As you age, your body needs different things. To feel your best in your sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond, experts suggest a number of updates to your diet and habits. Here are our top nutrition tips for seniors:
1. Drink lots of liquid.
Your sense of thirst actually lessens as you age, so focus on staying hydrated even when you don’t consciously realize you’re thirsty.. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can be easier when you have a special cup or water bottle that you drink from, and keep track of for the day. Water not only helps you stay hydrated, but also helps your body digest food and absorb nutrients.
2. Enjoy as many different foods as possible.
Eat foods of different food groups and colors to help stay healthy. Variety in your diet helps reduce the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic suggests four reasons to add as many foods to your diet as possible:
- You’ll get more nutrients. Not every food has the same nutritional value, but your body needs all of them. For example, cashews are a good source of magnesium while sunflower seeds help you stock up on vitamin E.
- You might live longer. Women who rotated through 16 to 17 healthy foods, in one study, lowered their mortality rate by 42% compared to those eating zero to eight healthy foods.
- You lower the risk of metabolic syndrome. Eating a variety of foods including seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. has been proven to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome – which increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
- You might lose weight. Eating a varied diet even helps increase the diversity of good bacteria in your gut, something that researchers now associate with overall health and even weight loss.
3. Minimize the table salt.
Seniors need to monitor their intake of salt because salt can raise your blood pressure, and high blood pressure in turn, can cause cardiovascular disease including strokes, heart failure and heart attacks. High blood pressure becomes particularly more common with age, which means seniors are wise to cut back. One of the easiest ways to do it is by reading labels on packaged foods, and substituting spices, herbs and fresh citrus juice (like lemon, lime and orange) for table salt when cooking.
4. Get enough protein.
Protein is important for maintaining muscle, which is harder to do as we age. But protein is also important for your diet to avoid overeating. That’s because foods like meat, beans, lentils and tofu are satisfying Eating a serving of salmon, for example, fills you up for longer than carbs like bread.
5. Reduce sugar consumption.
Most adults should eat less sugar than we do. The recommended amount is TK. Why? Too much sugar results in conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. But more readily, sugar is associated with chronic inflammation which can make joint pain especially painful.
6. Get more B12 vitamins.
Vitamin B12 is particularly important for seniors because as we age, we become more likely to be deficient. In fact, up to 20% of people 50 and older may have a low intake of vitamin B12, yet most may not realize it until this deficiency causes major health problems. These often include anemia (low red blood cells and related fatigue), neuropathy (nerve malfunctioning, often causing numbness) and cognitive impairment (such as dementia). That’s because vitamin B12 is responsible for generating cell growth, increasing cognition, supporting the immune system and bone health.
To get more B12 into your diet, add more servings of fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. It’s also helpful to eat fortified foods like cereals and add a supplement for good measure.
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