9 Foods to Support Dietary Needs of Seniors
Eating a well-rounded, balanced, nutritious diet is often more difficult than we think. Between the Internet and today’s marketing of processed foods, there is misleading information and food temptation everywhere. Putting all of this aside, there are many healthy food items to add to your daily routine. Not only will these foods be higher in quality nutrition, but they will also increase your quality of life.
What Are Some Essential Nutrients for Seniors?
Before you go changing up your diet entirely, you want to remember that the goal of healthy eating is to make sure your body is absorbing the nutrients it needs to live a long, healthy, vibrant life. In order for you to function optimally and allow your body to perform day-to-day activities, you need to consume the appropriate amount of the right vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients.
Some of the most important nutrients to focus on as we enter older adulthood are:
According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025, adults over 71 tend to fall short of recommended protein intakes. This is especially true for proteins containing the important vitamin B12.
Known as, “the sunshine vitamin,” supplementation of vitamin D is recommended for those not receiving regular sun exposure. Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy bones and reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases.
Omega-3 is an important nutrient due to its many health benefits – specifically, its ability to reduce inflammation, increase cognitive function, and enhance eye health.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and plays an important role in muscular function, bone health, and regulating heart rhythm. From childhood to adulthood, it is crucial to consume enough calcium to reduce the loss of bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Magnesium helps with blood glucose regulation, energy, and detoxification. Those who experience muscle aches and pains should increase their magnesium due to its ability to help with nerve and muscular function.
- Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are important for brain function and long-term health, especially as we age. You will also feel more full after a meal if you allow yourself to consume various high-quality healthy fats.
What Foods Should I Eat?
Everyone’s diet, preferences, and needs are different. But if you’re looking for a good starting place, these nine foods will put you on the right path to getting enough of the nutrients listed above.
- Mushrooms: These earthy vegetables are an excellent source of vitamin D.
- Fortified Cereals: Many kinds of cereal are fortified with added nutrients, including vitamins D and B12, calcium, and others.
- Salmon: As well as being a source of vitamin D, salmon is also rich in healthy omega-3 fats.
- Flaxseed: For those who don’t eat fish or other animal products, flaxseed is an effective plant-based way to introduce omega-3s into your diet.
- Dark Leafy Greens: From arugula to kale to bok choy, any dark leafy green will serve as a valuable source of both calcium and magnesium.
- Broccoli: Like the leafy greens above, broccoli is another great way to make sure you’re getting your daily intake of calcium.
- Almonds: Almonds are a genuine superfood, being packed full of healthy fats, calcium, and protein.
- Avocados: Avocados are another excellent source of both healthy fats and magnesium.
- Black Beans: In addition to being full of protein, black beans are also good for magnesium intake.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means. It’s meant as a starting point to start eating more nutritious meals. There are plenty of other foods out there that will help you achieve the same results. As long as you prioritize vegetables, lean proteins, good fats, and whole foods, you’re on the right track.
How Does Walker Methodist Support Healthy Eating?
It’s difficult to eat a healthy, balanced diet without access to a variety of food options. With that in mind, Walker Methodist strives to give our residents as much independence as possible when choosing what to eat from day to day.
Our restaurant-style dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner gives residents ample opportunity throughout the day for delicious, nutritious, made-to-order meals. Communities with delis offer additional choices and flexibility in a more casual, informal dining atmosphere.
We also firmly believe that meals should be joyful, communal activities. Walker Methodist’s motto is “Life. And all the living that goes with it.” That extends to food and dining as well.
Our dining areas are designed with comfort in mind. We want them to feel like home, and like a home, residents can come in whenever they want. We set them up for visitors as well, so that residents, loved ones, and families can enjoy meals together. And with seasonal menu options, catering services for anniversaries, birthday parties, and other special occasions, we view the dining aspect of our communities as vital parts of our mission.
Eat to Live, Live to Eat
Finding a balance between perfect nutrition and “living a little” is one of the best things you can do for your physical health and mentality. Challenge yourself to make small changes first, and build on those changes as you create new habits and discover new foods. We promise you’ll soon find yourself feeling better and more energized.