How Your Healthy Nutrition Plans Should Change as You Age

By Guest Blogger Mia Morales

The best time to build a healthy nutrition plan and the habits to go with it is as young as possible, but even those who have had a lifetime of healthy eating will have to adapt and change these plans as they age. Children, young adults, middle aged people and the elderly all have different nutritional needs and knowing how to adapt your food plans to meet those needs can help you stay healthier for longer. If you are someone whose appetite reduces as you get older, then knowing how to pack the most nutrition into the smallest portion sizes is even more important.


More Protein, Less Saturated Fat

Lean protein is one of the best things you can do for your nutrition plan because it provides your body with the
building blocks needed for maintaining muscle mass without adding unhealthy fats to impact your heart health. Many seniors who try to reduce their weight and the strain on their joints, will end up losing muscle mass and bone density alongside the fat, so a high protein and low fat shake every day can be the healthiest addition to your plan as you age. If the shake includes vitamin D, then it can have the bonus of helping you better use and retain calcium for bone health.


Essential Vitamins and Minerals

colorful plate

A colorful plate, one that has a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, is packed with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. When you add orange, red, green and purple fresh fruits and vegetables to your plate, you are adding vitamins C, A, B and D as well as minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium. These things can help boost your immune system and strengthen your bones, eyesight and brain function. If you are not sure that you are getting enough of any one nutrient, you can talk to your doctor or nutritionist to find the right supplements or food items for your needs.


Portion Sizes

The United States Department of Agriculture has a series of tools called MyPlate which can show you how the five food groups should look at each meal as well as a daily serving size for each type of food. These tools are broken down by age group and gender to help you plan the best diet for yourself and your loved ones as you age. If you buy packaged foods or eat out, check the nutrition facts for meals to determine what a suggested portion is and how each item meets the nutritional guidelines for a meal or snack. This can help you better control portion sizes and reduce your intake of things like salt, sugar and saturated fats which can negatively affect your health.


Hydration

Hydration is key

Drinking plenty of water and reducing dehydrating beverages such as alcohol and soda can boost your health at every age, but water is essential to maintaining the health of body systems such as skin, digestion and circulation as you age. It is recommended that you have six to eight cups of water a day, and that you have a water bottle handy while working out or running errands. Sports drinks, sodas and flavored waters can have added salt which can put you at risk for chronic health issues and make you retain water.


Specific Health Needs

Specific health needs, such as anemia or diabetes, will often call for personalized nutritional meal plans that are designed with help from your doctor or nutritionist. These professionals can help you identify specific meal ingredients and preparation techniques to increase your nutritional intake while keeping risk factors or trigger foods to a minimum. For example, someone who is intolerant of dairy, but needs to maintain bone health can leafy green vegetables and salmon, which are high in calcium and Vitamin D, as well as take a daily supplement to remain healthy while avoiding dairy products.

Your body changes as you age, and so do your nutritional needs. This means that your meal plans need to change to keep up. You can develop many healthy habits throughout your life to better adapt to these changes such as drinking plenty of water, reducing your intake of salt and saturated fats, and switching to lean protein sources. Your doctor or nutritionist can help you develop a plan for your specific health needs as well as point you towards useful tools, supplements and guides.

Mia is a devout fitness instructor, mother, and writer. She loves sharing her knowledge through blogging, teaching, and writing. 

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