Nutrition for Older Adults

Nutrition for older adults. Lady eating an apple.

Good nutrition is important, no matter what our age. It provides energy and can helps control weight. It may also help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. But as we age, our bodies and life changes, and so does what we need to stay healthy. For example, we may need fewer calories, but we still need to get enough nutrients. Some older adults need more protein.

Some changes that can happen as we age can make it harder to eat healthy.  Some of these changes may include:
• Home life, such as suddenly living alone or having trouble getting around
• Health, which can make it harder to cook or feed oneself
• Medicines, which can change how food tastes, causing a dry mouth, or causing lack of appetite
• Sense of smell and taste
• Problems chewing or swallowing food

As we age, we should eat foods that promote good health and provide lots of nutrients without the extra calories. Some of these may include:
• Fruits and veggies of bright colors
• Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice
• Fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or soy or rice milk that has added vitamin D and calcium
• Seafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggs
• Beans, nuts, and seeds

Try to avoid foods with loads of calories but contain few nutrients such as candy, baked goods, soda, and alcohol.

NIH: National Institute on Aging

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