No matter what your age, a healthy clean diet is important, However, eating healthy when you’re older is even more important because of several changes in the body. Most older people are more sedentary than their younger peers, so they often eat less. To make matters worse, low stomach acid and reduced digestive enzymes make it even more difficult to get all the nutrition from the foods that are eaten. Dental problems may play a role, as well as lack of energy for food preparation. That’s why planning meals carefully can help seniors boost their nutritional intake and make the most of each meal.
Start with your water intake.
Water isn’t food, but it’s actually far more important than food. You can go without eating for 21 days or longer, but a week or less without water. Unfortunately, as the appetite decreases, so does the sense of thirst. When the appetite decreases, seniors eat far fewer foods that contain the fluids they need and also drink less water. That can spell dehydration that can cause symptoms that range from fatigue and lethargy to cramps, headaches, signs similar to dementia, dizziness and increased heartrate. Make sure you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.
Cut out the junk and stick with whole foods.
Whole foods contain the nutrients that your body needs and far fewer calories. Older people do well increasing their protein intake. One study showed that people who included more protein in their diet lost 40 percent less muscle mass than those who had less protein. Make sure your diet include foods high in vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. You can boost your nutritional intake by adding plenty of herbs and spices into your food. They also improve the flavor and make the food more palatable.
Get adequate fiber in your diet.
We all know that fiber is the go-to food that makes you go. Let’s face it. If you’re constipated, you won’t want to eat as much, so it helps keep you feeling better and boosts your appetite. Some medications cause problems going, inactivity and dehydration also add to that. Adequate fiber can help prevent some serious conditions, such as diverticular disease, occurs in 50 percent of the population over 50 and extra fiber helps prevent it.
- If dental problems interfere with eating, switch some of your meals to smoothies with all the nutrients you need in an easy to consume form. Use your blender to help create delicious, healthy soup, too.
- Have healthy snacks available.
- Eat a rainbow of color. Choose fruits and vegetables of various colors to make sure you get all the nutrients you need from your daily food intake.
- Have meals with friends. Eating alone is no fun, make it a social time and enjoy.