March is National Nutrition Month!
As we grow older, our body changes the ways it uses the food we eat. We’re more likely to be less active as we age, which means we don’t need as many calories to stay at a healthy weight—but our nutrient needs remain the same. On the other hand, older adults who are underweight face the challenge of being sure to take in enough calories and nutrients.
So what can you do to ensure that you’re giving your body what it needs?
Make sure your diet is well-balanced.
A nutritious diet provides enough vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fat—but not too much fat! Include a good balance of foods from all the food groups. The best way to get the nutrients you need is to eat a variety of foods every day.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight can cause health problems or even make them worse.
- High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer are linked to obesity.
- Excess weight puts a strain on the bones and joints, aggravating arthritis and osteoporosis.
- As we gain weight, we tend to get even less exercise and we become more sedentary.
However, again, being underweight also threatens health. Your LifeSource Home Health Aide can help you follow a diet to maintain a healthy weight.
Limit fat and cholesterol.
Our bodies need fat—and yes, even cholesterol—to stay healthy. But the average American diet provides too much. Keep an eye on how much meat, dairy products, fast foods, gooey desserts, and other high-fat and high-cholesterol foods you eat. High-fat/high-cholesterol diets are linked with a greater chance of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and other disorders.
Watch your sodium.
We need some sodium (salt) in our diets, but the salt that naturally occurs in food is enough. Most Americans consume way too much salt, leading to high blood pressure, kidney disease, or heart conditions.
The importance of calcium.
Getting enough calcium can be a challenge, but it’s necessary for good nerve function and for preventing osteoporosis (a condition in which the bones become weaker and fracture easily). Dairy products are a good source of calcium, but older adults may have trouble digesting milk and milk products. Add in other foods, such as broccoli and kale, which contain calcium. Your doctor may also suggest a calcium supplement.
Don’t forget fiber.
Dietary fiber helps your gut stay healthy and keeps waste moving. It also makes you feel fuller faster, so you tend to take in fewer calories. Fiber is found in many plant products—so choose whole grain bread and cereals, and eat plenty of leafy vegetables and fruits.
Vitamin and mineral supplements.
Your doctor may recommend supplements or vitamins, but don’t overdo it! You can take a harmful overdose of some vitamins, and older adults process toxic substances less efficiently. Talk to your doctor about your nutritional needs. Your LifeSource Home Health aide can you take these products as your doctor prescribes.
Some diseases or conditions require a special diet, such as…
- specially prepared for chewing or swallowing difficulties
Talk with your doctor if you’re unsure about your specific needs.
Go to a trustworthy source.
It is important to follow the diet prescribed by your healthcare provider! While the internet is good for many things, your diet is not one of them. It’s always best to consult your doctor or your LifeSource Home Health Aide.
Questions? Concerns? Give us a call (225-293-7773) or contact us online!