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The 2 Most Common Diet Deficiencies in Older Adults

Updated: Oct 25, 2022



As most know, our body declines in nearly all physiological areas as we age. Most of us take for granted how we feel when we are in our earlier stages of life and may not develop proper habits that will benefit us as we get older. I am not a dietician or nutritionist, but the 2 most common deficiencies that I see in my clients’ diets are not enough water or protein on a daily basis.


Water Intake

It varies for each person, but I recommend that we get anywhere from 60-80 ounces of water intake per day. For someone who has made it a habit their whole life, this may be easy as they are accustomed to doing it each day. However, for a significant part of the older adult population, most are not getting anywhere near this amount. Some of the major benefits of water include:

  • Helps our body keep a normal temperature

  • Lubricates and cushions joints (I’m talking to you arthritis sufferers!)

  • Protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues

  • Get rid of waste products in our body through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

When looking at your diet, don’t feel like you have to be able to get 60-80 ounces of water tomorrow if you are only used to drinking 20 ounces or less. Start with small goals, like having an entire week where you drink 30-40 ounces each day. Then, slowly build up your ounces each week in increments of 5-10 ounces until you are hitting that 60-80 ounce mark. This process can take a couple of months, but if you take those small steps, it will become an automatic routine. Here are a few ways to help you drink more water:

  • Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day that you can refill whenever needed

  • Substitute one sugary drink with a water

  • Drink water when eating out (saves money as well!)

  • Add a lemon or lime wedge to give it some extra taste


Protein Intake

Did you know that your body needs more protein as you get older compared to when you are in the younger stages of life? It’s true. It is recommended that we get at least 50-60% of our body weight in grams of protein each day. For example, if I weigh 200 lbs and am 65 or older, it is recommended that I get around 100-120 grams of protein each day. This is about 3x more than if I were in my 20’s to 40’s. Some of the major benefits of protein intake include:


  • Helps to repair damaged tissues (especially after surgery or injury)

  • Reduces muscle loss

  • Improves energy levels

  • Helps the body build cells to fight infection

This may be a tough pill to swallow as I have maybe a handful of clients that are getting the proper amount of protein in their diet. So here is a list of ways to help increase your protein intake as you age:

  • Add a protein shake to your daily routine (but don’t substitute a meal for this!)

  • Get up earlier and don’t skip breakfast (eggs and a protein shake are a great way to start the day!)

  • Have protein-rich items for both lunch and dinner (lunch meat sandwiches, fish, chicken, turkey, and a side of veggies will get you to your goals)

  • Snack on cheese and nuts throughout the day as they are high in protein

Conclusion

Working on these 2 deficiencies in your diet can have significant effects on your overall health. If you are nowhere close to meeting the requirements listed above, that’s ok. Making small incremental progress towards these goals is what will make these habits sustainable as we continue to age. If you want more out of your later years, get started today, and prepare for a better, healthier tomorrow!





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