A variety of healthy fruits and vegetables.
A healthy, balanced diet is essential to follow as we age.

Healthy Eating Tips for Older Adults

As we age there are certain things that happen in our bodies that can take a toll on our overall health and wellbeing. It can be harder to build muscle, our bone density may begin to diminish, there can be increased risk of heart disease or neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

However, developing chronic health conditions isn’t an inevitability when you pass a certain age and there are many foods and supplements that you can enjoy to help support your health for years to come. Keep reading to learn some of the foods that older adults should avoid, those they should add to their diets and supplements that can help support a healthy lifestyle as you age.

What Foods Should Older Adults Avoid?

When it comes to the foods that older adults should avoid, they’re really not any different than those enjoyed by people of all ages. The American National Institute on Aging suggests that the main foods older adults should avoid for health include:

  • Foods with lots of added sugars. Too much sugar in the diet can impact blood sugar balance and may increase your risk of developing metabolic issues or type 2 diabetes.
  • Foods high in saturated fats since it could impact heart health.
  • Processed foods with lots of added sodium. Most of the salt consumed in an American diet comes from packaged and processed foods that have it added during the manufacturing process. Too much sodium in the diet can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease.

Watching your intake of the above foods and keeping them at a moderate level is a great place to start when it comes to healthy eating as you age.

What Foods Should Older Adults Enjoy Regularly?

Some of the best foods for older adults to start incorporating into their diet include:

1. Protein-rich foods

As we age, muscle mass begins to decrease by approximately 3-8% per decade as we pass 30, with that rate of decline increasing even more after age 60. This muscle loss can lead to a condition called sarcopenia, which can be a major cause and contributor to disability and injury in older age. Ensuring that you eat enough high quality plant and/or animal protein can help you maintain your muscle mass as you age.

Some great protein sources include:

  • Poultry.
  • Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines (bonus: they also contain omega-3 fats which are great for brain health!).
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, cashews, beans and lentils.
  • Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios.
  • Seeds such as hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  • Tofu.
  • Eggs.
  • Dairy such as yogurt, cheese and milk.

2. Fruits & Vegetables

Consuming enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help support cognitive function, prevent chronic inflammation and support healthy bones. Eating a rainbow of foods will ensure that you consume a broad spectrum of nutrients.

Since absorption capacity can decrease as we age, eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables of every color can help prevent deficiencies and malnutrition.

3. Water!

This one may seem obvious, but dehydration is quite common in older adults because they already have a lower volume of water in their bodies. This decreased volume can be compounded by medication effects or illnesses.

Severe dehydration can lead to a host of issues including urinary and kidney problems, seizures, low blood volume or heat injury. Add some lemon juice to your water to get some extra minerals and boost absorption.

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The Best Supplements for Older Adults

A healthy diet is the foundation we should all be aiming for as we age, but sometimes it can be helpful to add some supplements to your routine for a little extra support.

Below are some of my favorite supplements to support healthy aging.

1. Collagen

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our bodies, making up approximately 30% of its total protein. It helps to keep skin soft, supports the growth of hair and nails, and is an important part of bone, muscle, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissues in the body. Our ability to create collagen decreases as we age and the quality that we produce is also lower. That’s why taking a high quality collagen supplement can be a great addition to a healthy diet.

Look for hydrolyzed collagen that you can add to smoothies, coffee, hot chocolate and homemade baked goods.

2. Multimineral Complex

As we age, bone density can begin to diminish, especially in post-menopausal people. That’s why incorporating a multimineral complex into your daily routine can be so helpful. While calcium supplements are often recommended to support bone health, bones are actually made up of a variety of minerals including magnesium, boron, phosphorus and potassium.

That’s why ensuring you’re getting a broad spectrum of minerals everyday can help support the health of your bones. And don’t forget the importance of weight-bearing exercise to help build and maintain bone density AND muscle!

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for older adults to consume, but it’s quite difficult to get enough from food sources and in certain parts of the world you can only synthesize it from the sun for six months out of the year. That’s why I suggest supplementation.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain phosphorus and calcium, which is important for maintaining bone health. It can also help support immune function, reduce inflammation and reduce cancer growth, all of which are important to support as you age, especially if you have any family health history of osteoporosis or cancer. I suggest taking the D3, cholecalciferol form for best absorption. Talk to your doctor about the right amount for your needs.

4. Vitamin B12

Keeping mentally sharp and focused is often a priority for older adults, which is why incorporating B vitamins into your diet can be a great support. B12 is one that is often of utmost importance since it plays such an important role in neurological health and can be harder to absorb as we age. Since stomach acid production drops as we age and is required for its absorption, many older adults can become deficient.

Taking sublingual B12 or even a B12 shot can help support physiological and cognitive function as you age. Signs of B12 deficiency can be sneaky and mimic issues such as:

  • Heart disease.
  • Anxiety, depression or even bipolar disorder.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Multiple sclerosis or other neurological issues.
  • Autoimmune conditions.

Your doctor can test your levels and help you figure out the right dosage to support your physical and cognitive health.

5. Omega-3 Oil

Finally, incorporating omega-3 fats from fish or algae oil is a great idea for older adults. Omega-3 fats make up the majority of the fat found in the brain, they can support a healthy inflammatory system, and may even help prevent heart disease. If you don’t like fish or can’t seem to get enough in your diet, adding a supplement can be a great option instead.

By creating a healthy diet and adding specific supplements to your life you can set the stage for years of health and vitality, no matter your age!