A proper diet and healthy life go together, especially for people over the age of 65. It helps with weight management, and according to the WHO (World Health Organization), the majority of diseases that older individuals suffer from are due to a lack of proper nutrition. For example, degenerative diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis are diet-related. So what are some important nutrients for older people to consume? Here are some examples.
Calcium helps to build and maintain strong bones. It also works to lower your blood pressure. Unfortunately, as we age, we tend to consume less calcium. But, the body’s need for calcium is so crucial that if you aren’t consuming enough calcium, the body begins to reabsorb it from the bones. This causes your bones to become more fragile, leading to osteoporosis.
The WHO recommends that anyone above the age of 50 consume 1200 mg of calcium daily. Foods containing calcium are primarily dairy products – milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, leafy green vegetables and calcium fortified cereals are also good options to get your calcium. If you still aren’t getting enough calcium, consider adding a calcium supplement to your diet as well, but be sure to consult your primary physician first.
Vitamin D is made by your skin when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, slowing down the rate that bones lose calcium. This promotes the maintenance of bone density which helps prevent osteoporosis. Some research also suggests that it may protect against multiple sclerosis, certain cancers, rheumatoid osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin D is found in foods such as eggs, and some fish such as tuna and salmon. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D such as some cereals, yogurt, milk, and juices.
As you age, your body’s ability to retain water decreases, leading to you not feeling as thirsty as often. However, water is still vital to your body. Dehydration can cause drowsiness and confusion along with other side effects so staying hydrated is crucial to your health. If you are consuming a lot of fiber, you need to drink even more water as fiber absorbs a lot of water.
To check to see if you are staying hydrated, observing the color of your urine is a sure way to tell. Dark or bright yellow urine indicates dehydration while light and transparent means you’re hydrated. If you have a kidney or liver disease, consult your healthcare provider to see how much water you should be consuming.
For some people, storing water in a large bottle can be discouraging. To avoid getting overwhelmed by the quantity, you can put water in a smaller bottle and refill it throughout the day.
As we age, our digestive system slows down. The walls of the gastrointestinal tract thicken up and contractions become slower and less frequent often leading to constipation. Fortunately, foods rich in fiber help promote proper digestion by moving food through the digestive tract. Fiber also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease as well.
There are many great options for food rich in fiber. If you’re looking to increase your fiber intake, consume nuts, wholegrains including cereals, breads, and pastas, brown rice and bread, vegetables, and fruits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for all ages as they help prevent inflammation which can lead to cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease. They can also help slow down the progression for Macular Degeneration, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3s are primarily found in fish – tuna, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. They are also in flaxseed, canola oil, soybeans, and walnuts, too. Nutritionists recommend 2 servings of omega-3 fatty acids a week. If you aren’t receiving this from your diet, you can consider a supplement, but be sure to speak with your physician first.
Iron produces hemoglobin carrying oxygen in the blood from the lungs throughout the body. When you don’t consume enough iron, there is a limited supply of oxygen that gets to your body’s tissues. This causes you to feel tired – also known as anemia.
Foods rich in iron include broccoli, tofu, legumes, dark chocolate, turkey, red meat, organ meat, spinach, and shellfish.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which are suggested to help prevent heart disease and cancer. It also aids in the production of collagen, giving your skin elasticity, and removing dead skin cells. Vitamin C also repairs bones and teeth, and helps to heal wounds.
To get more vitamin C in your diet, consume plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you still aren’t getting enough, consult your physician to see if a supplement is right for you.
Magnesium is vital to your wellbeing. It plays an important role in nearly 300 physiological functions. More specifically, it helps keep your immune system and bones strong, and keeps your heart healthy. As you age, your body is unable to absorb as much magnesium. Some medications also contribute to decreasing the rate of absorption of magnesium as well.
Magnesium is found in nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Supplements are also available.
Potassium contributes to reducing blood pressure, aids in cell function, and lowers to likelihood of kidney stones. It is also suggested to help strengthen bones. While most older adults do not consume 4,700 mg of potassium daily, too much potassium can be dangerous as well.
Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, potatoes, and prunes.
This vitamin maintains your nerve function, and aids in the production of red blood cells and DNA. As you get older, it’s harder for your body to absorb B12 from food.
Vitamin B12 is found in dairy products such as milk, meat, and poultry products. Supplements are also available, but be sure to consult your healthcare provider first.
If you are concerned with your diet or have questions regarding which supplements you should take, contact Primary Care Physicians of Florida. We have doctors who accept Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicaid on staff, as well as others who are on the list of Humana healthcare providers.
Some of the other insurances we carry at Primary Care Physicians of Florida are (but not limited to): Medicare, Cigna, Avmed, Molina, and Guardian. Please contact us for more information about the insurance plans we accept.
Set up a same-day doctor appointment by calling 954-983-9191 or fill out our online contact form to get started now.