DIET FOR ELDERLY
A balanced, healthy diet for the aging adds life to years as well as adding years to life. Aging progresses at a variable rate and is less a chronological age than a physical status and state of mind. Food choices in aging not only reduce risk of disease and increase longevity, but also contribute to wellness and the ability to remain independent.
For older adults, the benefits of healthy eating include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. Eating well as an older adult is all about fresh, colourful food, creativity in the kitchen, and eating with friends.
How many calories do seniors need?
Use the following as a guideline:
A woman over 50 who is:
* Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
* Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
* Very active needs about 2000 calories a day
A man over 50 who is:
* Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
* Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
*Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day
Source: National Institute of Aging
Energy needs decline, but requirements for some nutrients increase. The need for vitamin D increases due to less exposure to the sun and less-efficient conversion of cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D. Changes within the gastrointestinal system include atrophy of the stomach lining, less production of stomach acid and less absorption of vitamin B12. Vitamin E enhances the immune system and cognitive function. Calcium and magnesium requirements increase and may need supplementation.
Guidelines for a healthy diet in Old Age
(salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label and season meals with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
Enjoy good fat.
Reap the rewards of olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. The fat from these delicious sources can protect your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Avoid constipation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing your fiber intake from foods such as raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
Avoid “bad” carbs.
Bad carbohydrates—also known as simple or unhealthy carbs—are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fibre, and nutrients. Bad carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. For long-lasting energy and stable insulin levels, choose “good” or complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Look for hidden sugar.
Added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, and ketchup. Check food labels for other terms for sugar such as corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose.
Put five colours on your plate.
Fruits and veggies rich in colour correspond to rich nutrients (think: blackberries, melons, yams, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini).