Well-balanced meals contribute to a healthier life at any age. That’s no secret. What isn’t as well known, however, is just how much nutritional needs change after the age of 60. As metabolism slows, older adults require fewer calories each day. Because the body begins to process nutrients differently, the need for more vitamins and minerals might change, too.
What to Know About Nutrition for Seniors
Here are a few steps you can take to improve your nutrition if you are over the age of 60:
- Follow the Rainbow: A healthy rule to live by is to eat the colors of the rainbow each day. This means incorporating at least five to seven fruits and vegetables in to your daily diet. Colorful foods like dark green leafy vegetables, red bell peppers, orange sweet potatoes, yellow bananas, and red apples are the key.
- Step Away from the Salt Shaker: Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, too much sodium in your diet can put you on the fast track for developing it during retirement years. Cook with flavorful herbs instead of salt. Consider growing your own herbs during the summer and freezing them to use all winter long. Basil, dill, rosemary, sage, and tarragon are a few that add robust flavor to most dishes.
- Incorporate Omega-3 Fatty Acids: While research about omega-3 fatty acids has been around for a while, many adults find it to be a bit confusing. It’s important to know that omega-3s can help protect your heart and your brain. Incorporating walnuts, flax seed, leafy greens, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, and tuna in to your diet twice a week can help you reap these heart and brain benefits.
- Follow a Mediterranean Diet: This diet draws from areas of the world known as the “Blue Zones.” These are places where people live the longest. Residents of the Blue Zones eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lentils with limited red meat. Studies show a Mediterranean diet is better for overall health, while also helping to lower the risk for Alzheimer's disease.
- Much-Maligned Coffee: Over the years coffee has been much maligned. Some researchers said to avoid it, while others said it was safe. Studies finally seem to have landed on the conclusion that drinking two cups of coffee a day might actually be good for most people. It may help to control the inflammation believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s. But it isn’t safe for everyone, including those with cardiac disease. If you are a coffee drinker with heart or blood pressure problems, seek the advice of your physician.
- Learn about Flavonols: A plant-based antioxidant to learn more about is flavonol. It is found in food and beverages such as tea, berries, cocoa, grapes, apples, and red wine. Researchers say flavonols can help with brain health, heart health, asthma, diabetes, and more.
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Seniors deficient in vitamin D are at higher risk for falls and bone fractures. And older adults often suffer from this deficiency for reasons that range from a lack of sun exposure to problems with absorption. Make sure to discuss the need for a vitamin D supplement with your physician.
The Culinary Experience at Vitality Senior Living
Residents at Vitality Senior Living communities benefit from a culinary experience designed to promote healthy nutrition. Fresh, locally sourced foods are both nutritious and visually appealing. Meals are served at whatever time a resident desires. And there are a variety of in-house locations to enjoy a meal in ranging from a bistro to a restaurant-style dining room.
If you are just beginning to explore senior living, we have a resource you can download with our compliments. Download our Staying Home vs. Moving to Senior Living Guide to help you learn more about senior housing, gather tips for talking with an older loved one about moving, and much more!