Good nutrition at any age is important but healthy nutrition for seniors is vitally important to feeling our best and remaining well nourished and active as we age. Statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 5 seniors are malnourished. It’s important to eat a variety of healthy foods, but changes in our bodies and lifestyles can make that difficult.
Consider these facts about nutrition for seniors and practical strategies for sticking to a healthy diet.
Nutrition Basics for Seniors
Know how many calories you need. Due to a slowing metabolism, most people require fewer calories as they age. The exact number varies by age, gender and activity level. For example, a sedentary woman over age 50 needs about 1,600 calories a day while an active man may need at least 2,400.
Avoid empty calories. One of the easiest ways to avoid extra pounds is to cut out junk food. Skip the fast food restaurants and munch on carrot sticks instead of potato chips.
Focus on nutrient dense foods. Get most of your calories from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. In addition to the nutrients, they provide plenty of fiber which helps improve your digestion. Nutrient dense foods may even help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Select healthy fats. Keep eating fats with an emphasis on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated versions. Limit saturated fats that come from animals and trans fats found in many processed foods.
Pick lean proteins. Get your protein from lean sources. Try to eat fish at least twice a week. Make a pot of three bean chili.
Practical Eating Strategies for Seniors
Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can help you eat right and avoid malnutrition. You may need to follow a specific diet to manage conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Ask your doctor if you think a medication is interfering with your diet. Your doctor may suggest ways to cope with it or change your prescription.
See your dentist. Your dentist can also help you stay healthy. Proper dental care or dentures will help you eat the foods you love. If your mouth is temporarily sore, stick to soft fare like yogurt drinks and soup.
Detect food sensitivities. As you age, you may find that your favorite foods are creating new issues. Ask your doctor to test you if you’re experiencing symptoms like diarrhea or gas. For conditions like lactose intolerance, try yogurt or almond milk instead of your usual milk.
Outsmart your taste buds. Even our taste buds change as we age. If you have a more intense sweet tooth, try satisfying it with sugar free gum. You may be less sensitive to salty and bitter flavors, so experiment with spices to stimulate your appetite.
Drink more water. Our sense of thirst also declines as we get older. Sip water or decaffeinated tea throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel thirsty.
Cut back on salt. After the age of 51, we only need about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt a day. Go easy with the salt shaker and opt for whole foods rather than processed items.
Dine with others. Seniors sometimes lose interest in eating when it’s a solitary experience. Join a social club or invite guests over. Studies show that we eat more when we share meals.
Practice food safety. If your immune system weakens over the years, you need to take extra precautions in the kitchen. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Check expiration dates. When in doubt, throw it out.
Access community services. There is help available for seniors with limited mobility or finances. Contact your local agency on aging for services that can help you eat better. Meals on Wheels will deliver food right to your door.
Your senior years can be the best time of your life if you remain healthy and active. Eating a healthy diet plays a big role in aging well.
Burning fat, losing weight, getting in shape and looking great is easy when you eat healthy foods that make you feel fuller longer. Some foods naturally deliver a smaller calorie investment while giving your stomach a full feeling. You feel full, so you eat less, your calorie count goes down, and so does the size of your waistline.
When you eat foods that provide little nutritional value with their calories, your mind tells you to eat more. It says, “Hey, we need nutrients, minerals and vitamins!” So you reach for more of the unhealthy food that is sitting in front of you. You eventually become full, but take in way more calories, fat and processed nasties than your body needs.
The result? You pack on the weight and fat, your heart, circulatory system and entire body suffers, and you find yourself hungry again relatively quickly. Eat the following 10 healthy, nutritious types of foods that make you feel fuller longer, and you’ll begin to lose weight as your whole body becomes healthier, and you begin to feel and look great.
1 – Beans and Legumes
“Beans, beans, the magical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot!” That children’s rhyme refers to the flatulence causing property of most beans. Yes, they can give you gas, no doubt about it. But on the marvelously positive side, they are extremely high in protein and dietary fiber.
They can also fit into just about any budget and meal plan, since they are inexpensive and versatile. The FASEB Journal discovered in 2008 that if you eat just 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of beans a day, you bolster weight loss and weight maintenance. Beans are also a heart healthy food.
