We’ve all had our share of stress this year which makes proper nutrition even more important, especially if you’re a stress eater. Who hasn’t reached for that sweet or salty treat after a hard day? It’s not even really our fault as cortisol, one of the hormones released when we’re feeling stressed, actually decreases when you eat junk food! While that may give us a pass from time to time, the benefits of overcoming those indulgences far outweigh the temporary relief. Check them out with these nutrition tips for seniors.
Why Nutrition is So Important for Seniors
It goes without saying that proper nutrition is important for everyone, but particularly so for seniors. Unfortunately, it can be more complicated. As you age your body needs more of certain nutrients, your metabolism slows, your ability to absorb certain nutrients decreases, your palate and digestion may change and chronic conditions or medications may require dietary restrictions. Many seniors may think it’s not worth the effort without realizing how nutrition truly impacts your health. For example, it helps with:
• Proper kidney, liver and digestive function
• Memory and cognitive ability
• Managing chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer
• Strengthening your immune system
• Muscle and bone health
But it’s not just physical health. The body and mind are closely linked and as such, proper nutrition also helps to reduce:
What’s more, you just feel better when you’re eating well which can also help you cope with stress more effectively.
Simplified Nutrition Tips for Seniors
Now that you know how important proper nutrition is for seniors, here are three ways you can make it easier to achieve.
1. Know What You Should Be Shooting For
These daily servings are recommended for seniors by the National Institute on Aging:
• Fruits—1½ to 2½ cups
• Vegetables—2 to 3½ cups
• Grains—5 to 10 ounces
• Protein foods—5 to 7 ounces
• Dairy foods—3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
• Oils—5 to 8 teaspoons
• Limit the solid fats, added sugars and sodium (salt) you consume
Drink plenty of water too! Typically, adults need about 64 ounces of fluid every day.
2. Know What Nutrients Can Do
Another key is to better understand which nutrients affect specific aspects of your health:
• Vitamin D and calcium help to prevent osteoporosis and can be found in foods such as fortified cereal, bread and juice.
• B12 helps with energy levels and can be found in beef liver, mackerel, sardines, red meat, yogurt and fortified cereals.
• Fiber helps in digestion, lowering cholesterol, maintaining healthy weight and stabilizing blood glucose levels and can be found in beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.
• Omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseeds, chia seeds, salmon, walnuts, tofu, shellfish, canola oil, navy beans, Brussel sprouts, and avocados) and flavonoid-rich foods (dark berries, cocoa, tea, soy, citrus fruits and red wine) help immune function.
• Probiotics help with gut health and can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.
Also consider resources such as ChooseMyPlate.Gov to help you learn how to build healthy meals and better understand how to read nutrition labels.
3. Know How to Shop
One of the quickest ways to thwart your efforts for better nutrition is impulse buying so it’s important to plan your weekly menu ahead of time and just focus on getting those items when you’re in the store. But what if you can’t get out to shop?
Many local supermarkets now offer grocery delivery. Just check their website or call to get more information. Instacart is another online grocery shopping option and they even offer same day delivery.
Or, you can forgo grocery shopping altogether and try meal delivery. Services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh deliver meal kits that you can easily prepare at home. While it can be expensive, they do offer a range of meal plan options to fit different nutritional needs plus you can order for one or two if you don’t have a crowd to feed.
Nutrition in Senior Living
You also may not realize the importance senior living communities place on nutrition as well. In fact, one of the main benefits of life in a senior living community is the dining experience. From breakfast to lunch to dinner, residents enjoy chef-inspired selections in restaurant-style dining rooms that often have featured daily entrees, an a la carte menu, Soup of the Day, fresh salads and scrumptious, yet healthy desserts. Plus, menus are prepared by a dining team that’s familiar with your dietary restrictions as well as preferences. Often, they also collaborate with a nutritionist or dietician to ensure all meals are healthy, well-balanced and appropriately portioned for residents.
Contact Friendship today to schedule your virtual or in-person visit by calling 540.777.7103!