A good diet, packed with nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, is important for people of all ages. Healthy eating habits play a huge role in our present and future health. For adults over 50, though, the impact of a good diet (or a bad one!) can have more serious effects. As we age, our bodies naturally become more vulnerable. Our metabolism slows, bones and muscles weaken, our immune system balks and our digestive system reacts differently. Maintaining a great, nutritional diet is just as important for seniors now as it was years ago.
“In addition to exercise, a nutritious diet is a great way for seniors to keep going stronger, longer,” says Heather O’Banion, Executive Director at Village Manor, a continuing care retirement community in Bowling Green, KY. “Older adults should think about nutrition in terms of fuel they need to keep their bodies energized and healthy. As the body ages and loses some of its abilities and resources, it’s important to fill it with the good things it needs to stay well.”
Let’s take a closer look at the aging process and how nutrition can balance out our bodies’ changes.
How Age Affects Nutritional Levels
No matter how healthy we are, our bodies naturally go through many changes as we age. According to the USDA and the National Institute on Aging, several of these age-related changes have a lot to do with our nutritional levels. Some include:
Loss of appetite
Decrease of thirst
Pain in the teeth and gums
Loss of taste and smell
In addition, we’re more likely to experience health problems the older we get. For example, seniors experience a higher risk of:
High blood pressure
Loss of bone density
While some of these health issues may be caused by conditions beyond our control, we can help to compensate for the loss of nutrients and health by eating well.
Achieving Wellness Through Proper Nutrition
Fortunately, many of the issues mentioned above can be improved, remedied and prevented by committing to a healthy and nutritious diet. If you find it hard to work up an appetite, try making mealtimes special by socializing with friends. Or, if you can only eat a small amount, make sure it’s a nutrient-rich snack, like peanut butter and fruit or a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts. Drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty. Get creative when it comes to the taste and texture of your food, using herbs and spices while cooking and trying out new smoothie recipes with nutritious ingredients.
When it comes to our physical health, many common concerns and ailments among seniors can be addressed through what they eat. Reducing sodium will help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems. Calcium will strengthen bones and fiber can greatly enhance digestion. Consider the benefits of other nutrients:
Protein – seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, dairy
Proteins are important for your body to build and repair tissues, as well as produce energy. They also help the body fight infection, keeping you healthy from viruses and other illnesses.
Carbohydrates – fruit, vegetables, dairy, sugar, bread, cereal, rice, pasta
Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. They’re also a good source of fiber, which can help with stomach issues and digestive problems, such as constipation. A high-fiber diet can also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar.
We all know that an excess of fat in our diet is bad, but not all fats are created equal. Some fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better for you and even necessary for good internal health. You can find these in nuts, peanut butter, fish and seeds. Saturated and trans fats – found in processed, packaged foods, butter, red meat and cheese – aren’t as healthy and are often how we end up consuming too much fat in our diets.
Vitamins & Minerals
While food is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs, it is possible to take supplements in order to get the recommended amounts of certain nutrients. However, you should ask your doctor first before you start taking over-the-counter supplements, as they may be unnecessary or interact with your current medications.
Making Wellness Part of Your Daily Life
“It’s important for seniors to make healthy choices when they eat and to make sure they’re getting the nutrients their bodies need to stay well,” explains O’Banion. “But it’s also important to remember that any changes you make in your diet won’t result in improved health overnight. The best way to implement new dietary habits is to start small, improve over time and recognize that you reap the benefits through building habits.
“At Village Manor, we emphasize total well-being through our dining and exercise programs. If you’d like to learn more about senior nutrition or are interested in our lifestyle here on campus, reach out to us today!”
Welcome Home to Gracious Retirement Living at Its Best!
At Village Manor, we offer a lifestyle unlike any other, complete with all of the comforts and conveniences of apartment home and campus-style living. As Bowling Green’s only Continuing Care Retirement Community, we offer peace of mind to our residents and their families.
Village Manor is committed to a tradition of faith, care and family, and we live out our life’s work through everything for which these powerful words stand. Faith encourages us to never give up hope, allowing us to provide the best care in each situation. We are called to love our neighbors, seeking to meet every need and showing true support and friendship in all that we do. We’ve dedicated ourselves to a lifestyle of care, prioritizing our residents’ needs and comfort above anything else.
At Village Manor, we emphasize family. We consider it a privilege to take care of our residents as we would our own family members, and we are honored to be part of our residents’ family within our community.
Learn more today about living the retirement life you’ve always dreamed of.Contact us and begin the lifestyle you deserve.