To help keep their bodies in tip-top shape, it is important that everyone makes sure they keep a healthy, nutritious diet. However, as people age, it becomes even more important to see to it that their diets are composed of healthy, nutritious foods. This is because as bodies get older and begin to feel the effects of time and age, different nutrients become more critical to maintain health and well-being; as you get older, it would be wise to educate yourself on senior nutrition and on which foods are likely to have the most positive effects on you.
Maintaining a healthy diet for seniors can have the following benefits: higher levels of energy, better resistance to illness and disease, stronger immune systems, sharper mental acuteness, and faster, more efficient recovery after sicknesses, illnesses, injuries, or surgeries.
Below is a general guideline of the types of foods that are most nutritious for the elderly:
- Fruit – It is recommended that seniors eat at least 1½ to 2 servings of fruit per day. In order to get the most nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins, from fruits, whole fruits, not fruit juices, should be consumed. It is encouraged that seniors eat a variety of different fruits, and not just apples and bananas, so as to not get bored with eating the same fruits everyday
- Veggies – It is recommended that seniors eat at least 2 to 2½ servings of vegetables per day. Leafy, dark greens- such as spinach, broccoli, and kale- and vegetables that are orange or yellow- such as winter squash, yams, and carrots- carry the nutrients and antioxidants most beneficial for seniors
- Dairy/Calcium – It is recommended that seniors get a daily intake of about 1,200mg of calcium per day, which can usually be done by eating at least 3 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Calcium can also be found in non-dairy foods such as tofu, almonds, and broccoli. It is very important that seniors consume a sufficient amount of calcium every day to prevent bone fractures and the development of osteoporosis
- Grains – It is recommended that seniors get at least 6 servings of grains per day; whole grains and grains that are fortified or high in fiber, such are whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and bran cereals, are especially recommended. When in doubt, eat grains that have “whole” listed under its ingredients and avoid any grains that contain over-processed white flour.
- Protein – It is recommended that seniors get at least half a gram of protein for each pound that they weigh. For example, a 130-pound senior will need 65 grams of protein per day in order to get a sufficient amount of protein in their diet. Besides red meats and poultry, sources of protein include beans, nuts, fish, peas, milk, eggs, and cheese.