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Nutrition Tips for Active Agers

Eating Right for Long-Term Health: Nutrition Tips for Active Agers

For optimum health, you have to eat right as you age. As a general rule, you need to eat plenty of protein every day and lots of fruits and vegetables. Also, you need to drink lots of water to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated.

Obstacles To Healthy Eating

There are several factors that, individually or taken together, can make it especially difficult for an active ager to get the proper nutrition.

Loss Of Appetite

Certain medical conditions and medications can lead to a loss of appetite, while mental health issues can also affect our desire to eat. Additionally, as we age, changes in our ability to taste food may decrease our interest in eating.

Decreased Taste Or Smell

As we get older, we may lose our sensitivity to salt, leading to overuse in our cooking and potentially causing high blood pressure. On the other hand, our ability to taste sweetness often remains intact, which can result in consuming more sugary foods as they are more enjoyable. This can contribute to weight gain, particularly as our metabolism slows with age, and can also worsen diabetes.

Difficulty With Chewing And Swallowing

Dental problems can make it hard to eat, which causes malnutrition, which causes more dental problems. Swallowing problems are common after a stroke and that can make eating more difficult. 

Loss of Mobility And Strength

It can be difficult to get to the grocery store or even to move around the kitchen to cook. This could lead to an overreliance on frozen dinners or too many missed meals.

Chronic Disease

Many disease processes, and the medications you need to take to help them, can decrease our appetite and cause our bodies to be inefficient in absorbing nutrients.

Mental Health Issues

Depression and dementia can affect how often and how well we eat. Even loneliness can reduce our appetite.

Financial Problems

When we don’t have enough money, we may end up skipping meals or choosing cheaper, less nutritious food options.

Especially Needed Nutrients 

Ensuring adequate protein intake is crucial for maintaining a healthy diet, whether it’s from meat or plant-based sources such as soybeans. It’s also essential to consume enough dietary fiber. Many of us lack essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, B12, C, D, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium in our diets. Consulting a doctor to evaluate our nutrient levels is a wise decision. If we are deficient, we can research which foods are rich in the nutrients we lack. Otherwise, it’s recommended to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Water is often overlooked but is of utmost importance, particularly as we age. Dehydration can cause confusion and lethargy, making it crucial to stay hydrated.

Tips For Healthy Eating

A large meal can be overwhelming when we have a low appetite so we can try having more frequent, smaller snacks. The snacks should be healthy food. Cut-up fruits and vegetables are great snacks and can often be bought pre-sliced at the grocery store. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are also easy to make and eat. High-protein snacks include sardines, cottage cheese, and tuna.

As an alternative to salt, there are plenty of other spices to make food taste more interesting. Onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, basil, and cilantro are just a few. Food with deep colors is usually tastier, looks more interesting, and has more vitamins. Sweet potatoes, red or yellow peppers, and deep green lettuces are better than their paler counterparts.

To help with water intake, we can have water bottles around all the time and keep them refilled. Silicone straws can make it easier to sip water.  Electrolyte powders can make the water tasty and add minerals. Also, jelly drops are a product that seems like candy, but are mostly water!

A visit to the dentist is called for when tooth problems are interfering with eating. A speech therapist can help with swallowing problems. A doctor could diagnose any medical issues that underly these problems.

Beans, peas, lentils, seafood, dairy, and soy are all good ways to get protein. Many foods are fortified with vitamin B12. Taking supplements is something to discuss with a doctor.

We can invite friends and family to share a meal. Pot lucks can be a good idea and a way to get variety. Going to a buffet can encourage more eating and also increase the different types of food available. 

Getting groceries delivered is really common and can eliminate a troublesome trip to the grocery store. There are also meal kits that provide all the ingredients and recipes for full meals. Finally, there are food services such as Meals on Wheels that can help when finances are a problem.

Appliances That Help With Cooking

There are many appliances that can help with cooking. Most people have toaster ovens and microwaves, which can save time, money, and effort. But there are other appliances that can help as well.

A battery-operated electric can opener that opens cans without causing sharp edges is great for preventing hand pain and for safety. Air fryers can cook small amounts of tasty food quickly without excess oil. Crockpots can slow-cook a roast or stew with delicious results. Instant Pots use pressure to quickly cook vegetables, meat, and more. Rice cookers can give you perfectly cooked rice without burning and without having to keep a close eye on it. They can also steam vegetables.

Good nutrition is one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is important for active aging. There are lots of ways to be sure we are eating enough of the right foods. Consulting a healthcare professional like a doctor, dietician, or speech therapist is always a good idea if there are any concerns. At SeniorThrive!, we want everyone to stay happy and healthy.

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