Changing dietary needs with age
By: CPT Diane Ryan, MS, RD, Staff Dietitian
Most adults look to retirement as a time to do those things they did not previously have time for. This may include improving fitness or tackling dietary changes for improved health. Because their body goes through physical changes at different stages of life, the retiree may be faced with some difficulty with dietary changes.
- Metabolism. Our metabolism slows by about 100 calories for every year over the age of forty.
- Weakened senses. Taste and smell senses diminish with age. Because older adults tend to lose sensitivity to salty and bitter tastes first, they may increase salt intake. Conversely, older adults tend to retain sweet tastes longer, leading some to overindulge in sugary foods and snacks.
- Medications and illness. Some prescription medications and health problems can often negatively influence appetite and may also affect taste. This should be discussed with the physician.
- Digestion. Digestive changes make processing certain vitamins and minerals more difficult. This may include B12, B6 and folic acid, all necessary for mental alertness and good circulation.
Follow these tips to get in the habit of eating well and meeting daily nutritional needs.
- Reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Season food with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
- Enjoy good fats. Olive oil, avocados, walnuts, and other monounsaturated fats provide flavor and satiety while decreasing the risk of heart disease.
- Add fiber. Increasing fiber intake from foods such as raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans can decrease the risk of constipation and chronic diseases.
- Look for hidden sugar. Added sugar can be hidden in many processed foods. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned goods, and choose sugar-free versions of products such as ice cream.
- Cook smart. To preserve nutrients, prepare veggies by steaming or sautéing them in olive oil.
- Put five colors on your plate. Fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients (blackberries, melons, yams, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.).