This is a guest post by Dee McConnell, Program Leader, Lifelong Learning Institute
As people age, it’s common for their metabolism and digestive systems to slow down. They also tend to become a little less active. Those are some of the main reasons why it’s so important to get exercise and eat foods that are healthy. Nutrition for seniors is such a vital topic because knowing what—and how much—to eat can help you maximize your well-being. Depending on your activity level, it’s generally recommended that men over the age of 50 should consume 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day. Women over the age of 50 should consume 1,600 to 2,200 calories per day.
But not all calories are created equal. When planning your daily meals, keep the following tips in mind:
- Include two to three tablespoons of healthy fats—such as extra virgin olive or coconut oil—in your diet each day.
- Consume no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily.
- Make sure that less than 10 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fat.
- Consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily.
- Avoid sugary drinks.
In addition, pay attention to the food groups you’re eating from. The main food groups include fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and dairy alternatives, and meat and meat alternatives. Check with your doctor to determine your best nutritional guidelines.
Signs of Poor Nutrition in Seniors
Learning all about good nutrition for seniors is a wise move, but you should also know the warning signs of poor nutrition. You or your loved one may experience symptoms that point to a nutritional deficiency that can be resolved with dietary changes. If you suspect any kind of deficiency, then follow up with your doctor in order to be properly tested. Here are some common signs that may indicate that certain vitamins or minerals are lacking from your or your family member’s diet:
- Brittle or dry hair, or increased hair loss
- Mouth issues—such as cracking or inflammation at the corners of the mouth or a pale, smooth, or swollen tongue
- Nails becoming dry and brittle, developing ridges, or taking on a spoon-like shape where they come off the nail bed
- Poor digestion or sudden or unexpected changes like constipation or diarrhea
- Unexplained fatigue, especially if no sleep issues are present
- Unexplained mood changes such as anxiety, depression, irritability, or general moodiness
- Unexplained weight loss
The bottom-line is for all types of seniors, nutrition plans can be fun and gratifying to implement. They don’t have to be complicated. And the benefit is that they can lead to many positive results. Along with being flavorful and delicious, healthy food can add more variety—and vitality—to your life. Who doesn’t want that?
Interested in nutrition? Learn more with these upcoming courses: