8 simple steps to healthy eating habits in older age
Posted: 8/29/2019 12:42 AM by
Just Better Care
As we age, our nutritional needs evolve and we need more specific nutrients. Unfortunately, as we age, our appetite decreases and tastes change.
It’s crucial to maintain a healthy diet, with a variety of food groups and while breaking old habits and starting new ones can be challenging, positive change can start with a few simple steps.
1. Eat more greens.
Some of nature’s best sources of calcium come from leafy greens like spinach, kale and silverbeet. While dairy and non-dairy milks, cereal and juices can be great sources of calcium, our bodies best absorb calcium from natural sources. Add spinach to smoothies or blend kale into your pesto for an easy calcium boost.
2. Don’t neglect Vitamin D.
Fortified foods like cereal, milks (including dairy and non-dairy varieties) and juices are excellent sources of Vitamin D, which help our bodies absorb calcium, and protect us from other ailments. Getting 10-15 minutes of sunshine per day can also help our bodies naturally regulate Vitamin D. If you believe you or a loved one has a Vitamin D deficiency, your doctor can order a simple blood test and depending on the result, supplementation may be necessary.
3. Get your B12.
Deficiencies in B12 are common in many adults, and particularly older people, since our bodies don’t always absorb this vitamin efficiently. B12 helps keep our nerves and blood cells healthy, and deficiency can cause tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, balance problems and confusion. Since these symptoms are sometimes associated with getting older, a B12 deficiency may go undetected. B12 can be found in fortified foods and supplements and is also found in animal proteins.
4. Start each day with protein.
As we get older, our muscle mass decreases, which means protein is an especially important nutrient. Ensuring that the recommended intake of 35g of protein daily for older people is easier by making it part of a healthy breakfast. Porridge, yogurt, eggs, tofu, nuts, and smoothies are all excellent and healthy sources of protein.
5. Prioritise potassium.
Prune juice is a great source of potassium, and also helps keep blood pressure at healthy levels. Other foods that will help you get the recommended 4,700 milligrams of potassium each day include bananas, potato varieties, white beans, yogurt and broccoli.
6. Fibre for fullness and health.
Eat fruits whole with the skin on, as they are a fantastic source of fibre and a healthy antidote to constipation, which is common in older people. Soluble fibre, found in apples, beans, flaxseeds and oats, can also help keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check.
7. Avoid excess salt.
Our sense of taste and smell can become duller with age. Before adding extra salt to food, keep in mind that for some, consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure. Try seasoning food with generous amounts of fresh herbs or spices instead.
It’s important for older people to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water is best, but milk, coffee, tea, soup and fruit juice can also contribute to your daily fluid intake. Limit caffeine intake in coffee and tea as it can often dehydrate and have a mild diuretic effect.
Just Better Care’s meal support services can take the stress out of food preparation and contributes to maintaining a balanced diet. Contact us
to discuss your individual needs.