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Healthy Eating

20 April 2020

Healthy eating in older age can be a challenge, learn how to add appeal to your meal with this Curam carers guide.

Taste buds age. It’s true. Our taste receptors are not immune from the effects of ageing. A lifetime of use means they lack the sharpness of youth, dulling the flavour of food. That’s why it is tempting to grab the salt shaker to add a bit of vigour to your dinner. 

Healthy eating is so important as we grow older. Adults of all ages will benefit from high fiber foods, wholegrains, lean proteins, fruit and vegetables and being hydrated. As we grow older, we can mitigate many health problems by following a healthy diet. Here are our top tips for eating well in old age.

Fibre

Fibre, also known by its nickname ‘roughage’, is the Olympic gold medallist in the dietary race for health. Not only is it vital for your heart and cardio system, it’s also key for digestive health. That’s not all. It can help lower cholesterol by acting as a mini vacuum cleaner, sweeping through your blood vessels to keep your blood pumping. Like we said, it’s a champion. 

As we age, our digestive system may start to slow, making us prone to constipation, bloating, gas or upset stomachs. For older people, eating a healthy fruit smoothie is a delicious way to combat these effects.  

Fibre can be found in many delicious foods. Advice from NHS England, for older adults, is you should aim to get about 30g a day. An achievable target if you make simple swaps and add a small amount to every meal.

Where can you find fibre? Look out for anything wholegrain. Oats, whole wheat, brown rice, brown bread, quinoa – these types of grains have not been processed as much as their unnaturally white alternatives. Brown usually means more fibre and more flavour.

Top Tip: 

  • BREAKFAST FIBRE plain whole wheat biscuits, plain shredded whole grain, porridge oats.
  • SNACK FIBRE: wholemeal or granary toast, fresh fruit (pears, melons, berries), dried fruit, vegetable sticks, crackers, oatcakes, unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • LUNCH FIBRE: vegetable soups, beans, jacket potatoes (skin on), new potatoes.
  • DINNER FIBRE: whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa served with sauces, curry or chilli mixed with plenty of veg, lentils (red, green, puy) and beans. 

Fruit & Veg

Get down your greengrocer and discover the key to healthy eating in old age: fruits and vegetables. This delicious source of fibre can mitigate many health problems associated with our digestive systems.  Low in saturated fats, high in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals fruit and veg is an easy way to enhance your health. At each meal, fill half your plate with these garden-grown goodies.

Aim to ‘eat the rainbow’ and experiment with everything from red peppers through to purple spouting broccoli. This will help lower your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.  

Top Tip: Buy local and seasonal to get the benefits of nutrition and flavour. 

Salt and Spice

Salt will boost the flavour of food, but too much can spike your blood pressure and lead to fluid retention. Thankfully, adding healthy flavour to your food is easy – it's about exploring the culinary impact of new ingredients.

Spice up your life! If you’ve never reached past traditional seasoning, you’re missing out on a healthy way to add plenty of flavour to food as you age. 

By experimenting with other spices you can incorporate nutritious ingredients and cut down on salt. Try adding fresh herbs to punch the palate. Fresh coriander to a chilli, basil to bolognaise or chives to a salad will leave your taste buds tickled without the need for salt. 

Top tip: No fresh herbs? No problem, dried or frozen alternatives are just as good.

Lean Protein

Meat free Monday isn’t just a hipster fad, it’s a healthy eating trend which has seen many people benefit from adding fiber rich, tasty, meat alternatives to their diet. For older people, lentils and tofu might stir up images of hippies. But the times - they are a changin’. Beans, pulses and microproteins such as ‘quorn’ are a low fat, high protein variation from meat, some even closely mimic the texture of their carne rivals. 

Meat is a vital source of iron, protein, and micronutrients. It can be added to most meals and can give you the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy in old age. Most beneficial is the protein. Your body breaks down protein into small compounds known as amino acids, using them to rebuild your cells and tissues.

Choose lean meats such as chicken or turkey, as white meat has a lower fat content than red meat and won’t raise your cholesterol. Fish is another great option, full of healthy fats which contribute to lowering cholesterol and keeping your skin, hair and nails in top condition. 

Top Tip: Meat free Monday and oily fish like salmon, sardines or mackerel

Water

Every cell in our body is yearns for water. It desires it like a traveler lost in the hot desert. Keeping hydrated is important, especially as we age. If we don’t drink enough, we begin to feel run down, fatigued, sluggish and it has consequences for our health. 

The current government advice is to drink between 6-8 glasses a day (approximately 1.5 litres). Essentially, this replaces normal water loss as our bodies go about their normal functions. 

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be pure water. Mix in citrus slices and fruit juices to add low sugar flavour. Alternatively, switch to decaff tea and coffee and benefit from a more hydrating choice of cuppa. 

Top tip: Keep a glass close to hand, and if you head out, take a bottle with you. 

Just a small change in diet can have a big impact on health. Start small. Add a smoothie to your day, drink one extra glass of water, cut out the salt gradually and you’ll see noticeable differences in your overall well-being.

Can we help you?

If you’re struggling to prepare varied and nutritious meals as an older adult, then consider a Curam home carer. An hourly carer can help you shop for ingredients, prepare snacks, cook meals to your liking and even tackle the washing up afterwards. 

Sign up today, and with Curam you can choose a carer who is right for you. 

Jody
Author Jody