Older adults who are underweight can encounter serious health issues, including malnutrition, a crippled immune system, lower energy, osteoporosis, and greater susceptibility to complications after surgery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you are underweight if your body mass index (BMI) is under 18.5. As we age, some of us will experience decreased appetite, and without realizing it, we may not be eating enough to nourish our bodies. Hence, if you are over 50 and are underweight, you should be conscious of the amount of nutrients and calories you are taking in at every meal. You should not only aim to gain weight, but you must also do so healthily. Here are some healthy foods for gaining weight in your 50s.
Muscle mass tends to decrease with age. Protein not only gives you the calories you need but also builds muscle and tissue. Lean proteins are low in saturated fat and include fish, skinless poultry, and lean cuts of red meat. Seafood and plant sources such as eggs, beans, nuts, and soy products are sources of lean protein too. Plant-based proteins also contain no cholesterol. According to the Institute of Aging, you should eat at least 5 to 7 ounces of lean protein a day. If you find it hard to reach your protein requirement for the day, you can also drink protein shakes to make up for it.
Calorie-Dense Foods with Healthy Fats
Consuming foods high in healthy fats and calories is a good way to gain weight for older adults. Full-fat dairy, nuts, and avocados can all help with healthy weight gain. Coincidentally, nuts and avocados are among some of the foods that are great for improving brain health. Other foods which contain a good dose of healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, nut butter, organic, grass-fed butter, and grass-fed sour cream.
Ill-fitting dentures and missing teeth can make eating an unpleasant experience for seniors. If you have difficulty chewing, eat soft foods like meatloaf, eggs, yogurt, and avocado to improve your eating experience. Cook vegetables, meat, and grains longer to soften them. Using a food processor to grind your food can help too. Besides eating soft foods and exercising, eating small, frequent meals can also help to improve your appetite. For your snacks, remember to choose high protein and high-calorie foods, and avoid foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat, such as cookies, cakes, potato chips, and sweetened beverages.
If you have lost too much weight, your doctor or dietitian may recommend nutritional supplements for you to take. A nutritional supplement is a liquid, pudding, or powder that provides added minerals, vitamins, and calories. It is recommended to take supplements between meals to leave room for solid food at mealtime.
Foods with Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Avocados, olive oil, and nut butter are not only high in calories and healthy fats, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also easy to add to your food as appetizers.
Some seniors who have turned 50 may experience declining appetites due to decreased salivation or consumption of medication. As a result, they may not be interested in food or the act of eating, which then exacerbates their weight loss. If that is you, you must eat food that gives you sufficient calories, protein, and healthy fats, among other nutrients. Whether you choose to eat three full meals or have snacks throughout the day, you should make it a point to ensure that you are eating enough.