Age and nutrition go hand in hand. Eating the right types of foods can make a big difference in your quality of life. You might not be able to enjoy quite the same things as you did when you were younger, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to bland food for the rest of your life. In fact, quite the opposite.
Here’s a look at how to follow a healthy diet in your older years and some other things you can do to make sure you stay at your best for as long as possible. Just remember to never make any dietary changes without first talking to your doctor.
Age And Nutrition Are Closely Linked: Why Is Nutrition Even More Important As You Age?
Proper nutrition is important, no matter how old you are. But as the body ages, it changes. For example, you tend to lose muscle mass as you get older.1 As a result, changes to your nutritional needs will happen as well.
Some people find their stomach doesn’t produce as much acid as it did when they were younger. This can affect the way your body absorbs certain nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B12.2Many people find they don’t get as hungry or thirsty as before.3,4That can result in risks such as dangerous weight loss or dehydration.
So, in order to protect yourself from those risks, you might have to pay more attention to your nutritional needs than before. To get the nutrition you need, you’ll need to focus more on your food choices.
Healthy Food Choices Are Important In Order To Help Prevent Nutritional Deficiencies
You want to continue doing as many of the things you love as possible, right? Well, nutrition will play a key role in helping you do just that. As you age, nutrient intake becomes more important than ever before. Pay close attention to each nutrient on the list below, and make sure you get an ample supply of each through the food you eat.
- Vitamin D and Calcium for bone health – One of the biggest threats, when you get older, is breaking a bone due to a fall. Calcium and vitamin D may help minimize that risk. Healthy sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables, fortified plant-based beverages, and fortified cereals. You’ll find vitamin D in food such as fatty fish (including salmon, which contains healthy fatty acids) and eggs.
- Fiber for digestive health – Getting enough fiber helps you maintain regular bowel habits. It can also be important to support heart health. Whole grains, such as bread and cereal, are packed with fiber. Vegetables and fruits are also great sources of this critically important nutrient.
- Potassium for cardiovascular health – Potassium is another nutrient that can help support your heart. Beans, vegetables, and fruits are good sources, as are low-fat dairy products. Stay away from saturated fat and trans fat, though, because that may increase your risk for heart issues.5
Healthy Aging Is Within Your Reach – And Don’t Believe These Common Myths
As important as healthy eating – and maintaining a healthy nutritional status as a result – is to your quality of life, there are other matters that are just as vital.
Change is a major part of getting older. And this certainly doesn’t mean you have to assume you’ll be miserable as you get older. On the contrary, there are many ways you can stay incredibly happy and healthy. Here’s a look at a few of the myths typically associated with aging.
- Myth: You can’t learn new things – Never listen to anyone who says you’re too old to learn something new. That’s simply ridiculous. You’re just as capable of learning as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to expose yourself to a new environment.
- Myth: You’re going to eventually become debilitated – This is another ridiculous myth. Yes, there are certain health problems that may affect older people. But just because you’re getting older, that doesn’t mean you’ll wind up debilitated. Getting proper nutrition and lots of physical activity can go a long way toward reducing your risk of certain health issues.6
Build Up These Healthy Eating Habits To Ensure Proper Nutrition Intake Every Day
Regardless of age, eating healthy food is important. But it can be challenging to eat the right foods if you don’t have a lot of practice. You might not, for instance, have made eating lean meat a priority. Here are a few ways to meet your nutritional needs.
- Don’t forget your fluids. As important as food is to your health, it’s just as important to drink plenty of liquids. Drinking water is the healthiest way to stay hydrated. Try to cut out – or eat least cut down – your dietary intake of sodas and other sugary beverages.
- Watch your portions. Keep an eye on your calorie intake. The body doesn’t metabolize food as easily when you’re older. If you eat too much food, you might be at a higher risk for putting on too much weight. Control your portion size. Don’t be afraid to take home some of your next restaurant meal and have leftovers the next day.
- Eat your vegetables. This is sound advice no matter what your age. Getting a good variety of vegetables is key to helping you avoid nutritional deficiencies.7
A special mention has to be made regarding dental health and nutrition. If you have dental issues, you might be hesitant to eat certain types of food. For example, you might stay away from meat or fruits and vegetables because you find them hard to chew. It will be critical to your health to find alternatives while you get your dental problems addressed. Soup, canned tuna, and canned fruits will help provide the nutrition you need.8
Don’t Forget To Regularly Engage In Physical Activity If You Want To Stay Healthy
Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot about just how vital it is to eat the right type of food to maintain proper nutrition as you get older. But staying active is just as vital to your well being and quality of life. Try to get as much exercise as your body will allow.
While any amount of exercise is better than nothing, most experts recommend getting an average of 150 minutes each week – or two-and-a-half hours. You can spread that amount out however you like – 30 minutes five days a week, an hour on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 30 minutes on Fridays – whatever is most convenient. Just get out and do something.9
One of the best types of exercise you can do is endurance exercise. This may help keep your cardiovascular and circulatory systems working as they should. Physical activity such as swimming, cycling, walking, playing tennis, or even yard work, can go a long way toward helping you avoid a lot of serious health issues.10
But just like you shouldn’t start a new diet without talking to your doctor, don’t start any sort of exercise regimen without first getting medical clearance. Working out is great, but you want to make sure you do it the safe way.