As we get older, getting adequate nutrition can pose a challenge. The number of calories that one needs also begins to decline with age. So, it’s important that every calorie we consume is power packed with key nutrients in order to hit the mark.
As most of you might already know, there are seven key nutrients that the body requires on a daily basis: Protein, Vitamins, Fats, Carbohydrates, Minerals, Fiber and Water. Some of these key nutrients may be in short supply as we get older. Listed below are 5 nutrients and foods that contain them that can help your body receive the optimal amount of nutrition, especially as it ages:
Protein accounts for approximately 15% of the body mass which is likely to decline with age. The importance of dietary protein cannot be underestimated in the diet of older adults. Inadequate protein intake contributes to a decrease in muscle mass, increased skin fragility, decreased immune function, poorer healing, and longer recuperation from illness1. To increase your protein intake be sure to include protein rich foods like almonds, meat, fish, eggs, pulses etc. in your daily dietary intake. Be sure to add a handful of almonds to your dietary intake everyday as they contain a good amount of protein, a nutrient which is not only energy-yielding, but is also known to contribute to growth and maintenance of muscle mass2. Additionally, another benefit of consuming almonds every day is that they can help in reducing wrinkles. According to a recent pilot study by the University of California, Davis found that a daily snack of almonds in place of other nut-free snacks improved measures of wrinkle width and severity in postmenopausal women3.
According to a study, aging is associated with increased risk for low vitamin consumption. Lower food intake among the elderly contributes to lowered intake of the B vitamins, and vitamin E.4 Low nutrient density of the diet may increase the risk of diet-related illnesses4. 13 essential vitamins are needed for the body to function well. They are essential for good vision, healthy skin, healthy nerves, energy metabolism and so on. For instance, Vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining healthy nerve function as well as for creating DNA and red blood cells. Getting enough B12 might be challenging for older people as they can’t absorb it from food like the younger people. Incorporating foods that are rich in B12 might help: Eggs, milk, milk products and fish.
Fiber intake is important particularly in the elderly. Adding foods to the diet that are high in fiber content may help in promoting digestion.Fibre intake can be boosted by consuming whole foods such as almonds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Eating these foods not only increases fibre intake but may also prevent illnesses that come with aging such as diabetes and high lipids.
Although it isn’t an essential vitamin or mineral, it is crucial for overall good health. The amount of body water decreases by approximately 15% (about 6 L) between the ages of 20 and 806. With this decrease, the body becomes more susceptible to dehydration from the loss of a small amount of body water7. Once we get older, the sense of thirst might decline and taking certain medicines increases the risk of being dehydrated. Water helps in several ways: digesting the food consumed, absorbing nutrients from the food and getting rid of the unused waste. It is important to drink 5 to 7 large glasses of water every day. Other fluids like buttermilk, fresh lime juice, coconut water can be consumed, or moisture-rich foods such as cucumbers, ash gourd, tomatoes, leafy greens, melons, oranges, etc., can be included.
Though fats are associated with health problems, your body needs some amount of fat for optimal health. Healthy fat refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, because they help in reducing LDL cholesterol which clogs the arteries. Seniors must include almonds, fish, olives, sunflower seeds, each of which contain monounsaturated fats. Almonds in particular are a great choice – as not only will they add healthy fats to your diet, but they may also aid in managing your weight. As per a study published by The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was noted that participants who consumed 43 grams of dry, roasted, lightly salted almonds every day experienced reduced hunger and improved dietary vitamin E and monounsaturated (“good”) fat intake without increasing body weight.