All of us age one day. It’s inevitable. We don’t want sloppy backs and droopy eyes, do we? As we climb the ladder of years, our body changes and we have to supply nutrients so that the body still functions to the best of its ability. There are persons above sixty who can equal a youth’s quickness and energy. It depends on how they think, act and worship their body for a healthy living. In this article for foods required in old age information will be given on the sources of food containing almost every essential nutrient. Information is also provided on the minerals required for a healthy living.
When you become old, watching what you eat becomes a survival skill. With slowing body functions and sensitive stomachs, literally anything can go wrong. The benefits of eating right for people over the age of 50 are faster recuperation period (so important!), higher energy levels, and improved chronic disease management. Make ‘you are what you eat’ your motto.
You cannot be a ‘spring chicken’ after crossing the ‘youth barrier.’ It’s a sad truth, unfortunately. This brings to the conclusion that; you still have to follow the balanced diet principle with extra attention given to nutrients and minerals need to strengthen your vital organs.
Here’s an example of a healthy balanced diet or the elderly people:
|Bread, cereals, etc.||Breakfast cereals, pasta|| Main part of every meal. About one-third of a meal.|
|Fruits and vegetables (fresh and processed)||Apples, bananas, pears||Included as main part of meal and consume at a minimum of five servings a day|
|Milk and dairy produce||Milk, cheese and yogurt||Three servings per day|
|Meat, seafood, fish||Lentils, eggs, chicken, lamb||One or two servings per day|
|Fatty and sugary foods||Fizzy drinks, cakes and biscuits||Consumed in moderation|
What Happens To The Human Body When Old?
Food will be processed gradually in the body. This will affect your diet preferences and appetite. Here are some of the changes that will happen in your body:
Metabolism Slows Down
It is natural, but beyond doubt. This becomes more prominent due to lack of exercise or reducing the amount of workout regularly done. A slow metabolism means lesser calories burnt. That also means that you should eat less to keep that ideal weight on. Such a predicament brings us to a conclusion that the less food taken should be nutrient-rich as far as possible. The calorie needs for a man and woman differ from each other. For an average woman with an average activity level require about 1,800 calories/day. Meanwhile for men, they require about 2,300 calories. If you are following a sedentary lifestyle (unadvisable), you will need less calories compared to the standard quantities.
Change Of Appetite
Senior citizens produce lesser body fluids to digest the food taken in. These changes have the tendency to make your body difficult to absorb essential nutrients such as folic acid and vitamin B12.
Erratic Emotional Health
Some elderly people feel depressed and lonely. They will eventually lose the interest to eat. As such, they’ll lose weight. On the other hand, emotional triggers can cause binge eating and cause the gain of unwanted weight.
Benefits Of Eating Well Beyond 50
They say that life starts at 40. So life should go on after 50 as well (God forbid if anything happens before that!). Choose among the variety of colorful fruits, whole grains, nuts, and veggies and incorporate them into your regular daily meals.
Live Long And Strong
You definitely want to live longer and not die faster. Feeding yourself with all the goodness of nutrients will keep the muscles, bones, organs and other body parts strong. Consuming a vitamin-rich food will give you a boost of antioxidants and fights illness while keeping the body free of toxins in a long haul.
Eating right will protect the system from diseases such as stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure (reduce salt intake). This also includes fatal diseases like cancer and anemia.
Old age also means stammering and stuttering. Human brains process words and sentences at a slow pace when it is deprived of key nutrients. Eating a range of green veggies, nuts and colorful fruits increases focus and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A regular consumption of rich antioxidants will enhance your capacity of memorization and mental alertness.
Feel The Best
Eating well and with regular exercise (incorporating whole meal) will keep you energetic all day long. This is also a self-esteem boost.
Choosing The Best Foods For Old Age
These foods increase brain function, reduce the risk of developing brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The list includes:
Salmon is a cold water fish and is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial for the heart health as well as brain function. It also contains astaxanthin (chemical) responsible for youthful appearance. It also contains rich sources of vitamins E and D.
Almonds are usually called the ‘brain food.’ The reason is obvious. It gives you a lot of energy and contains ‘choline’ which is a precursor to a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.
