Healthy Diet For Seniors – Why Is It Important And How To Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
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It is important for seniors and the elderly to eat a healthy diet because it improves their overall wellbeing, increases mental alertness, and boots immunity. Learn more about the importance of a healthy diet for older adults.

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This article was checked for nutritional accuracy by: Kathryn Bubeck, Registered Dietician

Many seniors have a hard time eating healthy foods for various reasons. However, healthy eating habits are important at every stage of our lives. Here is what you need to know about healthy eating for the elderly and why it is important.

This article is part of my “Importance of Elders” series that features 50+ articles on keeping seniors and the elderly happy and healthy so that we can have them in our lives longer. See the entire series here.

What Makes It Hard For Older Adults To Eat Healthily?

• Seniors living alone have a hard time getting around. Therefore, they have a hard time standing around preparing food.
• Your elderly loved ones might have health issues making it harder to prepare food and feed themselves properly.
• If they are under medication, some side effects might include changing the taste of food, making the mouth dry or taking away appetite altogether.
• Loss of income makes it harder to buy a lot of food.
• As we grow older, we might lose our sense of smell and taste so it’s harder to enjoy food.
• Senior citizens also don’t have teeth. Therefore, it’s harder to chew and swallow food.

Why Is it Important For The Elderly To Practice Healthy Eating?

As mentioned, healthy eating can be quite problematic for a lot of senior citizens. Here are some of the benefits of healthy eating and why your elderly loved ones should do it every day.

1. Improve Their Overall Wellbeing

A healthy diet ensures that your senior loved one has more energy. They will also look and feel better. Healthy eating boosts their mood and overall self-esteem. If their bodies feel good, they will feel happier both inside and outside.

2. Sharp Minds

Senior citizens who eat healthy foods every day can improve their focus and reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For your senior loved ones who are already experiencing memory decline, healthy eating allows them to reduce the symptoms of dementia as they remain sharp throughout their old age. Preparing healthy meals allows the older adults to be mentally alert at all times.

3. Live Longer And Stronger

Good nutrition boosts immunity and makes it easier to fight toxins even in old age. By eating healthy, your loved ones can keep their weight in check and avoid getting serious illnesses in their old age. A healthy diet also reduces high blood pressure and other serious symptoms. By adding some type of physical activity, your loved ones will continue being independent for longer.

What Is The Right Type Of Healthy Diet For Seniors?

Here are some tips to help seniors improve the quality of their diet:

1. Fruits And Vegetables

Senior citizens should have plenty of fruits and vegetables in their diet. At least 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables make it easier. Dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale should also be included in the diet for the best results.

2. Foods Rich In Calcium

It’s important to maintain bone health as you age. Therefore, foods rich in calcium are very important to prevent bone-related diseases such as bone fractures and osteoporosis. Some of the best foods that are rich in calcium include cheese, yogurt, milk and almonds. Adding this to a senior citizen’s diet will be very advantageous in the long run.

3. Good Fat Or Avoid Fat Altogether

Instead of cutting fat out completely from a senior citizen’s diet, you should encourage healthy fats. Make sure your elderly loved one takes foods rich in omega-3s to protect the body against disease. These foods also improve brain function and mood.

4. Change Your Sources Of Protein

Senior citizens need a good source of protein in their diet because as they age, these foods will improve their mood and boost their resistance to stress, depression and anxiety. They will also improve overall mental clarity. Note that, eating too much protein from processed meat products can increase the risk of heart disease. Rather than relying on red meat as a source of protein, other options include fish, peas, beans, nuts and eggs.

5. Eat More Fiber

For older adults, eating more fiber makes them more regular. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It also improves the overall health of your skin and allows you to lose weight.

Final Thoughts

It might be tough for older adults to prepare healthy food for themselves. It’s prudent to help them prepare healthy food and encourage them to eat healthy during their old age. Even better, you can sign them up for a program that delivers healthy foods.

About the Expert

Because I strive to provide you with accurate information, I had this article fact-checked by Kathryn Bubeck, RD, LDN a registered dietician in North Carolina. She has dual bachelor degrees in Nutrition and Health Behavior Management and is currently pursuing a medical degree with a focus on oncology.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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