Having a nutritious balanced diet is mandatory for healthy living for every individual but it gets all the more important as you age. With age, your immune system weakens and loses its ability to fight back thereby exposing you to various diseases. Starting from weak bones and teeth to cognitive decline to digestive trouble to weak eyesight etc, most of the body parts fail to work efficiently and you start facing health issues every other day. This is the reason why you need to eat certain essential nutrients that will provide your body with the needed stamina or immunity to combat the various age related health problems. So naturally, there will be foods that are must haves for you while few others are best avoided and that is exactly what I am going to discuss in my post today. I will talk about 11 best foods for aged adults and also share details about how to follow your daily diet routine to fulfill your daily dietary and nutrition requirements.
The various nutrients and antioxidants play a vital role in keeping you healthy and strong but as you age, the capability of your body to absorb the key nutrients declines. Therefore, it is better for you to eat foods that can be easily digested by your system. Concentrate on healthy foods and avoid eating the rich and oily stuffs. Moreover, with age, the calorie requirement of body lessens and so whatever you eat must be easy to digest, healthy and nutritious.
Old age is the second phase of childhood and hence special care must be taken to keep yourself healthy and fit. I have seen many aged people following improper food chart mostly due to lack of awareness but those food habits if not checked from the beginning, may take a more serious turn that can be life threatening. Therefore, to make things easier for you, I thought of discussing this topic today and guide you with 11 best foods for aged adults that will help in regaining good health and lost strength.
I will talk about the best foods for aged adults but before that let me inform you about the most common health issues that accompanies old age.
Common health problems of aged adults
Age brings lot of health problems in our lives and our body weakens making us vulnerable to any adverse effect. Although the age related health issues are many, here are few most common health problems of aged adults that are worth mentioning.
- Loss of vision
- Hearing loss
- Cognitive impairment (memory loss)
- Post menopausal problems
- Inability to maintain balance (dizziness)
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Pneumonia (cold and cough, fever)
- Nerve related problems
Now that you have known about the most common age related health issues, let us learn about the best foods for aged adults that will benefit you in maintaining healthy lifestyle.
Best foods for aged adults that fulfill the nutritional needs
Once you enter old age, you must maintain a strict diet chart. I will provide you with the needed list of mandatory nutrients that your body needs in old age. You can follow them as well as consult the dietary guidelines as published in an article by the Massey University.
So, here is the list of 11 best foods for aged adults.
Vitamin D rich foods are good for old adults
One of the most important nutrients needed by aged adults is Vitamin D. It is highly recommended by doctors due to its ability to maintain bone density and prevent the occurrence of the most common age related osteoporosis. Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium and helps to strengthen your teeth and bones. In fact, deficiency of Vitamin D is also a leading reason behind many cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes (Type II), multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. So eat good amount of Vitamin D and keep yourself away from the diseases that its deficiency causes.
Best sources for Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight but with age the Vitamin D producing capability of skin reduces. Therefore, you may eat milk, cereals, yogurts, eggs, salmon juices etc to maintain good Vitamin D levels in your body.
Calcium rich foods should be consumed by aged old
Osteoporosis and arthritis are one of the most common age related issues that mainly occur due to calcium deficiency in human body. Calcium is the bone builder and it not just makes our bones strong but also inhibits your teeth from falling fast. Experts believe that with age, we eat less calcium that makes our body leach it out of our bones, thereby further weakening the bones. So, if you want to avoid frequent fractures and bone breakage, please do make it a point to eat enough calcium rich foods.
Best source of calcium
Milk and the dairy products are the main sources of calcium but if you are allergenic to milk then eat kale, broccoli etc. If you have difficulty in chewing, then you can eat smoothies made of yogurt or those made from fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B12 rich foods are good for aged adults
Vitamin B12 is one such nutrient that is not easily absorbed by your body and with aged adults, the problem is much more. Therefore, the only solution is to eat more amounts of foods that are rich in Vitamin B12. There are many benefits of Vitamin B12 in human body with the significant one being its ability to increase the amount of red blood cells in human body and prevent nerve related diseases that are quite common in aged people. Studies have also shown that Vitamin B12 deficiency leading to cognitive decline in aged adults. So make sure you have enough Vitamin B12 content in your body and keep your brain and nerves healthy.
Best source of Vitamin B12
Although your body finds it difficult to absorb Vitamin B12, you must eat more amounts of fish, eggs, milk and other dairy products to avoid its deficiency.
Folic acid/Folate rich food for aged adults
Folic acid/ folate is another important nutrient especially for the women as they age. This is because it is the main cause behind anemia and can cause neural tube defect in newborn babies. In fact, the deficiency of folic acid is proved to cause various vascular diseases in old people. So be aware not to let the count of folic acid/folate fall in your body.
Best source of folic acid/folate
If you have to maintain the level of folic acid or folate in your body, then please incorporate lost of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Also, eat the breakfast cereals as much as you can.
Potassium rich foods for stronger bones in aged adults
Aged adults must also take care of their potassium levels in body. This is because besides, calcium, the potassium in your body also helps to strengthen the bones. Studies have also proved its efficiency to prevent diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases although further studies are necessary to confirm the fact. Moreover, proper functioning of the cells, preventing kidney stones and regulating pressure levels in body are the other known benefits of potassium.
Best source of Potassium
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium and hence you must start eating bananas, plums, prunes, potatoes in adequate amounts to prevent the potassium deficiency side effects.
Fiber rich foods are must for aged adults
With age, you start having digestive issues and constipation, diarrhea and stomach bloating becomes very common. Although there can be many reasons behind these but eating fiber rich foods is a good solution to the problems. This is because dietary fiber gives a boost to your digestive system and enables smooth elimination of excreta. Fiber also helps to maintain proper metabolism in human body and prevent the occurrence of colon cancer.
Best source of fiber
Now that you know the importance of fiber, eat whole grains, beans, nuts and lots of fruits and vegetables. This will reward you with good digestive tract and protect you from several stomach problems.
Magnesium rich foods for aged adults
Magnesium plays an important role to promote healthy living. It is a vital ingredient in various physiological processes. Magnesium rich foods are good for your heart, keep your bones strong and strengthen your overall immune system that helps you to have resistance towards a variety of health diseases. It also improves the muscle performance in aged people.
Studies have shown the deficiency of magnesium leading to several neuromuscular, cardiovascular problems, insulin resistance, endocrine disturbances and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly and hence you must never fail to maintain its levels in your body.
However, with age, the body’s ability to absorb magnesium decreases and sometime medications like diuretics also result in the same. So in order to compensate that, you have to eat more foods that are loaded with magnesium.
Best source of magnesium
The unprocessed foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables are a great source of magnesium, so you must eat them to avoid the magnesium deficient problems.
Omega 3 fats rich foods to combat cognitive decline for aged adults
Another nutrient that is worth mentioning in this list is omega 3 fats and aged adults must eat omega 3 fats rich foods in adequate amounts. Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids are good to combat the age related cognitive decline and can be good in improving muscle performance and overall immune system. It is also reported to be a good cure for rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration or the loss of vision very common in aged adults.
Best sources of Omega 3 fats
In order to avoid omega 3 fatty acids deficiency problems, you can have 2 servings of fish weekly. Fishes like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel are high in omega 3 fats, so you may consume them. Also, eat walnuts, soybeans, canola oil, flaxseeds in adequate amounts.
Protein rich foods for older adults
With age, your stamina, muscle strength, energy reduces and you get weak and exhausted very easily, this is exactly why you need proteins in good amount in body. Proteins deficiency results to lack of elasticity in skin, poor wound healing, chances of infectious diseases and a weak immune system. Thus, protein is a vital food for the older adults and some experts think they need more amount of protein in comparison to the requirement of it in younger adults. .
Best source of protein
Eggs, poultry, meat, seafood are good sources of protein but although they are good for your heath, please do not over-consume protein. Therefore, in order to be safe, it is better to consult a doctor in such case.
Iron rich foods for aged adults
Aged adults must never ignore the efficiency of iron in human body. It plays an important role in carrying oxygen throughout the body. There are several health issues resulting from deficiency of iron in body with the principal problem being anemia that is quite common among women. The other problems being excess blood loss, increased fatigue, tissue defects, bacterial and parasitic infections and in certain cases behavioral and learning abnormalities as per studies.
Best source of iron for aged adult
Iron is important and hence eat fish, meat, poultry, spinach, yogurt, beets, peas etc in adequate amounts and save yourselves from the side effects.
Adequate intake of water is equally important
Water is essential to lead a healthy life and with reduced immunity, aged adults need to drink adequate water throughout the day. According to reports, with age, the sensation of thirst decreases leading to dehydration of body and so you may keep a track or ask your other family members to remind you to drink water time to time. Water is essential for good digestion and proper detoxification of your system. It flushes out the harmful toxins and prevents diseases. Sometimes with age, people develop a toilet stink that can also be reduced with proper water intake.
Best source of water
For aged adults, drinking minimum 7-8 large glasses of water is mandatory and so if you are an aged adult remember to drink water. And, in case there is any aged person in your home, encourage him/her to drink more water. Do check the color of urine; if it is dark yellow, then it is a symptom that your body needs more water.
15 essential tips for aged adult to stay fit and healthy
Having proper amounts of nutrients is essential but besides that, there are many other things that matters a lot. Only eating nutritious foods may not be sufficient because you should also keep yourself occupied and active. Here are the most essential tips for aged adults that will help you stay fit and healthy.
- You need to have a proper balance between your physical activity and food intake. If you are over active, then more amounts of nutrients are required, and if you are physically inactive, then do not overdo with your food.
- Mild exercise on a daily basis is important. So make sure you do few free hand exercises, leg exercises, neck exercises or some stretching to keep yourself physically fit.
- As already mentioned, drinking enough water is important to keep yourself hydrated but there are few exceptions where overconsumption of water can be injurious. For example if you have some kidney or liver diseases and are under some medications, it is best to consult about your daily water intake need with any expert physician.
- Eating fruits and vegetables is good for your system. So make sure you consume a mixture of various colored fruits and vegetables every day.
- Cut your intake of saturated fat and trans fat as they lead to increase of bad cholesterol in body, which further puts your heart at risk. Instead, go for the monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat that are heart friendly. However, remember not to consume excess amount of fats as it can lead to severe weight gain and that will become problematic.
- Try to avoid the intake of salt as much as possible. Even use it in minimal amounts while cooking. In fact, you may use lemon juice, pepper, spices and other herbs instead of salt to add flavor to your dish. Needless to say, you should check the salt intake and, avoid eating foods that are high in salt.
- It is also better to restrict the unnecessary intake of sugar as you age. This will help you maintain proper body weight and keep you fit and healthy.
- Freshness is important so please make sure whatever you are eating is actually fresh.
- The processed meats like ham, bacon, smoked fish; corned beef is unhealthy for all but avoiding them is mandatory for the aged adults. Not just the processed meats but also all kinds of processed or canned foods must be restricted.
- Limit your calorie intake and avoid foods with “empty calories” like cakes, sweets, savory snacks, biscuits etc.
- Smoking is injurious to health and it must be restricted for the aged adults in order to lead a healthy life.
- Alcohol in moderation is ok but its intake in huge amounts is not at all healthy.
- Try to be supplement savvy. This is because sometimes the recommended amount of nutrients is not achieved by simply eating foods and that is when we need supplements. Also in some cases, body of the aged adults cannot absorb few nutrients like Vitamin B12 and magnesium, so if you take their supplements, your body will achieve its dietary requirements. You can consult a doctor regarding this.
- Whenever you are buying any packaged foods, do not forget to check the nutrition facts level. Choose items that are low in sugar, salt and fat.
- Balanced diet with an adequate supply of every nutrient is the best option to remain healthy. Therefore, you can consult a doctor, make a proper diet chart, and follow it diligently.
Over to you
Healthy diet is essential throughout your life but depending on age, nutrition requirements may vary. Old age is a time where your body is weak and is easily susceptible to various health problems. So if you are nearing old age, start caring for your diet from now onwards. Eat adequate amounts of vitamins, proteins, iron, and calcium and keep your immune system strong.
There are many age related issues like hearing loss, vision loss, constipation problems, weak bones etc which you face in old age. But if your body gets all the nutrients in adequate amounts, it can fight back and keep you healthy.
Discipline is important and that should be reflected in your diet. You must eat only fresh and healthy, nutritious foods. Try to get rid of all kinds of processed, canned, rich and oily foods as much as possible. Also, limit excess sugar and salt intake and eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Mild exercises are important and so try to be physically active and do not let old age take a toll on your happiness.
Do you face aged related health issues? Are you eating these foods that we have discussed above? What diet chart do you follow? Do share me your feedback regarding how you maintain yourself and do suggest more ways to remain healthy as we age. Also, do not forget to like and share the post if you find it useful.
Until then, take care and stay healthy.
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.