Healthy diets in your 60’s and beyond
Healthy diets and aging should go together like peanut butter and jelly. They just belong together! Now, too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches might not be the best choice for your healthy diet, but we have a few suggestions to making aging and your diet fit perfectly together.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the focus of healthy diets in your 60’s and beyond should be nutrient density. This means older adults should eat foods that supply more nutrients relative to calories. Quality above quantity.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of healthy eating as you age, how healthy eating is about more than just food, and how to create a healthy senior diet.
The benefits of healthy eating as you age
Today, men and women live and even work longer. Eating well keeps the body and mind healthy. It also improves and maintains your quality of life.
Healthy body. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan recommends eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limiting foods high in saturated fats and sugar, and including fat-free or low-fat dairy products in your diet.
Healthy mind. To improve memory, alertness, and cognitive function, eat cruciferous vegetables, berries, and fatty fish. Dark berries are rich in flavonoids and vitamin C. Walnuts have a high omega-6 fatty acid content, while fish such as salmon, sardines, and bluefin tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acid.
Quality of life. Individuals define a “quality” life differently. For some, it is to be free of pain. For others, it is the opportunity to socialize, participate in favorite activities and spend time with loved ones or the ability to spend quality, one on one time with a partner. These are all additional benefits of healthy eating.
Healthy eating is about more than just food
Food tastes better when it is shared. Invite a friend over for lunch and share cooking responsibilities. Eat with your family as much as possible and take opportunities to enjoy a meal outside when the weather allows for it. Make an effort to go to a place of worship or community center that offers meals and enjoy the company of others.
How to create a healthy senior diet
Healthy diets and aging are about balance and eating organically as much as you can. Eat small portions of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy every day. Grow organic vegetables if possible or support a farmer’s market as organic food tend to be more nutrient-dense.
Protein. Protein is a good source of vitamin B12 for the nervous system, but many older adults do not eat enough. It fights infection, builds muscle mass, and assists with recovery from an accident or surgery. Rotate between different meat options like chicken, turkey, fish and red meat.
Some non meat protein options are eggs, beans, nuts and grains like quinoa. You can add canned beans to salads, casseroles, soups, and rice dishes. A healthy and filling snack option is peanut or nut butters on whole-grain crackers, or to eat with sliced apples or bananas.
Water. Drink water regularly. With age, one could lose some of your sense of thirst. If you do not like water, choose healthy beverages that do not have added sugars or caffeine.
Fruits and vegetables. Eat different colored fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte present in fruits and vegetables such as spinach, potato, 100% carrot juice, tomatoes, and avocado. Irregular levels can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and muscular paralysis. Additional nutrient dense fruits and vegetables are broccoli, zucchini, sweet peppers, kale, kiwi blueberries, and raspberries.
There are great information sources on healthy eating available in Spanish and English. It includes the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and the MyPlate initiative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If needed, speak to a registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice.
For more information, or if you have any questions on healthy diets and aging, please contact our team at UMC today. We look forward to hearing from you.