No matter what season of life you are in, food is our main source of nourishment for the body and mind. Especially as we age, nutrition is the key to keeping our bones, muscles and the other parts of our body stronger and our bodies living longer. It is essential for caregivers to regulate everyday meals when watching over someone who may not be independent. There are certain nutrients that are particularly beneficial as we age and can even decrease the chances of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Eat More Fiber
As we age, our digestive system becomes less efficient, reducing the absorption of nutrients and ultimately slowing down the intestines. Having a high fiber diet has many benefits on the body as we age including: constipation prevention, lowering cholesterol, regulating blood glucose levels and even stimulating intestinal mobility. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends adults older than fifty should consume at least 30 grams of total fiber a day for men and 21 grams for women. When consuming a high fiber diet, it is also important to drink plenty of water. Too much fiber can lead to constipation and other bowel issues.
Fiber can be found in:
- Whole grain foods: Multi-Grain Bread, Wheat germ, Brown rice
- Vegetables: Broccoli, Spinach, Celery
- Fruit: Apples, Pears, Berries
- Legumes: Beans, Lentils, Chick Peas
Understanding Our Body
As we age, our physical body goes through many changes that affect our diet as well. Our metabolism slowing down is one of the first adjustments that our bodies go through. Though you may be eating the same amount you did when you were younger, you are more likely to gain weight because you are burning fewer calories. Make sure to talk to your doctor to see how much you should eat while incorporating physical activity into your routine.
Our senses also weaken as we age, particularly our sense of taste and smell. People who are older are more inclined to add more salt to their foods. Try to avoid salt and use healthier seasonings such as olive oil, herbs and spices.
Vitamin and mineral deficiency can also occur as we age. A balanced and healthy diet will include fruit, vegetables, calcium, good carbohydrates and protein. When dealing with a loved one with a specific condition, it is always important to check with their doctor to talk about which foods to include or avoid. Being conscious of the foods your loved ones eat can help them feel better and even live longer.