Some myths are fun stories meant to entertain, educate, or caution. Others are downright dangerous. Full of false information, they can lead those who believe them to act in ways that can be harmful or unsafe. Unfortunately, many myths about senior nutrition fall into the second category. What do you need to know to protect yourself and the seniors you care about?
Myths About Senior Nutrition
There are a variety of myths about senior nutrition floating around. Learning how to spot these falsehoods and arming yourself with the facts can help you stay healthy and happy.
Myth: Malnutrition Isn’t a Problem for American Seniors
In a perfect world, no one would go hungry. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from flawless, and juggling the costs of food, housing, medications, and living expenses can be challenging for people of all ages, including seniors. In fact, some 5.3 million American seniors were food insecure in 2018, according to Feeding America.
Myth: It’s Natural for Appetite to Fade with Age
Some things are a natural part of the aging process, but an absent appetite isn’t one of them. While being less hungry may accompany a decrease in activity, a sharp drop in appetite could also indicate a medical or dental issue. Any major changed in weight or appetite should be discussed with your doctor.
Myth: Seniors Don’t Have to Worry About Getting Enough Vitamins
We’re told time and again that children need a healthy diet with the right mix of vitamins and minerals because their bodies are still growing. Seniors are no longer growing, so they no longer need to worry about getting enough vitamins, right? Wrong. The human body uses numerous vitamins and minerals every day for essential functions, so it needs to have these substances on hand. As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics points out, certain vitamins are especially important for seniors, including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and potassium. Seniors should also take care to get the right amount of fiber and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Myth: Being a Little Overweight Is Ideal
You may have heard that being a little overweight is actually healthier because you have extra reserves. Don’t believe it. Being overweight is a risk factor for a lengthy list of health conditions. It is particularly concerning for seniors if it interferes with their mobility and increases their risk of falling.
Myth: Seniors Can Eat Whatever They Want as Long as They Maintain a Healthy Weight
While maintaining a healthy weight is good, it’s not a free pass to eat whatever you want. Consuming unhealthy foods can leave your body starving for the nutrients that it needs, and unhealthy substances can clog your system. No matter what your waistline looks like, it’s best to make it a habit to fill your plate with the proper portions of a mix of healthy foods.
Myth: Drinking When You’re Thirsty Is Enough to Keep You Hydrated
If you’re a senior who waits until you’re thirsty to reach for a glass of water, then you’re probably flirting with dehydration. As WebMD explains, the sensations that people associate with thirst are less accurate with age, so an older person is less likely to notice the signs that their body is in need of fluid. What can you do to stay hydrated? The amount that each person needs to drink varies depending on their size, gender, and activity level. A person’s health, medications, and even the weather can also influence hydration needs. Rather than aiming for a generic goal, the best course is to make it a point to drink water regularly throughout the day.
Myth: It’s Too Late to Make Meaningful Health Choices
It’s never too late to break a bad habit or develop a healthy one. Choosing to eat a healthy diet can make you feel better and may offer health benefits. It also offers a chance to show that you care for those around you. After all, eating is often a social activity, so when you choose to eat healthy foods, you increase their availability and visibility, which can encourage the people around you to eat nutritious foods too.
No matter what your age, eating well is one of the keys to feeling great. So ignore these myths about senior nutrition and focus on the simple things: eating more vegetables, avoiding processed food and added sugar, and watching your portion sizes. And if you have any questions, talk to your doctor.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. Our warm and inviting communities makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please contact us online.