Healthy eating as you age: Choosing healthy foods
Older adults can feel better now and stay healthy for the future by choosing wholesome, nutritious foods. A balanced diet and physical activity contribute to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence as you age.
Food your body needs as you age
Fruit – Focus on whole fruits rather than juices for more fiber and vitamins and aim for at least 2 to 3 servings each day. Break the apple and banana rut and go for color-rich pickings like berries or melons.
Veggies – Color is your credo in this category. Choose antioxidant-rich dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams. Try for 2 to 3 cups or more of veggies every day.
Calcium – Maintaining bone health as you age depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Older adults need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.
Grains – Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and more fiber. If you’re not sure, look for pasta, breads, and cereals that list “whole” in the ingredient list. Older adults need 6-7 ounces of grains each day (one ounce is about 1 slice of whole grain bread).
Protein – Adults over 50 without kidney disease or diabetes need about 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram (2.2lbs) of bodyweight. This translates to 68 to 102g of high-quality protein per day for a person weighing 150 lbs. (0.5 g of protein per lb. of body weight is close enough). Try to divide your protein intake equally among meals. It’s important to vary your sources of protein instead of relying on just red meat, including more fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk and cheese in your diet.
Important vitamin and minerals
Water – As we age, some of us are prone to dehydration because our bodies lose some of the ability to regulate fluid levels and our sense of thirst is may not be as sharp. Post a note in your kitchen reminding you to sip water every hour and with meals to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion.
Vitamin B – After the age of 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves vital. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vitamin supplement.
Vitamin D – We get most of our vitamin D intake—essential to absorbing calcium and boosting muscles—through sun exposure and certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk). With age, our skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so consult your doctor about supplementing your diet with fortified foods or a multivitamin, especially if you’re obese or have limited sun exposure.