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The Importance of Incorporating Variety Into Your Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for everyone, regardless of age. It holds particular significance for older adults since it can directly influence our overall well-being and quality of life. Conversations around senior health often revolve around managing chronic conditions and personal safety, but one area is often overlooked: nutrition.


Sad pug feeling the post-holiday blues

Since March is National Nutrition Month, we’ll explore why variety is key to achieving optimal results and how Presidio Homecare can help your loved one establish and maintain a healthy diet.


Changing Needs

As we age, our nutritional needs will evolve, making it essential to prioritize a balanced and nutrient-rich diet. (For example, you may need fewer calories but still need enough nutrients or more protein.) However, it’s also important to recognize that while our eating habits will shift, certain factors can make eating healthier harder. These include changes in your: 

  • Home life and mobility. 

  • Overall health, which can make it more difficult to cook or eat effortlessly.

  • Medications, which can change how food tastes or affect your appetite.

  • Ability to chew or swallow your food. 

  • Sense of smell and taste.


What Does a Healthy Plate Look Like?

Your plate should resemble a rainbow, where brightly colored foods remain front and center. Depending on specific health goals and needs, any meal — whether it’s for you or a loved one — should consist of a lean protein (lean meats, seafood, eggs, tofu, beans), fruits and vegetables (consider orange, red, green and purple), whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice or whole wheat pasta, and low-fat dairy (milk or any other milk alternative).

 

Be sure to choose foods high in fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Here’s why:

  • Fiber helps a great deal with gut health and weight control. 

  • Potassium helps maintain fluid levels in the body. It also supports kidney, heart, muscle and nervous system function.

  • Calcium keeps bones healthy and plays a role in muscle function. 

  • Similar to calcium, vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones, also helps with anti- inflammation, immune support, muscle function, and brain cell generation and provides a source for antioxidants.

  • Vitamin B12 is necessary for producing red blood cells — the body's oxygen transporters! Additionally, it helps maintain proper brain and nerve cell function. 


How to start eating well

Establishing any lifestyle change takes time, but we’ve got a few tips on little changes

you can start making now to achieve optimal health. They include: 

  • Avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats usually come from animals, while trans fats are processed fats. 

  • Staying hydrated. Older adults are at an increased risk for dehydration. Drinking six 8-ounce glasses of water or other beverages daily (not including alcohol) helps maintain kidney function, regulate body temperature, lubricate joints and pump blood to the muscles. 

  • Staying active. To put it simply, exercising more may help you feel hungrier. 

  • Maintain a regular eating schedule. For many people, a focused effort to eat regularly is necessary. It’s not only good for your physical well-being but also your mental well-being. Set timers and reminders for snacks in between meals, too. 

  • Make eating a social event. A shared meal can be especially uplifting if you’re experiencing depression, loneliness or lack of interest in other activities.

  • Use recommended servings. To maintain your weight, you must eat the right amount of food for your age and body. The American Heart Association provides recommended daily servings for adults aged 60+.


How Presidio Can Help

Eating well shouldn’t feel like a chore. Mealtime should feel natural and be an event that everyone looks forward to. Our Presidio Home Care Aides will take the time to understand your loved one’s food preferences so they get well-balanced and delicious meals (and snacks). Whatever they might need, our Aides are ready to assist. Contact US today to learn more.

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