Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and consuming the right diet is essential for everyone who wants to live a happy and healthy life. A healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet are especially crucial for seniors because of the related benefits, including strengthening both the mind and body while increasing resistance against illnesses.
It’s never too late to improve your lifestyle or eating habits. Making nutritional changes in your eating habits can boost your overall health in several ways that improve your functioning and allow you to feel better than ever. Now that the end of the year is approaching, it’s the perfect time to start planning out resolutions for how you can focus on improving your health for the new year.
The Benefits of Healthy Eating for Seniors
As you age, the importance of eating a healthy diet becomes more crucial because of the positive impacts it has on your health and well-being. There are several nutrients found in foods that can also help your loved one combat age-related challenges. Poor nutrition or malnourishment can weaken the elderly and leave them vulnerable to diseases. Eating a well-balanced diet full of nutrients has far more benefits than simply helping someone maintain a healthy weight. Eating the right foods can improve both your physical and mental health while even lowering risks for certain conditions and diseases. Here are some of the main benefits associated with a healthy diet and lifestyle:
1. Builds Strength in Bones and Muscle
Everyone knows that a healthy, balanced diet can help you maintain your physical health and weight. But the benefits go beyond that. Did you know eating certain foods high in calcium, vitamin D, protein, and magnesium can actually strengthen your bones and muscle? Getting these nutrients helps seniors improve their physical health and strengthen their mobility.
2. Improves Cognitive Function
Just like certain nutrients can promote physical strength, certain foods can improve cognitive function as well. It’s been found that foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids have the power to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by strengthening cognitive functioning. It’s also been evident that foods high in antioxidants can enhance memory and increase alertness.
3. Boosts Energy
Carbohydrates are commonly believed to be fattening and moderately unhealthy for you, which is not the case. Certain foods contain complex carbohydrates that can assist in generating more energy. Foods that contain potassium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins such as b6, b12, and more also have benefits that reduce fatigue and boost your energy levels. Since your energy levels tend to lower as you age, including these nutrients in your diet is essential if you’re looking to improve yours.
4. Protects Against Diseases
Along with living a healthier lifestyle, maintaining a healthy diet can reduce the risk of certain diseases. You can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, heart and liver disease, and even certain types of cancer all through the consumption of a balanced diet of nutrients and vitamins.
5. Improves Organ Function
Aside from fighting off diseases, your diet can help improve your organs’ abilities as well. Including foods that are rich in certain nutrients can enhance functioning in your eyes, kidney, liver, and more. For example, consuming more fiber will help improve the functioning in your digestive system and eating foods that are high in magnesium will boost the functioning of your immune system.
How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Seniors may go through various changes and encounter obstacles as they age that can make it more difficult to keep up with a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here’s how we suggest you start this journey:
- Research which nutrients your body needs. You may wish to consult with your doctor as you begin to figure out the types of food from which you will benefit the most.
- Make a plan for your diet around the nutrients you need to help set yourself up for success.
- Start small by making gradual changes to your lifestyle so you ease the transition.
- Make it fun by trying new foods and interesting recipes!
- Make it social and start eating healthy meals with family or friends to motivate yourselves to get healthy together. HelpGuide offers some great tips on how you can make every aspect of healthy eating fun with others.
- Drink water! Staying hydrated is just as important to your health as eating right.
- Balancing physical activity with your healthy diet can also help improve health and mobility, so don’t forget to exercise, too!
- Healthier foods tend to be more expensive. However, utilizing and planning a budget while following other smart food shopping tips allow healthy eating to be more affordable. Snap also offers a program to help seniors save money on food while still receiving the nutrition they need.
Healthy Food Choices for Seniors
A healthy and whole diet involves foods that are rich in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while limiting foods that are processed. As mentioned before, consuming different foods that are packed with the nutrients you need can cause major health benefits for seniors. Here are some great examples of nutrient-packed foods to keep in mind:
Whole Grain Foods
- Great source of fiber and energy from carbohydrates
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta
Fruits and Vegetables
- Great source of various vitamins and nutrients
- Different vegetables and beans (for fiber, magnesium, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins)
- Different fruits (for fiber, magnesium, carbohydrates, and other vitamins)
- Bananas, prunes, and potatoes (for potassium)
Meats and Other Foods High in Protein
- Great source of protein with benefits from other nutrients
- Lean meats and poultry
- Salmon and other fish
- Nuts and Seeds
- Great source of calcium
Note: There are also several dairy-free options for these products that can still contain calcium as a nutrient.
Ready to Start Eating Healthier?
Every individual needs to maintain a healthy diet to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Additionally, the need for a nourishing diet that contains nutrient-packed foods becomes more vital as you age.
For those who are elderly and planning on making the move soon to an assisted living home, it’s important to make sure that they’ll still be able to maintain a proper diet and receive the proper nutrients through food that was just as delicious as it was at home.
If you or your loved one are considering making the move to a retirement community or assisted living facility, make sure you pay attention to the dining services offered and the nutritious options available to the residents.
At Briarwood, we pride ourselves on our nutritious meals! Allow us to serve you dinner; request your tour to meet our staff, see our campus, and try our food.