Eating healthy is not only essential but is important for all age groups for a stress-free and active life. When we take a balanced diet fulfilling all the nutrient requirements, our energy demand is also taken care of. Other than feeling energetic, boosting immunity and controlling weight gain are also benefits of eating healthy.
Although taking care of your eating habits is important during childhood and adolescence, it should become a matter of concern as you age. Ageing brings a lot of changes in your body and life. This will therefore need an alteration in your dietary needs also. For instance, your grandparents would need fewer calories but enough nutrients in the same amount of food they consume.
Timely and healthy eating of our seniors helps promote a positive outlook and emotional balance in them. However, healthy eating should not be confused with dieting and sacrifice; rather, it must be associated with enjoying fresh and tasty food with wholesome ingredients. Eating in the company of your friends and family will further encourage the aged to improve their eating habits.
Before knowing about healthy tips and tricks, we will come across the factors that make it hard for an older adult to eat healthy.
- They may live alone or have trouble getting around due to medical problems or low self-esteem.
- It may have become difficult for the aged person to cook or feed himself.
- The sense of taste or smell may have been compromised with age.
- Over time, medicines can also change your taste buds, dry your mouth, or reduce your appetite.
- Restrictions to your income may change. Thus, not having enough money to consume a healthy diet every time may also become a problem.
- Some people also develop a problem with chewing or swallowing food as they age.
There are a number of ways that someone can help choose healthy food for older adults and improve their eating habits.
- Eat lots of nutrients.
- Fruits and vegetables – seniors must opt for plenty of citrus fruits and vegetables, which are a good source of vitamin C—for example, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, tangerines, grapefruit, and strawberries.
- Whole grains like wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice are preferred.
- Dairy products must be taken regularly but choose only fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese. Soy milk is also a good choice as it is rich in vitamin D and calcium.
- Those who are non-vegetarians can include seafood, lean meat, and eggs in their diet but prefer plant-based foods whenever they can.
- Beans, nuts, and seeds must be taken in routine.
- Avoid eating calories
There are a lot of foods and snacks that are high in calories but few in nutrients, such as chips, candies, baked foods, soda, and alcohol. Thus, they can give you the feeling of fullness and not let you enjoy the benefits of eating healthy.
- Consume low cholesterol and fats
As per medical professionals, an elderly’s total cholesterol intake must be below 200 milligrams. Therefore, avoid intake of saturated and trans fats. Some foods with unhealthy fats are:
- Processed foods and meat like ham, bacon, salami, biscuits, pastries, etc.
- Deep-fried fast foods are not good for their gut.
- The skin of chicken and fat of meat.
- Ghee, coconut oil.
- Take away foods like pizza and burgers.
- Stay hydrated
With age, some people tend to lose their sense of thirst and need to be mindful of their drinking habits. Some medicines may also require the consumption of plenty of water. Moreover, water is essential for the digestion and absorption of nutrients along with the proper excretion of waste.
- Remain physically active. It will help increase your appetite. Go for a walk or jog every morning.
- If you are tired of eating alone, try inviting your friends and family over to cook together.
- If you have trouble swallowing due to some health issues or medicinal side effects, check with a health professional. Drinking water with your meal may also help.
- Visit a dentist if you are having trouble chewing.
- Add color or texture to make food more interesting if one has lost the sense of smell and taste.
- Visit an occupational therapist or hire
ahousehold help if it is hard for you to cook at an elderly age.
BENEFITS OF EATING HEALTHY AS YOU AGE
Healthy food for older adults is rich in nutrients, helps in the proper functioning of your body, and lets you enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, a healthy diet will help you compensate for the nutritional deficiencies and reduced organ functioning that come with growing age.
- Supports digestion
As you age, your stomach becomes sensitive to a lot of foods that were earlier easy to digest. You may no longer be able to eat spicy and fried foods without feeling heartburn and indigestion. Therefore, a healthy diet will support your digestive health through probiotics, prebiotics, and good hydration. Along with proper absorption of food, problems like constipation can also be avoided by maintaining bowel health.
- Improves immunity
When your digestive health functions properly, the body’s immune system also improves, and your body fights better against infections. We can also list some immunity-boosting foods.
- Green tea
- Citrus foods
- Strengthening of bones
As we proceed with our age, our bones start to lose calcium. Hence, healthy steps must be taken to restore bone strength and avoid chronic conditions like osteoporosis. Here are Some foods rich in calcium and vitamin D are:
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and okra
- Soya beans and tofu
- Oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
- Stronger muscles
Older adults must be encouraged to do strength training with light weights for muscle growth. However, eating healthy foods is the key to building strong muscles. Some such foods are:
- Fatty fish
- Milk and cheese
- Beans and nuts, eggs
- Keeps teeth, skin, and eyes in good condition
One common vitamin responsible for maintaining healthy skin, teeth, and eyes is vitamin A. Therefore, older adults must be encouraged to consume vitamin A rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, egg yolks, and fish. Some other essential nutrients may be calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancers
Nowadays, all these chronic diseases have become very common in individuals with growing age. Hence, tune up your diet by including foods that benefit your heart and other organs. Some healthy foods for older adults are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and vegetable oils.
- It helps maintain a healthy weight.
Losing or maintaining weight does not require dieting or skipping meals. On the contrary, you must eat regular meals, including more fibrous foods, and drink plenty of water. This will control your weight without compromising on your energy sources.
- Enhance brain activity and fill positivity
Focusing on eating fruits, leafy vegetables, fish, and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids improves their mental focus. This ultimately decreases the risk of chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Since vegetables are rich in antioxidants, they also help improve memory and mental alertness. The individual also feels positive as their mood and self-esteem are also boosted.
- The secret to living longer
Your life span automatically increases when you tend to lower the risk of falling prey to deadly diseases. Therefore, leading a long and healthy life is the most important benefit of eating healthy.
Once we understand the benefits of eating healthy, as we age, we will become mindful of our eating habits at an earlier age. If we give ourselves a healthy start from midlife, i.e., 30’s; also, it would help us lead a healthy life in our older age.
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