- Mediterranean Diet
- Intermittent Fasting
Older adults have different nutritional needs as their bodies and activity levels change. They may require fewer calories and more protein to maintain muscle mass. They are also more prone to diseases such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and certain cancers.
Nutrient-dense foods that are low in empty calories are an essential part of any diet for older adults. Eating a balanced diet from a wide range of food groups can help older adults get the nutrition they need. Nutritious foods include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Foods to avoid include those high in saturated fats, sugars, and salt.
Why may the Mediterranean diet be good for older adults?
The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, and olive oil. It is recommended by many dietitians for preventing disease especially in older adults.
Since the diet emphasizes eating polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and avoiding saturated and trans fats, it is good for older adults because these healthy fats promote brain and heart health and may even reduce the risk of type II diabetes and cancer.
Why may intermittent fasting be good for older adults?
Intermittent fasting may be good for older adults if there are no serious health conditions or current medications.
Intermittent fasting involves having set periods of fasting and eating. For example, it may involve having the last meal of the day at around 7 p.m. followed by breakfast at about 9 a.m., thus giving the body a 14-hour fasting window. During the fasting window, green tea or water is allowed.
What foods should older adults eat?
- Fiber-rich foods: Dark-green vegetables, beans, and lentils are great choices since the high fiber content can help control weight and prevent disease.
- Foods rich in vitamins and minerals: Foods rich in B-complex vitamins (B12, B6, and folate or folic acid), calcium, and vitamin D should be eaten on a daily basis. These nutrients help promote brain, bone, and heart health.
- Low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods: Older adults do not burn as many calories as younger adults, so they should keep their calorie intake low while still eating foods rich in nutrients.
- Healthy fats: Healthy fats found in olive oil, avocado, and some seeds and fatty fish can boost healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and fuel the brain.
- Water: Some older adults lose their sense of thirst as they age. Older adults should aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to stay hydrated.
What can older adults do to stay healthy?
For many older adults, eating healthy can be more challenging in their later years due to changes such as:
- Health conditions that can make it harder for them to cook or feed themselves
- Medications that can reduce appetite, dry out the mouth, or change the way foods taste
- Impaired sense of smell and taste
- Problems chewing or swallowing
- Reduced finances
Planning ahead can help older adults stick to a healthier diet. For example, some experts recommend cooking meals ahead of time and freezing portions so that you always have something to eat later when you don’t feel like cooking.
In addition to eating a nutritious diet, try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day. You can start slowly with 10-minute sessions of walking and gradually increase the time and intensity as you get stronger. Talk to your doctor about exercises that are safe for your age and overall health.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Institutes of Health. Healthy Meal Planning: Tips for Older Adults. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/healthy-meal-planning-tips-older-adults
HelpGuide. The Mediterranean Diet. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/the-mediterranean-diet.htm
Top What Diet Is the Best for Older Adults Related Articles
Nutrition QuizEven if you think you're getting enough fruits and vegetables per day, how can you be sure? Take the Diet & Nutrition Quiz to learn more about eating right.
Healthy Aging: Best Foods as You AgeGetting older is a part of life. These foods will help you do so gracefully -- and in great health!
Vitamins You Need as You AgeYour body needs more of certain vitamins and minerals as you hit your 40s and beyond. Find out which ones will benefit you -- and which won't.
Exercises for Seniors: Tips for Core, Balance, StretchingExercise for seniors is important for healthy and successful aging. Learn about core strengthening, balance exercises, and stretching and relaxation routines. See what happens to our bodies as we age, how to start exercising, and the benefits of exercising as a senior.
OA & Your JointsDealing with joint pain and arthritis? Learn why weight matters--and why NOT to stretch before exercise. See these solutions for joint pain and tips to protect your joints from damage.
What Are the 4 Missing Nutrients in My Diet?Almost one-third of Americans are deficient in at least one nutrient, according to one study. The four missing nutrients in your diet are most likely to be vitamin B6, iron, vitamin D and vitamin C.
What Are the New Blood Pressure Guidelines for Seniors?Hypertension or high blood pressure (high BP) is a medical condition where the pressure in the blood vessels is persistently elevated. The heart pumps blood into the arteries, which circulate blood to all parts of the body. In cases of high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to push the blood column ahead.
What Is the Best Weight Loss Plan for Seniors?Persistent goals and making small adjustments in lifestyle and diet are the best weight loss plans for seniors.