No matter our age, good nutrition plays a big role in our overall health. The healthier food we eat, the better we feel. Our diet affects our mood and energy level and also has a long-term impact on our wellbeing. A balanced, healthy diet provides our body with the nutrients it needs to boost our immune system, sharpen our mind and help prevent illnesses.
Below are a few tips to help improve eating habits—especially when the weather is warm and lighter meals are preferred. Our appetite may be diminished in the summer months but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the necessary calories and fluids to sustain energy throughout the day.
- Eat whole foods. Keep processed foods to a minimum to help eliminate many of the additives and ingredients that make us not feel our best. Excess sugar is an example of one of the culprits that is often added to many of the processed foods we eat.
- Increase calcium intake. Maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis as well as bone fractures. While milk and dairy have high levels of calcium there are many other sources of calcium to consume. Incorporate white beans, black-eyed peas, almonds, canned salmon and broccoli into your diet.
- Include omega-3 fatty acids. Eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids to improve focus and mental alertness. These foods include salmon and green, leafy vegetables.
- Use herbs and spices. Enhance the flavor of food naturally by cooking with fresh herbs and spice blends. Medications can make food taste differently than usual and herbs and spices can brighten flavors of vegetables and meats.
- Cook food thoroughly. One way to reduce the incidences of food-borne illnesses is to cook food to proper temperature. Consuming raw or undercooked food can be potentially life threatening to older adults.
- Consider vitamins and supplements. Consult with your doctor prior to adding vitamins or supplements to your diet. Medication can interfere with nutritional supplements so it is important to have a conversation with your health care team before beginning any vitamin regimen.
- Maintain dental hygiene. Teeth and gums change as we age and if you have dental problems you may find it difficult to chew and enjoy certain foods including fresh fruits, vegetables and meat. Try cooked or canned vegetables and fruits that are softer and easier to chew.
As you consider incorporating changes into your diet be sure to consult your doctor for guidance on the best nutritional plan based on your health history.
Elizabeth Moss is Founder and Chief Care Officer, Caregivers by WholeCare, a locally owned and operated in-home care provider. For more than 20 years, families in Middle Tennessee trust WholeCare to provide compassionate care for their loved ones. Learn more at http://caregiversbywholecare.com/.