Proper nutrition key to good senior health

The benefits of healthy eating often can lead directly to a better quality of life for seniors — particularly, increased alertness and a stronger immune system.

The benefits of healthy eating often can lead directly to a better quality of life for seniors — particularly, increased alertness and a stronger immune system.

Many believe the idea “you are what you eat” has particular significance for senior citizens.

That is because following a healthy diet can often lead di­rectly to a better quality of life, including being more alert, having a stronger immune system, more energy, faster recuperation times and the ability to do a better job managing chronic health problems.

It also is said eating well can lead to a more positive outlook and better emotional balance. It can also help to keep muscles, bones, organs and other body parts stronger over time.

Stay hydrated

Part of a proper diet is making sure to drink enough water.

Se­niors can be prone to dehydration because their bodies may lose some of their ability to regulate fluid levels and their sense of thirst on a regular basis.

Drinking water with meals can help avoid urinary tract infections, constipation and possibly confusion.

Take vitamins

Even those who pay attention to nutrition can sometimes benefit from taking a vitamin supplement, particularly when it comes to getting enough vitamin B and vitamin D.

• After age 50, a person’s ­sto­m­ach produces less gastric acid, which can make it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12, which is needed to help keep blood and nerves vital.

To obtain the recommended daily intake — 2.4 mcg — of B-12, it may be ­necessary to take a ­supplement.

• As people get older, their skin is less efficient when it comes to synthesizing vitamin D, which, together with calcium, can help to protect older adults from osteoporosis, so taking a supplement may be beneficial.

In both cases, as with any vitamin or nutritional supplement, it is best to consult a doctor before beginning a supplement program.