Nutrition for Seniors: 7 Expert Strategies to Keep You in Good Health

March is National Nutrition Month, and it’s the perfect time for senior adults, and those who love them, to consider the vital importance of nutrition and diet in healthy aging.

While a healthy, nutritious diet is critical to the good health of all age groups, proper nutrition is especially important to the well-being of seniors.

Says Susan Irrgang, RN, NHA, MBA, Executive Director at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania,“The National Council on Aging (NCOA) tells us that the definition of healthy eating changes as you age. For example, as senior adults get older, their metabolism slows down and they require fewer calories than before. At the same time, their bodies need more of certain essential nutrients. Thus, it becomes increasingly important for older Americans to choose foods that provide the best nutritional support.

“At Saunders House, we are acutely aware of the value of good nutrition to the health and vitality of seniors. It’s why we employ a dietitian who meets individually with each of our residents to customize nutrition plans that focus on each individual’s personal tastes, preferences and needs.

 “However, if you don’t have the benefit of your own dietician, there are several valuable nutrition strategies that older Americans can follow to fuel their bodies and safeguard their health and well-being.”

7 Key Nutrition Strategies for Senior Health

NCOA, and other expert sources offer useful guidelines that can help senior adults achieve the goal of healthy nutrition.

Some of the essential pillars of good nutrition for seniors include:

1.  Reduce the calories and increase the nutrients– While older adults require fewer calories, they need equal or even higher levels of some nutrients, compared to younger people. Therefore, seniors should rightsize their portions and consume a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish.

2.  Add more protein– The loss of muscle mass and strength due to aging is known as sarcopenia. It’s a major cause of weakness, fractures and poor health among seniors. Eating a protein-rich diet can help fight sarcopenia and research shows you may get the most benefits if you combine a protein-rich diet with resistance exercise. 

3.  Eat enough fiber – Increasing fiber intake can help protect seniors against bowel-related issues, including constipation and diverticular disease, that tend to increase with age. Also, minimize your sodium and salt intake.

4.  Increase your calcium and vitamin D intake – The aging process affects your vitamin D and calcium levels, which can weaken your bones. Therefore, it’s necessary to consume more calcium and vitamin D through foods and supplements. Foods that contain calcium include dairy products and dark green, leafy vegetables, while vitamin D can be found in a variety of fish, such as salmon and herring.

5.  Include more vitamin B12 in your diet – Vitamin B12 is essential for making red blood cells and maintaining healthy brain function. Unfortunately, aging increases the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Therefore, senior adults should take vitamin B12 supplements or eat foods rich in vitamin B12 for a nutritious diet.

6.  Other helpful nutrients – Nutrition experts say that potassium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and iron are other key nutrients that can benefit seniors. 

7.  Drink up! – The aging process makes seniors much more prone to dehydration, which can worsen medical conditions and also cause fatigue. Nutrition experts suggest drinking small amounts of water consistently throughout the day. If you find this difficult, try drinking one or two glasses of water with each meal.

Seniors can also use the USDA’s My Plate Calculator to create nutritious meals that are personalized based on their age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. The MyPlate Plan shows your food group targets and what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance.

By incorporating these valuable nutrition strategies into their daily dietary habits, today’s seniors can significantly increase their odds of a healthy, active life.

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have, as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “Nutrition for Seniors: 7 Expert Strategies to Keep You in Good Health,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section. 

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing carerestorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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