Although every person ages differently, one thing is certain: bodies change as they age. For this reason, seniors have different nutritional needs than teenagers, young children, and middle-aged adults and may need access to dining services as they get older.
Nutritional Needs for Florida Seniors
Age-related changes can affect how your body is able to digest food. This changes your dietary needs and affects your appetite. These are some of the most likely changes:
- Slower metabolism. This happens naturally and gradually. Metabolism slows down when seniors don’t get as much exercise from senior activities as they need. A slower metabolism means that the body burns fewer calories. This makes it harder to keep a healthy weight. We cannot overstate the importance of eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
- Your digestion changes. The body produces less fluid when you get older, which changes the digestive system. These changes make it more difficult for your body to absorb nutrients (such as folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12). Your appetite may change as well. Seniors often take one or more medications for health issues; these can cause side effects such as a loss of appetite or stomach upset. If your medication causes constipation, it is even more important to eat a balanced diet.
Healthy Eating for Seniors
A healthy diet packed with essential nutrients will help seniors avoid potential health problems common for seniors (e.g., constipation, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, and urinary tract infections). Eating a variety of nutritious foods will also help you maintain a healthy weight and help you keep your energy level up.
Even if you’ve never followed a nutritious diet before, healthy eating isn’t difficult (especially when someone else does the cooking). You may have wondered, what Florida senior center has the best food? It is so important to find a location with high-quality dining and senior care services. Florida geriatricians recommend these three options to seniors:
- Try to make half your plate consist of vegetables and fruit.
- Eat plenty of fiber, protein, and whole grains.
- Try to limit sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar.
Tips to Boost Your Nutrition
To maintain a healthy diet, seniors who require senior living services should keep these tips in mind:
- Stick to healthy fats (e.g., seeds, nuts, avocados, fatty fish, and canola oil) rather than saturated fats and trans fats.
- Drink plenty of fluids. To stay well-hydrated, drink lots of water and non-caffeinated beverages. eat foods with high water content (e.g., soup, watermelon, grapes, etc.)
- Choose whole grains. These fiber- and high-nutrient food choices will help your digestion and help your heart function as it should. Choose brown rice over white rice, whole-grain cereals, and whole-grain bread instead of white bread and processed grains.
- Eat a variety of high-fiber foods daily. Raw fruits and vegetables are much healthier than canned or processed foods. These foods help limit constipation. They provide the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients that seniors require. This allows for healthy aging, weight management, and reduced risk of heart problems. If you are deciding whether to move to an assisted living home, make sure they have a nutritionist on staff.
- Pack in the protein! Give your body power by eating plenty of lean proteins (e.g., beans, eggs, chicken, fish, and lean meats).
- Keep up your calcium. Everyone needs a high-calcium diet, especially seniors. Maintaining bone density and bone health starts with eating calcium-rich foods like milk, spinach, and fish).
- Look for B12. As an older adult, anytime you eat cereal, make sure it’s fortified with vitamin B12. As you age, the body has more trouble absorbing B12. Getting more through diet and supplements will help you make sure that you meet your body’s requirements.
- Drink plenty of electrolytes and cranberry juice. This can help seniors stay active, heal from injury or illness, and avoid urinary tract infections. Look for low-sugar options when available.