As you age, your diet becomes more than just a matter of weight loss or following a trend — it becomes a matter of health. According to numerous studies, including those by the CDC, state that a healthy diet (especially among older adults) can minimize health risks including dementia, heart disease, and diabetes.
With that in mind, it’s important for older adults to be more mindful of what they eat and how they eat. But since your body does become more sensitive with age, there are some important diet considerations that shouldn’t be overlooked:
1. Consider lowering calorie consumption
As you grow older, your metabolism slows down. An article by Dr. Shereen Lehman explains that this means older adults don’t need as many calories to create the fuel their body needs. So, if you’re still eating the same amount, this creates a surplus of calories which can make you sluggish or overweight. As such, it may be better to explore a lower daily caloric intake. Though this may sound like a means to lose weight — which it can also do — a lower calorie intake is actually a better way to maintain weight, keep down fat, and retain muscle mass. Depending on your age and lifestyle, how much you lower your calories will differ. But with the right calculation, you can ensure that every calorie you consume is a positive one.
2. Avoid the lure of fad diets
There are loads of over-hyped diets out there with many claims. Unfortunately, many of these eating plans are unsustainable and merely fads. One diet, which has consistently been backed by scientific data is a plant-based diet. Specific definitions vary but generally going plant-based means that you eliminate animal products. WebMD outlines how older adults going plant-based can lower the chances of chronic disease, improve energy levels, maintain a good weight, and promote better sleep. If you can’t commit to being fully plant-based, you can also just allocate a few days a week to this diet. Although the premise of going plant-based may require some adjusting, it’s a better investment in the long run.
3. Get checked for food sensitivities
The natural decline of the immune system results in a higher likelihood of food sensitivities in older adults. It’s not unheard of that those over 50 even experience late-onset allergies to foods like nuts and fish—all of which are staples of many diet plans. To ensure that you won’t accidentally consume something that’ll have adverse effects, consider taking a food allergy test. A licensed nutritionist or general physician will be able to do this painless outpatient procedure. If you’ve never had this done before, KelseyCare Advantage explains that this test is often covered by health insurance. Specifically, Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage can cover this testing at no extra cost to you. Typically, comprehensive results come in just a few days. With this, you can find a suitable diet that will complement your goals without irritations.
4. Include vitamin and mineral supplements
As you get older, your body may require more vitamins and minerals. For instance, in my article about women over 40, she explains that bone density and estrogen decline with age. This results in a higher susceptibility towards osteoporosis or cardiovascular diseases. To prevent this, and similar conditions in men, it’s important to take supplements. Available in pills, tablets, or gummies, these supplements provide the daily vitamin and mineral needs of older adults. Available over the counter, these can also be prescribed by doctors or therapists for specific deficiencies. With vitamin and mineral supplements, your diet can be more nutritionally balanced.
Growing older can be a source of anxiety for many. However, with the right lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, you can enjoy the next chapter of your life with as much drive and happiness as ever before.