Health and Wellness |
Finding delicious and nutritious foods for aging healthy
February 20, 2020
Nutrition in our older years is important for bone strength, immunity and overall health and wellbeing. A lot of things change about our bodies as we get older. This means our food should too. There are a variety of nutrients that are essential as we enter our golden years but what are these nutrients and where can we find them?
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are the dynamic duo when it comes to nutrients. Both are important for maintaining optimal bone health. Adults need three to four serves of calcium rich foods and drinks each day.
These foods include:
- Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese or milk substitutes containing at least 100mg of added calcium per 100mL
- Green leafy vegetables
- Canned pink salmon
- Breakfast cereals and breads
Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium from our food as well as helping to maintain muscle, which is important in preventing falls. You may know Vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin! But we also get it from a select number of foods. When our skin comes into contact with sunlight it responds by making vitamin D, which is then stored in our body for later use. The other source for attaining this vitamin is food. There are several food sources that can provide vitamin D which include:
- Orange juice
- Soy milk
- Fortified cereals
- Fatty fish (including mackerel, salmon and tuna) and,
- Vitamin D fortified dairy products.
Putting good nutrition in is only half the story when it comes to maintaining healthy bones. Regular exercise, up to three times per week, can improve balance and co-ordination, slow the rate of bone loss after menopause and overall reduce the risk of falls. Research shows incorporating weight baring activities such as gardening, aquarobics and walking can help maintain strong healthy bones. Before participating in any physical activity it is important to consult with a qualified physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.
Fibre is responsible for keeping our gut happy and regular. It is vital for our digestive health and supports regular bowel movements. We need about 25-30g of fibre per day from a variety of foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. Fibre also has the added bonus of keeping us fuller for longer and can assist with improving cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels.
Other important nutrients:
Fibre, calcium and vitamin D are the key nutrients for healthy ageing. Some other noteworthy nutrients include vitamin B12 and potassium.
Vitamin B12 promotes healthy nerve and blood cells. It is found in fortified cereals, milk and other dairy products, lean meat, some fish, seafood and eggs.
Potassium helps to reduce our risk of high blood pressure. This nutrient can easily be found in fruit, vegetables and beans.
What does the information mean?
We all want to age gracefully, and keep doing the things we love with those we love. One easy way to improve our health as we age, is ensuring our diet is rich in a variety of fruit, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, eggs and legumes, dairy or dairy substitutes and whole-grains and cereals. Always remember, we eat to enjoy and we enjoy to eat.
For specialised nutritional advice please seek help from an accredited practicing dietitian.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
Calcium/Vitamin D Requirements, Recommended Foods & Supplements. National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/. Published February 26, 2018. Accessed October 27, 2019.
Fibre. Nutrition Australia. https://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/fibre. Published October 2014. Accessed October 27, 2019
Nutrition and older adults. Nutrition Australia . https://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/nutrition-and-older-adults. Published September 2013. Accessed October 27, 2019.
Healthy Eating When You’re Older. Eat For Health.
https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/healthy-eating-throughout-all-life/healthy-eating-when-you’re-older. Published July 27, 2015. Accessed October 27, 2019
Sample Meal Plan –
this contains 25-30g of Fibre and meeting the serves as per dietary guidelines for older Australian Adults.
Breakfast: 2 whole wheat cereal biscuits (for example Weetbix or Vita brits) with a piece of fruit and 1/2 cup of milk
Morning tea: 2 x whole wheat crackers with 1 sliced tomato and ½ cup cottage cheese
Lunch: whole meal salad sandwich with lean ham/chicken/tuna OR tofu including lettuce, cheese, tomato, cucumber
Afternoon tea: a piece of fruit
Dinner: 65g cooked steak OR 80g cooked chicken with 1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables and 1/2 cup of wholemeal pasta
Supper: 1 x 200g tub of yoghurt