You are what you eat. Fitness and wellness experts would often tell us that the food we give ourselves determines the kind of body we get. It applies to all of us regardless of age. But, the consequences of having a poor diet can be a lot worse for those entering late adulthood.
As we grow older, there are certain limitations that we need to live with if we want to stay healthy and sound. The consequences of our poor lifestyle and habits will begin to manifest during the process, in addition to the decline of our body’s immune system. Problems like obesity, malnutrition, chronic diseases, cardiovascular and respiratory issues often arise at this point, and they will undoubtedly take a toll on our bodies without proper medication.
Our seniors need extra care and attention, especially to their diet. Since the body begins to change and lose its ability to handle its internal processes like it used to, specific changes are likely to occur. Moreover, if our elderly develop chronic diseases, preparing their diet can be even more challenging. So, what foods can we prepare for our elderly to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition they need for their vulnerable body? Let’s find out.
FEWER CALORIES, MORE NUTRIENTS
Metabolism becomes notably slower during old age, and taking in too many calories could lead to obesity. It would likely be the case, especially if the elderly get little to no physical activity at all. The body will struggle to burn said calories, and these unburnt calories would contribute to weight gain. While calories are essential to keep the internal organs and muscles healthy, we have to make sure we serve just the right amount of calories our body could burn.
We should go for less-caloric and nutrient-giving foods – diets containing the optimal amount of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. We can get these from deeply-colored, leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, whole grain, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
Deeply colored, leafy vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients and fiber. In addition, they generally contain low calories, which make them an essential component in an elderly diet. Vegetables like romaine lettuce, spinach, green and red peppers, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes make a diverse option for your nutritious dish.
Fiber promotes a healthy weight while protecting the digestive system from harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, older adults are more prone to digestive issues and difficulties; if left untreated, the condition may worsen, leading to more severe diseases like colon cancer. Hence, we may consider giving them a fiber-rich diet from time to time.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages older adults to consume about 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories daily. It means that they have to consume approximately 24 grams of fiber for women, while 38 grams for men. Fortunately, it is easy for us to deal with by choosing suitable sources in the market. So, the next time you go to the market, you can grab one of this food to include in your pantry: avocados, strawberries, apples, raspberries, bananas, pear, carrots, beets, artichokes, lentils, almonds, and other nuts and seeds.
Aside from being fiber-rich foods, whole grains are also abundant sources of B-vitamins and other minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc, which are excellent energy-boosters. Moreover, whole grains such as wheat, corn, barley, brown rice, and quinoa help lower the body’s cholesterol level, reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer, and diminish inflammation.
In our early 60s, we begin to experience low energy and stamina by simply doing short walks, which is quite understandable. Consuming whole grains can help our elderlies deal with this adjustment while still being healthy and satisfied with what they eat. It helps to make whole grains an alternative to our old parents’ usual diet. For instance, we may switch out high-processed foods with whole grains. We may serve them a bowl of whole-grain oatmeal instead of a sugary meal to provide them with enough energy they need for the day during breakfast. We can also add a couple of fruit slices to make the meal more palatable.
Another essential addition to your elderly parent’s menu is protein-rich foods. Protein is a crucial nutrient that enables the functionality of the cells in our body.
It helps to maintain muscular strength, as well as balance, agility, and body resilience. Low protein intake leads to the breaking down of muscle mass and power as this nutrient also aids healing, building, and recovering the tissues and cells within our body. With our elderly loved ones’ bodies starting to weaken, serving them with protein-rich foods will help them deal with the adverse physical effects of aging.
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, flax, sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin seeds are good sources of protein that we can incorporate into the menu, along with a bowl of oats. These are also rich in healthy fats, fibers, minerals, and unsaturated fats that help keep the body safe from risks of heart diseases.
Whole eggs are also an excellent choice, given that they are easy to acquire and prepare. Chicken and turkey breast can also be perfect for an elderly’s dinner since you can cook these meats in versatility.
Another great addition to your pantry is fish meat. Aside from being super-rich in protein, it also contains vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids that promote a healthy body and brain. It also carries nutrients that reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, most common to older adults. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, and mackerel, are not only loaded with protein — they are very delicious too! Although most of these meats are pretty expensive, the benefits we can get are worth every dime.
We have to keep our bodies hydrated regardless of our age. But, hydration is vital, especially to older adults. Fluid intakes are a must, and doctors recommend aiming for at least eight glasses of water daily. Drinking water is essential to our body as the process cleanses the toxins and helps the body flush the bad stuff out. We can help our elderly stay hydrated by making sure they have drinking tumblers with them most of the time. But, we can also make hydration a little more interesting for them.
From time to time, we can blend our vegetables and fruits into nutritious shakes. On a side note, you can get tons of recipes online that you can rely upon, or you can make a recipe of your own. Just make sure you know the right amount of ingredients to include and what type of food is safe for your senior parent, especially if they have a particular condition or illness.