The Effects of Aging on Appetite: As we age, we may find that we may not taste foods as well as we used to. Here’s why:
- Our taste buds decrease in number. The remaining taste buds also begin to atrophy (lose mass). If taste sensation is lost, usually salty and sweet tastes go first. Bitter and sour tastes may last slightly longer.
- Our mouths produce less saliva as we age. A dry mouth can make swallowing more difficult. It also makes digestion less efficient and can increase dental problems.
- Our sense of smell may decrease.
- Changes in smell and taste may be related to diseases, smoking and environmental exposures over a lifetime.
- Other factors contributing to the loss of taste and smell include nasal and sinus problems, such as allergies, sinusitis or nasal polyps, certain medications, including beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, tooth decay or poor dental hygiene, cigarette smoking, head or facial injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. If you experience either or both of these changes, consult your doctor, as some causes of impaired taste and smell are treatable.
A decrease in taste and smell can lessen our interest and enjoyment in eating, often leading to decreased appetite and poor nutrition.
What Can You Do For Yourself?
Stay Hydrated: As our mouths get drier, it is even more essential to drink enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Fluids help to: move nutrients and waste through our bodies, keep blood pressure normal, protect and cushion joints and organs, control body temperature and lower the risk of dehydration and heatstroke.
Signs of dehydration are thirst, dry lips and mouth, flushed skin, headache, dizziness and fainting, dark yellow, strong-smelling urine, low blood pressure and increased heart rate.
To meet your fluid needs:
- Be aware of your thirst and drink fluids often throughout the day.
- Choose water over soft drinks and caffeinated beverages (limited to 3 cups per day).
- Drink water with meals and snacks.
Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fainting and low blood pressure, putting seniors at risk for falls. It can also worsen constipation.
Include Fibre in Your Diet: A healthy diet high in fluids and fibre, along with regular exercise, can help maintain normal bowel habits. Fibre helps to prevent constipation by adding bulk and absorbing water, thus softening the stool. A high fibre diet may also prevent and treat various diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. Using the Canada Food Guide can help you choose foods higher in fibre. Remember that small changes can make a big difference in your fibre intake.
The Health Benefits of Breakfast: People can find many excuses to skip their morning meal, but the fact is that our bodies need breakfast! When you skip breakfast:
- Your brain is starved for energy so you might experience “mental fog.”
- Your muscles stay asleep even though you have a full day of activity ahead.
- You lack the nutrients needed to help you through the day.
- You slow down your metabolism.
- You experience cravings for unhealthy snacks.
While you sleep, your body is fasting, but it is also working to rebuild tissue and store energy in your muscles for the next day. By feeding your body when you wake, you will have more energy and be more alert. You will concentrate, solve problems, handle stressful moments and get the physical activity you need to stay fit.
By eating breakfast, your body is more likely to get all the vitamins and minerals it needs for the day. Breakfast eaters typically consume less fat and cholesterol, which reduces heart disease risk. They also tend to have better weight control and not give in to bad-snack temptation. They also reduce their risk of developing insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
Follow a Balanced Diet: A healthy balanced diet should include varying amounts of the following: Lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and fruits and/or vegetables.
See Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating to help you choose the best food options for you.
(Are you ready for independent living? Here are five reasons why it’s time for you to do it!)
How Our On-Hand Specialists Can Help
At The Manor Village, our chefs prepare nutritious, wholesome meals while minimizing additives, refined sugars, processed flours and glutens. We offer a fruit starter before large meals as it helps aid digestion.
We believe that good nutrition plays a key part in helping Preserve Your Independent Living. Our chefs will help to customize your meals if you have special dietary needs. It’s all part of the senior living experience at our retirement homes.