Tina Glenn is the President and CEO of Hearthside Home Care Inc. with home care services as FirstLight Home of Guilford. She has over 40 years in healthcare and C-level executive experience of 28 years. She can be reached at 336-808-1351.
Smart food choices and proper hydration are important for healthy aging. Eating the right foods with the proper nutrients, while being mindful of the appropriate proportion sizes, is vital.
Appetite and thirst tend to diminish as we age. Therefore, older adults often eat and drink less than they need to stay healthy. As we age, our bodies can also become less tolerant of certain foods which can lead to eating less overall. Additionally, teeth and gums can change, making it difficult for many older adults to chew certain foods.
These changes make it even more important for older adults to focus on proper hydration and nutrition, including:
Drinking plenty of liquids
Being hydrated means that your body has enough fluids to function appropriately. Although pure water is the best option, hydration doesn’t have to come exclusively from water.
- Use water enhancers to add flavor to plain water
- Make a pitcher of water infused with lemon, cucumber or fresh berries
- Dilute fruit juices or sports drinks
- Popsicles and smoothies are great options for the summer months
- Soups and broths are good savory sources of liquids
- Try to limit coffee, tea, and beverages that contain a lot of added sugars
The amount of water each person needs can vary, so talk to your doctor to determine how much you should be drinking daily.
Older adults generally need fewer calories. However, their nutrient needs are just as high or higher than when they were younger. It’s why doctors and nutritionists recommend that aging adults plan meals that focus on nutrient-rich whole foods, and lots of vegetables.
Eating enough fruits and veggies
Include a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables at mealtimes. Most are low-calorie sources of nutrients and good sources of fiber. Many raw fruits and vegetables are also great for getting additional fluids, including cucumbers, bell peppers, tomato, watermelon, grapes, oranges and others.
Lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy are all part of a healthy meal. Remember to reach for foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium.
Spicing up meals
With age, our sense of smell and taste may change. Certain medications can also influence how foods taste. A healthy way to add flavor to meals is with herbs and spices.
Eating with others
Eating alone can be depressing and this can lead to poor nutrition. Make meals more social by inviting family, friends or neighbors to join you for lunch or dinner a couple of times a week.
Here’s to your Health!