A healthy diet for seniors is essential, especially for adults over the age of 65. According to the World Health Organization, most diseases suffered by the elderly are due to lack of a proper diet. For example, diabetes and osteoporosis are linked to a lack or excess of micronutrients, and cancer of the colon, pancreas, and prostate are linked to a diet high in fat.
A healthy meal will have carb-rich foods like rice or sweet potato, protein-rich foods like chicken, beans, and salmon, and fruits and vegetables. Look for meals that have these nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, fibre, water, iron, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, potassium, and magnesium.
Let’s look at some foods that are good for those over 65, and then we will discuss some of the barriers to eating a healthy diet. The following are the top ten foods to include in a healthy diet for seniors:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s help prevent inflammation, which in turn helps prevent rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. It can also slow down Macular Degeneration, which is particularly troubling for seniors.
Find omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed. ad canola oil. Aim for two servings of omega-3 foods each week.
Calcium helps to build and maintain healthy bones, helps lower blood pressure, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Foods high in calcium are dairy products as well as easy green veggies and fortified cereals.
Anyone over the age of 50 should consume 1200 mg of calcium every day; if you find it too hard to do this via food and drink, talk to your healthcare provider about a good supplement for you to take.
The digestive system tends to slow down as we get older; the contractions are fewer and slower, and the walls of the gastrointestinal tract thicken. For many retired seniors, this can lead to constipation and a reduction in the absorption of nutrients. Foods rich in fibre keep things moving and can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Foods high in fibre include wholegrain pasta and bread, nuts, brown bread, brown rice, vegetables, and wholegrain cereal.
Consuming enough water is just as important for seniors as for everyone else. You might not feel as thirsty as often, but people over 65 need eight glasses of water a day. Dehydration causes side effects such as confusion and drowsiness, and can lead to more serious complications if it isn’t treated soon enough. High-fibre diets also require you drink more water than usual because fibre absorbs the water you drink.
To check for dehydration, look at your urine. If it’s bright or dark yellow or cloudy, you are likely dehydrated. Your urine should be light and transparent if you’re driving an adequate amount of water. For those with liver or kidney disease, the rules for water consumption are different. Speak with your doctor about your ideal water intake.
In the body, iron produces hemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout the body from the blood in the lungs. Without enough iron your body will have a limited supply of oxygen, making you feel lethargic and tired. A deficiency in iron is called anemia.
Foods high in iron include red meat, turkey, beans and legumes, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, quinoa, spirulina, and dark chocolate.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps to fight free-radicals, reducing the chance of heart disease and cancer. It also is involved with collagen production, which provide your skin with elasticity. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds, repairs teeth and bones, and is also essential in the absorption of iron. Vitamin C can be found in vegetables and fruits.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is necessary to help maintain bone density and thus reduces the chances of osteoporosis. It can also help protect against chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Your body produces Vitamin D when it absorbs the proper amount of sunshine, or you can take Vitamin D supplements. For food sources, look to eggs and fish like tuna and salmon.
8. Vitamin B12
B12 maintains nerve function, DNA, and the production of red blood cells. Found in meat and poultry products as well a in dairy products, you can also talk to your doctor about supplements.
Most seniors don’t get enough potassium each day. This mineral is essential in many body functions like blood pressure and preventing kidney stones. Find it in potatoes, prunes, and potatoes. Potassium supplements are very easy to overdose on, and too much potassium can be very dangerous, so speak to a healthcare professional before you start on supplements.
Magnesium is important in over 300 functions of the human body. It affects your bones, heart, and immune system. As we grow older, our bodies don’t absorb magnesium as well, and some medications can impact its absorption as well.
Magnesium is found in fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.