If we truly are what we eat, then what we eat needs to change as we age.
Today, experts in the fields of fitness, nutrition and gerontology agree that as our bodies change with the passage of time, so too should our nutritional intake. Dietary changes are very important in countering the effects of aging and maintaining our health and fitness.
Why? One major reason is your metabolism. As your metabolism changes and slows with age, you need to work harder to burn calories. Many of us have noticed that the foods we used to be able to eat without gaining an ounce, now take their toll in added pounds.
Most experts agree that you need to change what you eat and how you eat in your 50s, 60s, and beyond. For example, Connie Bales, PhD, RD, Associate Director of the Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center at Durham VA Medical Center says, “You need fewer calories every decade. We move around less, we have less muscle and our metabolic rate goes down."
She adds that the challenge with eating less overall is to eat more nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, low-fat dairy products and lean cuts of meat. As you age, your body needs the same amount of protein, vitamins and minerals and, in some instances, even more nutrients.
The Ways Aging Affects Your Nutritional Needs
The article,“Meeting Your Nutritional Needs as You Age,” by Diana Rodriguez, offers some useful insight on how the aging process effects your body and its need for nutrition. The author states that age-related changes can affect how your body processes food, which influences your dietary needs and affects your appetite.These changes include:
- A slowing metabolism – When your metabolism slows, your body doesn't burn as many calories, which means you need to eat less to stay at a healthy weight. As a result, the foods you eat should be as nutrient-rich as possible.
- Changes to your digestive system – Your body produces less of the fluids that it needs to process food in your digestive system when you get older. These changes can make it harder for your body to absorb important nutrients like folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.
- Changes in appetite – Many older adults take one or more medications for health conditions. These can cause side effects such as a lack of appetite or stomach upset, which can lead to poor nutrition.
- Emotional health changes – Mature adultswho feel depressed or lonely often lose interest in eating. On the other hand, emotional issues may cause some people to eat more and gain unwanted pounds.
Tips for Healthy Eating as You Age
Recently, Colorado State University published a useful fact sheet “Nutrition and Aging.” The guiderecommends the following key steps to maintain your health as you age:
- Decrease your fat intake – Reducing the overall fat content in your diet may be the easiest way to cut calories and reduce weight. Lower fat intake is often also necessary because of chronic disease.
- Reduce your calories – A challenge for older adults is to meet the same nutrient needs as when they were younger, yet consume fewer calories. Choosing nutrient-dense foods – foods high in nutrients in relation to their calories – will help reduce calories.
- Balance carbohydrates and fiber – About 60 percent of calories should come from carbohydrates, with emphasis on complex carbohydrates. Such a regimen also enhances important dietary fiber intake for intestinal health.
- Drink plenty of water – Stay hydrated! Of all the nutrients, water is the most important, serving many essential functions. Staying properly hydrated is very important.
- Eat a variety of foods – People of all ages need more than 40 nutrients to stay healthy. With age, it becomes more important that diets contain enough calcium, fiber, iron, protein, and the vitamins A, B12, C, D and Folic acid. Older adults should reduce calories, select nutrient-dense foods and have smaller portions of foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium. Because no one food or pill provides all of the nutrients, it is important to eat a variety of foods to get the full spectrum of nutrients.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also provides useful information on dietary plans that can prevent serious illness, such as heart disease and stroke, and keep you in top form – physically and mentally.
Combining the Best in Taste and Nutrition to Keep You Healthy and Fit
Peggy Tabb, MS, RD, at Williamsburg Landing, says, “We fully endorse the importance of good nutrition and offer dining options that are both delicious and healthful. In addition to providing exceptional quality dining services, our chefs and staff also offer personalized service.”
“We customize menu items to accommodate individual dietary requirements or allergies and provide complete nutrition information. This includes gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan and other options that are sensitive to your special needs. Whether you choose a gourmet meal or a casual dining experience, you’ll find dining is a delight in every venue at Williamsburg Landing.”
Welcome to Williamsburg Landing
Looking for a vibrant, engaging and fulfilling way of life? If so, you’ll find it at Williamsburg Landing.
Nestled on 137 wooded acres along the serene banks of College Creek in Williamsburg, VA, Williamsburg Landing is the premier, not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) serving Williamsburg and it’s surrounding areas since 1985. With one visit, you’ll understand what makes Williamsburg Landing so special.
Williamsburg Landing is an ideal blend of beautiful landscaping and elegant, Colonial architecture. It invites residents to become part of its vibrant, active lifestyle and rest assured in its award-winning medical care. It eases worries with maintenance-free homes and apartments with resort-style amenities and services. The community thrives with energetic, involved and friendly people who love to live here and the warmth of dedicated, committed professionals who love to work here.
With a past rich in tradition and a future filled with promise, Williamsburg Landing is the perfect place to call home – for today and tomorrow.