“Healthy eating becomes more important as we age because seniors have very specific nutrition needs that must be met in order to age well,” says Lauren Kessler, Executive Administrator of Bartley Healthcare. “Eating the right foods will keep you healthy, active and independent for as long as possible. Plus, you’ll feel good, which makes it easier to do things like exercise, socialize and everything else that helps you stay engaged and fulfilled.”
Seniors who eat a healthy diet have an easier time of managing chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, which means fewer trips to the doctor, fewer medications and fewer side effects. They also often have better mental and emotional health, too. “A healthy, balanced diet is really the key for overall wellness,” Lauren says. “It fuels every aspect of your life and affects every single part of your body.”
In other words, you really are what you eat – in this case, healthy.
“Many people think of healthy eating and automatically assume diet, which is counterintuitive to maintaining the lifestyle you want,” Lauren says. “It’s not about sacrificing and limiting the things you can eat; rather, it’s understanding what foods benefit you and learning to enjoy the benefits that come from eating a fresh, healthy diet.”
How Eating Well Promotes Health
Live longer and stronger. Good nutrition helps you keep your weight in check, boosts immune systems, helps fight toxins in your body and reduces the risk of health issues like cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and others. Seniors who are eating a well-balanced diet chock full of nutrients are better able to stave off illness, have better bone density and muscle strength (which helps reduce falls and other injuries) and are generally more independent because they’re healthier than those who don’t eat a balanced diet.
Sharpen your mind. Cognitive health is directly linked to the foods we eat. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains and antioxidants may be able to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and diseases like dementia. Many seniors have reported informally that eating well helps their mind feel clearer overall.
Feel better. It’s sort of a catch-all benefit, but very true nonetheless. A healthy diet packed with the nutrients seniors need will give you more energy and help you look and feel better. Your mood will be boosted, as will your self-esteem. In other words, when you eat well, you feel good, which results in you being happier inside and out.
8 Tips for Healthy Senior Nutrition
Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but things like berries, melons and other color-rich fruits provide valuable antioxidants and a burst of fresh flavor. Leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli are a great way to round out your plate, and produce like squash, carrots and beets can add a surprising burst of sweetness. Try different ways of cooking vegetables to make them more interesting, like sauteed in garlic, drizzled with olive oil or sprinkled with goat cheese.
Choose calcium-rich foods. Bone health as you age depends on getting adequate calcium in your diet. Choose foods like milk, yogurt and cheese or non-dairy products like kale, almonds and broccoli to boost your calcium intake in a healthy, tasty way.
Go with good fats. “Fat” isn’t a dirty word. Rather, it’s an essential ingredient in helping keep your brain healthy, your skin supple and your body running smoothly. Focus on healthy fats, like ones found in avocados, salmon and nuts, and you’ll be protecting your body against disease and boosting your brain.
Broaden your protein offerings. High-quality protein helps fuel our bodies by nourishing muscles, boosting our immune system and keeping our brain functioning properly. However, processed meats like bacon, hot dogs and salami can actually be a poor choice, as they can increase your risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Look for different ways to add protein to your diet through non-meat options like eggs, fish, beans, nuts and seeds.
Fill up on fiber. Fiber doesn’t just help you stay regular – it also lowers your risk for a variety of health issues including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Our digestion slows down and becomes less efficient as we age, making adequate fiber an essential addition to your diet. Choose whole-grain breads, crunchy vegetables, whole fruits and seeds and nuts over fiber supplements, and you’ll get the one-two punch of fiber plus healthy nutrients.
Drink plenty of water. Most of us don’t drink enough water on a regular basis. As we age, our sense of thirst decreases, making it even easier to become dehydrated. Staying adequately hydrated helps you avoid urinary tract infections, improves skin tone, makes your muscles and joints work better and keeps you mentally sharp. Make sure you’re drinking at least eight cups of liquid per day. Fluids like soups, green tea and flavored water are all great options if plain water isn’t appetizing.
Shop and cook with others. Eating well is a lot easier – and a lot more fun – when you make it a social event. Find a friend to go grocery shopping with, and you’ll have someone to help bounce ideas off of (and someone who can help you take advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free sales at the grocery store). If you live alone, make sure that you’re also providing opportunities to cook with other people. It’s a fun way to spend time together and makes it a lot easier to come up with health and varied recipes.
Make mealtimes an event. Similarly to shopping and cooking, eating together is an enjoyable activity that has played such an important role throughout our lives. Studies have found that seniors who eat meals together have reduced stress, a better mood and better eating habits. It doesn’t have to be every night, but consider gathering friends or family at the dinner table on a regular basis. Companionship makes any meal taste better.
Exceptional Care. Experience You Trust.
As a family-owned, privately operated community, Bartley Healthcare has been a leader of health and eldercare services and maintained an excellent reputation for over 34 years.
At Bartley Healthcare, we strive to provide an exceptional care experience to all of our residents and families. Our commitment results in positive outcomes that enhance your life, no matter what services you need. From our patient and resident satisfaction surveys to our awards and accreditations, we have experience you can trust.
For more information or to schedule a tour, contact our team today at 732-372-4055.