Life changes as you get older, and so do your nutritional needs. You may have noticed a slowdown in your metabolism. Maybe you’re less physically active than you once were. Or maybe food just doesn’t taste the same so your diet is changing.
Whatever the case, it’s important to recognize the unique nutritional requirements of older adults. They’re based upon the nutritional guidelines for younger adults, but modified for those who are over 70.
Nutritional Recommendations for Older Adults
- Whole Grains. When shopping for cereals, bread, and rice, seniors or caregivers should gravitate toward products made from whole, enriched grains. Aim for a variety of grains, too. There are a lot of interesting and delicious products on the market these days, such as quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain baked goods made with a variety of flours.
- Fruit and Vegetables. Select bright-colored veggies like broccoli and deep-colored fruit like berries.
- Low-fat protein sources. Stock up on dry beans, fish, eggs, and poultry. Nuts are good in moderation.
- Low-fat/Non-fat dairy. Yogurt is also a good choice. It is usually rich in protein, calcium and other essentials.
- Low Trans Fat. Steer clear of Trans fat which is linked to heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Instead, choose olive oil and plant-based spreads low in saturated and Trans fat.
- Stay active. Walking is great for the heart and lungs. Housework, as you know, is also very physically demanding!
- Even when you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to maintain your fluid intake. Water is the best option for health because it doesn’t contain sweeteners, caffeine or preservatives.
Special Focus on Supplements
Seniors should also speak with their primary care physician about incorporating supplements or fortified foods into their diet. In general, the most important nutrients here are vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B-12.
For seniors who live here in Michigan, vitamin D is important year around but especially in the winter. This essential vitamin does not occur naturally in foods so supplements are often necessary. The body can produce vitamin D in the sunshine, but in Michigan and northern Indiana the sun is not always in plentiful supply during some months of the year!
The Food Pyramid for Seniors
There’s no need to memorize all of these guidelines. The State of Michigan publishes a handy food guide reference for seniors. It’s easy to print it out so you can attach it to the front of your refrigerator for a quick consultation now and then. Called the Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults, it was developed by scientists at Tuft University and recognizes the special nutritional needs of seniors.
Here at Heritage Senior Living, the basis for our dining program is built upon dietary and nutritional guidelines spelled out in the food pyramid for seniors. But that’s just the beginning.
Our dining program is anchored by sound nutrition, yet developed around the principles of fine hospitality. Residents have a choice in their dining preferences, with made-to-order breakfast, chef’s specials, and all meals served in a formal dining room. The result is an elevated dining experience we call ‘Heritage Hospitality’. Call us to find out more!