Healthy Seniors

The first step toward good health in your senior years is to eat right.  Though you can’t stop aging, you can exert some control over your decade-by decade destiny.  What we eat can affect health and longevity.

Selecting a nutrient-dense diet can help slow the aging process and even prevent or delay chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. As we age our needs change, decreasing the need for calories while increasing the relative need for protein and nutrients.  

Improve the quality of your diet by including and emphasizing minimally processed wholesome foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

Eat adequate quantities of Protein for tissue growth, repair and maintenance. Despite the need for fewer calories as we age, it’s important to eat an adequate amount of protein each day. Select high-quality protein foods 2-3 times a day, such as 3-4 ounces of fish, poultry or lean meat, 8 ounces of milk, eggs or 1 cup cooked lentils.

Select healthy fats in moderation. Olive or canola are your best choices because they are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Limit saturated fats (animal products like fatty red meats and full-fat dairy products) that are associated with increased risk for conditions including heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

Eating a variety of foods will supply the nutrients a person needs as they age. 

Be sure you are consuming sufficient calcium and vitamin D, along with whatever other micronutrients you require for health and medical conditions. If food does not provide adequacy you will need to supplement.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Beware of Fad Diets. Avoid any plan that limits of restrict food/food groups; diets that encourage skipping meals or restricting carbohydrates; and restricting calories for weight control that lead to a loss of muscle and/or weight cycling.  

Though studies show that what we eat can affect health and longevity, there is no best diet – just a good healthy eating plan that is flexible and includes appropriate quantities of enjoyable foods.  

Environmental Nutrition July 2020 page 7 Val Schonberg MS, RDN