The phrase “counting calories” has become synonymous with staying healthy and getting fit. In theory, the concept is brilliant. For example, if one needs to consume 2000 calories per day, counting calories is a great way to track diet, and plan meals accordingly. It also prevents overeating or undereating. But when it comes to senior nutrition, calorie counting omits a key aspect of a balanced diet—micro and macronutrients.

Why Seniors Need to Focus on Nutrients

The suggested daily calorie intake of a person depends on their weight, height, muscle mass, and lifestyle (active or sedentary). Owing to age, elders generally have lower muscle mass and weight. Their activity level also decreases. All of these lead to a dip in per day calorie requirement. Here are the calorie requirements for men and women aged over 50.

Activity Level Women Men
Not physically active 1,600 calories/day 2,000 calories/day
Somewhat active 1,800 calories/day 2,200–2,400 calories/day
Active lifestyle 2,000-2,200 calories/day 2,400-2,800 calories/day

Source: verywellfit.com

Most elders fall under the ‘Not physically active’ or ‘Somewhat active’ categories.

So why is this relevant? Seniors, because they need fewer calories, automatically start eating less as they get older. As a result, the variety also decreases. But a senior’s nutrient requirements do not dip with age, it increases. Hence, elders need to focus on tracking nutrients (while staying within their calorie intake requirements) to lead a worry-free life.

Important Nutrients for Elders & Their Sources

To meet their daily quota, elders need to diversify their food choices and include fruits, vegetables that are high in fibre, and easily digestible protein such as eggs and paneer. Here is a checklist of the must-include nutrients for a balanced diet and their sources:

Carbohydrates

Carbs are the body’s main source of energy and should constitute 45–65% of the daily calorie intake. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. For example, while rice is a good source of carbs, there are different varieties, each with its own pros and cons. The popular white rice, a staple in our diet, is filling and satisfying but is just empty calories. Hence, white rice is not recommended for elders. On the other hand, brown rice contains healthy carbs along with fibre and magnesium. Genetically modified rice, or popularly known as Green Rice is also a great alternative for seniors, especially those that are diabetic.

Other sources of healthy carbs include baked potato, banana, apples, greek yoghurt, and beans. Many elders tend to cut them out of their diet thinking they are sweet and contain sugar. However, they are great sources of good carbohydrates and help keep one active and energetic.

Fats

Popular culture has created a negative aura around fat, but in reality, fat is crucial to staying healthy. Only through fat, can Vitamins A, D, and E be absorbed by the body. But like carbs, it is important to track the type of fat being consumed. 

To reduce the risk of heart disease, it is best to avoid saturated fats from sources like butter, biscuits, coconut oil, and meat. Six to seven teaspoons over 24 hours are recommended. Unsaturated fats like those found in olive oil, nuts, peanuts, and avocados are healthy alternatives.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient to keep the nerves and blood vessels healthy. But as age advances, the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 decreases. This is bad news for elders, as low Vitamin B12 can lead to cognitive decline. Including fortified cereal, seafood, and lean meat in one’s diet are easy ways of hitting B12 intake targets.

Dietary Fibre

Fibre is to digestion what carrots are to the eyes. Without good fibre, the body is not able to assimilate nutrients and keep digestive functions optimal. Whole-grain bread, cereals, beans, and lentils are great sources of fibre.

Eating Right Every Day

While tracking nutrients and calories is important, consistency is the secret to staying healthy. Some easy ways to not waiver from a healthy diet are:

  • Planning meals on a weekly basis
  • Ordering groceries only from trusted suppliers
  • Monthly or bi-monthly consultation with a nutritionist
  • Subscribing to a meal service that can customize food according to personal tastes and dietary requirements

To know more about how Alserv can help with eating and living healthy, contact us today. CLICK HERE to request a callback.