As we age, the quality of the food we consume becomes increasingly important in order to maintain good health and well-being. It’s essential to replace processed foods with better choices that include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. However, even if your diet has improved, you may need to add certain foods and supplements to get all the critical vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need. Here are some nutritional tips to help older adults lead healthier lives.
* Add Fiber: Gastrointestinal changes often occur as people age, which may lead to increasingly frequent bouts of constipation. A high-fiber diet can help relieve the condition, but many elderly adults who wear dentures don’t like eating the type of crunchy foods that are high in fiber. Fresh fruit, beans, black-eyed peas and cooked vegetables are easy to chew and present a great way to put more fiber in your diet.
* Oily Fish: Meals that include fish like salmon, herring, sardines, trout and tuna are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help boost your immune system and fight inflammation. Eating white fish instead of red meat also provides a variety of health benefits.
* Seeds and Nuts: Unsalted nuts, including peanuts, cashews, walnuts and almonds, contain vitamin E and essential fatty acids like Omega-3. Poppy seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds have important minerals like magnesium, zinc, copper and iodine. Certain seeds can also help relieve symptoms of abdominal inflammation and irritation.
* Fruit: Fruit is an essential part of a well-balanced diet. In particular, fruits like strawberries, blackberries, peaches, mango, oranges, apples, kiwis, citrus fruit and melons have exceptional nutritional value.
* Vegetables: Older adults benefit from eating vegetables that have a high beta-carotene (Vitamin A) content. The most beneficial vegetables include sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, onions, avocados, squash and carrots.
For a variety of reasons, some older adults may require supplements to compensate for nutritional or vitamin deficiencies. The most common recommended supplements include:
* Vitamin D: Vitamin D and calcium are critical for maintaining proper bone strength. Most people receive sufficient Vitamin D from the sun, but older adults tend to stay inside more often.
* Iron: Iron is a vital mineral used in the production of red blood cells. Iron is common in many foods, so most people do not require supplements unless there is an underlying medical condition.
* Vitamin B12: A Vitamin B12 deficiency is usually linked to anemia and certain neurological issues. While B12 is found in meat and a number of breakfast cereals, a daily supplement will ensure you receive your recommended daily dose.
The Key to a Healthy Diet
As we age, it’s important to be more selective in the type of food we choose to consume. Always remember to focus on leafy vegetables, high-fiber foods and whole grains. Try and avoid salt by seasoning your food with delicious herbs and spices. Most importantly, avoid foods high in sugar or fat content.