Diet Plan For Seniors

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Diet plan for seniors differ significantly from diet plans for younger people such as teenagers and young adults, particularly when it comes to the dietary needs of older adults. The primary concern is to minimize or avoid potential complications associated with a special diet.

What diet is best for older adults?

A new study has revealed that a diet rich in protein and low in calories can help older adults with obesity lose more weight while maintaining muscle mass and improving bone density.

Older adults laughing and eating
Losing weight as an older adult presents some challenges.

Older adults often lose bone density and muscle mass when they concentrate on shedding weight.

This unwanted bone and muscle loss can result in mobility issues and can even increase a person’s risk of injury.

A recent study, which Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, is the lead on, has shown that a high-protein, low-calorie diet can help adults avoid these problems.

Several peer-reviewed journals, which include Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have accepted four research papers from the study for publication.

The researchers randomly selected 96 adults over 65 years of age and assigned them to one of two groups.

They put the first group on a 6-month, low-calorie meal plan that was also high in protein — more than 1 gram (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. They assigned the other group to a weight-maintenance plan that included 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight.

High-protein, low-calorie

Those in the high-protein, low-calorie diet group experienced the most weight loss, but more revealing was that those in this group maintained their muscle mass. They also lost weight on the stomach, hips, thighs, and rear, which can decrease the risk of certain medical conditions, including diabetes and stroke.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the participants in the high-protein group improved their bone quality, and they gained 0.75 points on their Health Aging Index scores, involving longevity and mortality biomarkers.

Kristen Beavers, assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest and lead investigator of this study, led earlier, smaller studies where she scrutinized the planning and preparation of the participants’ meals. For this study, though, with its greater number of participants, she wanted to find a more cost-effective method.

Consequently, the study asked those in the weight-loss group to use four meal replacements every day and to prepare two meals of lean protein and vegetables each day. The team allowed each participant one healthy snack per day to wrap up a low-calorie, high-protein meal plan. Those in the other group were instructed to maintain their regular diet and usual activities.

Older adults and nutrition

Older adults have unique nutritional needs and may need to make changes to their diets as the years go by. Muscle mass can decrease as a natural part of aging, and people do not burn calories at the same rate as they do during their younger years.

Targeting nutrient-dense foods is essential for older adults, and avoidance of high-calorie foods that lack vital nutrients is crucial.

Beneficial foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, and low-fat dairy. Portion control may also be necessary — for older adults especially — as people may eat more food than they need.

It can be challenging to cook for a smaller family, so experts sometimes suggest cooking ahead and freezing portions to eat later when cooking is less appealing.

The particulars of this latest study seem to mirror the nutritional needs of older adults. However, the authors suggest that the addition of more protein may be the key to avoiding some of the unhealthful pitfalls that can take place when an older adult loses weight.

Healthy Meal Planning: Tips for Older Adults

Eating healthfully and having an active lifestyle can support healthy aging. Use the resources below to learn about different patterns of healthy eating and ways to create a nutritious meal plan.

Older adults’ unique nutrition needs

Simple adjustments can go a long way toward building a healthier eating pattern. Follow these tips to get the most out of foods and beverages while meeting your nutrient needs and reducing the risk of disease:

Infographic, Tips To boost Your Health As You Age. Click link for full infographic
  • Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group to help reduce the risk of developing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Choose foods with little to no added sugar, saturated fats, and sodium.
  • To get enough protein throughout the day and maintain muscle, try adding seafood, dairy, or fortified soy products along with beans, peas, and lentils to your meals. Learn more about protein and other important nutrients.
  • Add sliced or chopped fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. Look for pre-cut varieties if slicing and chopping are a challenge for you.
  • Try foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as some cereals, or talk to your doctor about taking a B12 supplement. Learn more about key vitamins and minerals.
  • Reduce sodium intake by seasoning foods with herbs and citrus such as lemon juice.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help stay hydrated and aid in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Avoid sugary drinks.

It can be hard for some people to follow through on smart food choices. Read about common roadblocks and how to overcome them and check out the USDA’s tips for older adults.

Seniors & Low Carb Diets

The Low Carb Diet for Seniors

Learn about how our nutritional needs change as we age and how a low carb diet could improve your physical and mental health later in life.  

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to replace personalized medical advice. A low carb diet may not be suitable for you. Consult your health care provider before making any changes to your lifestyle or use this information at your own risk.

Our bodies are always changing from the moment we are born. What our bodies require at each stage of our life differs vastly, and it is important to know how to nourish ourselves accordingly for optimal health and well-being.

