It's no secret that our bodies change as we age, and with that change comes specific dietary considerations to help keep us as healthy as possible. While we may take our health for granted in our younger years, it becomes an aspect of our lives that we want to control with better care and nutrition. An awareness of how our system changes with age is one step in the right direction for maintaining a better quality of life.
1. Changes with Metabolism
Metabolism naturally slows with age, but it is even more evident with a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise is the best way to speed up your metabolism; however, if your health dictates a slower pace, there are foods and nutrients that also play a key role in boosting metabolism.
Foods rich in fiber are one source for burning calories. Try blueberries for breakfast with your oatmeal. They're not only loaded with antioxidants, but they also supply an added amount of fiber.
Spices, such as cinnamon, help burn insulin and reduce blood sugar levels. Other metabolism-boosting nutrients include those rich in protein, such as dairy, eggs, meat, legumes, and salmon. Salmon, for instance, is packed with Omega-3s that lower your blood fat.
2. Changes with Digestion
Gastrointestinal problems can be debilitating, and the last thing you want to think about is food. Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet, however, can be one of the biggest factors in helping to control problems with your digestion.
According to research conducted at Johns Hopkins, the body requires at least 25 grams of fiber a day to keep the colon functioning optimally. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and wheat germ are excellent choices.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, dandelion greens, and arugula, not only work as a source of fiber, but they supply other nutrients for your system. They provide the good bacteria needed to clean your system, and they're also rich in bone strengthening Vitamin K.
3. Changes with Appetite
Our senses change as we age, which affects the appetite. Taste buds aren't as sensitive or regenerative, and our sense of smell declines after 50. The slowing of metabolism also results in a loss of appetite. Some other factors that can cause a change, and require guidance from a medical professional, include side effects from medications, heavy smoking, and dental problems.
As a general rule, it's advisable to serve smaller portions with greater frequency on a routine schedule. Rather than 3 large meals, serve smaller high-quality portions 5 times a day. Keeping a routine helps prepare the body for food at a specific time.
Including calcium-rich dairy can be as simple as providing a serving of cheese and crackers or string cheese. Sliced apples are packed full of beneficial nutrients that aid in digestion, reducing cholesterol, and improving the immune system. An afternoon snack could include dark chocolate, a treat that works to aid both the heart and immune system.
In addition to making these dietary adjustments, we recommend that seniors also participate in some form of physical activity to remain healthy. Consider our balance exercises for seniors to get some ideas!