It seems like there is an overload of nutritional advice available now. We know more about nutrition and proper health choices now than ever before, but still, have to make daily decisions between heavily processed or completely organic options.
Let’s cut through the fluff; here are the essential facts on nutrition that specifically impact people over 60.
You Need Fewer Calories and More Nutrients
The common myth is that as you age your metabolism declines. That’s not true for everyone, as you’ve probably learned in your 60 or more years of life experience some people have a fast metabolism, and others, don’t. What does decline as your body ages are the ability to extract nutritional value from nearly everything?
Aging causes your skin to become less efficient at absorbing vitamin D, as well as B12. Additionally, you’re probably working away from many of your more laborious daily activities. Swapping running through a building or managing a team for stationary work is a reason to reduce your caloric intake. Less activity should lead to fewer calories.
To get the most out of your calories, reduce your grain or starchy food intake while increasing vegetable consumption to at least five servings per day.
You Should Not Skip Meals
Even older adults who are not on medication report a loss of appetite. There are many factors at play with this complaint, but the consensus is that you should not skip meals.
Skipping meals will promote a cycle of suppressed appetite, followed by high-calorie and nutrient-poor meals later. It’s the cycle that follows many people throughout their adult life.
The best way to avoid skipping meals and sidestepping this cycle is to eat breakfast. Even if you’re not hungry, a small but healthy breakfast can help you regulate your hunger through the day.
Skipping meals is one of the many contributing factors that relates to vitamin deficiency and overall degrading health among older adults. It’s easy to decide against having lunch or even to skip dinner if it seems too early or late in the day.
To make it easier if you feel a loss of appetite try snacking. If you’re not feeling hungry around lunch, opt for a small snack. Usually after a snack you may realise how hungry you are and then be able to sit down to a nice lunch.
Water Intake Is More Important As You Age
As people age, they often lose their sense of thirst, and it’s likely that you haven’t even noticed the difference. Regardless of whether you’re active or sedentary, older adults will often become dehydrated before they feel thirsty.
To ensure that you’re staying hydrated be sure to rotate your preferred drinks with water. Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon is excellent. A coke with dinner is no problem. But, be sure to get in a glass of water between other drinks.
Many people find that switching to soda water makes drinking water with meals more enjoyable.
A special note on hydration, caffeinated drinks can often make people produce more urine. If you’re noticing this and don’t want to give up coffee, dark sodas, or tea, be sure to get a little extra water, milk, or juice in during the day.
Lack of Vitamins Contributes to Bone Fragility
As mentioned above, your body is not able to extract critical nutrients, and that will have a very apparent effect if you don’t alter your diet to compensate. Specifically, Vitamin A and D are to blame for poor bone health.
Too little vitamin D can lead to poor bone health and osteoporosis. Too much Vitamin A can lead to fractures.
The best way to get Vitamin D is by getting a little time out in the sun. We cannot, at any age, absorb enough vitamin D through food. But, if you’re finding it hard to get outside and want to supplement your diet with Vitamin D choose: eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, and oily fish.
If you’re worried about your levels of Vitamin A, then you should stay away from liver and pate. If these are part of your regular diet, try to limit them to once a week. You can also avoid Vitamin A rich, including fish liver oil or multivitamins that contain more than 1.5 mg.
Choose Whole Grain or Enriched Options
Over the last few years, it’s come to light that bleached flour or overly processed wheat products hold very little nutritional value. However, many people grow up eating bread, pasta, rice, and popcorn.
Whole grains are grains that haven’t been milled, meaning that all the nutritional value is still there. In grocery stores throughout the United States “milled” grain is the standard, and whole grain options are clearly labeled.
Whole grains often provide more fibre, potassium, and magnesium.
Many older adults are either in the habit of purchased milled grains, often unknowingly, or choose milled or refined grains because they’re the less expensive option.
An alternative option to whole grains is enriched grains. Enriched grains go through the same milling process and lose nearly all of the nutritional value that naturally occurred. However, the manufacturer then fortifies the raw product with nutrients to make it nutrient dense again.
Enriched grains will often have a wide range of vitamins and nutrients, including iron and folic acid. While enriched grains are a better choice than refined or milled grains, they still lack vital nutrients that naturally occur in grain and are lacking in fibre.
Making the Best Choices for Long Term Health
Most older adults let nutritional needs fall by the wayside unless they have medical diet restrictions. You can avoid medical dietary restrictions by implementing a nutrient dense and hearty-healthy diet now.
A diet change can impact your entire lifestyle. After 65 you may be dependent on Medicaid, ALTCS, or Medicare to cover medical costs or dictate your level care. Changing your eating habits will give you some control over your medical needs by circumventing costly issues such as diabetes and kidney disease.
Working with essential nutritional guidance such as staying hydrates, intaking fewer but more nutrient dense calories, and choosing whole grains can help you live with less dependence on medical intervention.
Elizabeth S. Coyle is the current Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law based in Mesa, Arizona. She serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department of the firm.