March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign that focuses on making informed food choices and creating healthy eating and activity habits. Maintaining good nutrition is important no matter your age.
Recommended Nutrients for Older Adults
Our bodies change over time, so it’s essential to know the types and amounts of food that are best to help maintain good health and prevent chronic diseases. It’s recommended that you check with your primary care provider before making any changes to your diet.
Here are a few nutrients that can be incorporated into a healthy diet and may be particularly helpful for older adults.
- Vitamin B-12 - Vitamin B-12 assists in red blood cell formation, nerve function, cell metabolism, and the production of DNA. It can commonly be found in dairy products, poultry, beef, eggs, and seafood. Older adults may have more difficulty absorbing this vitamin from foods, so check with your primary care provider to see if oral supplements may be needed.
- Fiber – Since older adults may experience more issues with digestion, eating foods high in fiber can be beneficial. Foods that are a great source of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole-grain bread and cereals.
- Calcium – Calcium helps keep bones strong, helps prevent cancer, and allows the heart, muscles, and nerves to function correctly. Foods rich in calcium are leafy greens, fish with bones, soy and almond drinks, and dairy products.
- Protein – Cells throughout the body need protein to function. The body will start to use protein from muscles if your diet doesn’t include sufficient protein.
Plant-based proteins include chickpeas, soybeans, quinoa, nuts, and seeds. Lean meats, seafood, eggs, and low-fat dairy products are also excellent sources of protein.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong and healthy, which is especially critical as you age. Research also shows that vitamin D may reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections, and lower inflammation.
Foods with vitamin D include egg yolks, oily fish, and beef liver. You’ll also find vitamin D in fortified cereal, as well as dairy and plant-based milk. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun or foods can be difficult, so check with your primary care provider to see if a supplement is needed.
- Potassium – The risk of developing high blood pressure tends to increase as we age. To help keep your blood pressure in a normal range, try to ensure you’re getting enough potassium in your diet. Supplements can be an option if recommended by your primary care provider, but you can also find potassium in many fruits, vegetables, low- or non-fat dairy foods, and beans.
5 Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
Good nutrition has many benefits. It can help give you energy, control your weight, and reduce the risk for certain chronic diseases. Nutrients provide the nourishment our bodies need to function.
Sometimes, we may experience changes that make it more challenging to eat healthy foods as we age. For example, medications may change how food tastes or decrease appetite altogether. Other difficulties could include a loss of smell and taste or problems with chewing or swallowing food.
Here are some healthy eating tips that can help overcome these situations:
- Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Some older adults lose their sense of thirst, so cue yourself by keeping a water bottle or glass of water on hand.
- Check with your dentist or your primary care provider if you have trouble chewing. If you’re having issues with swallowing and drinking additional liquids isn’t helping, it’s best to consult with your primary care provider for recommendations.
- Try adding color and texture to your food if you lose your sense of taste and smell.
- Add healthy snacks throughout the day to ensure you’re getting enough calories.
- Limit foods with empty calories like potato chips, desserts, soda, or candy. Instead, incorporate food into your diet that provides an abundance of nutrients without adding calories. Foods such as lean meats, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and a variety of fruits and vegetables are recommended.
Modified Diets and Healthy Ingredients at The Bristal
Healthy eating involves making nutritionally-conscious choices every day. At The Bristal Assisted Living, we enable residents to make smart choices when dining and focus on creating dishes with nutrient-dense foods — those that promote healthy brain function and improve cognitive ability.
You’ll also find no-salt-added food choies along with heart-healthy and sugar-free options. Guided by our full-time registered dietitian, The Bristal can accommodate modified diets such as lactose-free, gluten-free, no concentrated sweets, and mechanically-altered diets including ground or pureed foods.
Farm-to-Table Meals at The Bristal
The Bristal aspires to keep dining experiences creative, fun, and healthy every day. The chef at each community ensures options that match the needs and preferences of each resident.
One of the ways in which The Bristal provides nutritious meals is through the partnership we have with local farmers and providers. This partnership allows our menus to feature fresh and in-season ingredients that come directly from farms in the tri-state area. The farm-to-table program also includes local meat and seafood.
Learn More about Chef-Prepared Cuisine at The Bristal
Learn more about luxurious senior living at The Bristal and how we focus on good nutrition for our residents.
Discover our Chef-Prepared Cuisine at The Bristal