Food fuels us and everything we do.
But, as we age, physiological, perceptual, psychological and social factors – think a slowing metabolism, diminished taste in food, depression or loss of social connections – may change the amount of fuel that we need or even want.
One constant: the need to choose foods wisely, whether you’re cooking at home, dining out or eating in the dining room of an active retirement community.
The Mayo Clinic and many other health authorities point out that malnutrition in seniors is a serious issue that can lead to serious health concerns, including a compromised immune system, muscle weakness and slow healing of wounds.
Here are just five foods that should make their way to your plate and your glass on a regular basis:
- Peanut butter: Nut butters are packed with protein – and, admittedly, calories. But unless you’re battling with weight, a few additional calories are OK. Spreading peanut butter on toast, apples or celery stalks adds much-needed nutrients to a meal, as well as flavor.
- Beans and peas: Add them to soups and salads, or swirl them into hummus-like dips, as another easy, tasty way to boost your protein intake – and thereby keep up your energy and maintain a buoyant mood.
- Whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables: Fiber is crucial to efficient digestion and a lowered risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. So choose whole grain bread over white, whole grain bran flakes over corn flakes, and fresh produce over anything in a can or jar.
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy: Milk, cheese and yogurt are some of your best friends when it comes to providing calcium and Vitamin D, both of which are crucial for maintaining a sturdy skeleton. Drink a glass of milk with breakfast, add a slice of cheese to lunch and dip into a cup of Greek yogurt for a midday snack.
- Water: Older adults may lose the ability to experience thirst in the same way they did when they were younger, so it’s vital that we remember to drink water throughout the day. Even mild dehydration can adversely begin affecting your digestion, and a lack of fluids can ultimately lead to mental fogginess and urinary tract infections.