Sustenance For Seniors: Nourishing the Body From the Inside Out

If you’re like many healthy older adults, you probably adopted good lifestyle habits years ago. You either stopped smoking or you never started in the first place. You enjoy your cocktails or wine but you’re also mindful about your alcohol intake. You might spend a day on the couch binging your favorite show, but you generally exercise regularly. 

Here’s one more important habit you’ve probably also adopted, though it never hurts to have a refresher: properly nourishing your body. Even if you’ve developed a dietary plan that’s been working for you, as you age, it’s important to take a look at some of your body’s changing needs and make adjustments. Below are a few essential tips to implement that will benefit your body both inside and out. 

Pay attention to your diet  

It’s more important than ever to continue to eat well as you age. Older adults generally have lower calorie needs but similar or even increased nutrient needs compared to younger adults. Here are four things you can do right now to improve your diet: 

  1. Focus on eating foods that provide the nutrients older adults need, such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamins B and E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Some examples of nutrient-dense foods are salmon, asparagus, bell peppers, berries, kale, broccoli, and legumes. 
  1. Try to eat a farm-to-table diet, which consists of foods that are organic or grown locally. Farm-fresh produce is more nutrient dense than anything at a grocery store. Locally grown food is harvested at the peak of ripeness and nutritional value and arrives at your table faster, whereas grocery store produce may have been in transit and storage for weeks or even months before it reaches you. 
  1. Eat foods lower in saturated fats — saturated fats are found in butter, cheese, red meat, pastries, and ice cream. 
  1. Try to lower your sodium consumption. Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day — that’s equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt. 

Stay hydrated 

Because up to 70% of the human body is made up of water, you might think water intake is obviously part of a healthy diet. However, one study found more than 75% of Americans drink only about 2.5 cups of water a day; the recommended daily amount is about 13 cups. Over 7% of Americans say they don’t drink any water at all. 

Staying hydrated provides multiple benefits. Water matters because it keeps your cells functioning properly, helps skin look as youthful as possible, regulates body temperature, and detoxifies your body. Drinking more water will also dramatically increase your energy levels and brain function. 

While there are plenty of benefits of hydration, there are also many risks associated with dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration in older adults include fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramping, constipation, confusion, low blood pressure, and kidney problems. If you’re not getting enough water, try these tips: 

  • Eat foods that have a high water content, such as melons, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce, and oranges. 
  • Keep water handy simply by having a glass of water always within reach. 
  • If and when you drink alcohol or caffeine, both diuretics that prompt your body to remove fluids from your bloodstream, try to alternate with a glass of water. 
  • If water gets boring, add slices of fruit or try drinking low-sugar sports drinks. 

Embrace cultural traditions and sharing meals with others 

Food connects us, and its preparation and consumption are activities that can bridge members of multiple generations. Cultural foods — also called traditional dishes — represent the traditions, beliefs, and practices of a geographic region, ethnic group, religious body, or cross-cultural community. 

Eating with friends and family meets our human need to connect with others. It can also help you to establish healthier eating habits. Finally, find foods with flavors and textures you enjoy eating.  

Consider introducing mindful eating 

As you become more aware of your eating habits, you might start taking steps toward behavior changes that will benefit you and your environment. One way to do that is by adopting a habit known as mindful eating. It involves using all your physical and emotional senses to experience and enjoy your food choices. It simply asks that you focus on the food you’re eating, instead of eating with distractions, such as while watching TV.  

By slowing down slightly to notice what you are placing in your body, it opens the door for gratitude for the labors that brought you this food to arise. Mindful eating encourages you to make choices that are satisfying and nourishing to your body, mind and spirit. 

A final word on nourishment and eating healthy 

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you might already have adopted a healthy lifestyle in many ways. And you’ve enjoyed decades of good health.  

But if you haven’t yet, changing your diet now to eat more organic foods, drink more water, reduce sodium, and eat more mindfully can help you create good habits and sustain your health and wellness for many more years to come. And that’s one goal certainly worth focusing on. 


Here’s more food for thought: There’s a Life Plan Community coming soon to Ventura County, California that will focus on mindful aging, the joys of nature, environmental stewardship, and healthy life choices for adults 60 and older. It’s Ensō Verde, and among its community principles, it will feature farm-to-table dining, a community garden, mindfulness and meditation spaces, and other activities for healthy living, learning, and entertainment. Learn more about this remarkable community by contacting us today.