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The Truth About Special Nutrition Needs for Seniors

No matter your age, it’s important to stay on top of your body’s nutritional needs.

Those requirements shift as you get older.

Let’s take a look at some of the changes that occur, as well as special nutrition needs for seniors.

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Your changing needs

The way your body processes food changes, which alters your dietary needs and can even affect your appetite.

Here’s what you can expect.

  • A sluggish metabolism. While this happens naturally with age, it’s even worse if you don’t get as much activity as you should. Your body doesn’t burn as many calories as it used to, meaning you should eat less to keep your weight at a healthy level.
  • Digestive system differences. As you age, your body produces less of the fluids needed for digestion. This means it’s harder for your body to absorb the vital nutrients you need.
  • Curbed appetite. If you’re like a large number of seniors, you take at least a medication or two. The side effects of these drugs are often things like a lack of appetite or an upset stomach. The problem with these adverse side-effects is poor nutrition.
  • Emotional eating. Anxiety and depression are common in older people. This can lead to emotional eating and unwanted weight.

Special nutrition needs for seniors

Here are the specific nutrients your body needs to stay healthy as you age – and what foods provide them.

Vitamin B12

You can get B12 from fortified cereals, lean meat, some fish and seafood.

Potassium

Consuming more potassium may help lower your blood pressure.

Eat extra fruits, vegetables, and beans to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough potassium.

Calcium and Vitamin D

The older you get, the more brittle your bones become.

Calcium and Vitamin D are vital nutrients that keep your bones strong.

You can find them in fortified cereals, fruit juices, canned fish with soft bones, milk, fortified plant beverages and dark green leafy vegetables.

A multivitamin is also a good way to get enough Calcium and Vitamin D. Make sure you choose one that includes both.

Fiber

It’s not fun to talk about, but bowel-regularity is important.

Not only does enough fiber keep things moving, but it’s also good for lowering your risk of heart disease and can prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Find it in whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, peas, fruits, and other vegetables.

Make the right food choices

It can be tricky to actually put a healthy-eating plan into action. Here are some tips to help.

  • Know how to build a healthy plate. The good old food pyramid isn’t the standard anymore. The new way of looking at fulfilling your nutritional needs is to envision what the food actually looks like on your plate. The USDA created a graphic called MyPlate that illustrates a healthy plate.
  • Read labels. Look for foods that are low in fat, added sugar, and sodium. A good tip is to shop on the outer aisles of the grocery store where you’ll find healthy, whole foods.
  • Follow recommended serving sizes. Keep your weight under control by consuming the right amount of food for your body and your age.
  • Drink enough water. It’s dangerous to get dehydrated. Throughout the day, keep drinking. Water is always best, but tea and coffee are good choices, as well. Stay away with drinks that have sugar and sodium.

Stay healthy as you age

Since the way your body handles food as you grow older changes, you have to tweak your diet to make sure you’re meeting your unique nutrition needs.

An additional way to maintain your wellness is to make sure you have Medicare coverage that’s suited specifically to you and your lifestyle.

Get in touch with an insurance expert who can help you navigate your options.

Is your Medicare coverage meeting all of your needs?

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.