Nutrition is an important element of health, whatever age you might be. Still, it becomes even more essential as we get older because maintaining a healthy diet can help us cope with ongoing illnesses and other health problems.
Understanding what constitutes good nutrition and being careful with what you eat also helps you maintain or improve your health. Good nutrition gives you energy, can help control your weight, and may also help prevent some diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and even certain cancers.
Unfortunately, as you age, your body and life change. As a result, what you need to stay healthy also changes as well. You might need fewer calories, for example, or more protein. What a young person may need to stay healthy may be completely different to what an elderly person may need.
What Is Good Nutrition?
Humans are like finely tuned engines, and to keep our bodies working, we need fuel. We get this fuel into our bodies through the food we eat and the nutrients those foods contain.
The nutrients we need include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and we need to replace these nutrients every day. Another vital element of good nutrition is water.
What Does A Well-Balanced Diet Involve?
A well-balanced diet contains plenty of natural foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein. You should eat a good variety of these foods, with the protein coming from poultry and lean meat, while dairy products should be low fat.
A well-balanced diet also means there are certain foods you should try to avoid, such as overly processed foods and food with high levels of salt. You should also closely monitor your fat and cholesterol intake if you want to have a well-balanced diet that has good nutrition.
Micronutrients also have an important role to play in a well-balanced diet. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals and are essential in small amounts.
What Are The Dietary Needs Of The Elderly?
As our bodies get older, they have different needs, and certain nutrients become especially important for maintaining good health.
Seniors need to include the following in their diets:
Calcium and Vitamin D: Adults over the age of 70 need more calcium and vitamin D because they help maintain bone health. Choose calcium-rich foods and beverages and aim to eat three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products every day. You can also get calcium from foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals and fruit juices, canned fish with soft bones, and fortified plant-based drinks. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, eggs, and fortified foods and drinks.
Vitamin B12: As you get older, your ability to absorb Vitamin B12 can diminish, which means you may need to include Vitamin B12 rich foods in your diet. Seafood, lean meat, fish, and fortified cereals are good sources of Vitamin B12.
Dietary Fibre: Including fibre-rich foods in your diet will help you stay healthy. Dietary fibre may also help lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Foods such as whole-grain bread, cereals, lentils, beans, peas, whole vegetables, and fruit can provide dietary fibre.
Potassium: Having enough potassium in your diet may lower the risk of high blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include beans, vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats: These are mainly found in vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, avocados, and fish.
Good Hydration For The Elderly
Our bodies are almost 60% water, and water plays a role in many of our vital bodily processes. Therefore, it’s important to hydrate regularly and drink around two litres of water a day.
Good hydration is essential for body functions such as our brain and heart. It also helps to reduce the risk of various illnesses such as UTIs.
How to Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is the most obvious way to stay hydrated, and the recommendation is that an adult drinks six to eight glasses of water every day. But you don’t have to drink just water. Other drinks such as milk, juice, or tea also rehydrate the body.
It’s important to encourage the elderly to keep drinking and for them to follow our care home’s nutritional guidelines. Dehydration can make existing conditions worse or cause new ones.
Why Do Elderly Residents Sometimes Find It Difficult To Eat?
There are several reasons why older people find it harder to eat. Of course, it could simply be that they’ve lost interest in cooking and eating, but that’s not the only reason.
Health problems: Difficulty chewing or digestive problems can make eating difficult. Try softer foods such as eggs, canned fruit, or cooked vegetables.
Loss of smell or taste: Losing your sense of smell or taste can make eating very dull and uninteresting. Adding different spices and herbs might help.
Living alone: Shopping, cooking, and eating when you live alone can be difficult. Inviting people around and eating together can help.
The Importance Of Nutrition In Our Care Home
Here at Jackman’s Lodge, we understand the importance of nutrition in elderly residents. We provide an excellent range of home-cooked and fine dining meals for our residents in our bistro and restaurant-style dining room.
All our meals are expertly prepared by our in-house chef, and we only use fresh, locally sourced ingredients from the best suppliers in the area.
As well as the three main meals we provide every day, there is also a range of tasty drinks, light meals, and snacks available throughout the day and evening. We also held regular group cooking sessions and all our residents are welcome to take part.
If you’d like to learn more about nutrition at Jackman’s Lodge, please get in touch with our friendly team today on 01483 694339.