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Eating Healthy for Older Adults

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  • healthy eating, food, over 50s
  • Posted date:
  • 21-05-2021
Eating Healthy for Older Adults

As we grow older it is important to have a good diet to keep our bodies healthy. We look at tips and advice for eating healthy as older adults.

Healthy Eating Tips for Older Adults

Eating a wide range of different foods from all of the necessary food groups will help everyone receive all of the vitamins and minerals needed as they age. 

A healthy diet will place great importance on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. In terms of protein, lean meats, poultry and fish are the best choices. Additionally, beans, peas, nuts and eggs are also beneficial. Any foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, sodium (salt), and sugars are perfect.

Keeping Fit For The Over 50s

 A healthy eating diet doesn't need to be difficult or overly complex. There are a few simple things you can do to start eating healthier:

 Eating fresh, frozen or canned vegetables. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach or broccoli, and orange vegetables, such as carrots, are generally the best.

 Mix up your protein choices, introducing more fish, beans and peas into your diet.

 It would be best if you aimed to eat around 85 grams of whole-grain foods, such as cereals, bread, crackers, brown rice or pasta each day. Whole-grain carbohydrates are far healthier than other forms.

 Eating at least three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, cheese or yoghurt, with additional vitamin D will keep your bones strong and healthy.

 Any fats you eat should be polyunsaturated or monounsaturated, switching from solid fats to oils whenever possible.

Healthy Eating Tips for Older Adults London

How Nutrition Needs and Habits Change with Age?

As you age, your nutritional intake and eating habits will naturally change as time goes on. Here are a few ways in which this can happen and tips on how to eat healthily:

How Nutrition Needs and Habits Change with Age? London

Oral Health

Older adults may also have to contend with some oral health concerns that can also affect their diet and healthy eating. 

The need for dentures or oral infections can lead to problems with eating and even malnutrition.

Immune System

As you age and your immune system grows weaker, you are at a greater risk of food-related illnesses and food poisoning. 

Food hygiene is essential at all stages of life but is particularly vital as you grow older. 

Doctors may suggest avoiding hazardous foods, such as raw eggs or homemade mayonnaise to help prevent older people from suffering these illnesses.

Calories

When you get older, you will find that you won't need as many calories to remain at a healthy weight. 

As always, eating more calories than you use up in a day through physical activity will cause you to gain weight. 

Fatigue, joint and muscle problems are common as people get older, leading to reduced calorie-burning activity. Your metabolism can also slow down due to reduced muscle mass, lowering your need for as many calories.

Appetite

Many people find as they age that their appetite diminishes. Alongside this, your senses of taste and smell will also become less acute, leading people to eat less generally. 

While eating less may sound like a problem, given that older people undertake less physical activity, they do not need as many calories and so eating less is not a big issue. 

Of course, everyone needs to eat enough food to get the necessary nutrients and vitamins to maintain good health and not getting enough can lead to malnutrition.

Medical Conditions

Ageing also makes people more likely to suffer from chronic health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Your GP may suggest a change to your diet as a treatment for any one of these conditions. 

Majoritively, your doctor will suggest a high nutrient diet low in processed sugars and trans and saturated fats. Eating less sodium is also a possible suggestion. 

There are also certain foods, such as those that are spicy or dairy products, that as people age, they become more sensitive to. You may need to cut these from your diet to ensure you are eating healthy as well.

Medications

Older adults may also need to take various medications to treat any illnesses they may have. Some of these medications may affect your appetite, while others can interact with particular foods or supplements. 

Grapefruit, for example, can negatively affect your body's ability to metabolise warfarin. Ensuring that you receive enough vitamin K is also crucial for healthy eating. This vitamin can be found in leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale. 

When you have been prescribed certain medicines, check with your doctor whether you may need to change your diet.

Home Life

The loss of a family member or spouse can negatively affect daily routines, including healthy eating. 

Depression is known to reduce appetite, and if your spouse did the majority of the cooking beforehand, you might find yourself eating less and less. Some people may even stop eating altogether in such circumstances. 

It can be best to discuss any such issues with your family members, close friends, or GP. This is especially important if you are struggling to prepare food for yourself.

Depending on where you live, there may be some helpful local services that can help you maintain a healthy diet. 

Certain businesses or organisations specialise in preparing and delivering healthy eating meals to older people. 

These can be a lifeline for those who cannot prepare their food, helping them maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

How to create a healthy diet

The one priority of a healthy eating diet is to cut out any processed foods, ensuring that most of what you eat is as natural as possible. Of course, different people have different needs, and our bodies react differently to certain types of foods. Therefore, finding the proper diet for you may take some time. But we have a few tips to help you along the way.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables

You don't have to stick to the boring basics of fruits and vegetables and to get good nutrition. 

Choosing brightly coloured berries and exotic fruits can help you enjoy your healthy diet all the more. You should try and aim to eat between two and three portions of fresh fruit every day. 

Eating antioxidant-rich, dark, leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are excellent options, with carrots and squash offering more colourful alternatives in terms of vegetables. Again, between two to three portions are what you should aim for per day.

Calcium for bone strength

Maintaining strong bones as you grow older requires an adequate level of calcium in your diet. 

Ensuring this can help you to avoid severe conditions such as osteoporosis or fractures. 

There are many good sources of calcium for you to work into your diets, such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, and other foods like broccoli, almonds and kale.

Choose the right carbs

Rather than finely refined and overly processed white flour, choose whole-grain bread, pasta and brown rice when considering carbohydrates. It would also be best to cut down any sugars as much as possible. 

Given that the sweet tastes last the longest as the tongue ages, many older people can begin to eat more sweet foods than is healthy for them.

Mix up your proteins

Ensuring that you get enough high-quality protein is an excellent way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. But, you have to be sure to eat the right proteins. 

Again, you should generally avoid processed foods, such as salami, bacon, hot dogs and most red meat, as they can lead to severe illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. 

Having various protein sources in your diet, such as fish, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds, can help you get the correct proteins into your body.

Choose the right fats

It can be tricky to cut fats entirely out of your diet, but you can choose to incorporate the right fats. 

Foods rich in omega-3 are a perfect choice that can boost your immune system and brain function. Olive oil is also an excellent choice.

Get more fibre

Fibre is a crucial and excellent nutrient that must be included in any balanced and healthy diet. 

Aside from helping you to stay regular, fibre is known to reduce your risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and help you to lose weight.


If you have questions about how to eat healthy as older adults, we hope this information has been useful to you.

References for further reading:

ageuk.org.uk

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