Remember the adage An apple a day keeps the doctor away? While there is no scientific evidence to support that eating an apple every day will improve one’s health, there is truth to the fact that eating nutritious foods does come with significant health benefits. Eating a healthy diet can positively affect cardiovascular, gut, and bone health and is essential to maintaining optimal weight. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients has also been shown to lower the risk of cognitive decline.
As we age, our bodies begin to change, and so do our nutritional needs. Seniors typically need fewer calories but require more nutrient-rich foods to avoid losing muscle mass, keep bones healthy, and lower the risk of some diseases. We suggest that seniors eat a diet filled with foods that are nutrient-dense as opposed to calorie-dense, including:
Lean Proteins: Including poultry, eggs, seafood, and beans
Fruits and Vegetables: Including spinach, blueberries, spinach, and oranges
Whole Grains: Including oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice
Low-Fat Dairy: Including milk, cheese, and yogurt
Healthy Fats: Including nuts and avocados
Furthermore, as the body’s natural ability to produce specific vitamins and minerals slows down, seniors must supplement their diets:
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are essential to maintaining good bone health. Choose calcium-rich or calcium-fortified foods, including milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified cereals, and dark leafy green vegetables. To increase your intake of vitamin D, opt for items like salmon and eggs. A calcium supplement or multivitamin that also includes vitamin D is recommended.
Vitamin B-12 helps to keep nerve and blood cells healthy and also prevents anemia. Many adults over the age of 50 have trouble absorbing enough B-12. Increase your B-12 intake by eating more fish, poultry, milk, eggs, and foods that are fortified with the vitamin. You may also consider taking a supplement if your physician believes that you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
A diet rich in potassium may help to reduce blood pressure and protect against stroke and osteoporosis. Increase your potassium intake with fruits, vegetables, beans, and low-fat dairy products.
It’s never too late to start making positive changes to your diet! However, before doing so, please consult your physician prior to making any significant changes to your diet or adding in any supplements.