In this article, we focus on the needs of those who are 60+ years. At this age, our metabolism, nutritional needs and digestive systems have changed a lot and the same diet we followed when we were young adults may not be the best, or healthiest, choice anymore. Our direction in this article is to explain the health benefits of a low carb diet in older age as well as to address other things to consider about nutrition when you reach later stages of life. Keep reading for health insights, tips, and products that are useful for older adults and especially those coping with certain physical conditions.

As always, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle to ensure they are personalized to your specific health needs. If you are currently on any medications or dealing with any medical conditions, you may be at higher risk for certain complications.

What Happens to Our Bodies When We Age?

As we age, there are a few key changes that happen to the body that we should be mindful of when it comes to food and nutrition. These are described below.

  1. Our metabolism slows down.

Your metabolism is the amount of energy that your body burns (or the rate at which it breaks down food) in order to function and maintain itself. As we age, our metabolism slows as much as 10% every decade after age 20. So, by the time you reach age 60, your metabolism has slowed down by nearly 40% since your refrigerator-raiding teenage years! If you are age 60 or older, you have probably already noticed a decrease in your appetite. Some people go from having three meals a day to just two, or smaller more frequent meals and snacks.

So, what does this mean? With a slower metabolism, the body absorbs nutrients from foods at a slower rate, meaning that we should focus on more nutrient-dense foods as we get older. In addition, it can be easier to put on pounds and harder to lose weight. Even if you don’t eat much more than usual, the body will store any excess calories that it is unable to burn in the form of fat. Having a higher body fat percentage can create several health problems and increase your risk for things like diabetes and heart disease.

  • We lose muscle mass.

Another not-so-nice thing that happens when we age is that we tend to lose muscle mass. Muscle mass is important for mobility and strength, but also, having more muscle mass can increase your natural metabolic rate since muscles burn more energy than fat.

Maintaining muscle mass is one of the keys to preventing excessive weight gain in older age, which we mentioned previously is more likely to occur due to slowing metabolic rates. However, it can be challenging to lose weight and build muscle later in life, which is why a healthy diet and daily exercise regimen become even more important around mid-life, if not earlier. Inactivity can accelerate muscle loss that already begins to occur around age 30.

Eating lean protein and incorporating resistance training (anything that requires the muscles to work against gravity, weights or rubber resistance bands) are all good ideas to help maintain or increase muscle mass. However, one thing to note about protein consumption in older age is that due to our slowing metabolism, animal proteins may not be broken down as easily. Instead, reach for plant-based proteins or grass-fed or marine collagen, which are a bit easier on the digestive system. Furthermore, research has shown that the amino acid profiles of animal proteins can trigger certain enzymes in the body that have negative effects on aging. Don’t worry about cutting out animal protein altogether, but opt for things like vegan protein shakes, tofu or tempeh more frequently.

  • We are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Our heart and blood vessels become “stiffer” as we get older, meaning that our blood flow is slower and our blood pressure tends to increase. That said, the heart still functions well, but it may have to work harder to pump more blood when we exercise or become ill. Regular aerobic exercise (anything that gets your heart rate up and oxygen flowing, such as running, walking and swimming) can all contribute to improved heart health and athletic performance in seniors.

In addition, plaque from years of unhealthy eating can build up and exacerbate blood pressure problems. The good news is that this can be reversed, mainly through making changes in the diet. Avoid sugar and trans fats while increasing your fibre intake as well as healthy fats and lean protein. Do not rely on medications such as aspirin to provide bandage solutions for poor lifestyle habits.

Benefits of a Keto Diet for Seniors

Improved Heart Health

A ketogenic diet rich in healthy fats can actually improve heart health. While this may seem counterintuitive because we have been told that fat is “unhealthy” for so many years – especially if you were born around the time these claims started coming out – it has been shown that ketosis promotes fat burning, as well as many other benefits that can help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. As long as you are choosing the right sources of fat, that is, mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (found in many plant foods and grass-fed animal foods), your risk for diet-induced cardiovascular disease should be reduced. This is because ketosis can help you lose weight and manage conditions such as diabetes that put you at higher risk for heart attack, stroke, etc. In addition, eliminating foods that cause plaque in the arteries to build up (such as trans fats found in processed food and fast food) further reduces your risk. For more information on how a low carb diet can improve artery health and cholesterol levels, check out our article, “Exploring Cholesterol Level Impacts on Health.”

