Healthy Eating As We Age
As we age, healthy eating can make a difference in our health, help to improve how we feel, and encourage a sense of well-being. Eating healthy has benefits that can help older adults:
- Obtain nutrients needed by the body such as potassium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, minerals, and fiber.
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.If you have a chronic disease, eating well can help to manage the disease.
- Meet individual calorie and nutrition needs.
- Help to maintain energy levels.
Special Nutrition Concerns for Older Adults
Our daily eating habits change as our bodies get older. Make small adjustments to help you enjoy the foods and beverages you eat and drink.
- Add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt and look for low-sodium packaged foods.
- Add sliced fruits and vegetable to your meals and snacks. Look for pre-sliced fruits and vegetables on sale if slicing and chopping is a challenge.
- Ask your doctor to suggest other options if the medications you take affect your appetite or change your desire to eat.
- Drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day. If you cannot tolerate milk try small amounts of yogurt, butter milk, hard cheese or lactose-free foods. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
- Consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.
Be Active Your Way
Focus on maintaining a healthy body weight. Being physically active can help you stay strong and independent as you grow older. If you are overweight or obese, weight loss can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of disease and disability.
- Adults at any age need at least 2 ½ hours or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Being active at least 3 days a week is a good goal.
- Find an activity that is appropriate for your fitness level. If you are not active, start by walking or riding a stationary bike. Strive for at least 10 minutes of exercise at a time and be as active as possible.
- Include activities that improve balance and reduce your risk of falling such as lifting small weights. Add strength building activities at least 2 times per week.
- Being active will make it easier to enjoy other activities such as shopping, playing a sport, or gardening.
- If you are not sure about your level of fitness, check with your doctor before starting an intense exercise program or vigorous physical activity.
Resources for Older Adults
- Choosing Healthy Meals as You Get Older
- Healthy Eating After 50
- Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging
- What's On Your Plate? Smart Food Choices for Healthy Aging
- MyPlate for Older Adults
- How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need?
- Benefits of Exercise