2 – Fresh Fruits
Fresh fruits have a much lower energy density than milk, cheese, sweet foods and meats. This means they deliver fewer calories per gram, much fewer on a comparative basis. So you can eat several servings of superfood fruits like blueberries, apples, bananas, blackberries, cantaloupes, citrus fruits, grapes, pomegranates and plums without paying much of a calorie penalty.
And when you replace unhealthy, fat-filled, calorie-dense foods like potato chips, chocolate-bars and candy snacks with healthy fresh fruits, you double your fat-burning, weight loss effort.
3 – Soups
Make sure you avoid store-bought soups, unless you are going to do some intelligent nutritional label research. A single can of soup that you purchase at your favorite grocery store often delivers several times your daily-recommended sodium allowance.
Homemade soups give you total control over their contents. It is relatively easy to make a large batch of soup, and then portion off individual serving sizes that you can keep in your refrigerator and freezer for easy access. Soup is also easy on the budget, and because of its liquid base, quickly makes you feel full while delivering a limited number of calories.
4 – Fermented Foods
Do you like crunching down on a crisp, tart pickle? That’s great, because fermented foods send a signal to your brain that starts a production of hormones that makes you feel full. This is true because of the short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in foods that have been fermented, like kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles.
A side benefit is the healthy probiotics found in most fermented foods. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that promote proper digestion. They actually live in your gut! Some health experts and physicians also believe that probiotics reduce your appetite. So enjoy some sauerkraut or pickles, and you will not only find yourself eating less, but your digestive system receives benefits as well.
5 – Eggs
Multiple studies show that when you eat protein with your breakfast, you ingest fewer calories throughout the day. Eggs are one of the healthiest sources of protein, and they also offer significant levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron. The old, outdated belief that eggs were high in cholesterol has actually been explained in a little more detail in recent years.
The type of cholesterol in eggs does not contribute to heart risks like most health professionals used to believe. This means you no longer need to worry about your egg intake. Eating 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs between breakfast and lunch keeps you from overeating at your midday meal. And as we mentioned above, eating eggs for breakfast means you eat less during the day.
A single large egg delivers 7 g of protein, 5 g of fat, just 1.6 g of saturated fat, and costs you only 75 calories.
6 – Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts are packed full of healthy unsaturated fats. A healthy body needs fat, and the fats in nuts are just what you are looking for. On a per calorie basis, nuts and nut butters are extremely rich in fiber and protein. What are the 2 leading natural components that make you feel fuller longer? You guessed it, fiber and protein.
Just don’t eat too many nuts or too much nut butter at one sitting. Those healthy fats are in a very high quantity in nuts, and should not be over-consumed. So reach for a handful of almonds or walnuts the next time you are stuck between meals and craving something to eat. The heart healthy nature of nuts is just a wonderful side benefit of this versatile and tasty raw food.
7 – Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
Repeat after me, “cruciferous vegetables”. Vegetables like brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower belong to the cruciferous family. Cabbage, bok choy, kale, collard greens and horseradish are also a part of this healthy vegetable subdivision. They deliver extremely high levels of healthy dietary fiber.
As with other filling foods on this list, they are relatively inexpensive and extremely versatile, with most of them capable of being consumed raw or cooked. The antioxidants and cancer fighting ingredients in cruciferous foods are also worthy of note, and just another reason you need to be getting more of these healthy whole foods into your diet.
8 – Water
Okay, so water is not a food. We have to mention it anyway, because it is usually free or inexpensive, readily available, and is definitely required by the human body for proper maintenance and health. Did you know that the symptoms of thirst mimic those of hunger?
That’s right, so the next time you believe that you are hungry, drink 8 to 12 ounces of water. Give your body 10 minutes to process that liquid, and see how you feel then. You may truly be hungry. But the cranky mood, low energy and lack of ability to focus that often signals you are hungry may simply be telling you your body needs more liquids. Oh yeah, another big benefit of drinking water instead of eating anything? Zero calories.
9 – Salmon, Anchovies and Tuna
Fish helps you feel fuller longer while consuming fewer calories in a number of ways. First off, any type of fat will always help satisfy your hunger pangs. The types of fats found in high quantities in fish are essential fatty acids. Omega 3 EFAs are required by your body to function properly. Unfortunately, the human process does not create this healthy fat.
