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Seniors Diet

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Seniors Diet and Fiber

As the body ages, the gastrointestinal tract changes and people tend to develop more problems with constipation. A high-fiber diet can prevent that, but many seniors, especially those with dentures, do not want to eat the seed-filled or crunchy food that is typically high in fiber. They instead go for soft, slippery food that is easily chewed, but is often high in fat.

Cooked or baked vegetables, fresh fruit and high-fiber breakfast cereals are some denture-friendly ways to get fiber in the diet. Beans and black-eyed peas are also nutritious and inexpensive.

Seniors Diet and Fluids

It\'s important to drink lots of fluids, despite the risk of a leak. Seniors have decreased thirst and often do not get enough fluids in their diet as a result. Getting plenty of fluids helps prevent constipation. The fiber nutritionists recommend is more effective in decreasing constipation when fluids are taken generously. Milk, tea, coffee, soda, ice cream and soup all count as fluids.

Seniors Diet and Exercise

Get more physical exercise, not less. The amount of exercise needed depends on the person, but in general, people need to step up their activity as they get older. Seniors often do the opposite, because of bad knees or arthritis. Instead of becoming guarded, they need to walk, bicycle, swim, garden and find other ways to stay on the move.

Seniors Diet and Supplements

60 percent of seniors use supplements, a percentage that is rising. But nutrition scientists are constantly finding new healthy components in real food that provide benefits like lowering cholesterol and preventing cancer. These components have not been duplicated in pill form.

SOURCE: Valentina Remig, Assistant Professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University.

Seniors and Calorie Needs

As we age, our calorie needs decrease due to a drop in muscle strength from taking less physical activity. However, vitamin and mineral needs may stay the same or even increase if the body absorbs them less efficiently.

Average Calorie Needs Throughout Life

Age Group1-34-67-1011-1415-1819-5960-7475+
Calorie NeedsMale12301715197022202755255023502100
Calorie NeedsFemale11651545174018452110194019001810

Note: These are average values only. Heavier or more active people may need more.

Foods to Include in a Seniors Diet for Optimum Health

Fruit - In particular those high in Vitamin C, like blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, peaches, mango, cantaloupe melon, apples.

Vegetables - In particular vegetables high in Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and Vitamin C. Carrots, squash, sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, brocolli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, avocado.

Oily Fish - Rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and high in Vitamin E, like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna and trout. Also white fish in place of red meat.

Nuts and Seeds - Rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and high in Vitamin E. Unsalted nuts, like walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts and almonds, and seeds like poppy seeds, sunflower, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Protein - Eggs, white fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, lean meat, chicken, beans, lentils.

Pulses and Grains for Fiber - Including lentils, chick peas (garbanzo beans), brown rice, whole wheat bread, wheatgerm, whole wheat cereals, whole wheat crackers.

Seniors Diet - Foods to Avoid for Optimum Seniors Health

High Fat Foods - Particularly high in saturated fat like red meat, meat products like sausage, salami, hot dogs, hamburgers, smoked meats and full-fat dairy products.

High Sodium Foods - All foods high in sodium (salt), like processed frozen entrees and processed cold cuts, foods canned in salted water, salted nuts, ketchups, package sauce mixes, and salted snacks like nuts. Use a range of fresh herbs for flavor in place of sodium.

Refined Carbs and Sugar - Many refined carb foods are also high in fat and sugar, like cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins, donuts, Danish, ice-cream, candy.

Limit Alcohol - 1-2 glasses of beer or red wine may be beneficial to promoting a healthy heart and improving the circulatory system: but red grapes may be even better. Drink lots of water, diluted fruit juice, vegetable juice, fat-free milk, and tea and coffee in moderation.

SOURCES include: - Valentina Remig, Assistant Professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 2002. Website:

Arthritis Diet Plan

For an example seniors diet plan see Seniors Diet Plan.

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