For older adults, the benefits of healthy eating include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Eating well as an older adult is all about fresh, colorful food, creativity in the kitchen, and eating with friends.

A balanced diet and physical activity contribute to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence as you age.


How many calories do older adults need?


Use the following as a guideline:

A woman over 50 who is:
Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
Very active needs about 2000 calories a day

A man over 50 who is:
Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day

Source: National Institute of Aging

Physical changes during aging
Metabolism. Every year over the age of forty, our metabolism slows. This means that even if you continue to eat the same amount as when you were younger, you're likely to gain weight because you're burning fewer calories. In addition, you may be less physically active. Consult your doctor to decide if you should cut back on calories.
Weakened senses. Your taste and smell senses diminish with age. Seniors tend to lose sensitivity to salty and bitter tastes first, so you may be inclined to salt your food more heavily than before—even though seniors need less salt than younger people. Use herbs, spices, and healthy oils—like olive oil—to season food instead of salt. Similarly, seniors tend to retain the ability to distinguish sweet tastes the longest, leading some to overindulge in sugary foods and snacks. Instead of adding sugar, try increasing sweetness to meals by using naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or yams.
Medications and illness. Some prescription medications and health problems can often negatively influence appetite and may also affect taste, again leading seniors to add too much salt or sugar to their food. Ask your doctor about overcoming side effects of medications or specific physical conditions.
Digestion. Due to a slowing digestive system, you generate less saliva and stomach acid as you get older, making it more difficult for your body to process certain vitamins and minerals, such as B12, B6 and folic acid, which are necessary to maintain mental alertness, a keen memory and good circulation. Up your fiber intake and talk to your doctor about possible supplements.

Tips on healthy eating

Once you’re used to eating nutrient-dense food, your body will feel slow and sluggish if you eat less wholesome fare. Here’s how to get in the habit of eating well.
Reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label and season meals with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
Enjoy good fats. Reap the rewards of olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. The fat from these delicious sources can protect your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Add fiber. Avoid constipation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing your fiber intake from foods such as raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
Avoid “bad” carbs. Bad carbohydrates—also known as simple or unhealthy carbs—are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Bad carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. For long-lasting energy and stable insulin levels, choose “good” or complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Look for hidden sugar. Added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, and ketchup. Check food labels for other terms for sugar such as corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned goods, and choose low-carb or sugar-free versions of products such as tortillas, bread, pasta, and ice cream.
Cook smart. The best way to prepare veggies is by steaming or sautéing in olive oil—it preserves nutrients. Forget boiling—it drains nutrients.
Put five colors on your plate. Take a tip from Japanese food culture and try to include five colors on your plate. Fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients (think: blackberries, melons, yams, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini).
Overcoming obstacles in eating
Loneliness
Eating with others can be as important as adding vitamins to your diet. A social atmosphere stimulates your mind and helps you enjoy meals. When you enjoy mealtimes, you’re more likely to eat better. If you live alone, eating with company will take some strategizing, but the effort will pay off.
Loss of appetite
loss of appetite could be due to medication you're taking, and whether the medication or dosage can be changed. Try natural flavor enhancers such as olive oil, vinegar, garlic, onions, ginger, and spices to boost your appetite.
Difficulty in Chewing
Make chewing easier by drinking smoothies made with fresh fruit, yogurt, and protein powder. Eat steamed veggies and soft food such as couscous, rice, and yogurt. Consult your dentist to make sure your dentures are properly fitted.
Dry Mouth
Drink 8 -10 glasses of water each day. Take a drink of water after each bite of food, add sauces and salsas to your food to moisten it, avoid commercial mouthwash, and ask your doctor about artificial saliva products.
Variety
No matter how healthy your diet, eating the same foods over and over is bound to get boring. Rekindle inspiration by browsing produce at a farmers market, reading a cooking magazine, buying foods or spices you haven’t tried before, or chatting with friends about what they eat. By making variety a priority, you’ll find it easier to get creative with healthy meals.

Thanks,
Tripti Tambe
www.swasthlife.com
NIBM-Pune

Disclaimer : Please Note : All nutrition tips shared are per standard nutrition guidelines, however, it might effect from body to body. 
Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health.
Please speak to your Nutritionist before following any diet. Swasthlife does not hold responsible for any kind of claims. 



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