Find out how as you age, your nutrition needs change. Learn about the different vitamins and minerals you should be incorporating into your diet for a healthy later life.
As you age you need to change how you eat. It might seem simple, but actually a lot of people go into later life without realising their needs are different. You certainly need fewer calories for every ten years you age because you are likely to be less active, to have a lower muscle mass, and your metabolism isn’t working as hard as it used to.
If you live alone you may no longer make the same nutritious meals you made for your family but if you have live-in care to help you then the carer will ensure your diet remains healthy and ensure that you eat enough. This is why live-on care can be such a good alternative to a care home because in a care home carers don’t always have time to spend making sure each person eats adequately.
Whilst you consume less calories you also need to be taking in the right level of vitamins, minerals and general nutrients to maintain your health. Fruit, vegetables, fish, low fat sources of dairy and fibre all have to be consumed with other food types to create a balanced diet.
As you get older you have to take in the same amount of nutrients as you did before, but for less calories. In some people you might even need higher levels of some vitamins and minerals.
After you turn 50 you are less able to absorb vitamin B12 from your food. The same is true for vitamin D, which if depleted makes you less able to absorb calcium. Both calcium and vitamin D prevent you from losing bone mass. So you may need to consume more of both vitamins in your diet and if there isn’t enough you should be taking a supplement. In some instances you may need to get an injection which gets the right amount of vitamins into your body.
When you get older you don’t notice your thirst as much. Drinking enough water as an older person is important to maintain hydration.
How many calories any adult needs is dependent on lots of factors and your residential care worker or home carer will be able to provide you with your ideal calorie number. You are likely to need fewer calories than before as an older person, otherwise you could gain weight. Weight gain could lead to belly fat storage which is bad for the heart, as well as a variety of weight related issues like type 2 diabetes.
You are likely to lose muscle as you age which causes you to be more weak and to fracture easier if you fall. Eating more protein helps to keep your muscles strong. Consuming red meat which is high in protein is a really good idea, or seaking low fat high protein sources like legumes is beneficial.
Constipation is really common in later life and it can contribute to the risk of gut related diseases. Fibre helps to relieve constipation by moving food through the gut. YOu can get fibre from foods like fruit and vegetables, bran and legumes.
There are other vitamins and minerals you need more of as you age. If you need help with your nutritional needs, speak to your GP or nurse. You could also speak to your elderly care home carers, to your home help, or to friends and family who can help you seek advice. The right diet will help you thrive in later life, so it is important to get it right.