Importance of Nutrition in Older Adults

September 1, 2021 | Community | Advice | Residents

Importance of Nutrition in Older Adults 

A balanced, nutrient-rich diet benefits everyone, but it is even more important for older adults. Just as lifestyle needs change with aging, dietary needs change as well. Research shows that the ability to absorb and utilize nutrients for older adults becomes less efficient, and their nutrient requirement increases. Keep reading to learn three key reasons why proper nutrition is important as you age.

Weight management
Aging tends to decrease mobility and can impact the level of daily physical activity older adults participate in. Less physical activity slows the metabolism and energy requirements decrease, which means that older adults don’t need to eat as much. When food intake is limited, the quality of food becomes even more important for overall health and well-being. Eating foods with lots of calories but few nutrients can cause the body to store the extra calories, leading to weight gain and associated health risks. Nutrient rich foods that are low in calories help to create a balanced diet and manage weight fluctuation.

Improved cognitive function
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive illnesses are most common in adults 60 and older, and the risk increases with age. Research has shown that a healthy, nutrient-rich diet can help preserve cognitive function and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Certain nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains are full of vitamins and antioxidants that can positively affect brain signaling and communication. A diet full of these healthy foods can give older adults more control over the effects of aging and become a vital resource in combatting Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses that target the aging brain.

Aids in disease prevention
More than 88 percent of older adults in the United States suffer from at least one chronic disease or condition according to the CDC, but a healthy, nutritious diet can help prevent and manage chronic diseases and their associated conditions. According to the World Health Organization, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals are nutrients that the body uses to aid in disease prevention. Incorporating whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, lean protein sources, and low-fat dairy into a diet while decreasing highly processed foods can help combat against obesity, inflammation, high blood-pressure, and other leading causes of chronic disease.

Maintaining a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is critically important for seniors because of the impact of food intake on health. This is demonstrated by the effects that a nutritious diet has on physical conditions, cognitive conditions, disease prevention, and the overall health of older adults.