March is “National Nutrition Month,” and since 1973, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, has launched an annual campaign to educate the public about healthy food choices and the need to develop sound eating habits.
While literally everyone can benefit from healthy eating, aging adults are particularly affected by their diets. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the older adults become, the more their bodies change and may develop different nutrition needs. Adapting to these needs is critical for maintaining a healthy immune system, elevated energy levels, and overall health.
Some of the ways the human body changes with age, include:
Slower metabolism. The older one gets, the slower their metabolism typically gets. That means they will burn fewer calories and may begin to eat less food. When aging adults do eat, however, it is all the more important that they consume healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
Digestion. It is no secret that digestion becomes more difficult with age. This is partly because aging people produce less of the internal fluids needed to process food. Since nutrients are absorbed through the digestive system, taking appropriate adaptive measures is crucial.
Appetite. Aging seniors often may have pre-existing or chronic health conditions requiring medication. Prescribed medications often have side effects, one of which can be a suppressed appetite. It is doubly important for seniors in these situations to consume nutritious foods when they feel like eating. Not eating can actually be worse than eating an unhealthy diet.
Some of the best foods to help offset age-related changes affecting metabolism, digestion, and appetite are leafy green vegetables, whole grains with fiber, and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and kale, have a number of nutrient-rich health benefits. Fiber, of course, boosts digestion, and omega-3 fatty acids have health benefits that include increased blood flow and brain cognition. It is also recommended that seniors speak with their doctor or a nutritionist about taking appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps.
These are just a few nutrition tips you may want to consider as a senior. If this article raises more questions than it answers for you, do not hesitate to reach out to our office.