As we age, the nutrients we need change. But this doesn’t make our diet any less important as we age -- if anything it makes it even more important! While our golden years aren’t a time for drastic weight loss or extreme diet, they are a time to potentially eat more nutritious meals while eating less overall. By eating a healthy diet as we age, people have a tendency to live longer, more energetic lives, and are able to remain more active. You are never too old to enjoy the benefits of eating well. The following are key nutrients you want to pay attention to as we age to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Protein is most commonly known for helping building and maintaining lean muscle, which is important in keeping the fat percentage down in our bodies. It addition to helping build muscle, it is essential for building of skin cells and tissues to be able to heal wounds, burns, scratches or skin tears.
Sources of protein: Meats and fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, legumes
Tips for adding more protein:
- Use peanut butter on toast or bread
- Snack on cheese, yogurt, nuts or peanut butter crackers
- Sprinkle low fat cheese on foods for an extra kick of protein
- Drink milk at meals instead of water
Fiber has multiple functions to keep your body running smoothly. It helps regulate bowel movements by helping food move through your digestive tract. It helps prevent heart disease and weight gain, helps you feel full at meals and helps with digestive problems.
Sources of Fiber: It is only found in plant foods. These might include whole grains such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, whole grain breads and cereals and more, fruits, and veggies, especially from the skin and membranes of the fruits and veggies.
Tips for adding more fiber:
- Choose wheat and rye bread instead of white (look at the food label for highest fiber content)
- Eating bran cereal or cooked cereals
- Snack on popcorn or nuts
- Use wild rice, quinoa or barley instead of potatoes as a side dish
- Add fresh fruit to yogurts and cereals
- Choose whole fruit instead of canned or fruit juice
- Include extra veggies in salads and soups, or eat them as a snack with hummus
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and Vitamin D are important nutrients that work together to keep your bones healthy and help prevent osteoporosis. Calcium helps build and maintain bones while Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Most foods that contain calcium - like milk, cheese and fortified juice - have Vitamin D added to them to help calcium absorption. Food is the best source of calcium and essential to prevent osteoporosis.
Sources of calcium: Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, calcium-fortified juice and cereal, almonds, pistachios, legumes, and leafy green vegetables such as Kale, broccoli, escarole and collard greens
Sources of Vitamin D: Vitamin D-fortified milk, egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon and tuna and, of course, sunshine
Tips for adding more calcium:
- Add milk to coffee and tea
- Make oatmeal with milk instead of water
- Use dark green leafy greens for salad
- Top a baked potato with broccoli and cheese
Vitamin B12 is important to build proteins in your body. It helps create energy, fights disease and helps to prevent anemia. B12 is required for proper digestion and absorption of foods. It can also help with memory loss, slowing the aging process, boosting mood and improving concentration.
Sources of Vitamin B12: Bran Flakes, red meat and fish, dairy products such as milk and cheese, eggs and nuts
Tips for adding more Vitamin B12:
- Sprinkle bran flakes on oatmeal, smoothies and yogurt
- Use milk where possible such as coffee, cereals, hot chocolate, etc
- Eat low-fat red meats a couple times a week
Potassium is a mineral that helps maintain normal blood pressure, regulate fluids in our body, helps reduce the risk of recurring kidney stones and helps prevent bone loss. Potassium may help protect blood cells from oxidative damage and keep the blood vessel walls from thickening. It is also important to help the body build protein and muscle. There are lots of foods rich in Potassium so it should not be difficult to include in your diet.
Sources of Potassium: Tomatoes, potatoes, dairy products, bananas, chocolate, spinach, pumpkin and zucchini
Tips for adding more Potassium:
- Baked potato has more potassium than mashed potatoes
- Add a banana or strawberries to cereal in the morning
- Put extra chopped tomatoes on salads or in tomato sauce or on pizza
- Pumpkin and banana are good for cooking and can be added to recipes
- Zucchini can be shredded and added to baked goods, soups and sauces
Dietary concerns are one of the many reasons people consider senior living communities or centers that offer well-balanced meals each day. At Concordia, our caregivers provide residents with the best quality care around to create a warm, welcoming community for seniors to thrive. And with a full staff of dietitians, chefs/cooks and other food service professionals, you can rest assured that your loved one is in good hands when it comes to nutrition. Schedule a tour of a Concordia location near you, and check out all the ways we put our faith in our senior care services. Call our administrative headquarters at (724) 352-1571 or message us through the Contact Form on our website.