Senior Nutrition: Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults
As adults grow older, their nutritional needs change as well. This means that proper senior nutrition is not the same compared to when adults were in their 20s or 30s. By the time adults reach their 50s, their bodies go through numerous changes that makes their old diets obsolete. This means that understanding proper senior nutrition starts with knowing how the body changes and what type of nutrients work best.
Because the muscle mass starts to decrease when people reach their 40s, the amount of calories needed to fuel the body is less. This means that you should cut down on the intake of food, so that you are not adding unnecessary calories to your diet. And while you should no longer eat like a teenager, remember that you can use exercise to increase your muscle mass to help burn more calories.
Drink More Water
It’s easier for seniors to become dehydrated, so be sure you are consuming plenty of water. The addition of water helps the bowels function properly, keeps you feeling cool and in control, and helps the digestive system in processing foods. Be sure to keep plenty of water around when it is hot as dehydration and heat exhaustion become a real danger.
Consume more Protein
As the muscle mass starts to shrink, adding more protein to the diet helps to build new muscle. You should engage in some resistance or weight training to maintain good muscle mass. The addition of protein will make keeping your muscles easier, so you can burn away unwanted fat, stave off bone loss, and increase overall strength to keep from falling.
Choose Food with More Nutrients
Seniors eat fewer calories, but that doesn’t mean skipping out on getting the nutrition they need. For most seniors, increasing the intake of leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lean meats provides ample nutrition without the unnecessary fats and fast carbohydrates.
More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Maintaining healthy brain function means consuming more foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids. This means lean meats such as cold-water fish, like tuna, trout, and salmon. You can also get Omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed and walnuts, although you need to be careful about consuming too much as they contain high levels of fat.
As you grow older, the need for certain vitamins and supplements increase. For proper senior nutrition, this means an increase in Vitamins D and B12. Because bone loss becomes a bigger issue, adding Vitamin D along with calcium helps to maintain proper bone mass. You should consult with your doctor about what specific nutrients you require. Plus, be careful not to consume too many supplements as that may be dangerous as well.
Proper senior nutrition starts with an evaluation by your physician and starting the right type of diet. This means eating less, but more nutritious foods combined with proper exercise. It doesn’t take more work to lose weight, it takes the right approach that provides enough nutrition to keep the body going while not adding unnecessary fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.