Healthy Aging

Created by: Kristen Carli, Dietetic Intern

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

As you age, it may become increasingly more difficult to eat like you used to. Because of a lack of appetite and/or a loss of taste, you may be discouraged from eating at least three meals per day. However, it is important to eat wholesome foods regularly.

Aim to eat fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains each day. Seek out plant-based sources of protein every now and then. Increase your calories by blending up protein-packed smoothies with fruit, yogurt, and juice.

Important Nutrients

As you age, your needs for calcium and vitamin D increase. These two nutrients are crucial in the maintenance of healthy bones. Calcium can be found in dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, but it can also be found in leafy vegetables, canned fish, fortified fruit juices, and fortified non-dairy milks. Seek out three sources of calcium each day. Vitamin D is often also found in dairy, fortified fruit juice and fortified non-dairy milks. 

It is common to have high blood pressure as we age. In order to lower your risk for high blood pressure, decrease your consumption of sodium. Avoid cured meats, high sodium soups, canned vegetables with added sodium, and pizza. Limit your use of a salt shaker. Replace the savory flavor in meals by using herbs and spices. Additionally, seek out sources of potassium such as bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach and white beans. Eating high potassium-foods can help decrease your risk for high blood pressure. 

Your protein needs increase as you age, even though your caloric needs slightly decrease. Aim to consume protein with each meal. Seek out lean sources of protein such as lean cuts of beef, dairy, chicken without the skin, or plant-based sources of protein like beans, nuts, lentils, or tofu. 

While fat often gets a bad reputation, fat is crucial for a lot of processes within your body. Be sure to consume healthy fats from foods like avocado, nuts, olive oil, etc. Limit your saturated fat (found in meat and full-fat dairy) intake to less than 10% of total calories. 

Fiber is also very important. Increasing your intake of dietary fiber has been shown to decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Eating fiber can lower your cholesterol levels. Additionally, fiber is great for your digestive health, keeping bowel functions normal and providing good bacteria for your gut. Fiber can be found in plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, etc. By eating a lot of these foods, you not only reap the benefits of the fiber, but you also reap the benefits of all the vitamins and minerals packed in these foods.

Physical Activity

Lastly, it’s important to stay active. Aim to exercise thirty minutes most days of the week. Go for a walk with a friend, take a dance class, or try out yoga. Pursue activities that are fun for you! This can help increase your metabolism, build strength, maintain bone health, and increase your energy levels. 

Material adapted from eatright.org

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