We all know how important it is to follow a healthy diet, but it’s easier said than done, for a variety of reasons. It seems easier to just drive through and pick up a fast food meal, or grab a prepackaged snack, than to prepare something nutritious. For older adults, there are additional considerations; a senior who lives alone may not want to cook just for themselves, or it may be a challenge to get out and shop for fresh foods. Yet there is one easy way to improve senior health and eating habits: incorporate more fiber.
Why Is Fiber So Important?
Fiber plays a crucial role in our digestive health. Because it isn’t fully digested as it leaves the stomach, it feeds the good bacteria in our colon, leading to a number of health benefits. A high-fiber diet helps with maintaining a healthy weight, regulating blood sugar, reducing the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer, and much more.
How to Safely Add More Fiber to a Senior’s Diet
As important as fiber is to a senior’s diet, it’s equally important to increase fiber gradually and carefully. This will help prevent the gas and bloating that can result from a high-fiber diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 24 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men, but always check with the senior’s doctor first before incorporating any dietary changes. It’s also important to ensure the senior drinks plenty of water while increasing fiber intake.
With the doctor’s approval, the following foods are simple and tasty ways to add in some extra fiber:
- Strawberries: A cup of fresh strawberries provides 3 grams of fiber, along with vitamin C, antioxidants, and manganese.
- Pears: One of the best fruit sources of fiber, one medium-sized fresh pear contains 5.5 grams.
- Raspberries: These delicious berries are chock-full of fiber, with a whopping 8 grams per cup.
- Carrots: Baby carrots are easy to grab for a healthy snack, with 3.6 grams of fiber per cup, along with vitamin A, K, B6, magnesium, beta carotene, and more.
- Almonds: Just 3 tablespoons of almonds pack in 4 grams of fiber, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, and healthy fats.
- Oats: One of the healthiest grains, oats provide 16.5 grams of fiber per cup, including beta glucan, a particularly soluble type of fiber with incredible health benefits.
- Sweet potatoes: A medium, peeled, boiled sweet potato contains 3.8 grams of fiber, along with vitamin B, beta carotene, a number of minerals, and more.
- Chickpeas: Hummus is a simple way to enjoy chickpeas and the 12.5 grams of fiber they provide per cup. Try spreading on sliced pita wedges, veggies, or whole grain toast.
- Dark chocolate: Who doesn’t love chocolate? There are 3.1 grams of fiber in a one-ounce piece of dark chocolate containing a cocoa content of 70 – 95% or higher.
At Nightingale Homecare, one of the many ways we’re helping older adults live healthier, happier lives is through our Nourish Concierge Dietician services. Let one of our registered dieticians provide counseling and personalized recommendations for a senior you love. We take into account each individual’s personal dietary preferences, health conditions, and more to come up with a plan to improve nutrition.