Drs. Lasher and Harriman at Dental One Associates of Waldorf
3500 Old Washington Road, Suite 301, Waldorf, MD 20602

Diet and Nutrition Tips for the Elderly

As people begin to age, it is more important than ever for them to follow a healthy diet and get adequate exercise. For adults over the age of 50, there are many benefits of eating a healthy diet including higher levels of energy, sharper mental acuteness, and easier management of chronic health issues. Eating should not necessarily be about dieting but instead should be about eating well.

The Benefits of Good Nutrition For Older Adults

Eating a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins can make you feel healthier and more energetic. A nutritious diet keeps the body strong, especially bones, and muscles. A healthy diet can also greatly decrease the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and many other health related issues. A nutritious diet is also essential for a healthy brain. People that eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish can actually decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease while also improving focus. Specific caloric needs of older adults will vary based on several factors including age, weight, and activity levels. Your healthcare provider can provide more information on exactly how many calories you should be consuming each day to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet.

How to Choose Healthy Foods

A higher quality of life can be achieved by choosing healthy foods for a balanced diet. There are certain foods you need as you age.

Vegetables: Colorful vegetables such as dark, leafy greens including kale, broccoli, and spinach are important. Yellow and orange vegetables including yams, carrots, and squash should also be included in you diet. You should try to eat at least two cups of vegetables everyday as part of a healthy diet.

Fruit: Whole fruits tend to be healthier than juices as they often provide more vitamins, and fiber. Color rich fruits such as melons and berries are especially good choices. One to two servings of fruits should be eaten everyday.

Grains: Whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients and should be chosen over items with processed white flour. Older adults should eat about six to seven ounces of grains everyday. Read ingredients on items you are buying to make sure you are getting products with healthy grains.

Calcium: Calcium is imperative for bone health and can help prevent fractures and osteoporosis. Older adults should incorporate items such as yogurt, cheese, and milk into their diets. Approximately 1,200mg of calcium should be consumed everyday. If you cannot eat dairy products there are other foods containing calcium including kale, tofu, almonds, and broccoli.

Protein: Lean protein is another important part of a healthy, balanced diet. It is important to eat a variety of protein sources and not just red meat. Other sources of protein include beans, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, seeds, and more.

Getting Rid of Unhealthy Foods

In order to eat a truly healthy diet, you will need to cut out some things. Adults over 50 should reduce sodium intake, and avoid bad carbohydrates. Bad carbohydrates include foods with refined sugar, white flour, and white rice. It is also important to look for sugar in foods where you wouldn’t necessarily expect it. Sugar is often added to foods such as canned soup, pasta sauce, ketchup, and even bread. Terms that you may see on foods with added sugar include corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, fructose, dextrose, cane juice, and molasses. You should also avoid bad fats in your diet and instead eat “good” fats. Foods with good fats include salmon, olive oil, walnuts, avocados, and other monounsaturated fats.

As you age, a healthy, balanced diet is not the only thing necessary for health. Physical activity is also important. If you are suffering from any health issues, it is important to consult with a doctor before beginning any type of exercise or physical activity, to ensure safety.

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