3. Canola Oil
Cooking food with canola oil instead of sunflower oil can increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. The two fatty acids abundant in canola oil are Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and Linoleic acid.
The first one is the omega-3 fatty acid which prevents heart attacks and paralytic strokes as it stops cholesterol. The latter (omega-6 fatty acid) is necessary for the brain and for growth of infants.
Choline, as mentioned above is present in eggs. Choline is also good for stress management and memory.
Though categorized as ‘too fatty’, this green fruit is a gold mine for all things great (in terms of nutrients of course!). Certain nutrients in avocados reduce the risk of developing a stroke. A stroke occurs when there is a blood clot in the vessel that blocks the flow of blood to the brain. They have more potassium than bananas.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol found in avocados and they assist in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Vitamin K and calcium available in avocados is necessary maintenance of healthy bones. Oleic acid is a fat present in avocados which can make your brain feel full.
Shellfish contains high amount of Vitamin B12, magnesium, iron and potassium. These nutrients and minerals are crucial for the brain function.
A smile is complete only with teeth, or so they say. We need to keep teeth strong for easy chewing and digestion of food. These foods aid in the strengthening of teeth and keeping it cavity free.
1. Cooked Spinach
Spinach is a good source of magnesium. Magnesium forms the hard enamel of the teeth that resists decay.
Raw broccoli is rich in magnesium which is required for healthy teeth.
With escalating age, come weak and brittle bones. The risk of developing osteoporosis is higher in women than in men. The foods below, fortify bones and strengthen them.
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is delicious. So is their nutritional value. It has an estimated amount of calcium between 318 mg and 156 mg.
This leafy vegetable is capable of increasing the estrogen levels in aging women.
Collards are in the cabbage family. Half a cup of collards contains about twenty percent of the daily recommended portion of calcium.
Dandelion? Yep. They give you a fair share of Boron and calcium.
Kale is rich in Vitamin K and calcium. Vitamin K helps in healthy blood clotting. Kale is also listed as one of the world’s healthiest vegetables.
Less Intake, Rich Nutrients
As the elderly produces less body fluid needed for digestion, they tend to eat less amount. Therefore, these foods should not be high in sugars or alcohol, but high in proteins and vitamins.
Bananas are high in potassium. Also, they are fiber-rich. Therefore, munch on a banana rather than a piece of cake which has nothing, but just sugars and no nutrients. Since banana is a soft fruit, it can be a wonderful snack for senior citizens having dentures on or weaker teeth.
Almonds, walnuts, peanuts and cashew nuts. These are wonderful sources of fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins which fight cancer and lower the risk of cholesterol. Cashew nuts are rich in zinc & iron and is nicknamed as ‘brainpower booster’. No better reason to start munching on them.
3. Peanut Butter
All kinds of butter should be consumed in moderation (for their amount of fat content!).
When taken in moderation, peanut butter serves as a good midday snack as it lowers cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Anti-oxidants are responsible for neutralizing free radicals and keeping the skin, body and mental health checked. They prevent cancer and help your body absorb as much nutrients as possible.
Carrots are good for the eyes, or so says the school lessons. This root veggie is rich in a compound called beta-carotene (powerful antioxidant). Carrots are eaten either raw or steamed. Steamed carrots will suit those with weak teeth.
Spinach is rich in an amino acid called Lutein. This compound can reduce the signs of macular degeneration in the initial stages.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. Lycopene falls in the carotenoid group. It is an anti-cancer agent and aids in heart health. A very less known fact about lycopene is that it acts as an internal sunscreen and protects in sunburn.
Blueberries are usually included in morning oatmeal breakfast. They have one of the highest antioxidant content in the whole berry family and fight a range of diseases. Vitamin 6 and folate present in blueberries prevent the accumulation of the compound known as homocysteine. This homocysteine has the ability to damage blood vessels leading to heart problems. In addition, they assist in enhancement of brain power.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes should not be confused with sugary and starchy yams. The former has lots of beta carotene and Vitamin A. Since it is soft, it helps with easy digestion and chewing. They contain anthocyanins (cyanidins and peonidins) known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
These potatoes also contain in abundance B6 vitamins, vital for breaking down of homocysteine, the substance contributing to the hardening of arteries and blood vessels. It reduces blood pressure by maintaining the fluid balance in human body. Potassium, the electrolyte found in sweet potatoes assists in regulating the heart beat.