You need to get it from outside sources, and fish like tuna and salmon have high levels of Omega 3s. That healthy fat makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat fewer calories during a fish-filled meal, as well as the rest of the day. Also, fish is packed full of wonderful protein. You have already seen earlier that protein satisfies hunger better than carbohydrates and fats. As if that is not good enough news, ocean caught salmon, anchovies and tuna are heart healthy foods as well.
10 – Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries and Other Berries
Most berries are extremely high in wonderful antioxidants that fight dangerous free radicals in your body. They are also extremely heart healthy, and deliver high levels of phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins that promote overall body health, inside and out. Your immunity system receives a huge boost when you eat berries regularly. This means that your natural defense system is much better prepared to ward off infections, disease and sickness.
It also means that you recover from injuries and sickness quickly. Berries contribute a very small amount of calories considering the amount of filling fiber they deliver. Just 1 cup of raspberries offers a full 8 g of fiber. (The average adult needs between 25 and 30 g of dietary fiber each and every day from food items, not supplements.)
Protein is the most satisfying type of food. More than carbohydrates and fats, protein satisfies your hunger more effectively than any other type of food. And guess what? Researchers are not even quite sure why protein acts like a stop sign, signaling your mind to stop eating. But it does, so make sure that you are getting the recommended 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram) every day.
And don’t forget filling, healthy, digestive track regulating fiber. The “modern-day” diet is desperately lacking in dietary fiber. Foods like the brans, grains and oats also do a great job of delivering protein and dietary fiber, while limiting the amount of carbohydrates and calories you consume.
To summarize, for a solution to burning fat, losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight, eat foods high in fiber and/or protein. They have extremely high satiety index scores, which is a fancy way of saying they are healthy foods that make you feel fuller longer.
Good health is not just being void of any disease or frailty. To become or to stay healthy and fit encompasses physical, mental, social and spiritual well being. Good health should not be our purpose for living but rather the means by which we can live a rich and rewarding life. Here are some tips on how to become / stay healthy I have found most useful:
not an old wives tale – A nutritious breakfast, consisting primarily of protein (helps to feel full longer) and/or whole grains, has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, more energy for physical activity, a higher level of mental alertness and focus and weight control.
no rocket science here – can help prevent heart disease and stroke, reduce high blood pressure, help to regulate type2 (non insulin dependent) diabetes, build or preserve muscle mass thus helping to reduce your body fat and improve your body’s ability to use calories. Helps seniors gain strength and lessen the likelihood of falling.
4. Quit Smoking
Besides being one of the leading causes of lung cancer it has been noted that women smokers can lose over 3% of their bone mineral density for every 10 years of smoking and this increases in women after menopause. Speeds up the progression of HIV –> AIDS (People who smoke and are found to be HIV positive appear to progress to AIDS quicker than those who do not smoke). Smoking has a negative impact on our immune system. You’ll be 4 times less likely to get certain diseases like Crohn’s disease, heart disease and acid reflux just to name a few.
5. Get Enough Sleep/Rest
Weight gain (There have been studies linking people who continually sleep under six hours a night to a higher than average body mass index (BMI) than people who sleep eight hours a night). If you suffer from hypertension an Inadequate amount of sleep (less the 7 to 8 hrs of sleep) could cause your blood pressure to become elevated. Poor sleep has also been correlated with a lower life expectancy.
6. Weight Control
Risks of not keeping your weight under control are many: Coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, Breathing problems, Gallstones as well as some cancers. If you weight is not under control you need to change certain things in your life such as your lifestyle habits. Good habits include but are not limited to: Eating smaller portions and eating more often ( 5 to 6 small meals as opposed to 2 or 3) and eating the right foods. Remember to include a certain amount of exercise or physical activity each day (even a walking regimen or low impact aerobic exercise routine 3 to 4 times a week will help to start – house cleaning is also good although not always the most appreciated method).
7. Incorporate Humor into Your Day
Humor is known to relieve stress, lower blood pressure and may boost your immune system.
8. Form Social Bonds
Our relationships with other people forms a foundation which affects our ability to cope with certain types of stress. It also affects our self-esteem.
“And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
If you are in your 60s, congratulations. Health and fitness for the over 60 population is of more concern now than ever. In thevery beginning of the 1900s, the life expectancy at birth was just 31 years of age. These days, you canreasonably expect to live well into your 80s. Just recently, British online news provider The Telegraph pointed out that more and more human beings are making it to the milestone of 100 years. The obvious issues with growing older are the common health problems for the elderly – for anyone 60 and above. Our physical body starts wearing down over time.
