For older adults, the benefits of adopting a healthy diet include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Whatever your age, eating well should be all about fresh, tasty food, creativity in the kitchen, and eating with friends and family.
Healthy eating as you age: Feeding your body, mind and soul
No matter your age or your previous eating habits, it’s never too late to change your diet and improve the way you think and feel. When you choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and quality proteins you’ll feel vibrant and healthy, inside and out. Improving your diet now can help you:
- Live longer and stronger – Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs, and other body parts strong for the long haul. Eating vitamin-rich food boosts immunity and fights illness-causing toxins. A proper diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anemia. Also, eating sensibly means consuming fewer calories and more nutrient-dense foods, keeping weight in check.
- Sharpen your mind – Key nutrients are essential for the brain to do its job. People who eat a selection of fruit, leafy veggies, and fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Regular consumption of antioxidant-rich green tea may also enhance memory and mental alertness as you age.
- Feel better – Wholesome meals give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a boost to your mood and self-esteem. It’s all connected—when your body feels good you feel happier inside and out.
Of course, balanced nutrition is more than calorie counting. There are many other aspects to creating a nutritious and fulfilling lifestyle. Whatever your age, the key is to focus on eating whole, minimally processed food—food that is as close to its natural form as possible.
How many calories do older adults need?
Use the following as a guideline:
A woman over 50 who is:
- Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day
- Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day
- Very active needs about 2000 calories a day
A man over 50 who is:
- Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day
- Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day
- Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day