A well-balanced diet promotes healthy aging.
As you age, you might notice changes in your appetite and cravings. Your body also absorbs nutrients differently. By making healthy food choices and incorporating these 6 important food categories in your diet, you can give your body the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to stay active and healthy regardless of age.
6 Types of Food to Eat for Healthy Aging
1. Lean Protein
You might not feel as hungry as you used to, and older adults usually need fewer calories. It’s a good idea to stay away from sugary or processed foods and choose healthy, whole foods. For example, lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds are nutrient dense. Protein gives you more energy and helps maintain muscle mass.
Our digestive systems slow down as we get older. Fiber-rich foods improve digestion and can even reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer. Foods high in fiber include bran, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, nuts, berries, and vegetables.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, flaxseed, and soybeans are all high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids keep us healthy as we age by reducing or preventing inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids can also slow macular degeneration and other vision problems. They’re even good for your brain! Fatty acids can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keep your brain healthy.
Calcium is an important part of good nutrition. Bones naturally become more fragile with age, which is why older adults need extra calcium. This mineral can strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Incorporate more calcium-rich foods into your daily diet by eating yogurt, cheese, milk, and dark, leafy green vegetables.
Have you been feeling tired, weak, lightheaded, or low on energy? You may not be eating enough iron (these can also be symptoms of other health issues, so ask your doctor first). Iron helps the blood carry more oxygen throughout your body and improve your energy levels. Foods that are high in iron include lean meats, beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals.
6. Vitamins and Minerals
As we get older, our bodies have a harder time absorbing vitamins and minerals. Make sure you’re eating plenty of foods with these nutrients:
- Vitamin B12 helps your body produce red blood cells and keeps your nerves healthy. As we get older, our stomachs don’t absorb this vitamin as well, so eat lean meat and dairy products to increase your vitamin B12 intake.
- Vitamin C supports collagen production, giving your skin more elasticity and fewer wrinkles. Foods high in vitamin C include apples, oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin D can prevent calcium loss in your bones and maintain bone density, which is especially important as we age. Food sources of vitamin D include fish and fortified cereals and milk. Your doctor may recommend getting additional vitamin D from supplements or limited exposure to sunlight.
- Potassium can lower blood pressure and promote heart health. Foods high in potassium include bananas, prunes, dried apricots, and potatoes.
- Magnesium is another important mineral that strengthens the immune system. Older adults have a hard time absorbing magnesium, so eat more magnesium-rich foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
Are You Getting the Right Nutrients?
By adding these foods to your meals, you can enjoy the health benefits of a well-balanced diet. And if you think you’re not getting enough nutrients from food, talk to your doctor about adding nutritional supplements to your daily diet.
Clover Health offers an over-the-counter allowance to all our members. While it’s usually best to get nutrients directly from the source, you can use this benefit to keep your medicine cabinet stocked with nutritional supplements that can help you stay healthy at every age.
Did you know that if you're a Clover Health member you can get rewarded for completing health-related tasks with our LiveHealthy Rewards program? Learn more here.
Published on 5/4/21
Photo credit: iStock