(The Daily Dish) Why do nutrition recommendations change as we age? Aging is a complex process that alters nutrient absorption and utilization and therefore nutritional needs change.

This March, Davis County Senior Services joins the Administration for Community Living and senior nutrition service providers across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national Senior Nutrition Program!

As people are living longer aging has evolved into more than disease management but rather healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. For many older adults maintaining their independence and quality of life is important. Nutrition plays a part in ALL of this.

  • In order to maintain quality of life it is important to maintain muscle mass.
    • Strong muscles need adequate protein and as we age protein needs to increase.
      • Retaining muscle mass helps to maintain one’s ability to do activities of daily living such as getting dressed, driving, shopping, and cooking. Good muscle mass also helps to decrease fall risk.  
      • Protein rich foods are low fat meat such as poultry and fish, eggs, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
  • Calcium needs also increase.
    • Strong bones need adequate calcium.  
      • Adequate calcium is related to a reduced risk of osteoporosis; as well as other conditions such as colon cancer and hypertension.
      • Calcium rich foods are low fat dairy, fortified plant milks such as soy, oat, and almond, and low oxalate leafy greens (kale, collard, mustard greens, and arugula), tofu, and legumes.

It’s often asked if there is a plant milk that is the best to choose from. You’ll want to look for calcium content and the highest in protein. Soy is most comparable in these nutrients to dairy milk.

  • A strong gut microbiome is important for a healthy immune system and fiber is key.
    • Fiber also decreases the risk for heart disease and type two diabetes.
    • Motility can decline with age and fiber keeps things moving
  • Needs do not increase but most older adults are not meeting the daily requirement of 21-30 grams per day.
    • Fiber rich foods include whole plant foods that are minimally processed. Fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread/cereals, legumes, peas, lentils.
    • Eating a variety is key to a strong gut microbiome.

For older adults, it is important to consume an adequate intake of calcium, healthy protein, and fiber rich foods to maintain and strengthen muscles, bones, and the gut microbiome.

For additional information, you visit the Davis County Health Department or the U of U Health Nutrition Services.