty of nutrients and calories to maintain the health of your muscles, organs, and bones. Not eating well can cause health and malnutrition problems.
As you get older, your immune system gets weaker and becomes more susceptible to health conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol. To prevent these conditions, your healthcare provider may advise that you make changes to your diet.
For instance, if you’re diabetic, or you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, then it is important that you eat nutrient-rich foods, and avoid foods that are high in processed sugars, trans fats, and saturated fats. You may also be advised to reduce your sodium intake.
Some seniors may develop a high sensitivity to foods such as peppers, onions, spicy foods, and dairy products. You may have to reduce your intake of these foods.
Management of chronic health conditions may require the use of medications. Some medications have side effects, including a reduced appetite. Some medications also interact with nutritional supplements and certain foods.
For instance, people who take warfarin may have to avoid grapefruit. Why? Because grapefruit decreases your body’s ability to metabolize this drug. It is also important that your diet has a sufficient amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K can be obtained from kale, spinach, or other leafy greens.
If you are on medications, ensure that you check with a pharmacist or your doctor to find out whether there’s any need to modify your diet.
Your immune system gets weaker as you age. This puts you at risk of food poisoning or food-borne illness.
You should take food safety techniques very seriously at this time. Extra precautions are necessary as you get older. For instance, your healthcare provider may advise that you avoid foods that contain raw eggs, like Caesar salad dressing or homemade mayonnaise.
How can you maintain a healthy diet?
- Focus on nutrient-rich foods
- Eat enough fiber
- Stay hydrated
- Stay social
- Consider supplements