Are all senior citizens eating an age-appropriate diet ? We all know that as we age we need to alter our diet. Our metabolisms slow down and our bodies cannot process food as quickly and efficiently as they used to. Thus as we get older we need to cut back on caloric intake. Not very many of us take this gracefully. Understanding the unique needs of our bodies helps give us the determination to eat appropriately for our age.
How much can I eat?
If you’re a senior who leads a fairly active life which includes moderate exercise for thirty minutes at least five days a week, you’re mindful of your health. You’ve found out that you feel much more energetic and enjoy life more when you stay active. A woman in this category can safely eat about 1800 calories without gaining unwanted weight. A man in this category can take in 2200-2400 calories.
Finding the Balance
The older we get, the more important it is to maintain a balance in our eating habits. Seniors ideally should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains which are rich in fiber, drink at least eight glasses of water, and include low-fat dairy products such as milk or yogurt. In addition, protein needs should be met through lean cuts of meat or poultry, eggs and fish. Legumes may also add protein to the diet. Seniors can become low or deficient in various vitamins and minerals, especially the B vitamins, and vitamin C and D. Adults over the age of fifty need to ingest at least 1200 mg of calcium daily for maintenance of strong bones. Adequate amounts of protein will keep muscles strong.
When the senior diet is not well-balanced it opens the door to diseases and conditions including osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, diverticulitis and more.
Reasons some seniors become malnourished
Seniors who suffer from declining health may become malnourished for a number of reasons. These include poor-fitting dentures or other dental problems, lack of appetite, forgetfulness as to what has been eaten, decrease in taste sensations and interactions of medications with some food products. All of these can place the senior in danger of malnutrition.
Eating for life and health
In March of 2011 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a senior diet following a “Mediterranean” theme could reduce the rate of cognitive decline. This diet was rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy fats. In Australia it was discovered at the University of Technology in Hawthorn, that diets rich in low-fat dairy products helped to keep memory sharp. The correlation of good health and a balanced, well-chosen diet is undeniable.
Healthy into our 80’s and 90’s
Currently the life expectancy for men in the western world is 73 years old and 79 for women. These numbers are expected to climb. That means that many of us will live well into our eighties and nineties. The question is, how do we want to feel and live in those years? With rising numbers of our children registering in the obese category, it is more important than ever to eat well to feel well. Each of us can choose a diet that uniquely fits our needs. A conversation with your physician might be in order to be sure that you’re eating adequate numbers of calories, taking in adequate vitamins and minerals and addressing any special needs you have related to your medications and health conditions.
Do a little homework. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an exercise program are really matters of common sense and a minimal dose of discipline. Want to stay alert and perky into your 90’s? Start eating a healthy diet.
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