4 Nutrition Tips for Seniors Over 65

4 Nutrition Tips for Seniors Over 65

It’s normal to see a shift in eating habits and nutritional requirements as you age. But a wholesome diet is more important than ever at this stage of life. The right nutrients will boost immune resilience, increase mood state and energy levels, sharpen mental acuity, promote a healthy weight, reinforce bone and muscle strength, and lower the risk of chronic disease. In other words, what you eat can impact how well you age.

About 1 in 2 adults, ages 65 and over, are susceptible to malnourishment, so it’s essential to consume a variety of nutritious foods with fresh, seasonal, quality ingredients. Many senior living communities offer healthy onsite dining options to make this food more accessible, but if you aren’t sure how to adjust your eating habits for optimal wellness and longevity, the nutrition tips below will clear the guesswork off your plate.

Focus on Your Protein and Vitamin B-12 Intake

Muscle and bone loss is common as you age, but this can lead to weakness, injuries, or mobility issues over time. So in order to protect the musculoskeletal system, you’ll need to consume adequate amounts of protein and Vitamin B-12. Protein builds lean muscle mass and improves bone density, while Vitamin B-12 promotes healthy red blood cells to oxygenate the connective tissues. Senior adults are often deficient in this particular nutrient as a result of taking certain medications, but fortunately, several protein-rich foods also contain Vitamin B-12. Here are a few examples: chicken, tuna, salmon, eggs, fortified cereal, milk, or water lentils.

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Be Careful of Sugar, Sodium, and Saturated Fat

Your total caloric needs will usually decrease once you’re over the age of 65. Because of this, it’s important to be mindful of empty calories in the form of sodium, sugar, or saturated fat. These food items often contain artificial ingredients which lack nutritional value. In excess, they could also increase the risk of hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart issues, or, in some cases, even cancer. According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should eat less than 2,300mg of sodium, less than 22g of saturated fats, and less than 50g of refined sugars on a daily basis. Natural, non-synthetic food sources are preferable.

Opt for Fruits or Vegetables if You Need a Snack

While many senior adults notice a shrink in their appetites, sometimes you crave a snack in the afternoon or evening. At times when you feel peckish, it’s tempting to reach for a handful of salty chips or a bowl of vanilla ice cream, but the healthiest snack options are fresh vegetable or fruit. The dense nutrient profile of these foods will keep you satiated without exceeding your overall calorie allotment. But if the idea of plain fruits or vegetables doesn’t thrill you, here are some ways to infuse more flavor into this healthy snack: pair raw carrots with hummus, freeze a bunch of red grapes, or skewer tomatoes with basil and mozzarella cheese.

Drink Water—and Reduce Alcohol Consumption

The older you are, the more water you need to consume, reports the Journal of Physiology. That’s because older age makes it hard to regulate internal core body temperature, often leading to muscle pain, electrolyte imbalance, fatigue, heart strain, or heat exhaustion in the event of dehydration. In extreme cases, this can also result in organ failure, the research continues. Aim to drink 6–8 cups of water each day (about 2 liters) if possible—and limit your intake of alcohol, soda, caffeine, and juice concentrates, as these could further exacerbate dehydration. No more than 1–2 alcoholic beverages per week is advisable.

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Optimize Your Nutrition for Wellness and Longevity

If you are over the age of 65, it’s time to make wholesome eating habits a priority. The more nutritious your diet, the healthier you’ll be and the more vibrant you’ll feel. Age is just a number, and these “golden years” are meant to be lived to their fullest. So fuel yourself with the right kind of nourishment to enjoy this current phase of life as long as possible.

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