5 Essential Nutrition Facts for Seniors to Know
Good, healthy nutrition is essential at any age, but it’s often overlooked in senior health. Eating well not only improves physical energy and resistance to illness, but also supports a more positive attitude and mental capabilities. So, how can seniors support good eating habits and reap those benefits?
Our nutrition experts at UMC at Collingswood have put together five essential facts for seniors to be aware of regarding the state of their nutrition.
Vitamins & Mineral Supplements for Seniors: The most important thing for senior nutrition is to get your vitamins and minerals. You may not know that adults over 70 often need higher levels of calcium and vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. You can naturally increase your intake by having three servings of calcium and vitamin D rich foods a day. Some food sources for calcium are low-fat dairy products and leafy vegetables, while vitamin D can be found in foods such as salmon and eggs. Fortified cereals or juices like orange juice can have both calcium and vitamin D.
For some adults over 50, it becomes harder for the body to absorb vitamin B12, which helps the formation of new red blood cells, and also plays a role in bone health and neurological functions. Vitamin B12 can be found in animal products like chicken, milk, eggs, yogurt, salmon, and tuna. It might be necessary to have regular blood tests to make sure your B12 levels are normal, and in some cases, it’s also recommended to take a B12 supplement even if you’re eating foods naturally high in B12. Remember, however, that it’s always best to speak with your doctor before making any changes to daily supplements.
Dietary Fiber: Most people know that fiber aids in digestion and can help to keep you naturally regular. What you might not know is that dietary fiber can also help lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes by lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The Institute of Medicine recommends that total fiber intake for adults older than 50 should be at least 30 grams per day for men and 21 grams for women. Fiber-rich foods consist of whole-grain breads or pastas, lentils, and oats. Whole fruits and vegetables like broccoli, avocados, pears, and raisins are also great sources of fiber.
Potassium is often thought of to help stop “growing pains” but it helps with so much more! This mineral helps keep bones strong, and is essential for cell function and reducing the risk of high blood pressure and kidney stones. Symptoms of potassium deficiency can lead to general fatigue, muscle weakness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and higher blood sugar. Foods high in potassium are leafy greens, bananas, beans, nuts, and winter squash like acorn and butternut.
Eating healthy fats is another important staple in any senior’s diet. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, found in foods like nuts, fish, and avocados, are considered “healthy fats” and are necessary for a balanced diet. Polyunsaturated fats, also known as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, are considered essential for muscle movement and inflammation. Consuming these healthy fats can prevent and, in some cases, help treat heart disease and stroke, as well as reduce blood pressure. Saturated fats, on the other hand, should be avoided or limited to 10% of your daily calories a day because they are known to drive up high cholesterol. Saturated fats can be found in meats, whole milk, cheeses, butter, sugary desserts, and many commercially prepared foods.
Your Life at Collingswood Comes with a Built-in Nutritionist!
Our chefs at UMC at Collingswood actually work with licensed nutritionists to create a healthy delicious and nutritious diet for our residents. At Collingswood, you may feel better than you have in a while once the effects of healthy eating kick in. And of course, all personal diet restrictions are accommodated as needed.