Eating right and staying fit are important at any age. Not only does it help with weight management and digestion, but eating the right foods can also lower the risk of many diseases. However as people age, they begin to need different vitamins and nutrients in order to maintain good health.
Good nutrition for seniors is something that shouldn’t be ignored. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, below are the most essential vitamins to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the elderly:
Calcium and Vitamin D
If you’re an older adult, you need to add more calcium and vitamin D to your diet to help maintain bone health. Recommended are three servings of vitamin D-fortified low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt each day. Other calcium-rich foods include fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.
Benefits: Can protect against diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Assists heart, lungs, and nerves in functioning properly
Many older people do not get enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood are good sources. Check with your doctor or a registered dietitian to see if you need a vitamin B12 supplement.
Benefits: Helps maintain a healthy nervous system. Reduces the risk of Vitamin B12 anemia.
You need to eat more fiber-rich foods to keep digestion regular. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans and peas. Fruits and vegetables also provide fiber.
Benefits: Lowers your risk for heart disease, control your weight and prevents type 2 diabetes.
Increasing potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) can lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium. Also, select and prepare foods with little or no added salt.
Benefits: Lowers blood pressure. Assists with muscle movement, kidney filtration, and the functionality of the nervous system. Can reduce abnormal heart rhythms.
Know Your Fats
Foods that are low in saturated fats, transfats and cholesterol help reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These can be found in many plant based foods and oils. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for total fat and saturated fat in order to minimize their amount in your diet.
Benefits: Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and benefit insulin levels and blood sugar. Polyunsaturated fats helps decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Overall, eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet is the best way to promote a healthy lifestyle. If you would like to seek assistance with planning a wholesome diet, contact your physician for more information.
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