As you get older, the basic premise of eating a healthy diet will remain the same as when you were younger.
It is important to eat many different foods at any age, because having a varied diet can allow you to maintain nutritional balance within your body. However, the aging process will change your body and its requirements in multiple ways.
For instance, you may become more prone to losing muscle mass and bone density as you age. You may also find yourself with less energy than you had when you were young. Additionally, you may have concerns about preventing memory loss and improving your cognitive function. Those concerns may be well founded, if you are not eating a proper diet. However, maintaining diversity in your diet will not be enough to maintain your health. You must also meet specific dietary requirements for older adults. Below are some senior diet recommendations to help you maintain healthy eating habits.
You may already know you need higher quantities of certain vitamins as you age. However, your temptation may be to get those vitamins in the form of pills. Instead, it is better to change your diet in such a way that you will be eating all of the vitamins you need. By doing so, you can also gain other benefits from eating health foods that cannot be gained from taking daily supplements.
There are thirteen vitamins you must consume to stay healthy as you age. The vitamins you may hear most commonly mentioned are vitamin C and vitamin D. The former can help boost your immune system to ward off illnesses. The latter is useful for improving your bone health. However, you also need healthy daily doses of vitamin A, E and K. Additionally, there are several B vitamins essential for proper nutrition. They are:
Getting the recommended dosages of those vitamins for your age will help your body function as efficiently as possible. There are established federal dietary guidelines for vitamin consumption you can follow to keep your diet on track. For example, if you are 51 years of age or older and female, it is recommended you consume 75mg of vitamin C per day. If you are male and 51 years of age or older, your recommended dose of vitamin C is 90mg per day. However, your specific needs may deviate slightly from those guidelines, so discussing your vitamin requirements with your doctor may be necessary.
There are many different types of minerals, and the dietary requirements for them are as varied as the minerals themselves. For example, there are some minerals you will almost certainly get enough of by eating meals at regular intervals. The components of those meals will not matter because the dietary requirements are so low. Those easily obtained minerals include:
The recommended daily doses you need of other minerals may be much higher. For instance, calcium is an essential mineral for bone health. Since your bones can become weaker and more porous with age, it is vital to meet your daily calcium requirement. According to the federal dietary guidelines, that requirement is 1,200mg per day if you are female and over 51 years of age or older. The same amount is necessary if you are male and 71 years of age or older. However, if you are male and between 51 and 71 years of age, it is recommended you only consume 1,000mg of calcium per day.
Many foods are excellent sources of the vitamins and minerals listed above. However, fruits and vegetables are among the best choices because they also contain other components that promote healthy aging, such as antioxidants. Antioxidants slow down cellular damage that will occur naturally as you get older. Examples of antioxidants include:
Dairy products are also packed with vitamins and minerals. In particular, you can get large amounts of vitamin D and calcium from consuming more dairy products. Doing so will help you maintain your bone health. Some dairy products are also fortified with such substances. Fortification is the process of adding more of certain healthy components to foods purposefully.
According to the National Council on Aging, it is also important to consume protein as part of your healthy senior diet. The federal dietary guidelines recommend you consume 46g of protein per day, if you are female and at least 51 years of age. If you are a male of the same age, it is recommended you consume 56g per day.
Beware of getting too much protein from red meats. Many red meats contain a lot of unhealthy saturated fats. When you begin consuming more dairy products to increase your calcium intake, you will also be increasing your protein intake. However, you can get more healthy protein, if necessary from sources like:
Fiber is most known for helping to regulate bowel movements. Irregularity is a common problem that comes with age. You may suffer from it because you are not hydrating your body well enough. Medications you need to take may also contribute to your irregularity. Eating more fiber-rich foods is essential to avoid cramps and other constipation symptoms because such symptoms may make you lose the desire to eat. If you stop eating a proper diet because of constipation symptoms, you will suffer from malnutrition.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends you consume approximately 14g of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat. If you are an average female 51 years of age or older, you consume approximately 1,600 calories per day. Therefore, your fiber intake recommendation is 22.4g per day. If you are a male in the same age group and consuming the average recommendation of 2,000 calories per day, it is recommended you consume 28g of fiber. If you are consuming the recommended amount of fiber for your age and calorie consumption and still suffering from irregularity, consult your doctor to see if you should raise your fiber intake.