Eating healthy food packed with vitamins and minerals is important at any age.
As people get older, however, changes in the body can affect how it processes food. Certain nutrients will become more important for maintaining and promoting good health. Below are some nutrition tips to help you stay healthy as you age.
- Eat less, but choose foods wisely: When a person ages, the metabolism slows down. This means eating less in order to maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, it is important to choose nutrient-rich foods to make sure every bite counts. An easy way to ensure adequate nutrient intake is to “eat from the rainbow” by choosing foods with vibrant colors such as fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients such as sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts, white bread and rice, or other refined grains.
- Choose high fiber foods: Fiber alleviates constipation (common in older adults) and helps to control weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Choose whole grain breads and cereals, beans, vegetables and fruits to ensure adequate fiber intake.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Older people can also feel less thirsty, but the body still needs enough fluids to stay healthy and keep regular. Make sure to drink enough water or other non-caffeinated beverages and consume foods with high water content such as low sodium soups, cucumbers, and melons.
- Focus on Calcium and Vitamin D: Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Aim to include three servings of vitamin-D fortified low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt each day. Other non-dairy foods rich in calcium include fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones.
- Boost B12 intake: Vitamin B12 deficiency is especially common in adults aged 50 and older since they may not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 naturally present in food. Choose foods fortified with B12 (such as certain cereals) or speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if your need a vitamin B12 supplement.