What is nutrition and why is it important for older adults?
Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Nutrients are substances in foods that our bodies need so they can function and grow. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Good nutrition is important, no matter what your age. It gives you energy and can help you control your weight. It may also help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
But as you age, your body and life change, and so does what you need to stay healthy. For example, you may need fewer calories, but you still need to get enough nutrients. Some older adults need more protein.
What can make it harder for me to eat healthy as I age?
Some changes that can happen as you age can make it harder for you to eat healthy. These include changes in your
- Home life, such as suddenly living alone or having trouble getting around
- Health, which can make it harder for you to cook or feed yourself
- Medicines, which can change how food tastes, make your mouth dry, or take away your appetite
- Income, which means that you may not have as much money for food
- Sense of smell and taste
- Problems chewing or swallowing your food
How can I eat healthy as I age?
To stay healthy as you age, you should
- Eat foods that give you lots of nutrients without a lot of extra calories, such as
- Avoid empty calories. These are foods with lots of calories but few nutrients, such as chips, candy, baked goods, soda, and alcohol.
- Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat. You especially want to try to avoid saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are usually fats that come from animals. Trans fats are processed fats in stick margarine and vegetable shortening. You may find them in some store-bought baked goods and fried foods at some fast-food restaurants.