Before I discuss about the healthy eating over 60, let us first have a brief look at some general healthy eating guidelines. Irrespective of our age, we should try to eat a balanced, healthy diet keeping in view the following key points:
(i) Enough vegetables & fruit – aim for at least five portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit per day.
(ii) Some whole grain bread, brown rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods.
(iii) Some milk and dairy foods.
(iv) Some fish, meat, eggs, beans & other non-dairy sources of protein – try to eat at least 2 portions of fish per week, including one portion of oily fish.
(v) Just a small amount of foods & drinks that are high in fat or natural sugar.
Note: Some fat is also necessary.
Now let us discuss SPECIFIC guidelines for the persons over 60.
What To Eat in Your 60s | Guidelines
Many research studies show that as we age, we develop eating habits that are quite different from those when we were young. One such eating habit commonly found in the people aged over 60 is that they eat more sugary goods such as biscuits & cakes than the younger adults. Another habit the older adults develop is to eat less fruit, vegetables and meat.
People aged above 60 need lesser calories than younger adults because their lifestyles become more sedentary. However their needs for vitamins & minerals remain the same, which can cause older people to become deficient in certain essential nutrients.
As you get older, your body changes. To meet your nutritional needs as you cross 60 years age; you will need to focus on certain foods to stay healthy. Read on here what to eat to keep you healthy, as you get older.
Eat Food High in Fiber
Constipation is a common problem that the most people suffer, as they get older. Eating foods rich in fiber could be a good natural solution to improve your digestion.
Fiber-rich foods can treat digestive problems & prevent constipation.
Suggested Foods Rich in Fiber: Baked beans on toast or mashed potatoes, canned pulses added to stews and casseroles, dried apricots or canned stewed prunes.
Make sure to take extra fluids to make the extra fiber provide best results.
Caution: Using raw bran (for example wheat bran) in cereal can lower the absorption of calcium in foods like dairy or if you take a calcium containing medication when taken at the same time. This can be an issue in managing bones health.
Useful Related Post: Best Foods That Contain Fiber
Eat Iron-Rich Foods
Iron is vital for our energy level & general health. Deficiency of iron can make an aged person feels as if he or she has no energy, so incorporate some iron-rich foods in your diet.
Suggested Iron Rich Foods: Lean red meat is the best source of iron. Other good dietary sources of iron are legumes (such as beans, peas and lentils), oily fish like sardines, eggs, green vegetables and breakfast cereals with added vitamins.
Eat Calcium-Rich Foods
Calcium is vital for maintaining & building bones. As you age, your need for calcium increases because calcium from food is not absorbed that well in old age as it was in your younger days. So you will require EXTRA amounts of low fat milk, yogurt & cheese. Eating calcium-rich foods can help prevent osteoporosis.
Suggested Calcium Rich Foods: Milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources. Opt for lower fat varieties. When lower fat varieties is not available, you may eat higher fat varieties – but in smaller amounts.
Calcium is also contained in canned fish with bones like sardines, tofu, green leafy vegetables like broccoli, soya beans and cabbage.
Use Less Salt
Excessive salt consumption can increase your blood pressure, which puts you at the higher risk of health problems like heart disease or a stroke.
Most of the foods we eat (like bread, cereals, tinned soups & other ready-prepared foods) already contain salt. Read food labels before you buy and select those that have less salt. Avoid adding more table salt to your food when eating.
Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. The best natural source of vitamin D is safe exposure to UV sunlight. You only have to spend a short period of time (preferably morning) in the sun every day to get adequate amount of vitamin D. However over 60 your lifestyle changes and you tend to go out into the sunlight less often. Also it’s believed that the absorption of vitamin D via sunlight becomes less efficient as we age. Due to all this, anyone over 60 needs to make sure he or she is getting adequate vitamin D via his/her diet.
Suggested Vitamin D Rich Foods: The dietary sources include oily fish, eggs; certain fortified breakfast cereals & fortified spreads.
Note: Food alone may not provide you with enough vitamin D. Consult with your doctor whether you need any vitamin D supplement.
Having excessive vitamin A (more than 1.5mg of vitamin A per day from food &/or supplements) can enhance risk of bone fracture.
Caution: Liver is rich in vitamin A. Don’t eat liver or liver products, like pate, more than once per week, or eat them in smaller portions. And in case you eat liver more than once per week, don’t take any supplements that have vitamin A or fish liver oils (which also have high amounts of vitamin A).
Compensate For Lack Of Appetite
With age the appetite generally goes down, meaning you don’t eat as much as you used to in your younger days. Then what to do to meet your body’s energy and nutrient needs? The trick is to eat smaller meals more often & supplement them with nutritious snacks, such as vegetables & fruit and wholegrain.
Drink More Water
Drink adequate fluids daily to keep you well hydrated. The amount of water that your body needs depend on many factors, including your over all health, the environment you lived in, physical activities that you perform, etc. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
(i) About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids per day for men
(ii) About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids per day for women
These recommendations cover total fluids intake, including water, tea, coffee, reduced fat milk & food.
Drinks that have a lot of caffeine, like coffee & strong tea, can cause your body to produce more urine. So limit coffee & strong tea intake, & make sure you drink more water or other fluids that don’t contain caffeine.
Stay At Healthy Weight
A key healthy eating guideline is maintaining healthy weight. Overweight will make you less mobile in old age. This will affect your quality of life & health. Being overweight also enhances your risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease & diabetes.
On the other hand, being underweight is not healthy either. Underweight can result from either you’re not eating enough or that you’re unwell. Being underweight also enhances your risk of osteoporosis.
If you have any issue about your weight, check with your doctor. He/she may refer you to a dietitian, who will advise you about your diet – what you should eat to manage your weight.