Even those who have worked very hard on their nutrition, physical fitness, mental and emotional states will find health problems beginning to develop, or become worse, even in their early 50s. If your parents are still alive, you’ve most likely noticed a deterioration in their health and independence, and it makes you determined to make some positive, healthy changes in your own life. Listed below are some top health concerns for those over 60 including some links and tips on how to prevent and treat them.
1 – Poor, Failing Vision
Eat like a rabbit. That is right, the old saying that carrots are good for your eyesight is definitely true. You should also begin scheduling a comprehensive eye exam at least every 2 years. Some eye problems are genetic, and once your vision begins to weaken, you usually cannot erase any damage done.
However, treatments for age-related vision changes are common. A healthy diet with plenty of carrots, leafy greens like kale, eggs, citrus, almonds, fatty fish like tuna and salmon, as well as berries, can help slow down the rate of your failing vision.
According to the CDC some of the more common eye problems we face are:
Diabetic Macular Edema.
Eye Floaters and Eye Flashes.
2 – Depression and Anxiety
Turning 50 has been the subject of several Hollywood movies describing what is well known as a “midlife crisis”. Aside from financial problems and relationship issues, men and women can find themselves anxious and depressed for a number of reasons. Menopause regularly debuts in women in their 50s, and men may be experiencing a long list of health problems.
Concern over society, children and grandchildren, the economy and the future of planet Earth – these concerns all begin to become more prevalent once you hit your 50s. Exercise has been proven to release hormones that make you feel better about yourself and the world you live in. Exercise regularly, and consult a therapist if you believe your feelings of anxiety and depression are negatively impacting your life.
3 – High Blood Pressure
Usually, you want to aim for a blood pressure that is about 120 over 70. However, you also want a reading lower than 140 over 90. (Remember, these are just averages). You need to get your blood pressure checked frequently, at least once a year once you turn 50. Exercise (I find very helpful) and enjoying a heart healthy diet that limits or eliminates processed food, while ramping up your level of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Drinking plenty of water and getting lots of rest helps you regulate a healthy blood pressure level. In certain cases, your physician may prescribe medication. However, regular exercise and a proper diet have been proven to help naturally return your blood pressure to a healthy level without medical assistance in some cases (but always seek medical advice if your pressure warrants it). See the chart here———->
The average onset age for menopause in the United States is 51 (but can range anywhere from 45 to 60). Hot flashes are just one symptom. Women may experience sexual dysfunction, and even a loss of bone density. Your risk for heart disease increases with menopause, and you may gain weight and lose energy. Menopause is a natural process, and if needed can be treated with medication and therapy.
Thanks to male enhancement pills like Viagra and Cialis, and the aggressive advertising which addresses this issue, erectiledysfunction or ED has gone from being a hush-hush topic to dinner table conversation. Once again, nature provides a non-medical solution. As a man ages he is more likely to have health conditions that may require medication. Certain medicines can interfere with erectile function. Also, as a man ages, he may need more stimulation to get an erection and more time between erections.
Proper exercise, a smart diet and cutting back on the amount of alcohol and tobacco consumed can quickly give men the healthy ability they enjoyed in this area when they were much younger. Salmon, nuts, soybeans, seeds and sunflower oil are important to an ED treatment diet. You should also limit the amount of processed foods you eat, limit or totally avoided processed sugar, and cut back your salt intake to less than 1,500 mg. per day
6 – A Loss of Hearing
A partial loss of hearing becomes a real concern for some people after 50. This occurs because of a disease in the middle ear or inner ear. Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises, a head injury, illness, drugs or the simple aging process. Have your hearing checked when you turn 50, and any time that you and your loved ones notice a diminished ability to hear normal conversations and sounds.
7 – Thinning Hair, Hair Loss in Both Men and Women
Thinning hair in men and women, male pattern baldness in men, these are 2 vanity concerns that can actually begin to appear as early as your 30s and 40s. There is no food you can eat to grow more hair. However, a healthy diet with fewer processed foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dietary fiber can limit non-hereditary hair loss in the future. Limiting the amount of hair care products you use can also positively affect how much hair you have, and how much hair you keep.