Blood Sugar Control

Many seniors suffer from insulin resistance, a condition associated with or which can lead to diabetes that has serious life-threatening complications. The ketogenic diet is especially recommended for those wanting to manage their blood sugar levels and reverse insulin resistance, mainly because it drastically reduces dietary sugars allowing for blood sugar and insulin levels to return to normal. That said, if you are taking insulin or other medications currently to combat diabetes, talk to your doctor first about switching to a ketogenic diet, as these two things can work against each other.

Improved Cognitive Function

Another key benefit of the ketogenic diet for seniors is improved cognitive function. As we age, we all experience some loss of memory, reasoning and other thinking skills. In more serious cases, we can experience dementia, and even develop Alzheimer’s disease which can have life-threatening effects.

To reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, it is often recommended to make positive lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum, following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Recent research has found that a ketogenic diet, in addition to the other activities mentioned, can significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This is because ketones offer a better fuel source for brain cells; studies have shown that ketones provide long-lasting energy, increase nerve cell growth, and strengthen nerve cell signalling. Another big benefit of the ketogenic diet is that it helps reduce inflammation in all parts of the body, including in the brain. This is when a ketogenic diet is compared to a diet rich in refined sugars and carbohydrates, which trigger inflammation. Finally, researchers have found that the brain loses its ability to use glucose (obtained from dietary carbs) as a viable fuel source in Alzheimer’s disease, so it makes sense to provide an alternative for its continued functioning.

Prevention of Nutrient Deficiencies

A low carb or ketogenic diet often focuses on nutritionally dense whole foods, which can help prevent nutrient deficiencies in older adults. This group is the one of the most susceptible to nutrient deficiencies due to changing appetite levels and digestive capabilities. Some of the most important nutrients to be mindful of include iron, B vitamins, vitamin D and healthy fats. A lack of these can cause neurological dysfunctions, decreased energy levels and more physical signs of aging. Including enough healthy fats in the diet is also important because many of these essential nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they require dietary fats in order to be properly absorbed by the body. You can get tested to check your levels of these and other nutrients to ensure you have healthy levels. Daily vitamins can also reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies, but are not a replacement for a healthy diet.

Weekly planner for low carb diet for seniors

Day 1.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Endive salad

Breakfast- 1 serving of scrambled eggs with spinach and frittata

Snack- 1 serving of peppered cheese slices

Lunch- 1 serving of avocado tuna salad with 1 sliced bell pepper

Snack- 2 servings of endive salad

Dinner- 1 serving of mixed green veggies salad with crispy salami

Day 2.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Easy cooked eggs

Breakfast- 1 serving of easy cooked eggs with bell pepper and mushrooms

Snack- 1 serving of green smoothie

Lunch- 1 serving of arugula salad with almonds ( 1 oz)

Snack- 1 serving of peppered cheese slices

Dinner- 1 serving of smoked salmon with olive oil and lemon dressing

Day 3.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Cucumber avocado salad

Breakfast- 1 serving of Denver omelet with 1 apple

Snack- 1 serving of cucumber avocado salad

Lunch- 1 serving of grilled chicken with mixed herb sauce

Snack- 2 servings of turkey lettuce rollups

Dinner- 1 serving of zucchini noodles with pesto and fried cabbage

Day 4.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Tuna salad

Breakfast- 1 serving of egg baked avocadoes

Snack- 2 servings of non-flavored Greek yogurt

Lunch- 1 serving of stir-fried shrimps with kale crisps

Snack- 1 serving of avocado tuna salad

Dinner- 1 serving of brown butter sautéed Brussel sprouts

Day 5.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Roasted lemon chicken

Breakfast- 1 serving of strawberry ginger and a lemon smoothie with almonds (1 oz)

Snack- Pecans (1 oz)

Lunch- 1 serving of plain tuna salad with almonds (1 oz)

Snack- 2 servings of baby carrots and hummus snack

Dinner- 1 serving of mixed greens with roasted lemon chicken

Day 6.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Cream cheese soup

Breakfast- 1 serving of spinach onion scramble with 2 strips of bacon

Snack- 2 servings of tuna avocado salad

Lunch- 1 serving of cream cheese soup with roasted kale

Snack- 1 serving of cucumber avocado salad

Dinner- 2 servings of zucchini alfredo with 2 servings of roasted cauliflower and tahini

Day 7.Keto diet for 60 year old women

Keto diet for 60 year old women – Chocolate protein shake

Breakfast- 1 serving of hard-boiled eggs with spinach and tomato salad

Snack- 1 serving of chocolate protein shake

Lunch- 1 serving of spinach and avocado soup

Snack- 1 serving of peppered cheese slices

Dinner- 1 serving of grilled garlic chicken with mixed greens

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