3 Diet Tips For Healthy Senior Citizens
People of all ages struggle with resistance to healthy eating, and those battles only get worse as we get older. Think about all the reasons we “cheat” on our diets: healthy food is expensive, we don’t have time to prepare healthy dishes, we get hungry soon after eating, and it’s not bacon. It gets even harder as we age, with lifelong habits and accumulated knowledge challenged by new ingredients and prep procedures. Medication and medical conditions can also make dietary changes necessary, all at an age when a person may not be as physically able to keep track of food/medicine interactions.
This is one reason long term care for the elderly is popular – you have people on the payroll who keep track of all of those things. However, many of us are approaching our senior years, or have relatives who are, and need some pointers for creating a healthier diet. Here are three diet tips for healthy senior citizens.
Increase Fluid Intake
Most people simply do not drink enough water. This is one of the biggest causes of obesity, digestive disorders, systemic inflammation, headaches, and low blood pressure. It is suggested that adults receive 1700 ml each day of fluids. This can be water, tea, or coffee (if it is decaffeinated), juice, or other liquids.
In developed countries, where the majority of people have never experienced true hunger, dehydration is often interpreted as hunger. This triggers appetite, and the person eats when he or she doesn’t need to – all that is needed is a drink of water.
Headaches are also caused by dehydration, as are digestive problems. Without enough water, the body cannot digest food and get necessary nutrients. In addition, the body will be unable to eliminate waste properly, causing constipation and contributing to IBS, diverticulitis, and other intestinal problems.
Not only can the intestines function poorly because of dehydration, the brain can suffer, as well. According to Healthy Eating:
“Loss of 2 percent of body weight or more from dehydration can cause short-term or long-term memory impairment, poor attention span and decreased problem-solving ability … ”
There are two big drawbacks to increasing fluid intake. The first problem is that many people do not like the taste – or lack of taste – of water. This is one of the biggest reasons people drink bottled water. To make water more palatable, add a slice of lemon or lime, or a sprig of mint. Infusion pitchers are also good, because they will infuse the water with the flavors of fruits. If your water is chlorinated, get a water filter pitcher to improve its taste.
The other big problem with drinking a lot of water is the increased need for urination. However, the extra care and time that is involved with frequent bathroom trips is a small price to pay for healthier mind, organs, and body functions.
Keep a drink within reach during the day, to encourage rehydration. Also, frequent reminders and adding a glass of water to your regular routine, such as brushing your teeth or taking meds, can help to battle dehydration.
That’s right – fiber. It is the bane of old age. There are powders on the market that you can mix into water, but it still tastes like you are drinking dirt. Help Guide.org suggest that you can add 6 grams of fiber a day to your diet just by eating bran cereal instead of corn flakes. Sweeten your cereal with fresh sliced fruit, and you save calories and add even more fiber.
“Juicing” is popular in many circles, because you can get a lot of fresh vitamins and minerals from fresh vegetables and fruits. However, keep in mind that juice does not have fiber in it. Eating the fruit will add fiber to your diet.
Substitute Good Carbs for Bad Carbs
Carbohydrates are the part of our diet that gives us quick energy. However, there are good carbs and bad carbs. The bad carbohydrates are so quickly digested that they can cause spikes in blood sugar. Sure, you get a burst of energy, but then you crash soon afterward. This can effectively “wear out” your body’s ability to produce and process insulin.
Good carbs, however, can supply quick energy that will last for several hours, without causing your blood sugar to spike.
To level out your blood sugar and feel better throughout the day, eat more complex carbohydrates. That means your sandwich is made of whole wheat bread rather than white bread. Apples, oranges, and carrots will help stabilize your blood sugar, as will cashews and peanuts. Beans are another good source of complex carbs. For snacks, consider some of these foods to take care of the munchies.
Adding water, fiber, and healthy snacks are three great ways to help a senior citizen to stay healthy. These changes don’t take a lot of planning, nor do they require a big change in preparation habits..