Nutrient Needs of Older Adults
Eating healthy and staying fit are important regardless of age. As people age, our bodies have different needs. Appetites often decrease, sense of taste and smell may change, and it may become harder to chew or digest food. Even with these changes, the body still requires nutrients. Small dietary modifications can often help aging loved ones enjoy meals and overcome eating challenges.
- Increase complex carbohydrates to provide fiber and bulk-whole grains. They take longer to digest and allow slower absorption of sugars, which helps to provide a steady supply of energy. Complex carbohydrates are found in grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables. Bread, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, dry beans and carrots are all good examples.
- Limit simple carbohydrates. Examples include cake, chocolate, candy, honey and food with added table sugar. These are high in calories but provide minimal nutritional benefit.
- Offer calorie-dense foods to achieve higher caloric intake with smaller portions. Butter, mayonnaise, half and half and sour cream can be added to recipes to increase calories.
- Protein-rich ingredients can also be incorporated. Powdered milk, cheese, eggs and peanut butter are all good sources of protein and can easily be mixed into recipes.
- Increase potassium-rich foods and reduce sodium to lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium.