by: Melanie Farley

A nutritious, well-balanced diet is essential for healthy aging and happiness. As our bodies change with age our dietary choices should change as well to help ease the physical shifts that naturally occur with time. So, a healthy diet for seniors will look a little different than a healthy diet for someone in their 20s.  

Read on to learn more about senior nutrition, including a few tips for healthy eating in the spring!

Seniors Need More Protein

Studies have shown that we lose 30-50% of our muscle mass between the ages of 40-80 years old. Protein is an essential nutrient for many bodily functions, but it is particularly important for building and maintaining muscle mass. The more muscle mass we can maintain, the better we feel overall, and the less prone we are to falls and injuries.

  • So how much protein do you need?
    The average recommended daily amount of protein is .36 grams per pound of body weight, but since seniors’ bodies cannot process protein as efficiently, they need even more than that. Older adults should strive for .45 – .55 grams of protein per pound of body weight—about 68-83 grams per day for a 150-pound person.
  • What are some healthy protein sources?
    Lean meats like chicken, turkey, or fish are great options. Lean cuts of beef or pork are also acceptable choices. Plant-based foods like tofu, edamame, and lentils are also fantastic because they offer a lot of protein, and they are very low in fat.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Are Essential

Fruits and vegetables are the core of any health diet, helping to reduce chronic disease, lower blood pressure, boost immunity, and more. Spring is the perfect time to increase your fruit and vegetable intake because there are so many fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Some fruits and vegetables have even been shown to improve memory, especially important for seniors who struggle with memory issues. Here are a few fruits and veggies that support healthy aging:

  • Dark leafy greans
  • Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)
  • Blueberries
  • Avocado

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is essential for healthy aging because water supports all our bodily functions. It lubricates our joints, and it helps pump blood to our heart. We’ve all heard the mantra to drink 8 glasses of water a day to maintain health, but seniors need even more than that. Studies show that people over the age of 51 need 9-13 glasses of water per day.

So make water a part of your senior’s daily routine! If plain water gets a little boring, spice it up with a lemon slice or maybe some fresh mint or blueberries.

A Final Word…

A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for healthy aging. Also, as we age our dietary choices should also shift to include more protein, water, and a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not sure if your diet is balanced enough? Check out My Plate.gov where you can see how much of each food group you need and learn more about creating balanced meals.

Would your senior loved one benefit from expert adult day care in a warm, welcoming environment? The healthcare professionals at Northeast Adult Day Care can provide skilled care, monitoring, and social interaction for your loved one! Reach out to learn more, [email protected].

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