The benefits include more energy, better management of chronic health issues, faster recuperation times, and a healthier life altogether.
It’s best to focus on foods rich in color that are packed full of vitamins, leafy greens, and other fresh produce. It’s crucial to understand the nutrition that is important for your age and which foods to keep on hand. Certain foods work best to help maintain your health while combating common nutritional issues associated with aging.
Bring on the B-12
Vitamin B12 is vital for the functioning of the nervous and circulatory systems and is especially important for the elderly because as we age, our ability to absorb nutrients from food is at a steady decline. This condition is known as atrophic gastritis and is one of the most common causes for vitamin B12 deficiency among seniors. As a result, more than 20 percent of people over age 60 are deficient in vitamin B12.
One of the things that B12 helps with is making DNA and red blood cells. Many animal-based foods are rich in B12, which is why B12 deficiencies are an issue for vegetarians as well. It’s best to take a B12 supplement or pay close attention to eating a lot of foods high in B12 to counteract any risk of deficiency.
Foods to remember: Shellfish, liver, soy, fish, eggs
Recipe: White Wine Mussels
Photo by Shawn Harquall
Fill up on fiber
Fiber is an absolute necessity for the aging population. When we age, changes to our gastrointestinal tract reduce the absorption of nutrients and slow intestinal motility. As a result, constipation and nutrient deficiency are health issues that commonly effect seniors. You can find many fiber rich products available in grocery stores due to the high demand for foods rich in fiber. To combat tummy issues associated with fiber problems, be sure to take advantage of the various fiber-rich products on the market as well as taking advantage of the foods that are naturally full of fiber.
Foods to remember: Corn, beans, whole-wheat pasta, edamame
Recipe: Herbed Quinoa
Get the vitamin D
Improving bone health should be a vital part of your nutritional concerns. After 50, muscle mass and strength reduction runs rampant throughout the body. Muscle weakness causes a feeling of heaviness in the legs, exhaustion, difficulty with stairs, and sitting up or sitting down.
Another risk with a diet lacking vitamin D is osteoporosis. Normal, healthy bone is composed of three, major minerals: protein, calcium, and collagen, all of which help it keep its strength and mass. However, a bone affected by osteoporosis, because it is lacking the mass necessary to maintain its structure, may fracture, either through cracking or collapsing (compression fracture). To combat osteoporosis and other diseases associated with poor bone health and vitamin D deficiency, be sure to eat foods to give you the vitamin D you need.
Foods to remember: Tuna, milk, yogurt, egg yolks, cheese
Recipe: Maple-Glazed Salmon
Enjoy good fats
Eating fat isn’t always a bad thing for your health. Enjoying the good fats available to you can help protect your body against heart disease and lower your cholesterol. The key to good nutrition is balance, and knowing the difference between good and bat fat is one of the balancing acts vital to staying healthy. Fat caries important vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Watch out for bad fats like saturated fat and trans fat that can do the opposite for you and put you at risk for heart disease.
Foods to remember: Olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts
Recipe: Corn and Avocado Salsa
Photo by Kristina
Watch the salt
Reducing sodium intake can be a difficult task for a lot of us. Especially for seniors whose sense of smell and taste diminish with age, causing a lot of older people to salt their food more heavily without realizing it.
Try using other oils and herbs to season food instead of salt. Adding too much salt can lead to water retention, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure that severely heightens your risk for heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. Grocery stores carry many products that cater to those looking to lower their sodium intake as well.
Foods to remember: Low-sodium peanut butter, dry peas, allspice, garlic powder
Recipe: White bean dip
The important thing to remember when staying healthy as a senior is to focus on the positive outcomes of these simple changes. Eating healthy can sometimes seem like quite the challenge, but focusing on the big nutritional advantages for your health will help to outweigh the difficulty for choosing healthier options over unhealthy ones. Eating healthy and focusing on your eating choices puts your health in your hands and gives you the ability to get back in the kitchen and be proud of the healthy foods you’re cooking for yourself and your overall health.
Author Bio: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She is passionate about nutritional health, spending time in her garden, and drinking fruity wine. Follow her on Twitter!