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Seniors Quarterly

Dietary tips to keep seniors going strong

  • http-chronicle-northcoastnow-com-files-2009-12-dietary

When it comes to our bodies, age has no bearing on how attentive we should be with respect to what we eat. No one is ever too young or too old to disregard their diet.

However, a healthy diet is perhaps more important for seniors than any other age group, with the exception of infants. For seniors, a healthy diet can strengthen the immune system and promote bone health, making seniors less susceptible to sickness and less likely to suffer harmful injuries should they slip and fall. The following diet tips can help seniors stay healthy, strong and comfortable.

• Include fiber in your diet. Seniors commonly suffer from constipation. Though uncomfortable, this condition is often preventable. So why such a common problem? Oftentimes, foods that are high in fiber are crunchy or more difficult to chew, which is problematic for seniors with dentures. However, dentures don't have to preclude seniors from enjoying a diet with a healthy amount of fiber. Instead, seek alternate sources of fiber, such as fresh fruit or cooked or baked vegetables.

• Remember to drink fluids. As we age, we start losing our sense of thirst. However, fluids don't become any less important simply because we're less thirsty. Doctors recommend seniors have between six to eight glasses of fluids per day. Drinking water, for instance, helps us maintain energy while also helping the body perform a variety of functions, including transporting oxygen and nutrients to cells and building new tissue and cell membranes. Drinking enough can also help prevent constipation. So it's important for seniors to remember the importance of drinking fluids each day, even if one is not feeling thirsty.

• Include protein in your daily diet. Protein is integral to a healthy diet, regardless of a person's age. But seniors can especially benefit from protein's ability to strengthen the immune system, hence lessening their likelihood of falling victim to colds or other ailments that can act as gateways to bigger problems. Fish, poultry, eggs and lean meats are all good sources of protein.

• Reduce, but don't eliminate, fat from your diet. Because our metabolism slows as we age, it's important to reduce the amount of fat in our diet as we age. However, reduction is not synonymous with elimination. Fat should not be eliminated from seniors' diets, as it can still prove a valuable energy source. But seniors should reduce the amount of fat in their diet to combat their slowing metabolism.

• Don't forget about calcium. Calcium is essential to bone health, and too little calcium in a senior's diet can increase susceptibility to osteoporosis, which weakens the bones and increases the likelihood that a fall can lead to a broken bone. For seniors with digestive problems who cannot comfortably drink milk, consider including non-fat powdered milk in recipes. Also, lactose-free milk can enable people to drink milk and get valuable calcium. If none of these options work out, consult a physician to discuss calcium supplements.

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