The needs of our bodies change as we age. It is a natural phenomenon that physical science has no power to alter—every part of our body changes. Muscles become weaker. Bodily functions slowly break down. It may sound depressing, but it is what it is.
The way the body deteriorates as we age may be inevitable. So why take steps to prevent it when it’s the natural course? Why make an effort to establish healthy eating habits for your seniors? And, just for argument’s sake, what are those healthy eating habits that significantly benefit seniors?
Why Establish Healthy Eating Habits for Seniors?
Although seniors’ bodies will inevitably grow weaker, it is still an excellent practice to maintain the best health we can have. No one likes to spend their days being miserably inadequate, ridden with diseases, and not being able to enjoy life physically, mentally, and socially.
As much as possible, you want to be able to live life to the fullest, full of vitality and bursting with energy. And you want the same for all of your loved ones. Aside from this, you want your senior parents and friends to enjoy their lives when all they have on their hands is time. You want them to be healthy so they can still enjoy spending time with friends and family.
Why the Body Deteriorates
There is no truly established reason why the body deteriorates as we age. The root cause of the matter is not yet indeed known. Experts know that the body does not retain its ability to absorb certain nutrients, minerals, or elements essential in maintaining muscle function and bone strength. But why the body loses its ability to absorb the said natural elements is yet unknown.
The loss of muscle function among older adults is medically known as sarcopenia It is known to start at around 40 years old and accelerate at about 70. Although it is commonly associated with older people, the conditions that foster its development are not exclusive to seniors.
The same is true regarding the human immune system. As we age, it is negatively affected. Why is it negatively affected? Scientists have not yet solved that mystery. Kira Rubtsova, Ph.D., an immunity researcher at the National Jewish Health in Denver, has this to say about the matter: “The medical community is still trying to determine exactly how and why immunity decreases with age.”
A weak immune system means being prone to diseases and viruses. But don’t worry, according to Aaron Glatt, MD, chairman of the department of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospitals, most people’s immune systems do well even at old age compared to other bodily functions.
When your immune system is weak and compromised you are prone to diseases and viruses. But with that fact in mind, seniors are still more likely to get sick. They also do not respond to vaccines as well as younger people do. Recovery from injuries, infections, and illnesses may also be slower because it produces fewer immune cells like white blood cells, Rubtsova says.
Although the body’s deterioration is ultimately inevitable, specific actions and habits can help make life at an old age comfortable. The two classic factors of good health at any age is diet and exercise. Today, we will only focus on the diet.
Dietary Needs of Seniors
By looking at the areas where seniors grow weaker, we can deduce their nutritional needs. From there, we can determine the types of foods they need.
Calcium and Vitamin D
One of the most prominent areas where seniors grow weaker is bone strength. Osteoporosis is common among senior women, and one of its primary causes is a lifelong lack of calcium. Osteoporosis makes the bones thinner and weaker. The bones will become more susceptible to pain, fractures, and eventually can cause disability.
To prevent osteoporosis, the intake of calcium is critical. You can get calcium from dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter. Canned fish with soft bones such as sardines are also excellent sources of calcium. Bread and anything made with fortified flour and green leafy veggies like okra, spinach, and kale are robust options, too.
The human body can’t effectively absorb calcium without vitamin D. So the intake of vitamin D is as essential for bone health as calcium intake. Excellent vitamin D sources include oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, or mackerel – red meat, egg yolks, and fortified foods like breakfast cereals and fat spreads.
As we grow older, our bodies get worse at absorbing vitamin B12, which helps make red blood cells and maintain the function of our nerve cells, among other things. According to Harvard, as much as 20% of people over the age of 50 suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include weakness and fatigue, blurred vision, changes in thinking and memory, and many more. The body can’t produce vitamin B12, so it has to be taken from food or supplements.
If your senior parents suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s best to ask their doctor for a vitamin B12 prescription. Aside from supplements, eating meat goes a long way. Plants can’t produce vitamin B12, so a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet may cause more problems in the long run. If you or your elderly parents adhere to such diets, try to include vitamin B12 fortified grains in meals.
Dietary fiber benefits everyone, no matter what age group they belong to. But for seniors who are at risk of Potassium is an electrolyte that does a lot of things for the body. It regulates the movement of both nutrients and waste. It helps maintain a healthy heart rhythm, balances pH levels, and energy levels, and protects normal brain function. It also plays a role in keeping cells, tissues, and organs healthy.
As the kidneys decline due to old age, potassium absorption also decreases. To better help the body get its required potassium input, specific foods should be part of a regular diet. Many foods contain potassium. A particular example is animal products that contain healthy amounts of potassium. But fruits and vegetables have higher concentrations of potassium per serving.
Home Medical Assistance Professionals Can Help
With all of the aspects of life we have to keep track of, it can be hard to manage everything without help. For something as essential and constant as our seniors’ dietary needs, professional care for the elderly in their own homes is a worthy choice.
Affordable home care for seniors can help you prepare healthy meals for your senior loved ones. This kind of assistance can relieve you of the burden of thinking about your elderly parents’ dietary needs.
Looking for the best home care provider in Orange County, California? Infinite Love Homecare provides in-home care services at compassionate prices. Reach us via our Contact Us page or call us at (949) 529-4130.