Eating healthy is an important part of being healthy. For seniors, it is all the more important. With age their immunity becomes weaker and thus they become vulnerable to all kinds of diseases from the common cold to pneumonia. Healthy eating, apart from building resistance to diseases, can also improve mental alertness, increase energy levels and give a general sense of well-being.
It is worth noting that the biggest meals should be earlier in the day as it gives the energy required to get through the day. The lightest meal could be at the end of the day before turning in. An all-rounded diet at regular intervals is essential for normal functioning of the body.
Constipation is a common problem for the ageing due to reduced intestinal contractions and lack of exercise. Apart from combating constipation, consumption of the right amount of fibre has numerous benefits like- reducing blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol etc.
Good sources of fibre are whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Eating healthy fats such as those found in avocados, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil, fish helps in building resistance and improves mood.
Food containing carbohydrates has fibre, sugar and starch which are important in the over-all functioning of the body. Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits and beans which are rich in fibre help one feel fuller for a longer time which in turn reduces calorie consumption.
Sufficient intake of proteins improves mood, boosts resistance and helps clarity of thought. Healthy sources of proteins are eggs, fish, beans, nuts, peas, milk, seeds etc. Industrially processed meat products and red meat may pose a threat to health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Certain vitamins such as B12, B6, vitamins D and C and minerals which are essential to the body are not easily absorbed by an ageing body. Calcium deficiency is common among ageing women which may lead to crippling diseases if not nipped in the bud. In such cases supplements could be considered.
For seniors, their sense of thirst is reduced, but this does not mean they need lesser water. Drinking adequate amounts (about 8-10 glasses) of water on a regular basis helps avoid UTI and constipation. It keeps the mucous membranes moist which lowers the risk of common cold and flu.
With seniors, healthy eating coupled with moderate exercise and good sleep are three important ingredients for a healthy life outside the hospital.