Active Living - Healthy Eating - Health Benefits
When you think about your diet you probably think in terms of what you like to eat – a turkey sandwich and a glass of milk or a steak and a baked potato. What's important for your health though, are the nutrients contained in those foods. The nutrients in your diet are important for the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other conditions associated with aging.
Important Nutrients for Older Adults
Your body requires 6 classes of essential nutrients - proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. The word essential is used in this case meaning that you must get these substances from food because our body does not produce them. As we age we require different amounts of these essential nutrients to maintain our bone health, immune system and digestive system. Below are examples of essential nutrients, minerals or vitamins that older adults need to include in their diet.
- Helps reduce the production of cholesterol
- Reduces blood pressure
- Lower the risk of heart disease
- Two types of fiber – water soluble and insoluble
- Water soluble fiber important in lowering cholesterol levels and slow the rate of sugar absorption (important for diabetics)
- Examples of water soluble fibers: apples, pears, strawberries, vegetables, beans, brown rice, oat, and rice bran
- Insoluble Fibers promote regularity through keeping things moving through the digestive tract
Examples of insoluble fiber: wheat, corn bran, whole grain breads and cereals, vegetables, fruit skins and nuts
Recommendations: 7 servings of vegetables and fruit & 6-7 servings of grain products per day
In the later years of life protein is integral to the maintenance of body tissue and critical to the immune system. Goal is to pick foods high in protein and low in fat
Examples of proteins: meats, poulty, fish, eggs, milk cheese, peanuts
Recommendations: 2-3 servings of meat and alternatives & 2-4 servings of milk and milk products per day
Essential for building and maintaining strong bones Plays a role in prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), colon cancer, kidney stones
Examples of calcium sources: milk, yogurt, and cheese
Recommendations: 3 servings per day
Dehydration is a frequent cause of hospitalization in older adults. It is important to remember to drink lots of water.