5 Reasons Seniors Need to Eat Clean
As we age, diet plays a more significant role in maintaining our health. A well-balanced diet can mean the difference between feeling energized or sluggish. It also can ward off chronic diseases and improve the way your body fights off illness.
Malnutrition affects weight. It also can leave your bones and muscles weak and joints achy. Other signs can be frequent falls and bone fractures, even depression. “Malnutrition can also lead to delayed wound healing, chronic digestive upset, extreme hair loss, brittle nails, and rapid cognitive decline,” says Natalie Butler, RD, and LD.
Focusing more on foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are key. However, there are several factors to consider because of the way we view food changes as we age. This could be due to a diminishing appetite, or trouble digesting foods like we did before. However, no matter what the reasons are that are getting in the way of good nutrition, there are reasons why the older we get, the healthier we need to eat:
- Calories. Figuring out your exact caloric intake will prevent weight gain. Since we become less mobile and start losing muscle mass as we get older, our metabolism starts to slow down. Therefore, our daily calories must be adjusted accordingly in order to maintain a healthy weight.
- Digestion. Foods rich in fiber help decrease the risk of constipation and digestive problems. There’s also soluble fiber, which helps reduce high blood cholesterol levels. There are many foods out there that can provide a healthy dose of fiber, but if you’re finding that you’re unable to incorporate the appropriate amount of fiber for you, your doctor can recommend a fiber supplement. The following are good, natural sources of fiber:
- beans and lentils
- whole grains
- seeds and nuts
- fruits and vegetables
- Nutrients. Just because you’re reducing, the amount of calories you’re eating per day doesn’t mean you should decrease the number of nutrients in your diet. In fact, it should be just the opposite. Eating a diet rich in nutrients will help maintain a healthy weight and a strong immune system. There are many foods rich in nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, which can be eaten either raw or cooked. One example of a healthy, inexpensive snack that’s full of nutrients is peanuts because:
- They boost heart health because they contain anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which boost heart health and strengthen the inner linings of blood vessels.
- Boost brain health because they’re rich in niacin, which has been linked to reducing Alzheimer’s. They also contain the flavonoid called resveratrol, which increases blood flow to the brain.
- Easy to control their portions. A handful of peanuts will provide you with a healthy dose of protein, nutrients, vitamins, unsaturated fats, and antioxidants.
Even though nutrients are easy to come by, it can be hard to include them into your diet, especially if you’re taking certain medications, which can inhibit their absorption. If that’s the case, your doctor can provide you with a few supplements to take, such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, or magnesium, which are the ones your body has a harder time absorbing them. Keep in mind to tell your doctor your medication so he can pick out the right supplements for you.
- Build muscles. Eating a healthy dose of protein slows down the aging process of losing muscle mass. It also strengthens leg muscles, therefore lowering the chance of slips and falls. As the years advance, staying strong is important both physically and mentally. Asserting a fair amount of independence helps boost self-confidence and morale, and this independence can be maintained through strong muscles and protein consumption.
Not eating enough protein can result in Protein Calorie Malnutrition (PCM), or in other words, a severe protein deficiency, which increases the rate of muscle loss. It also delays the wound-healing process because the body is constantly regenerating tissue cells, and if there isn’t enough protein to aid with this process, then problems will start to arise.
The problem lies, however, in the amount of protein one should consume. On average, adults of all ages should eat about 0.8 grams per 1 kilogram of their body weight. To find out how much protein is right for you, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36.
- Reduce inflammation. Cutting back on sugary and processed foods significantly lowers the risk of the inflammation that is a major factor in the aging process. Inflammation leads to the breakdown of collagen, resulting in the appearance of fine lines and dimming of that youthful glow. Moreover, your joints start aching and your mobility is restricted. On top of that, a large amount of sugar damages the lining of the heart and increases your risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.