Senior Nutrition: How Your Body Changes as You Age and Essential Nutrients You Need
In 2010, after completing a rigorous application and site review process by Meals On Wheels America, we were awarded “Exemplary Status” Magnet Accreditation for our outstanding senior nutrition program.
From a baby to a senior, you need different types of nutrition at each stage in your life. Changes in your body as you age affect the nutrition you need and your overall health.
Your Metabolism Slows Down
As you age, your metabolism slows down naturally. Many factors determine how many calories you need to maintain a healthy weight as you age. Age, gender, physical activity, and any recent injury or surgery are all factors that can influence your caloric needs.
With age slowing down your metabolism, it is especially important to eat as much nutrient-rich food at possible. Stick to healthy fats found in seeds, nuts and fish, and pack plenty of protein into your diet. Eat lean proteins like beans, eggs, chicken and fish to power your body.
Your Digestive System Changes
Constipation is common in older adults. Certain medications, lack of exercise, poor diet, and inadequate fluid intake can all contribute to constipation. A healthy diet, with plenty of fiber rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with drinking plenty of water can help alleviate constipation.
Aging may also cause your body to decrease production of certain digestive enzymes. This is another reason why a healthy diet is key to ensuring your nutritional needs are met.
Your Appetite May Decrease
Aging may decrease your sense of smell and taste buds, which affects your appetite. As your taste buds decrease, so does the taste for salty and sweet, making food taste bitter or sour. Additionally, medications can have side effects that cause a lack of appetite or upset stomach, leading to poor nutrition. Depression and loneliness may also cause a disinterest in eating.
Despite changes in your appetite, try to make the healthiest choices you can by including a variety of lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables into your diet. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water and choosing foods with high water content like soups, stews, fruits and vegetables.
How Meals on Wheels Helps Seniors Achieve Optimal Nutrition
A slowing metabolism, decrease in appetite and changes in the digestive system make seniors vulnerable to malnutrition. Meals On Wheel’s meals are heart healthy, diabetic friendly and contain nutrients seniors need to stay healthy. The meals are fiber-rich, and packed with lean protein. They contain a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. They are seasoned with herbs and spices appealing to the senior palate. In addition to all of the wonderful nutrition benefits, a friendly volunteer delivers the meals, providing positive social interaction.