Your eating habits might change as you get older, but some staples in your diet should always stay the same.
“Appetite changes may happen as physical activity starts to decrease, metabolism changes or bone and muscle mass are lost with age. Yet, while your energy needs may decrease, your nutrient needs actually increase,” says Melissa Keeney, registered dietitian at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.
So what nutrients should you add to your diet? Keeney has the answer.
These 5 nutrients support healthy aging.
Keeney suggests prioritizing these nutrients as you get older:
- Calcium. As you age, your bones become more brittle. This makes them easier to break, but calcium can help. Find it in foods like milk, yogurt and cheese.
- Vitamin B12. This helps produce blood and nerve cells. Add it to the menu with foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
- Probiotics. These healthy bacteria comes from fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh or supplements. They help with gut health and digestive issues.
- Selenium. This nutrient keeps your muscles strong, protects your cells from damage and infections, and keeps your thyroid in tip-top shape. Brazilian nuts are a rich source of selenium, along with seafood, cereals and grains, and dairy products.
- Folate. Help your cells grow and protect against strokes and cancers by making sure you get enough folate. Add folate to your diet with leafy greens, nuts and beans.
“Aim to eat a variety of foods to get a variety of nutrients. Usually the brighter in color a food is, the more nutrients it has. When building a plate, aim to include a carbohydrate, protein, fat and fiber with most meals and snacks,” says Keeney.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Change can be challenging especially when it comes to food. Give yourself grace as you are trying something new, Keeney says. Try experimenting with different ways of cooking foods, or consider batch cooking so you do not need to cook every day.
If you still have trouble, try supplementing your diet with a multivitamin. Always talk to your primary care provider before beginning a new supplement, as some may interact with other medications.
Talking to a registered dietitian-nutritionist can help, too. They can create a unique plan for you based on your personal preferences and medical history. With a little help, you can make small, realistic changes that have a big impact on your health.