We all appreciate how important good nutrition is for our overall health and wellbeing. But in later life, when our bodies go through a number of physical changes, this can affect how well we eat and how much nourishment we’re able to get from food.
The senses of taste and smell become less sensitive as the years pass by, so sitting down to a meal might not give us the same pleasure that it used to. And the body isn’t able to absorb nutrients as efficiently. Older people also tend to eat less as their energy levels naturally dip due to being less active, and because the amount of lean muscle decreases in proportion to fat tissue.
Taking all these factors into account, as long as we practice careful nutritional management and enjoy a varied, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, we can look forward to leading a happy, healthy life.
Here are some tips on the best foods to eat based on the health benefits of the nutrients they include.
To keep your digestive system in good working order and prevent common problems such as constipation, aim to include an adequate amount of fibre, along with plenty of fluids, in your meals. Good sources include wholegrain cereals and bread, porridge, brown pasta and rice, fresh fruit, vegetables and pulses. A great, high-fibre start to your day could be with a warming bowl of Apple, Sultana and Cinnamon Porridge.
Vitamin D and calcium
Calcium and vitamin D work together to help reduce bone density loss and prevent osteoporotic fractures. And as the risk of problems like brittle bones increases over the age of 55, women in particular need to make sure they’re getting enough of these important nutrients. Calcium is found mainly in milk and dairy foods such as yogurt and cheese, as well as leafy green vegetables.
The main source of vitamin D is sunlight, but in winter in the UK, this can be too weak to allow our bodies to produce what we need. To ensure you’re getting enough, you could talk to your doctor about whether you might need to take a vitamin D supplement or eat fortified cereals and spreads. You could also make sure to include meat, fish, cheese and eggs in your diet, as these all include small amounts of vitamin D. For a delicious supper that includes both nutrients, try Smoked Salmon & Pesto Quiche or maybe succulent Kipper Fillets for breakfast.
This essential vitamin helps the body form collagen, which is needed to heal wounds, form skin, ligaments, blood vessels and tendons. It helps increase iron absorption and contains antioxidants that are thought to help prevent heart disease and cancer. We can only get vitamin C from supplements and our diet – the main sources being vegetables and fresh fruit, especially citrus. So why not opt for a fruity dessert, such as a refreshing Fruit Salad or juicy Blueberry Tart?
Iron makes haemoglobin, a substance our red blood cells use to store and carry oxygen around the body. Not getting enough of this mineral can make us feel tired and lethargic – a condition known as iron deficiency anaemia. Foods that are iron-rich are meat – especially red meat like beef and lamb – dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, soya beans and dried fruits such as figs and apricots. A hearty bowl of Scotch Broth or Roast Beef Dinner with all the trimmings will help keep your iron levels topped up.
Folate is one of the B-group of vitamins that, along with vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, helps the body perform many functions. Low levels have been linked with an increased risk of anaemia, stroke and dementia. Red and white meat, fish, dairy products, vegetables, eggs and whole cereals are good sources – ingredients you’ll find in our Sausage & Root Vegetable Bake and luxurious Beef & Wild Mushroom Lasagne.
While eating the right foods for our health is obviously important, finding the time and energy to prepare meals from scratch can sometimes seem difficult. And if you’re just cooking for yourself, you might not want to bother heading out to the shops for the ingredients, especially when it’s cold outside. Throwing away uneaten food is often another concern. This is where stocking up on our delicious range of frozen ready meals can be so convenient. We’ll deliver them direct to your door. So all you have to do is take one out of your freezer and pop it into your microwave or oven whenever you want to enjoy a tasty, well balanced meal. Have a look at our winter range and choose whatever takes your fancy. You’ll also see handy dietary symbols next to each dish, if you’re avoiding certain ingredients.