Throughout life, men generally need more energy calories/kilojoules per day than women. This is because men tend to be larger and have a higher proportion of muscle.
The amount of energy you need each day depends on your age, height, and how active you are. But as you tend to lose muscle mass, and activity levels tend to drop with age, calories also need to reduce. This doesn’t mean you need fewer nutrients. In fact, your need for nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, water, etc.) will remain roughly the same, if not go up.
Calcium is a good example. Your need for calcium for strong bones and teeth will increase, so extra serves of low fat milk, yogurt and cheese are important. Other good sources of calcium are tinned salmon, sardines, leafy greens like spinach, kale and bok choy, sesame seeds (and tahini) and almonds.
Keep the following health matters in mind.
Healthy bones and teeth
If you’re on bed rest or not exercising much, you may experience muscle loss, which can increase your risk of falls and broken bones.
Protein is essential for building, repairing, and maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
Excellent sources of protein include all meats, fish, eggs, and seafood; all types of dairy (watch cream and butter intake); and soy products like tofu and soy beverages. Other good sources include beans and pulses, such as baked beans, all nuts and seeds, and wholegrains.
Vitamin D is also important for healthy bones. The best source is the sun, but you only need a short time in the sunshine each day to get the amount of vitamin D you need. Aim for 10 to 30 minutes if you live in Australia, but check on healthy amounts for you in your area.
If you’ve been advised by your doctor to stay out of the sun, you can also get vitamin D from egg yolk, butter, table margarine, whole milk, yogurt, cheese, liver, tuna, sardines or a supplement. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
If you suffer from arthritis, fish oil may help. Eat fish at least twice a week, or talk to your doctor about a supplement.
Maintain healthy weight and muscle strength through physical activity.
There are massive benefits to walking and resistance (weight) training for older people. Talk to a qualified professional if you need more help with getting yourself set up with a structured program
Limit your intake of foods containing saturated fats and trans fats.
Foods like pies, pastries, fried and battered foods, chips, and chocolate are generally high in saturated fat, and may contain dangerous trans fats. Eat these foods very occasionally. Fresh fruit with reduced fat yogurt is a good dessert option, or cakes and crumbles made with wholegrain options, like oats.
Talk to your doctor about your personal health needs, particularly about how best to apply the dietary guideline that says to limit saturated fats, added salt, and added sugars. Some older people may be at risk of malnutrition from restricting their food intake, and eat too few nutrients and calories for their age. Ensure that you get your vitamins and minerals. If you eat less or have digestive issues, you may be deficient in some important vitamins and minerals
Eat plenty of fibre and drink plenty of fluids.
Water is essential for hydration, digestion and blood volume. Try to drink water about 6–8 cups of fluid a day, and more in warmer weather or when exercising. High fibre foods and plenty of fluids will help to move slow bowels.
Use less salt.
Everyone needs some salt, but too much can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Watch your intake of high salt foods, such as cured meats (ham, corned beef, bacon, lunch meats etc.), snack foods (potato chips and savoury pastries etc.), and sauces (soy sauce, for example). Choose reduced salt food when shopping, and flavour your cooking with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Watch your alcohol intake.
Follow Australian guidelines if you drink: no more than two standard drinks on any given day for healthy men and women.
As we get older we often need fewer calories because we are less active than when we were younger. However, we still need a similar amount of nutrients, sometimes more.
This means our choices must be nutrient dense but not energy dense and we should be careful to choose discretionary foods only occasionally as these are higher in calories
Add Physical Activity
Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is the best recipe for health and fitness. Set a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day
For someone who is currently inactive, it’s a good idea to start with a few minutes of activity, such as walking, and gradually increase this time as they become stronger. And always check with a health-care provider before beginning a new physical activity program