Nutrition for Older Adults

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As we age, our bodies change the way we process and metabolize food and nutrients. We need more of some things and less of others to maintain a healthy body and mind.

The most important factor for older adults is to consult your physician about your dietary needs, particularly as they relate to any medical conditions. In general, though, older adults will benefit from considering the following:

Increase Your Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and Vitamin D help to maintain healthy bones, and can assist in preventing osteoporosis. Choose low fat dairy products, especially those fortified with Vitamin D, and dark green vegetables. Ask your doctor about adding a calcium supplement or multivitamin to your diet.

Add Fibre and Whole Grains

Fibre-rich foods help to lower your risk for heart disease, weight gain, and Type 2 Diabetes. Whole grains are higher in fibre and are more beneficial to the body than white grains, so choose whole grain options whenever possible. Add a variety of whole grains for more flavour, such as oats, barley, and quinoa.

Eat More Vegetables

Probably true for everyone, but especially important for older adults, is to eat more vegetables. Eat Right Ontario recommends 4-5 servings of vegetables a day. The darker and more vibrant the colour, the better it is for you, so choose things like dark green leaf lettuce over iceberg and a sweet red pepper over celery for best results.

Choose Lean Proteins

High fat diets can lead to obesity and related illnesses, and heart disease. If you’re eating red meat, lean cuts such as flank and loin are lower in fat than other cuts. Remove visible fat and skin from meats before cooking for leaner protein, and choose poultry or fish at least three times a week. Avoid high-fat deli and sandwich meats like salami and bacon. Eggs, tofu, and nuts are all excellent non-meat sources of protein.

Don’t Skip the Fat

The human body needs fat to survive, but you can make healthy choices by picking the right kind of fat. Stay away from saturated and Trans fats, which can increase risk of heart disease, and focus on polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. Cook with vegetable oil or canola margarine instead of butter or lard.

Add Salt in Moderation

Sodium is essential for a healthy body, but most people get way more than they need from salty snacks and pre-packaged foods, such as ready-to-eat soup and microwave meals. Too much salt can increase blood pressure and contribute to heart disease, so use sparingly when cooking and choose foods labelled “low sodium.” If you know you’ll be having a very salty meal, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, choose moderate portion sizes, and counter with a high-potassium snack like a banana.