Why Proper Nutrition is Key for Healthy Aging
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important at any stage in life. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can provide a variety of health benefits to both children and adults. However, as we age, our metabolisms slow down and we become less active. Seniors who do not maintain an active lifestyle require fewer calories and develop smaller appetites, making it difficult to consume the necessary number of daily calories needed for proper nutrition.
According to the National Institutes of Health, proper nutrition can reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone loss and even some types of cancer. Aging adults who eat a nutritious diet can also lower their risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Staying Healthy as You Age with Good Eating Habits
It is never too late to improve your eating habits and achieve better health. Follow these seven senior nutrition tips to begin reaping the benefits of a healthy diet:
- Eat breakfast. Studies have shown that eating larger meals in the morning as opposed to in the afternoon can provide the body with numerous health benefits. Along with giving us the energy needed for the day, breakfast foods are a great source of nutrients such as calcium, iron, B vitamins, and protein and fiber that are often missed in the meals we consume later in the day. Additionally, breakfast restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate needed for the brain to function.
- Plan your meals. Set time aside to plan your meals before grocery shopping. Creating a list of items you need to purchase for the week can help you avoid buying unhealthy packaged junk food such as cookies or chips. Look for meals that incorporate a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains.
- Create a routine. Routine eating habits are just one of the many ways humans incorporate a schedule into our day. Designate eating times throughout your day to ensure you do not miss a meal.
- Increase nutrients, not portions. Since aging adults experience a decrease in appetite, it is important to ensure the proper nutrients are being received. Rather than eat more, consider incorporating more nutrients into your diet as a substitute. For example, use peanut butter instead of butter on your toast or add berries and milk to your oatmeal in the morning.
- Eat healthy snacks between meals. Try enjoying healthier snacks between meals. Chop up vegetables or portion out whole grains, nuts and fruits into containers to eat throughout the day when hungry.
- Stay hydrated. Seniors are at a higher risk for dehydration. There are many reasons seniors can experience chronic dehydration, including the loss of water content in the body as we age. Additionally, seniors do not experience thirst like younger adults, as their thirst signals become less active as they age. Because seniors do not often show signs of dehydration such as increased thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, weakness or headache, it can be difficult to identify. Make sure to stay hydrated as you age by setting aside specific amounts of water to drink each day.
- Enjoy meals with others. Studies have found that seniors who eat in a social setting tend to have larger appetites than those who dine alone. Plan regular meals with friends or family to enjoy.
Achieve Healthy Living with Western Home Communities
Western Home Communities offers a variety of dining options that provide exceptional nutrition for seniors. Experience dining designed to meet your unique needs. To learn more about our nutrition programs for seniors or any of our available senior living options, contact our community today, 319-277-2141.