That the aging process happens to all of us is a fact. However, it is also true that making certain lifestyle adjustments is effective in reducing the effects of time.
In particular, it is known that the combination of physical activity with a high availability of nutrients is capable of optimizing the bodily processes that deteriorate in older adults.
Read on to learn various tips and tricks for proper nutrition for older adults.
Proper nutrition for older adults
First of all, it is critically important that as you age, you strive to align your energy intake, carbohydrates, and your physical activity throughout the day.
On heavy days you will need carbohydrates, but on a day when you are sitting at a table or relaxing with your family or friends, you will not need to eat as much. To have a benchmark for every ten years, you need to eat a little less than what you ate before.
In addition, giving greater importance to proteins and essential nutrients is essential to keep your body working properly. Here are some nutrition tips and tricks for older adults:
1. The importance of proteins
For the older population, the recommended protein intake should be increased to a value of at least 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. A person weighing 70 kilograms requires a minimum of 84 grams of protein per day.
In practice, this means a dose of about 20 grams four times a day: breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. For example, this amount of protein comes from a small chicken breast or a large serving of low-fat Greek yogurt.
2. Five servings of vegetables and fruits
A large-scale study, which examined the dietary habits of 65,226 people, found a significant relationship between the consumption of vegetables and fruits and mortality at any age.
Eating five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduced the risk of death by 36%, while those who ate more than seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a 42% decrease in risk of death. And more recently, it was confirmed that ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day provide even more benefits. (1,2)
3. Sources of calcium
The role of calcium in bone health is well known: 99% of this element in our body is found in the bones. The recommended daily intake for adults is 700 milligrams (this amount can be obtained by drinking three glasses of milk, but you can use the alternative: calcium-fortified soy, oatmeal, walnuts).
For menopausal women and men over 55, the recommended intake is increased to 1,200 milligrams per day. Of course, there are other sources of calcium besides milk: dairy products (like yogurt and cheese), tofu, fortified plant drinks, and certain vegetables like broccoli and cabbage.
4. Vitamin D
For our bodies to absorb calcium efficiently and build new bone, calcium needs a partner: the vitamin D . It has been called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight, and it is a real protective nutrient that improves immunity and muscle function.
There is also evidence that vitamin D has an effect on chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as to prevent cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Drink more water
One of the age-related physiological changes is a decrease in the amount of water in the body. Also, as we age, our feeling of thirst decreases and the kidneys’ ability to maintain water levels in the body decreases.
All of this makes it more difficult to maintain adequate fluid levels in old age, and if you exercise regularly, you may need to drink water to compensate for dehydration, except when you feel thirsty.
6. Improve your digestion with probiotics
Through the process of digestion, energy enters the bloodstream and circulates through the body in the form of nutrients. During this process the good microorganisms that live in our stomach play a very important role.
Therefore, ensuring that these microorganisms are healthy can help improve the digestion process and promote health in older adults. The use of probiotics has been shown to help in this process.
7. Eat good carbohydrates
Our body has a complex system that includes the liver and brain to help keep blood (glucose) levels stable. In turn, glucose in the blood (converted into ATP) is the main fuel used by our brain.
Eating foods such as cereals, whole grains and vegetables is essential to keep this system in good working order and to feed the brain. The ideal is to consume between 150-250 grams of good carbohydrates per day.
In addition to proper nutrition, exercise is a key tool in combating the age-related decline in cellular activity in your tissues and organs.
Aerobic exercise (such as jogging, cycling, or swimming) improves heart function, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, and also protects the brain from cognitive impairments such as dementia. Strength training helps protect muscles from age-related deterioration.
Here are some healthy tips for older adults:
- Give your engine a daily charge. On days when you don’t have time to work out in the gym or go for a run, simply increase the number of steps (for example, take a brisk thirty minute walk at lunch), and this will play an important role in reducing body fat.
- Don’t avoid strength training. Try to do two strength training sessions per week (at the gym or at home) to activate six major muscle groups: legs, abdomen, back, chest, shoulders, and arms. Sign up for a class with a personal trainer to make sure your workouts are structured correctly, or try a group class like BodyPump.
- Less exercise = less carbohydrates. If you’ve spent the day at your desk or relaxing with family and friends, cut down on your fuel consumption. The easiest way to cut down on carbs is with dinner. Just increase your intake of protein (fish, poultry, beans, tofu) and various vegetables.
- Give priority to proteins. There are many ways to do this: a serving of lean meat (or fish or poultry); include more nuts, seeds or legumes in the diet; yogurt or eggs for breakfast.
- Increase protection. Eating protective foods on a daily basis will help your immune system , muscles, and bones, as well as prevent chronic diseases. To maximize the benefits, try to eat at least two types of vegetables (two colors) with each meal.
- Be smart, take your time. The rules described must be introduced in stages. For example, strength training should be gradually incorporated into your daily routine – going step by step is the most important thing to keep it going.
Aging processes begin to affect metabolism after age 30 . At the same time, an adequate level of physical activity and proper nutrition (rich in protein, low- glycemic carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals) will help the older person feel more energetic. Complementing both points is an essential step for older adults to stay healthy and strengthen their body.