Senior Citizens, folks aged 65 and over, will make up 20% of the population in the United States by 2030. The oldest of the Baby Boomers are already 70. Knowing what is a healthy diet for seniors can help prevent diet deficiencies from causing health and lifestyle quality issues.
Health care spending will rise over 25%
due to increased health costs for our seniors, unless we take some steps.
A study found that 43% of those admitted to intensive care are malnourished, in 1995. Most of those required the longest stays and most extensive and expensive rehabilitation.
How can we prevent malnourishment and the health risks associated with it in Seniors? How can we help our older generation have quality of life in their later years? What is a healthy diet for Seniors, and how can they get it?
Aging Brings New Nutritional Needs
Beginning at age 30, we start to lose muscle, so that many seniors have lost 25% of their muscle mass and often replaced it with fat. The metabolism slows over age 50, and fewer calories are needed. Yet the nutritional needs remain, and in some cases increase with age.
To replace and maintain muscle mass and energy, older folks need more protein and certain minerals and vitamins. On the link I put here, we have a review of top protein powders, with one recommended for seniors. Body chemistry changes make absorption of Vitamin B12 and magnesium more difficult.
Often immune systems do not work as well as when they were younger. In younger years, you can get away with grabbing a bagel or muffin and a cup of coffee for breakfast. In later years, that can lead to malnutrition and debility.
What are some of the challenges to be met in designing and maintaining a healthy diet for Seniors?
As a person ages, the sense of taste and smell get less acute. This loss of taste and smell can be made worse with medications. One cause can be a zinc deficiency, which is pretty common worldwide.
When you cannot taste or smell your food, it is less likely to be enticing to eat. Taste sensations come mostly from the smell of the food. The tongue itself has tastebuds that distinguish salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami or savory. Every other flavor we taste comes from our olfactory nerves involved in the smell of the food.
Think when you have a cold and lose some of your ability to breathe. And smell. When you can't taste much, you tend to eat only because your stomach is rumbling, not because of the draw of the food itself. This can happen with Seniors.
Little kids have very acute tastebuds. That is why babyfood is so bland. Aging modifies our tastebuds, so we enjoy flavors. But in old age, sometimes that gets extreme.
Loss of taste and smell is an indicator of lower life expectancy. It is not known whether the loss is indicative of the end of life coming, or whether the loss impacts diet and health, and death comes sooner as a result.
One thing to watch out for if you or a loved one experiences a loss of smell or taste sensitivity is not to rely on the old stand-by sniff test to see if food is still good.
Instead, a good idea is to label food with dates so that you throw out anything past its use by date. And make sure there are good smoke detectors installed.
Weight Impacts for Seniors
Senior citizens, like the rest of us, can be skinny, fat or just right. See this post on losing your belly fat, if this is an issue.
Skinny or underweight seniors have a special set of challenges to watch for. Constipation is one. It is important to eat foods high in fiber and to hydrate regularly for all ages, especially for the skinny ones.
It is probable that those who are skinny are not eating enough fiber. Sources of fiber are fatty nuts and seeds, vegetables and fiber-rich carbohydrates.
If you have not been eating enough fiber, start to build up slowly so as not to upset your system with rapid changes. Smoothies are a healthy and tasty way to add nutrition. See our Best Blender Review for Best Blender information.
And be very sure to drink water. I recommend 8 8 ounce glasses of water every day. That may seem like a lot, but once you start to drink more water, your body starts to crave it.
You get thirsty more often. It gets easier and easier. (It also means you need to find a restroom more frequently!)
Adding the trace mineral Magnesium to a glass of water helps hydration a lot.
Underweight seniors also risk decreased immunity, lower body temperatures, increased incidence of osteoporosis, decreased muscle strength and poor memory.
The overweight or obese have risks of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes as well as some cancers.
And those who are just right need to eat healthy to keep that way and to maintain their best possible health and wellbeing.
Can A Supplement Help?
Definitely a supplement can help. I do not think for most people it is necessary to have 15 different supplements to take.
Yes Seniors need Vitamin D and calcium for healthy bones and teeth. They need antioxidants to prevent free radicals from robbing them of health. Free radicals and antioxidants are normal in the human body.
But environment and life styles accumulate more free radicals as a person ages. They can rip and tear at the body's cells, harming DNA, causing aging symptoms and disease.
Important antioxidants come from foods such as berries and green tea, some studies show. It is good to have more than you can eat, since free radicals are so excessive as we age.
Minerals such as selenium, Vitamins C and E and Iodine in kelp are good antioxidants. Magnesium is a very important and often lacking mineral.
Sodium is important to the health of our blood, muscles and nerves. The amount a typical senior should have a day is about 2/3's of a teaspoon, or 1500 mg. Potassium is needed to help sodium work better and we get that from fruits from vines like tomatoes and bananas as well as green leafy vegetables.
My favorite of all the supplements out there is one that encompasses all of the needed supplements for seniors, Centrum Daily Multivitamins & Minerals. It does not have good magnesium, but it has everything else that is needed for a senior's supplement.
I recommend taking one tablet a day to get 100% if your diet is not giving you enough from your fresh fruits and vegetables. The tablets are not large and they're coated, so they're pretty easy to swallow.
If you need to crush them, you can get a small pill crusher to help you out. What I like about this product is that it is from natural foods, not a laboratory concoction of chemicals.
There are some really great green superfood powders that help get a lot of the nutrients we all need. Some of them do not even list the ingredients. Be careful and take a look at our reviews before you buy. A few that are reviewed here give a lot of the trace minerals we all need. Knowing and implementing what is a healthy diet for seniors can help the later years have a high quality of fulness and contribution.
Seniors have challenges to maintaining health due not only to the increased nutritional demands but also to the effects of aging on their eating a proper diet. Supplements are a help, as are smoothies. Get a good vitamin and mineral supplement. Get the hydration, including Purity Products Ultimate H A 7. Your body and life are worth taking care of. Do it, please!