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.
However, healthy eating is so important as we grow older. Adults of all ages will benefit from staying hydrated and nourished by drinking plenty of water and eating high fibre foods, wholegrains, lean proteins, fruit and vegetables. In fact, as we grow older, we can mitigate many health problems by following a healthy diet.
We understand that healthy eating in older age can be a challenge. Learn how to add appeal to your meal with this Curam guide where we share our top tips for better nutrition.
Eat more fibre
Fibre 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. As we age, our digestive system may start to slow, making us prone to constipation, bloating, gas or upset-stomachs. For older people, having a healthy fruit smoothie is a delicious way to combat these effects.
Fibre can be found in many delicious foods. The advice from NHS England for older adults is that 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. Here are some of the ingredients you can incorporate into your meals to eat more fibre:
· Breakfast - plain whole wheat biscuits, plain shredded whole grain, porridge oats
· Snacks - wholemeal toast, fresh fruit, dried fruit, vegetable sticks, crackers, oatcakes, nuts and seeds
· Lunch - vegetable soups, beans, jacket potatoes, new potatoes
· Dinner - whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa served with sauces, curry, veg, lentils and beans
Have your 5 a day: fruit & veg
Get down to your local greengrocers 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 and high in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, fruit and veg is an easy way to enhance your health. Try to 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
· Having a stroke
· Certain types of cancer
Top Tip: Buy local and seasonal to get the benefits of nutrition and flavour.
Add some 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. Here are some of the ways you can add herbs and spices to your food:
· Add fresh coriander to a chilli
· Put basil in a bolognese sauce or ragù
· Chop chives or spring onions over a salad
· Sprinkle paprika on your eggs, beans or avocado
Top tip: No fresh herbs? No problem, dried or frozen alternatives are just as good.
Buy 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 fibre-rich, tasty, meat alternatives to their diet. Beans, pulses and proteins such as ‘quorn’ are a low-fat, high-protein break from meat.
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. However, the most beneficial quality it offers is protein. Your body breaks down protein into small compounds known as amino acids, using them to rebuild your cells and tissues.
To get the most from meat, 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: Have a meat free-Monday and eat some oily fish, such as salmon, sardines or mackerel.
Drink plenty of water
Every cell in our body 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 water, 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. You can also have fruit juices to add low sugar flavour and switch to decaf tea and coffee or herbal tea to benefit from a more hydrating choice of cuppa.
Top tip: Keep a glass of water 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.
Download the Curam app today to become part of our better care community and hire a carer who is right for you.