Nutrition for the Elderly – What Should You Be Eating as You Get Older?

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As you get older, your body and mind start deteriorating. This affects your energy levels and how well you can think, which makes everyday activities such as cooking and eating more difficult. And while younger people might be able to eat whatever they like without gaining weight or paying the consequences, when you get older it’s even more important  that you make healthy food choices.

An Overview of the Food Groups to Keep in Mind

When you get older your body can’t break down food as well as it used to, so eating a balanced diet helps increase your energy levels. In terms of what types of food are best for you to eat, there are plenty of different things to consider.

For example, the UK Department of Health recommends that people over 65 should have six or more servings from the fruit and vegetable group daily. Vegetables such as carrots, potato, spinach, peas and sweet potatoes are especially high in nutrients while being low in calories. Pulses such as beans and lentils provide a good source of protein whilst being low in fat and calories too. And wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice give you a slow release of energy while keeping you fuller for longer

Here are some of the food groups to consider:

  • Servings of fruit and vegetables per day; these contain antioxidants that protect the cells in your body from damage.
  • Lean protein: meat, fish, eggs and beans; these help the growth and repair of tissues in the body.
  •     Whole grains: breads, pasta, rice, etc.
  •     Low-fat dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt.
  •     Plenty of fluids: water and other unsweetened drinks.

What you eat has a direct impact on how well you age. Eating the right foods will help keep your energy levels up, your mind clear and your body strong.

What Not to Eat When You Get Older

While there is a huge range of things that you should eat when you get older, there are also a few things you should always avoid. For instance, sugary drinks and foods are a big no-no. When you’re over 65, your body isn’t as good at breaking down sugar and so eating too much of it can lead to weight gain and even Type 2 diabetes.

Foods that are high in fat should also be avoided where possible; these can cause problems such as heart disease and stroke. And finally, limit your intake of salt as this can also raise your blood pressure.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of some specific examples:

1) Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks like soda and juice can be appealing to you when you’re an elderly person. After all, they taste good and quench your thirst. However, sugary drinks are bad for you. They can give you tooth decay, cause kidney problems, increase your blood pressure, and put on weight. Sugary drinks are also high in calories which is another reason why they’re bad for you.

2) Fried foods

Fried foods like chicken, French fries, and onion rings are unhealthy. They contain a lot of saturated fat which can increase your cholesterol levels and put you at risk for heart disease. Fried foods are also high in calories, so they can make you gain weight.

3) Red meat

Red meat like beef is high in saturated fats. This not only increases your cholesterol levels, but can also cause heart disease. Not to mention that red meat is high in calories as well so it’s not very good for you to eat.

What Nursing Homes Should Provide Residents

When it comes to nutrition for the elderly, nursing homes should provide residents with balanced meals that contain all the food groups mentioned earlier. This will help ensure that residents are getting the nutrients their body needs to stay healthy and active.

In addition to this, nursing homes should also stress the importance of proper hydration (and a reputable aged care home, such as Kew Gardens, will always be thoughtful enough to do so). Many old people aren’t aware that they are dehydrated or don’t know what dehydration in the elderly looks like, so it’s important that their intake of fluids is monitored closely by staff members.

As well as this, nursing home staff should encourage residents to eat slowly when having meals. When you get older your muscle strength can deteriorate, making it hard for you to chew and swallow quickly. So if you’re offered food when visiting a nursing home then take your time over your meal and enjoy every bite!

Hydration for the Elderly

Finally, hydration is unbelievably important, especially for the elderly. They can become dehydrated very quickly and this isn’t something that’s always easy to detect, since the symptoms are often subtle.

Symptoms of dehydration in people over 65 include dry mouth, reduced urination, confusion and lethargy. So if an elderly person seems particularly out of it then you should ask them if they’ve had anything to drink recently. You could also suggest that they try swishing some water around their mouth; many old people won’t notice their own state of thirst so this may be a good way for you to gauge whether or not they need more fluids.

The Link Between Diet and Exercise in the Elderly

The link between diet and exercise isn’t just a concern for the young and beautiful. Both aging and obesity contribute to chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis – all of which can be helped by dieting and exercise.

As we age, our bodies undergo many changes that may affect how we feel about ourselves or even limit us from engaging in daily tasks.  Many of these changes can be attributed to diet and exercise, two aspects that each play a vital role in the long-term well-being of not just young adults but also people who are middle or old aged.

Putting Elderly Diet Requirements Into Practice

So there you have it – an overview of what foods are good for the elderly and why hydration is important when getting older. Remember that everyone is different, so it’s important to chat with your elderly loved ones about their diet and see what works best for them. By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that they stay healthy and happy for years to come!




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