With age comes many changes. Your sleep schedule shifts, your body requires different types of exercise, and you may be noticing wrinkles, age spots, and skin tags. But one of the biggest changes is how your appetite and nutritional needs change as you get older.
A slight decrease in appetite is generally considered a normal part of aging. Physical activity tends to decrease with seniors, and they don’t need to consume as many calories to power through the day. But what they need from those calories also changes.
Healthier eating is an essential part of independent senior living, and it’s a major concern for seniors who struggle with mobility, arthritis, or other conditions that make it harder to shop, cook, and clean up afterward.
How Seniors’ Nutritional Needs Change
Nutritional needs evolve with age. Seniors’ diets should include:
- More foods that are rich in fiber;
- More water to help stay hydrated, even when they’re not thirsty;
- Vitamin and mineral-rich foods help the brain, bone strength, and heart health.
Let’s take a look at better sources of nutrition that seniors can include in their diet.
Dark Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens are on the super-food level when it comes to senior nutrition. Vegetables like spinach, kale, and arugula come with high doses of Vitamin K, which is known to help prevent bone fragility as well as blood clots.
These fiber-rich vegetables are easy to include in your meals. Use them for salads, add them to a pasta sauce, or use them as toppings on pizza, sandwiches, and burgers.
Not all fats are bad, and aiming for a “no fat” diet can actually deprive you of nutrition. For example, certain vitamins require fat to dissolve into your bloodstream. But there’s a difference between good fats and bad fats.
Good fats come from sources like nuts, nut butters (like peanut or almond butter), avocadoes, and vegetable oils. Seafood like salmon, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, can also help reduce your risks of heart disease.
One of the reasons for the popularity of the Mediterranean Diet is that it provides a wealth of dishes and inspiration using a lot of foods that are great for you. It makes liberal use of fish, legumes, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, and unrefined cereals while reducing dairy and meat.
There are also certain foods that are great for the brain. Fruits and vegetables like berries, cherries, avocadoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage help memory and brain function. Iron-rich beans can also help with attention and memory.
Fatty fish is also great for the brain. This includes salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines. While the taste of pickled herring or sardines can be strong if you’re not used to it, look no further than some Scandinavian snacks and sandwiches for some great pairings that will class things up.
Nutrition is a pillar of good health, and it only becomes more important as you get older. Learn about seniors’ changing nutritional needs and find out how you can change what you eat for the better.