Senior Diet Recommendations

Elderly nutrition should be an important focus for every senior citizen, or any adult who cares for the senior citizens within his or her life. Senior nutrition can make all the difference in avoiding health issues long term.

Rather than simply eating so the body has energy to burn, or eating for the taste of the food, nutrition for seniors should be geared more towards ensuring that health is a primary focus. Incorporating a variety of vegetable into a senior diet can prevent meals getting boring and stave off many health issues.

Nutrition for older adults should focus on more whole foods, reduced sodium intake, smaller portion sizes and less processed foods. Making healthy choices involving food is one of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. To find out ways to implement smarter health choices for seniors, continue reading below.

Reducing Sodium Intake

The best diet for seniors will include foods that have minimal amounts of sodium. Healthy eating for seniors should involve avoiding high levels of sodium, which is commonly found in foods such as:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Processed meats
  • Snack foods
  • Tacos
  • Soups
  • Sandwiches
  • Breads
  • Pizzas

While the words “sodium” and “salt” are used interchangeably, they each represent different things when it comes to nutrition. Salt is a crystal-like compound that is found in nature, while sodium is a mineral and a known chemical element in salt. When sodium becomes a food ingredient, it is often used for baking, thickening, retaining moisture, enhancing flavor or curing meats. Ultimately, it becomes a preservative. When consuming sodium in high quantities, an adult becomes at risk for heart disease as well as high blood pressure. Seniors should always make sure to read the nutrition label for every food item being consumed to verify the sodium levels are at a low.

Eating For a Healthier Heart

Following a nutrition plan for seniors should always follow the path of eating for a healthier heart. Making smart food choices involving senior nutrition can reduce the risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 80 million adults in the United States have a form of heart disease, which ultimately prevents the heart from being able to function normally. This can include issues such as heart defects, infections, heart rhythm, artery disease and more. Research has shown that by incorporating healthy eating for seniors, there is a reduced risk of developing heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, recommends a few simply elderly nutritional guidelines to follow:

  • Eating whole grains over refined carbohydrates
  • Using oils to replace solid fats
  • Eating seafood in place of meat and poultry
  • Balancing calories
  • Eating 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Incorporate beans, peas, and colorful vegetables

Controlling the Portion Sizes

An easy senior nutrition technique that can be incorporated by all involves making sure the portion sizes are a realistic representation of what the body needs. All healthy eating techniques for seniors should involve keeping portion or serving sizes in mind, especially when it involves foods that are less in nutritional value. Serving sizes are in place in order for individuals to understand the nutrients, sodium, calories and fats, in each portion. Seniors should be aware of the nutritional label for the foods that are being consumed and make sure that the serving sizes are in line with what is being illustrated.

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For instance, a pint of ice cream that has 200 calories per serving will likely have three to four servings. Having this awareness can help seniors control their portion sizes rather than simply eat as much as wanted. Rather than consuming the whole pint at 600 to 800 calories, measuring out one serving is the perfect way to control portion sizes for better elderly nutrition.

Make Sure To Get Enough Fluids

One of the best diet tips for seniors does not involve food at all. Drinking water is important for any sort of diet or nutrition plan, no matter the age. Staying hydrated is integral for the body in order to help digest food, absorb necessary nutrients and get rid of waste. An important part of elderly nutrition involves making sure that the body has plenty of fluids every day. Drinking enough water as a senior is even more important when seniors are taking certain medications. With age, some seniors may lose their sense of thirst altogether, which means getting enough fluids can occur through other ways outside of just drinking. A few tips for getting more fluids each day include:

  • Taking sips of water between bites during meals
  • Having a glass of water before breakfast
  • Having more soups
  • Drink the entire glass of water when taking medication
  • Avoiding sugary drinks and sodas which dehydrate more
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Do not stop drinking fluids

Focus on Food Safety

Healthy nutrition for seniors does not solely involve what is being consumed, but also how food is being consumed. Seniors are at risk for having a weakened immune system as time goes on, which means being more prone to illness and injury. Reducing the illnesses that can occur through food handling is an important senior diet tip to be aware of. Food-borne illnesses occur when disease-causing bacteria, parasites, or other viruses contaminate food. Seniors become susceptible to more food-borne illnesses, also known as food poisoning, as they age.

Changes within the organs and body systems are anticipated as individual’s age, which means that the liver or kidneys may not be able to rid toxins as quickly, or a sense of smell or taste may diminish. In order for seniors to avoid contracting food-borne illnesses, they should be aware of how food is being prepared, handled and consumed at all times. Proper refrigeration techniques, as well as important storage techniques are critical in ensuring that food safety is a priority.

Make the Right Choices Daily

When thinking about the best diet options for seniors, some individuals may focus on budget or what is easier to prepare at the time. However, one of the easiest elderly nutrition tips is to just make the right choices. Senior nutrition does not necessarily mean a strict diet with zero fats, calories or sugars. It simply means making smarter choices for a healthier life. Rather than indulging in nutrient-empty foods regularly, do so sparingly. Instead of drinking soda on a daily basis, only have it on special occasions. Making smarter choices every day can ultimately results in a longer, healthier life for many senior citizens.

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