Between 2001 and 2009, the number of individuals in the United States who were 100 years old or older increased from 48,000 people to 64,000 people. Nutritional well-being and the enjoyment of food plays an important role in the quality of life in older adults. A healthy, well balanced diet can enable older adults to live a healthful, enjoyable life by lessening the risk for chronic disease, slowing the progression of a disease and reducing disease symptoms.
Calories, Carbs, Protein and Fat
As you age, your energy requirements progressively decrease. Moderately active men and women aged 51 and older need between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day. Forty five percent to 65 percent of those calories should come from carbohydrates and 20 percent to 30 percent should come from fat. Protein should make up the remaining 10 to 35 percent of daily calories, with women aiming for 46 grams per day and men aiming for 56 grams per day.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of and treats chronic disease as they provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Aim for five to nine combined servings of fruits and vegetables per day. If fruits and vegetables are difficult to eat because of their texture, try purchasing canned items or cooking fruits and vegetables until they are soft.
Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium and vitamin D play an important role in maintaining bone health. Eat three servings of vitamin D-fortified low fat or fat-free milk or yogurt per day. Many older adults do not get enough vitamin B-12, found in fortified cereal, lean meats and poultry. A lack of vitamin B-12 can lead to macrocytic anemia and neurological problems that may affect sensory and motor function. Increasing your potassium intake and reducing salt intake can lower your risk of high blood pressure.
Maintain Your Fluid Intake
Dehydration is a form of malnutrition and can be a problem in older adults, especially those over the age of 85. Dehydration can lead to constipation, confusion, functional decline and, in some cases, death. Generally, older adults need between 2.7 and 3.7 liters per day.
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Food and Nutrition for Older Adults: Promoting Health and Wellness
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Library: DRI Table: Estimated Average Requirements
- U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Library: Electrolytes and Water