As you grow older, your body changes and so do your nutrition needs. You’ll find your energy levels are reduced, as is your appetite and desire to exercise. Healthy eating is a good choice no matter how old you are, but people over the age of 65 should be aware of the specific nutrition needs their bodies require and look for opportunities to pack in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients adults need for optimal health. Many common symptoms of aging (such as weight gain, decreased muscle mass, weaker bones and bleeding gums) can be prevented with a nutritionally balanced diet. The Australian Dietary Guidelines team of nutrition experts have the following advice for older people:
Choose a variety of foods from the 5 food groups
The Australian government has published a website dedicated to healthy eating habits for all stages of life. The Eat for Health site contains valuable information about Healthy Eating when you’re older. If food shopping, cover the five food groups: vegetables and fruit, whole grains and high fibre cereals, lean meat (red and white), fish and reduced fat dairy products. Fish is a healthy choice as it reduces the risk of conditions such as heart disease and macular degeneration. Vegetables and fruit offer vitamins and minerals, reduced fat dairy provides calcium and whole grains helps with digestion.
Ensure adequate and recommended fluid intake
The recommended water consumption for an adult is 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Water aids in better digestion and blood volume. Drinks that contain added salt/sugar and caffeine are best avoided and alcohol should be limited to two standard drinks per day if at all.
Avoid treats high in saturated fat and sugar
Cakes, pastries, chocolates and candies are great for treats but should not be the foundation of your meals. Opt for fresh fruit paired with reduced fat yoghurt as a better dessert option or choose biscuits made from wholegrains and with reduced sugar.
Limit salt intake
Too much salt can increase the likelihood or worsen existing blood pressure and heart conditions. Instead of salt, use herbs and spices to flavour food or buy salt-reduced sauces.
Meeting your daily nutrition requirements promotes wellbeing and lowers your risk of diet-related chronic diseases and some mental health disorders. If food shopping or preparing meals is a challenge, the Care Connect network of home care services can help. Contact us to learn more.