Nutrition for Seniors

Nutrition for SeniorsPhoto Credit: Justine Foong

When you consider how to help a senior loved one in their diet, it’s important to understand why the diet is important for seniors in the first place. A healthy diet can help the senior avoid disease, keep him or her more active, keep the muscles and bones strong, and increase recuperation time. As an added benefit, a healthy diet often results in a happier outlook on life.

In this short article about nutrition for seniors, I want to go over what to include in the diet and what to avoid.

Nutrition for Seniors: The Essentials

  • Vegetables: Yes, vegetables are important for anyone, but they’re especially important for the elderly. Why? Because the fiber supports proper digestion and vitamins support the immune system and can help keep the senior from all kinds of disease.

  • Fruits: While not as important as vegetables, whole fruits can add an extra source of fiber and vitamins to the diet.

  • Carbs (Like Whole Grains): It’s a good idea for seniors to have about 6 to 7 ounces of grains each day. These are another source of fiber, but they are also a healthy source of carbs and energy.

  • Protein: This is an important one because protein is a little more difficult to find in many foods. A senior should aim for 0.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Great sources of protein are tuna, salmon, chicken breast, quinoa, eggs, beans, and peanut butter.

  • Calcium: It’s always a good idea to make sure senior is well stocked up on items high in calcium. Ideally, he or she should consume 1,200mg per day. Some great sources are kale, milk, yogurt, broccoli, and almonds.

  • Extra Water: The elderly often experience less of a sense of thirst as they age. However, it’s extremely important that they stay hydrated. Putting reminder notes around the kitchen can be helpful here.

What Seniors Should Avoid

  • Bad Carbs: White flour and refined sugar are examples of bad carbs, which can cause unwanted spikes in blood sugar.

  • Bad Fats: The easiest way to stay away from bad fats is to focus on eating good fats, like avocados, walnuts, olive oil, and flaxseed oil.

  • Too Much Sodium: Again, the main concern here is high blood pressure. A simple fix is to season food with spices and herbs instead of salt.

  • Not Enough Color: As a general rule, a senior should have a mix of colors when it comes to their food. The less colorful the diet, the less healthy it is.