March is National Nutrition Month. This is a great time to raise awareness about the importance of healthy food choices and solid eating habits. Everyone can benefit from a healthy diet. For Florida seniors, however, getting the right nutrition can be challenging.
As adults advance into their senior years, their metabolism tends to slow down. It also becomes easier to gain weight and much harder to burn it off. The body also gets less efficient at processing food, and as the ability to taste declines, so does appetite. For these reasons, it is extra important for seniors to eat nutrient-rich foods.
Where should you start? How do you help an aging loved one? Let us share seven essential nutrients every senior should try to incorporate into his or her diet.
Protein is important at any age, but for seniors it can be especially helpful. A high protein diet can boost muscle strength and balance, as well as strengthen bones and bolster internal organs. Protein is also important for strengthening hair, nails, and skin.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve and blood cell function. Unfortunately, many seniors do not get enough of this important vitamin. Eating lean meats, fish, and seafood can help seniors get the right amount of vitamin B12.
As seniors age, they tend to consume less calcium. This can, however, negatively impact their bones. Calcium is so important for the body that if there is dietary deficiency, the body will actually leach calcium out of bones, which makes them brittle.
Fiber-rich foods help with digestion and can help lower the risk of heart disease and Type-2 diabetes. A wide-array of foods contain fiber, such as whole-grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables.
5. Folic Acid
Folic acid is a nutrient in the vitamin B family and can be found in leafy green vegetables. Unfortunately, too little folic acid can contribute to anemia, which can have serious and long-lasting effects on a senior’s body.
6. Vitamin D
Like calcium, vitamin D helps maintain bone health. Certain cereals, fruit juices, leafy green vegetables, and milk can impart this important nutrient.
Fruits, vegetables, and beans are strong sources of potassium. Increasing potassium intake, along with reducing salt, can have a number of positive health benefits, like lowering blood pressure.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can have significant health benefits for seniors. We know that getting started on a new diet can be challenging. If you have questions about anything raised in this article or are ready to discuss creating a long-term care plan for the senior you love, do not wait to contact our office.