Most people know nutrition plays an essential role in overall well-being. Even when we don’t follow doctor’s orders about eating healthy, we know we should. From disease prevention to diabetes and cholesterol management, the benefits of a well-balanced diet are numerous.
What isn’t as commonly known is how dramatically our nutritional needs change as we grow older. The body absorbs and processes nutrients differently, which can change the amount of vitamins and minerals a senior needs.
Here’s what you should know if you are a senior or the caregiver for one.
5 Keys to Healthy Senior Nutrition
- Think of it as a lifestyle, not a diet.
Just the word diet can leave you feeling deprived. Instead of saying you are on a diet, change your mindset. Think of these changes as a healthy lifestyle. Make changes slowly over time.
One healthy lifestyle practiced in areas around the world is known as “Blue Zones.” These are places where people enjoy the longest, healthiest lives.
People who live in Blue Zones follow a diet primarily comprised of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and little red meat. They typically eat at least 5 to 7 colorful fruits and vegetables a day.
- Manage sodium intake.
Seniors who rely on packaged foods and fast food may not realize how much sodium they are consuming. Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease, especially as you grow older.
Cooking and freezing healthy foods in batches can make mealtime easier and healthier. Instead of using salt to season foods, experiment with herbs and spices for extra flavor.
One tasty combination is using basil in tomato-based dishes. Chives, dill, and sage can enhance poultry, fish, and root vegetables.
- Monitor vitamin D.
Seniors suffer from vitamin D deficiencies more often than younger adults. It’s believed to be caused by lack of exposure to natural sunlight and problems absorbing vitamins and minerals. It’s important to work with your physician to monitor vitamin D. You may need supplements or a prescription dose of vitamin D to correct it.
Vitamin D deficits can cause muscle pain, fatigue, depression, hair loss, and susceptibility to infection. It can also put older adults at higher risk for bone loss and osteoporosis. Some studies also link it to cancer and heart disease.
- Consume omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids promote a healthy heart and brain. They also help control inflammation, a condition associated with heart disease and cancer.
Incorporating foods rich with omega-3 fatty acids into your diet at least twice a week is ideal. A few examples include salmon, eggs, sea bass, flaxseed, sardines, edamame, leafy greens, lake trout, tuna, walnuts, and mackerel.
- Stay hydrated.
Another essential part of a healthy lifestyle is hydration. The general recommendation is 8 glasses of water per day. If you have a health condition, speak with your physician for further guidance.
Foods high in water content can also help maintain hydration. Melons, leafy greens, berries, cucumber, and celery are a few.
Signature Dining at Five Star Senior Living
At Five Star Senior Living communities, we pride ourselves on serving nutritious and delicious meals. Our chef-crafted menus and variety of dining options make every meal a culinary masterpiece.
We invite you to join us for a meal of your choice. Call (853) 457-8271 to learn more and schedule a time!