8 – Maintaining a Healthy Cholesterol Level
Cholesterol is a fat that is produced and utilized by the body coming from consuming animal foods. Our total cholesterol consists of HDL or good cholesterol, LDL or bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
This is all about your diet and physical fitness level. You do not have to start running marathons or become an aggressive weightlifter. Just exercise frequently, 3 to 5 times a week, for at least 15 to 30 minutes at a time. This could mean a power walk with a friend, joining a cycling class, a hiking group or playing with the grandkids.
You should also stop smoking, regulate a healthy body weight and increase the amount of good fat while decreasing the amount of bad fat in your diet to help with healthy cholesterol levels. Time and time again, a nutrition profile limited in processed foods, sugar and salt, but high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, leads to an overall healthy body, including good cholesterol readings.
An overactive bladder means that you can no longer hold urine with much control. This can lead to an “accident”. It can also mean you experience sudden urges to use the restroom immediately. Incontinence can stem from drinking too many fluids. However, it can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. If you find you are urinating much more frequently than before, sometimes having to go quickly, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Once age spots (are small, flat dark areas on the skin that vary in size and usually appear on the skin most exposed to the sun such as face, hands, shoulders and arms and are also called sunspots, liver spots and solar lentigines) start to appear, you have already done damage to your skin. Wrinkles, dry skin and other similar issues can begin to appear in force as early as 50. There are plenty of topical treatments and lotions to treat these issues. Aside from sun damage, menopause and a poor diet can also cause skin problems.
Make sure you are using a sun screen of SPF 30 or higher if you are going to be outdoors for more than 20 or 30 minutes. Salmon, blueberries, tomatoes, carrots and other yellow or orange fruits or vegetables, beans and peas, nuts, spinach and other dark, leafy green vegetables will help improve the health, strength and appearance of your skin at any age.
As a side note – these spots have nothing to do with the liver
11 – Being Overweight and Obesity
Your metabolism has slowed down considerably. This could lead to weight gain. You probably know that levels of overweight and obesity are higher than they have ever been in the history of mankind.
This is directly linked to processed foods, trans fats, refined white sugar and monosodium glutamate in your foods. Once again, the ever-dependable healthy diet and exercise combo can keep overweight and obesity from causing other health problems, including the next 2 we are about to discuss.
12 – Prediabetes or Type II Diabetes
Diabetes gives you warning signs. Often times, obesity is a leading indicator. Type II diabetes can be prevented, because prediabetes tells you that there is a problem on the horizon. A few silent symptoms of prediabetes are putting on a few pounds that you cannot seem to lose, blurry vision, unquenchable thirst, extreme fatigue and cuts or wounds that will not heal. Once you turn 50, you should get a prediabetes screening once every 2 to 3 years.
13 – Keeping a Healthy Digestive System
As much as 70% to 75% of all human infection and disease begins in your gut. Your digestive system is so important to a healthy body and mind, inside and out, no matter what your age. But especially once you turn 50, when your physiological processes have been worn down due to repetition, you need to keep a healthy digestive system.
Sauerkraut, beans, yogurts full of probiotics, ginger, peppermint and salmon all help regulate a healthy digestive system. You also want to make sure you are getting plenty of dietary fiber.
14 – Enlarged Prostate (BPH), For Men
The number one prostate problem for men over 50 years of age is an oversized prostate. This is also called benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH. Doctors contend that this is a simple part of the natural growing process. But just like gray hair, those unwelcome midnight trips to the bathroom are not enjoyed by any man.
By the time a typical male turns 60 years of age, there is a 1 in 2 chance that he will suffer from BPH. Eating sesame seeds, salmon, tofu, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados and plenty of green leafy vegetables, onions and garlic can help put off the onset of the eventually unavoidable BPH for as long as possible.
15 – Cancer
Is a disease in which cells become abnormal, divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue.
Throughout this discussion of health concerns for those 50 and over, you have seen regular exercise, proper rest, drinking plenty of water and eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains discussed over and over. For limiting your risks of developing any of the many debilitating and deadly cancers, all of those recommendations give you your best chance.
Once you have contracted cancer, if it is caught early, in many cases progression can be stopped and even reversed. Studies in the last 20 or 30 years show that people with diets high in animal protein have a much higher incidence rate of developing multiple forms of cancer.