According to the 2018 CDC report, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is around 78 years. With the increase in average lifespan, the need for boosting health and quality in older years becomes crucial.
But easier said than done, improving the quality of life is an ongoing challenge for all seniors. It is even more challenging for seniors with declining activity levels. When the activity is low, the need for energy (calories) drops and so does the food intake. Although, this sounds reasonable, there is a caveat to this – when food consumption declines, intake of nutrients are also likely to fall.
Decreased appetite and food intake are the reasons why the health of a senior fails frequently. Research shows that not getting enough nutrition leads to poor health outcomes and an extended hospital stay! It can turn into a never ending vicious cycle.
Luckily, with a bit of planning and some smart food choices eating nutritious meals is very much possible. Let’s get started on simple ways to choose and eat healthy meals.
Five simple tips to follow:
- Include vital nutrients: Be sure to add lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables at every meal. The National Council for Aging recommends the above as part of a healthy meal.
Lean proteins include beans, seafood, lean cut meats.
Whole grains include whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, steel-cut oats, etc.
Low-fat dairies include milk and milk products, or other non-milk alternatives fortified with vitamin D and calcium.
- Make your plate colorful: Fresh fruits and some raw vegetables are easy for the digestive system. Besides the vitamins and minerals, it also provides enzymes that make digestion easier.
- Drink enough water: As you age, your sense of thirst also falls, which could leading to a drop in water levels. Changes to the body’s water levels can lead to poor focus, mood problems, constipation, and blood pressure changes.
- Meal prep: Plan your meals. Consider preparing a week’s worth of meals with the help of a family member or caregiver that visits you. Store the prepared meals with a label that has a preparation date and recipe name. Refrigerate or freeze meals depending on when you plan to consume.
- Cut back on salt: Replace salt with herbs and spices. Herbs like cilantro, dill, and spices like ginger, turmeric, etc., are inflammation-fighters and lower the risk of diseases and degenerative conditions.
Eating a healthy diet is the best way to get the nutrients you need; however, with aging, your ability to absorb certain nutrients drops. Talk to your healthcare provider about including quality health supplements into your routine. Vitamin D and B12 are two crucial nutrients to consider taking as supplements.
Irrespective of whether you are over 65 or over 80, the type of food choices can make a world difference in how you feel mentally and physically.
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