As we age, our body requires less food to maintain the same functions of the body. The changes in the human body due to aging make one prone to deficiencies of several important nutrients, mainly the deficiency of calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. With aging, several changes occur in all organs. Some systems slow down, while others lose their fine-tuning. The changes include modifications in the bones, heart, the muscle losing its mass and resulting in atrophied muscles, reduction in the elasticity of the skin, and reduction in the stomach acid. Along with these, many changes occur throughout the body. Like the rest of the body, the brain also starts to shrink affecting cognitive function, and the most apparent change is memory. Some of these changes make one prone to the deficiency of nutrients and affect hunger and thirst adversely. Aging is linked with the inability to recognize hunger and thirst.
Following a healthy diet, tips can help to maximize an elderly person’s independence. Here are some nutritional tips for healthy aging:
- Get your fill of protein:
A protein-rich diet is important in old age, as proteins play a vital role in maintaining overall health, muscle strength, maintaining balance, dexterity, and flexibility of the joints. Each body cell relies on proteins for its functioning. Also, proteins help in the formation of new cells and keep the muscles healthy. As discussed, as we age, our appetite reduces. So, in this phase, if you don’t feel hungry, try to eat at least the protein part of your meal. One in every three elderly adults doesn’t get enough proteins. So, it is important to know which foods are rich in proteins so that you get a sufficient quantity of proteins that is required for your body. A protein-rich diet provides many important nutrients. A list of proteins abundant foods includes:
- Nuts and seeds: Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Seafood, poultry, and lean cuts of meat
- Beans and legumes
- Dairy foods: Fat-free milk, protein-rich milk, yogurt, and cheese
2) Smack on fiber:
Not just prunes, any fibrous fruits or veggies can help to keep digestion smooth. To avoid digestive system problems, such as constipation and other issues, fiber is essential for your digestive system to work efficiently. This is because the fiber helps in maintaining healthy digestion. A diet abundant in fiber is important in old age, as the inflammation of the colon is common in this age and it may lead to diverticulitis and colon cancer. If one is constipated, it can further lead to hemorrhoids so fiber-rich foods play a vital role in maintaining good health of your gut. Fiber is also important to lower your bad cholesterol and keep you fuller for a long time. It also reduces your chances of developing diabetes and obesity. Soluble fiber helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Foods rich in fiber include:
- Fruits: Strawberries, pears, and apples
- Vegetables: Broccoli, radish, carrots, okra, beet, and kale
- Oats and oat bran
- Whole grains
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts provide healthy fats and suppress your appetite. Have almonds, walnuts, and seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds.
- Brown rice
- Be calorie conscious:
As we age, we need fewer calories due to muscle loss. The slowed metabolism is a part of aging because of less muscle mass. Slowed metabolism lowers your calorie needs. As you age, your physical activity reduces, so, with the sedentary life, the need for calorie reduces. If one consumes more calories, because of reduced mobility, the burn-out of calories is less, and one happens to gain weight. An increased intake of calories leads to obesity because of which one may suffer from diseases associated with obesity. Savor low-calorie indulgences such as fresh, seasonal fruit.
- Have Foods With Abundant Vitamins and Minerals:
Vitamin D, Calcium, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B complex are very important for elderly people. After you become older than 50 years, you may not get enough vitamin B12 and D. Calcium and vitamin D help to maintain good bone health and keep it strong. Osteoporosis is common in old age; it’s particularly more common in females as compared to males because of the deficiency of estrogen hormone. Estrogen has a protective effect on the bone; it slows the natural breakdown of the bone. Sunlight is the main source of Vitamin D, so early morning sun or sunlight after 5.30 pm will help you to get a sufficient quantity of Vitamin D. In mushrooms, Vitamin D is present in small quantities. Dairy foods are abundant in calcium, but keep in mind lactose intolerance rises with age. So, try beans, canned fish, or nuts for calcium requirements. Some habits are detrimental to bone. For instance, the intake of alcohol. Smoking speeds up calcium loss from bone and inhibits calcium absorption. So, it is advisable to avoid such habits. Rather than having a supplement tablet, it is always good for your body and bone to get these essential nutrients from the food itself. Vitamin B is important to convert food into energy, so include vitamin B abundant foods, such as green leafy vegetables, liver and organ meat, salmon, eggs, legumes, and whole grains. Talk to your doctor about supplements.
- Consume bananas, avocados, or sweet potatoes:
Having foods abundant in potassium helps keep a lid on your rising blood pressure. Other potassium-rich foods include spinach, white beans, beet, tomatoes, and salmon.
- Go for spices & herbs:
Many spices help fight inflammation. Also, adding herbs and spices in foods enhances their flavor and reduces the need for salt intake.
- Drink a good quantity of water:
In your old age, you may not feel as thirsty as earlier, as the desire to drink water reduces with age, however, there prevails the risk of dehydration. Water plays a major role in taking out the waste products from the body and transporting the nutrients. Drink plenty of fluids in the form of water, fruit juices, soups, coconut water and eat water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cucumber, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, oranges, and apples.
Whatever physical changes occur with normal aging are not diseases. Everyone changes physically as they grow older. According to research, the people who are engaged in an active lifestyle lose less muscle mass and flexibility as they age. We should all follow a healthy diet actively for our overall good health. Eating healthily keeps our energy levels up throughout the day which makes us a lot more mobile than that we are by consuming a poor diet. Talk to your diet expert and doctor before you make any major changes in diet or take any nutrient supplement. They can guide you for having a good diet in the right manner by considering the underlying illnesses if you have any and the requirement of your body. Eat healthy and stay in pink of health even when you age.