Staying healthy as you grow older is extremely important.  

Maintaining or improving good nutrition helps increase your chances for lasting good health and reduces the risk of some diseases.  

Living a healthy lifestyle also can reduce health care costs. Everyone ages differently but some aspects of aging are common to most people.

Thirst.  As you grow older, it becomes more difficult to tell when you are thirsty.  

Drinking enough fluids is important for proper body function and temperature regulation.  In addition, your level of physical activity and certain types of medications can affect your need for fluids.  

Even if you don’t feel thirsty, plan to drink about six to eight cups (more during the Texas heat!) of water daily.  It is best not to count coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages as part of your fluid intake. Caffeinated beverages (such as coffee, tea, and soda) and alcoholic beverages act as diuretics (substances that promote the removal of fluid from the body through urination).

Energy needs. Less energy is needed as you grow older, especially if you have low physical activity. While the need for nutrients is the same, the nutritional quality of your diet must be maintained.  

Focus on nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean protein, and whole grains.

Taste. The ability to taste foods changes as people grow older due to a decrease in the number of taste buds.  Adding spices and herbs to foods can make them more flavorful.  

The following spices, herbs, and flavorings could be added to foods to enhance their taste:

• Bay leaf-stews, soups, meat, sauces

• Curry-rice, chicken, casseroles, soups, salad dressings

• Dry mustard-casseroles, meats, salads

• Garlic-soups, spaghetti, mixed dishes, stews, meat and chicken dishes

• Ginger-baked goods, chicken dishes

• Lemon-salads

• Mint-salads, sauces

• Onions-mixed dishes, stews, meat dishes, salads, soups

• Paprika-meats, salads, fish, soups

• Tomatoes-salads, sauces, mixed dishes, meat and chicken dishes, soups

• Parsley-soups, stuffings

• Pepper-salad dressings, meat dishes, stews, soups, sauces

• Rosemary-soups, stews, sausage, stuffings, lamb

To eat smaller meals more often throughout the day may be an easier way to get the nutrition needed, rather than eating a few large meals.

Rita Hodges is the Ellis County Extension Agent-Family & Consumer Sciences Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Contact Rita at 972-825-5175 or rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu