July 07, 2017 in: The Best Diet Tips for Seniors ,
Planning your retirement? Don’t forget to plan your diet too because that list is equally important! As we grow old, our body looses that bounce we once used to have. Age truly does a number on you but as long as you are following a healthy nutritious diet, you can control the major aspects of your life. The ageing process comes with one of the biggest risk factors – Malnutrition. Did you know that a person’s metabolic rate falls down by 50% as they reach 80? They experience a condition called Sarcopenia in which they lose muscle mass. According to the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle (SCWD), the loss of muscles starts at the age of 50 by 1 to 2% and increases steadily as a person ages.
For seniors, it’s not just about quantity. In fact, there focus must be more towards quality. When their metabolism rate slows down, eating meals frequently can lead to indigestion and heart burn. Since most seniors don’t partake in any physical activity, their energy needs decrease. Therefore, the diet becomes more about ‘what’ they should be eating rather than how much.
Senior citizens who are only involved in their day-to-day activity should consume around 2,000 calories. Let’s set aside physical activity for a minute and focus on what they require in a diet. Following are some tips on how senior citizens should plan their diet:
Food items such as bread, rice, noodles, cereal, potatoes, etc make up a major portion of the diet. At least half of an older person’s meals should contain this food group. Whole grain foods like brown rice, wholemeal bread, wholegrain crackers and oats are rich in nutrients such as folic acid, copper, iron and Vitamin B types. They reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
It’s time to get a little creative. Doesn’t a dish like “Slow Roasted Chicken in Flaxseed Oil with Walnut Dressing” sound extra delicious? Then why not try using these ingredients. The protein section of the diet contains food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods such as Chia seeds, pecans, fish, edamame, etc help with inflammation. A number of diseases can be prevented with this food group and eliminate the risks associated with the two most prevalent diseases found in elders due to malnutrition – Coronary heart disease and cancer.
For elders, at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetable is recommended. Sadly, most elders fail to meet this requirement. Two of the biggest sources of calcium are vegetables and dairy products. Calcium is mostly associated with bone development. However, in elders, calcium helps to preserve the mass of the bones. Today, many people are following the “Green Smoothie” diet. Although, this diet alone is not sufficient for elders, they can add a glass of smoothie to their diet. The trick is to make light smoothies with more fat-free milk and vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach and turnip greens. Fruits such as apple, dates, figs, apricot, berries and limes can also be added.
High blood pressure is quite common in elders. Restaurant, frozen and processed foods are usually high in sodium content. When eating at home, avoid stock cubes, seasonings and MSG. Use natural ingredients such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, etc. When eating out, do not add any additional sauces to your meal and make sure to advise your waiter to make the food less salty.
People are normally advised to drink at least eight glasses of water in a day. There’s no hard and fast rule to this, as you can go high but not low. In elders, this amount is extremely important because it helps in eliminating waste products, maintains blood pressure and regulates the body temperature.
For elders, making dietary changes is difficult. Habits formed over the years can be hard to let go. A nutritious diet plan can not only benefit an elder physically but mentally too. The above tips have been designed according to “My Plate”, a system by the United States Department of Agriculture that allows a person to plan a healthy diet. Why not explore, further food groups and incorporate them into these tips to create the best diet for yourself.