March is National Nutrition Month, which is an educational campaign developed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage people of all ages to make more informed eating choices.
As you get older, the way your body reacts to and processes food may change. You may experience a difference in appetite, become allergic to new foods, or find that you gain or lose weight more easily. Changes in hearing, vision, taste, and smell may also lead you to alter your diet in ways that may not be beneficial for your overall health.
And yet, eating a balanced diet becomes even more important as we age. That’s why it’s so important to revisit and re-evaluate what you’re eating. Here are six ways seniors can improve their health through nutrition, today and every day, from our experts at Bethany Village:
- Maintain the healthy functioning of your immune system and muscles by eating more lean protein. Lean protein such as chicken, fish, or egg whites is vital to your body’s ability to repair muscle and fend off disease. Simple changes like adding milk or soy milk to your oatmeal in the morning instead of water, or adding tuna fish to a salad can help.
- Keep your bones strong with dairy products or supplements. It’s quite common for seniors to start losing bone mass after the age of forty, which may result in brittle bones that break more easily. Be sure to keep dairy in your diet, or take calcium supplements, to help keep your bones strong.
- Beat back nutrient deficiencies by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be difficult to get the nutrition your body needs if you rely on processed foods which have had their nutrients stripped out. Eating spinach, fresh melons, berries, or other fruits and vegetables can help you avoid the lack of energy and listlessness that can be a sign of a nutrient deficiency.
- Improve cholesterol levels and decrease your chances of heart disease by eating healthy fats. Consuming “good” fat in foods such as salmon, olive oil and avocados has been shown in some studies to lower cholesterol and may decrease chances of heart disease. Try cooking with olive oil, or adding a slice of avocado to your lunchtime salad or sandwich.
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods to improve memory and urinary tract health. Antioxidants work by preventing oxygen damage to cells and fighting free radicals which contribute to illness and aging. Eat colorful foods rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, cranberries, eggplant, plums, and raisins.