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Balancing Senior Nutrition

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You have probably noticed that you cannot eat the same foods that you always have.  At least not in the same proportion without increasing your own proportions dramatically. 

Your metabolism along with lifestyle are primarily to blame.  As we age, we reduce the amount of calories that we burn and those that are more sedentary burn even fewer.  The longer that it has been since you have had an active lifestyle, the slower your metabolism and the fewer calories you burn.  

Though there are many seniors who keep a high metabolism, most do not.  This is a leading cause of obesity among seniors.  Others simply do not eat and while this can keep the weight down, it causes poor nutrition.  A healthy weight is not an indicator of proper nutrition.  

Sometimes it is tempting for seniors to choose a piece of bread or a few crackers as lunch.  In other words, they don't gain weight because there are so few calories there.  But such a meal is almost devoid of any nutrition and is one step towards a malfunctioning body and faster physical aging.

Reduce carbohydrates and fats

Seniors still need a certain amount of sugars and carbohydrates in their diet, but that is generally not a problem.  Getting the proper nutrition in while not going overboard with carbohydrates is.

It is true that seniors often don't eat as much as they used to.  Therefore, it is critical that everything that is eaten is of the best quality and full of vitamins and minerals.  Seniors can't generally afford to eat junk food or that which has the sole purpose of filling you up.

Seniors often have problems tasting food.  Foods that they once enjoyed leave them lacking in satisfaction and they often resort to high salt and/or fat foods, just to taste them.  Plan to increase flavors without adding these two ingredients and you will probably find that most seniors enjoy more nutritional foods once again.

Reduce carbohydrates in general by making carb-heavy foods a small part of the meal rather than its central focus.  In general, try to avoid "white" foods (except for milk) like white flour products like white bread, products made with white sugar, white rice, and potatoes.  All these have nutritional value but that value is far better found in other foods, particularly green and yellow vegetables and fresh, non-sugared fruits.

Eating raw or freshly cooked foods

Canned and processed foods have largely lost their original nutritional values.  Even more so, processed foods have lost most of their enzymes that are critical for proper digestions and absorption. 
(More on digestive enzymes>>

Buying plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable helps to up the supply of minerals and nutrients as well as keep a healthy supply of enzymes flowing into the system.  

Going straight to a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables is often hard to do and won't last long.  Any drastic and sudden changes in eating habits can have some side effects and may be a bit too foreign to last long.  Introduce fresh fruits and vegetable slowly and even start by cooking most of them if you are working on a big change in eating habits.

Cooked vegetables aren't as good for you as fresh ones but they are far superior to the canned variety because they haven't been as highly processed, don't have the preservatives, and they are often higher quality to begin with.

Steaming vegetables is far superior to boiling them because you aren't washing the nutrients down the drain.

Boiling vegetables can offer some unique flavor enhancing possibilities and while there is more of a loss in nutrition, cooking them until they are just barely done will help preserve much of the nutrition.  Besides, if you can increase the flavor of the food, chances are that more will be eaten, thereby adding back those lost nutrients to the diet.

Meats - A great source of proteins, iron, and vitamins, meats have a very important role in a senior's diet as long as they are eaten in reason and using some common sense.

Meat that is high in salt (sodium) and/or nitrates such as bacon and ham are very appealing because they are high in flavor.  However, they are also a potential danger to those who have high blood pressure.  

If eaten, be sure that it is in small amounts and more of a treat than a major part of a meal.  One or two pieces of bacon a week should not be a problem for most people but be sure to discuss this with your doctor, especially if hypertension is an issue or there are other health problems

Lean pork is a great part of a healthy diet.  It provides necessary protein and is known to be quite high in B vitamins as well as other nutrients.  The B vitamins are known as the energy vitamins and are known to be strongly connected with proper red blood cell formation.  One or two servings per week is ideal.

Skinless chicken or turkey are one of the best meats available as they again are high in protein but also lower in fats and cholesterol than many other meats.  Two to three servings per week is a great part of a healthy senior diet.  Be sure to occasionally do something special with it to up the flavor.  Poultry doesn't have as strong a flavor as other meats and could become a bit boring.

Fish is another wonderful meat for a senior diet.  Typically low in fat, it is high in essential fatty acids which is wonderful for many human body systems.  People who eat a large amount of fish over red meat are generally healthier.  Two to three servings per week is fantastic in a senior diet.

Caution:  Baked or broiled fish is far superior to fried fish because of lower fat and the fact that most fried fish is breaded or battered.  Be sure to avoid high levels of tuna as it is often known to contain minor levels of mercury which can build up in the body and cause illness.

Related Articles Safe flavor enhancers - Barring any allergies to these food ingredients, you can use these ingredients to increase flavor. 
Balancing the nutrition - Seniors have different metabolic functions that need to be considered.
Getting the proper enzymes - Digestive enzymes are crucial to getting the nutrients out of the food.
Effects of sugar - Increasing the rate of aging is only part of the problem
Calcium and Magnesium - Critical components in senior health
Facts about senior diets - Factors shaping food choices
Obesity and seniors - Raising red flags, obesity is more prevalent as we age 
Challenges in cooking for seniors

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