What you eat will greatly affect your health and nutrition over the years, especially during seniorhood. In fact, the WHO reported that most seniors aged 65 and older suffer from certain diseases later in life due to their unhealthy eating behaviors.
So whether you live alone or in a senior assisted living community, it’s crucial to prioritize your health by following a healthy eating plan. Some of the specific foods you should include in your meals are as follows.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens have a famous reputation for being one of the healthiest groups of foods ever to exist. They have high amounts of vitamin D and calcium that help maintain bone health and strengthen immune function. Additionally, these veggies have high fiber content that aids digestion and belly fat loss.
Some nutritious leafy greens to add to your meals include spinach, kale, arugula, cabbage, and romaine lettuce. Plus, you can easily add them to any of your recipes, whether it’s pesto pasta or fresh salad for dessert.
2. Antioxidant-Rich Berries
Plenty of fruits contain the essential nutrient called antioxidant, which prevents cell damage. But nothing beats the high dose of antioxidants that can be found in berries, specifically the following:
- Blueberries – contain the highest antioxidant.
These fruits have high antioxidant levels and are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K1, fiber, manganese, folate, and copper. All these nutrients work together to fight off diseases, slow down your cell’s aging, and eliminate toxins in your body.
Further, they help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, assisting seniors in their battle against diabetes and hypertension.
3. Chia Seeds
Don’t let the size of chia seeds play a trick on you. These tiny seeds store numerous nutrients that benefit a senior like you. Some of the nutrients you can get in them include protein, fiber, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids or healthy fats.
Once a staple ingredient in smoothies and breakfast bowls, chia seeds can now be added to baked goods and as a coating for meat and fish.
4. Whole Grains
According to the Dietary Guidelines of 2020, individuals aged 51 and above should eat at least 3 to 4 servings of whole grains per day. Whole grains such as oats, whole wheat bread, pasta, noodles, and barley have various health benefits to the body. This includes:
- Preventing constipation, especially for older adults with digestive problems.
- It stops the body from absorbing bad cholesterol.
- It manages blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- It helps you achieve the appropriate weight.
- It is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, and B vitamins.
5. Lean Meat
As you age, your body systems will gradually change and not function as effectively as they did before. For example, during seniorhood, your body won’t be able to store and use proteins efficiently.
That’s why seniors need to eat more protein to meet their dietary needs and prevent losing too much muscle mass.
Unprocessed lean (skinless and fatless) meats are among the greatest sources of protein with low carbohydrate content. Some examples include lean beef, lean pork, chicken breast, and lamb.
Remember to cook them healthily through grilling, baking, broiling, and slow-cooking. You can ask the help of your senior assisted living staff to help you with the preparations.
6. Healthy Fats
Many dieting magazines would suggest you stay away from fats if you want to lose weight. However, that’s actually not a healthy and balanced diet. Your body needs the “healthy” kind of fats as a source of fatty acids (which the body cannot make on its own) and other vitamins and minerals.
Further, healthy fats aid in keeping the brain healthy, reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body, and unclogging the arteries to improve heart health. Some of the most excellent sources of healthy fats are:
- Fatty fishes, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
- Nuts like walnuts and almonds.
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil
7. Non-Fat Milk
A low-fat or non-fat milk is an essential component of a senior’s healthy and balanced diet because it is an excellent calcium source.
Unfortunately, your body’s calcium level depletes as you get older; that’s why you need to compensate by consuming products rich in calcium. Here are some of the benefits of regularly drinking milk:
- Healthier skin and stronger bones.
- Increase repairing and rebuilding of muscles.
- Prevents age-related diseases like osteoporosis and hypocalcemia.
- Preserves and strengthens teeth.
- It can be used to treat heartburn.
8. Herbs and Spices
Besides bringing flavor to your meals, herbs and spices also contain lots of nutrients that help fight off inflammation and cell damage in the body. Further, it makes it easier for you to remove processed flavorings in your kitchen and stick to basils, cinnamons, turmeric, cumin, and garlic.
Beans are another set of tiny yet highly nutritious food that you need to include in your meals. Beans are an easy-to-eat and affordable source of protein and amino acids–both of which are responsible for healing the body and making new tissues.
Further, they contain high amounts of antioxidants (next to fruits) to remove the damaging toxic chemicals in your body. Plus, it helps protect you from chronic diseases like cancer, heart problems, diabetes, and fatty liver.
Some of the healthiest beans are as follows:
- Lima beans
- Black beans, soybeans, and kidney beans.
- Black-eyed peas
- Garbanzo, pinto, and red beans
If you don’t have a knack for cooking, you can ask the help of your caregiver or nutritionist in your senior assisted living to incorporate beans into your daily diet.
Drinking eight to nine glasses of water daily is a bit of overrated health advice. Despite this, many seniors and loved ones still neglect to keep tabs on their hydration levels. Thus, making dehydration a common problem during seniorhood.
So to avoid this, you should fill your system with water at a healthy pace. Also, you can consume broth, milk, and fruits rich in water content to avoid getting nauseated with too much water.
For instance, you can blend fruits and veggies to make a smoothie for your afternoon snack in your senior assisted living community.