At every stage of life, nutrition is vitally important. We all require healthy foods to help our bodies thrive, regardless of age, but seniors and elderly men and women have specialized nutritional needs.
There are several factors affecting nutrition and healthy dietary choices for seniors. One area that greatly affects the health needs of the elderly is basic body composition.
Hormonal activity, for example, decreases as a person ages. This results in weight gain and the loss of muscle and bone. Other health considerations for people in their senior years are outlined in the following points:
As we age, the amount of water found in our bodies naturally decreases. Certain personal habits can also affect these fluid levels. Many seniors don’t drink enough water simply because they don’t feel thirsty. Others find it inconvenient or even difficult to pour a glass of water. These difficulties can cause elderly people to become dehydrated very easily. It is recommended that seniors drink at least one ounce of water for every 2.2 pounds of body weight.
We need protein for good health at every stage of life. Protein prevents wasted muscle and supports a healthy immune system. While most seniors need less energy, they should still eat protein rich foods every day. Fish, eggs, poultry and lean meats are all good sources of protein.
Carbs and fiber
You are probably already aware that seniors require extra fiber. A fiber rich diet combined with plenty of water is valuable in preventing constipation. Further, the carbohydrates found in pasta, cereals, bread and other grain products are an essential ingredient to provide the energy needed by active seniors.
The body’s natural metabolism slows down as age increases, so nutrition for seniors means less fat in their diets. It’s important to note that fat should be limited, but not eliminated altogether. You can trim the amount of daily fat intake by choosing fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and fat-free or fat-reduced preparation methods.
Stay Strong with Calcium
Calcium is a vital element of nutrition for seniors, and many people simply don’t get enough of it. The daily calcium requirement for seniors is about 1,500 mg per day, a figure that can easily fall short. Older people with digestive problems often struggle with drinking milk, but there are many alternative calcium sources. Try to incorporate non-fat powdered milk into your recipes. Other foods such as low-fat cheese, yogurt and even broccoli are delicious, calcium-rich options.
Seniors should eat a diet rich in natural sources of iron, including choices like lean red meats and breakfast cereals. Too many older women and men live with iron deficiencies.
Zinc is one of the often-ignored contributors to good nutrition for seniors, and because zinc isn’t readily absorbed by the body, many adults don’t get enough. Seniors should eat healthy portions of poultry, meat and fish to help meet their daily zinc requirements.
Vitamin B12 and Atrophic Gastritis
Men and women in their senior years often suffer with a condition known as atrophic gastritis, a deficiency of B12. The vitamin B12 is only absorbed into the system when an intrinsic factor is present in the stomach. A person with atrophic gastritis, however, will suffer from an inflammation of the stomach that causes bacterial overgrowth, impeding the intrinsic factor. Supplements are available from the doctor to help patients suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency.