Senior nutrition plays an important role in the aging process. No matter how young or old we are the quality of our diet affects how we look and how we feel. This is especially true for those of us who are growing older. In recent years every time we turn on the television set or look at a magazine, we are confronted with stories about the ever-increasing worldwide problem of obesity. More people are overweight than ever before to the point that their lives are in danger.
However, what we don’t often hear about are the undernourished or malnourished seniors among us. As we get older, our metabolism slows down and we can no longer burn calories at the same rate as we used to. It therefore makes it easier for us to put on weight but harder for us to shed it. However, putting on weight has a more negative affect on seniors than it does any other age group.
Why eat healthy foods?
One of the most important considerations for seniors is getting good nutrition from food. A well balanced diet can boost their health, strength, and longevity, but a poor diet that does not fulfill all bodily nutritional requirements can actually cause it to deteriorate. This is especially dangerous for the elderly. After all, if they struggle to move how can they stay active and enjoy life?
Being overweight can put unnecessary stress on the joints and thus accelerate the effects of arthritis, osteoporosis and other bone and muscle disorders and illnesses. It can also bring about the onset of diabetes, which is more common in seniors than in any other age group.
There are a number of reasons why seniors are not eating the healthy meals they need to keep them strong and active. Besides the metabolic changes noted above which leads to poor absorption of nutrients, aging seniors also must contend with:
- Eating alone – which often leads to less nutritious meals
- Requiring fewer calories, but eating the same amount of food
- Eating junk food with empty calories
- Experiencing the side effects of drugs that can decrease or increase their appetite; changes metabolism and absorption rate
- Illnesses or diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease
Unfortunately for seniors, poor nutrition can speed up the aging process. While seniors should enjoy a little of what he or she loves to eat every now and again no matter how unhealthy it may be, a regular balanced nutritious diet is just what the doctor will order!
What food is healthy?
- Lean protein
- Increase in dietary fiber
What about drinks?
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit alcoholic drinks
Although seniors should eat at least three times a day, eating smaller portions five to six times a day will keep help there absorption of the nutrients and increase their metabolism.
They should also limit salt; many senior citizens are placed on low salt diets due to water retention and swelling of feet and ankles.
While some experts suggest meal planning, preplanned meals are often difficult to follow due to lack of hunger or desire for the food listed on the plan. Keeping favorite nutritious foods in the home will go a long way in prompting seniors to eat healthier meals.
All seniors should enjoy life to the fullest extent, but eating healthy meals on a regular basis can actively extend the amount of time they have left to enjoy it! Senior nutrition is one of the most important considerations we need to be aware of in our parents, grandparents, or other seniors in our lives. The healthier they are the more active and vibrant their senior years will be. We can play a role in their longevity by making sure they eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water.