Tips For Health
Cut those sugars!
Check for other terms for sugar such as sucrose, corn syrup and maltose. This includes dextrose, fructose and molasses. Chose fresh vegetables & foods than canned and processed ones. For bread, choose sugar-free variants such as tortillas. Go for low carb and also sugar-free variants of ice creams if you must indulge.
1. Whole Grain Bread
Multigrain, five seeds sprouted breads and whole grain breads have a lower glycemic index. This is suitable for those people with diabetes.
2. Low-Fat Yogurt
Low-fat yogurt has a glycemic index of 33. It is a healthier option over ice creams and serve as a healthy snack as well.
3. Diet Drinks
Caffeine free drinks are on the rise. Though not advisable, try to sip on a soda drink that has zero caffeine and is sugar-free.
The Importance Of Less Salt
Without salt, food becomes tasteless. But high intake of salt will cause high blood pressure and heart disease. Older adults should restrict their intake of salt, especially in those processed meat such as luncheon meat, ham, corned beef, potato chips and soy sauce. Choose to flavor foods with herbs and spices rather than salt.
Older adults are advised to take reduced-salt foods such as listed below:
1. Lima Beans
They are also called butter beans for their buttery texture. 1 cup of lima beans offers more than the daily recommended portion of Molybdenum. Just three-fifths cup of lima beans contains just over 1mg of sodium. These legumes are rich in fiber which prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly. This is suitable for consumption for those having diabetes, hypoglycemia and insulin resistance.
2. Brussel Sprouts
Brussels sprouts boast of special health benefits in DNA protection. Studies showed that the stability of DNA in the white blood cells improved upon regular consumption of Brussels sprouts. A serving of approximately 100g of Brussels sprouts contain just 10mg of sodium.
3. Fresh Coconuts
Coconut fibers relatively slow down the release of sugars or glucose. This will require lesser amount of insulin to be released by your pancreas and convert food into energy. Coconut reduces the craving for sweet foods. They make a wonderful snack than chips with a comparatively low salt content.
4. Lean Beef
Lean meat/ beef provide high-quality protein. Protein helps to build collagen. Avoid deep cooking or frying as this will produce unwanted chemicals that will undo the anti-aging and healing properties.
5. Limit Alcohol Consumption
If you can, stay away from alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol has no nutritional values or any of those sorts. It only adds up to the kilojoules.
However, current guidelines state that,
Not more than two standard drinks should be consumed in a day or any given day. This applies for both healthy men and women to reduce the risk alcohol-related diseases.
In the case of any occasion, not more than four standard drinks. This is to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury in the occasion.
Stock Up On Those Nutrients
Staying active even after 60 might seem a Herculean task, but nothing is impossible! Here are a few nutrients that you will be needing and how to get enough of it.
1. Vitamin B12
B12 is a blood creating nutrient. It is important in the creation of new blood cells and the DNA. It helps in healthy nerve function. Absorption of B12 is slower in older adults than in younger adults. Even though if your regular meals contains enough Talk to your physician about taking B12 supplements.
Human bones are made up of mainly calcium. The primary function of calcium is to maintain and build bones. A lack of calcium will cause the bones to be brittle and fragile. Make sure you get at least three servings of low-fat milk a day. Other good dietary sources include kale and broccoli (see above). The best source of calcium is dairy products, not calcium.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is calcium’s best friend. It helps in the calcium absorption of the body. This increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis. Recent studies also show that Vitamin D may protect us from other diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disease. Also, Vitamin D deficiency has links to frequent falling incidents. Many foods are now fortified and improved with Vitamin D. These are cereals, some yogurts and juices. Furthermore, vitamin D is also found in salmon and tuna.
Short Tips To Boost Nutritional Health
As you go up the age ladder, keep these tips in mind while choosing the right food and making the right nutritional decisions.
- Opt for healthy fats. Always!
- Drink a lot of water
- Stick to whole grains
- Include raw vegetables and fruits
- Pack a lot of proteins
- Calcium is super important!
- Go shopping for Vitamin B12.