The Most Nutritious Breakfasts for Seniors

breakfast for seniors

The quality of a person’s diet impacts almost everything, including general physical condition, bone health, eye health, vascular function, the immune system, and cognitive abilities[1]. From a very early age, we are taught that it is best to eat a wide variety of foods. This is especially important for young children and older adults; these are the individuals who need the most tailored and enhanced nutrition.

Breakfast, in particular, is a meal that has long been suggested as a requirement for good health. The International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science says breakfast “has been shown to have some profound effects on our health, well-being, and cognitive performance.” And what we eat for breakfast is just as important as whether or not we eat it at all. The American Heart Association found that those who add whole grains to their diets, such as oats, enjoy lower mortality rates from all causes, including cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Eating a good breakfast can help ensure that your body stays as strong and healthy as possible. And that matters as we get older and falls become more likely and more dangerous. We recommend always having a medical alert watch or pendant with you in the event of a fall or other emergency.

Why Nutrition Matters So Much for the Elderly

As we age, everything about our bodies begins to change. As a result, what we put into our bodies should change too. During the younger years, most of us enjoyed foods that were terrible for us yet suffered no ill effects (beyond the stomach ache at 3 AM that told us that extra piece of pizza was probably a bad idea). Most of us, when we were in our twenties and thirties, could get adequate nutrition without really trying. Those were the days!

But for older adults, what worked back then won’t work anymore. Here are a few of the reasons why, according to the National Library of Medicine:

·         As we get older, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing and using nutrients. As a result, our nutrient requirements go up.

·         At the same time, we tend to become less active. When that happens, metabolism slows down. This means fewer requirements for energy, so we need to eat less.

·         Chronic conditions can affect nutrition. For instance, some medications might interfere with the ability to absorb B vitamins, such as B12 – which is known for being an energy booster.

·         Oral health might decline as we age, which can affect food choices. A reduced ability to swallow or chew effectively can impact those choices as well.

·         Appetite and sense of taste and smell tends to wane as we get older, leading to less interest in food.

In addition, mobility issues, such as being afflicted with arthritis, can lead to issues with opening jars or cans, using spatulas and spoons, and can cause difficulty with preparing food. There could also be issues with getting the healthiest foods, as things like fresh produce are more expensive than processed foods, and many seniors are on a fixed income and may not have access to the better foods that would lead to good nutrition[2].

The older someone gets, the more malnutrition becomes a concern. According to WebMD, the odds of developing malnutrition don’t necessarily have to do with those who suffer from food insecurity or don’t have access to healthier foods; rather, it’s usually chronic conditions that put the elderly at risk. Some of those conditions, such as cancer or dementia, can impact appetite. Other conditions, such as diabetes, might require a strict diet that could eventually lead to malnutrition in older adults, as they need more nutrients than younger individuals[3].

All of these factors and more combine to a sobering reality: About 90% of the elderly do not get the recommended caloric intake, 35% don’t get enough protein, and 80% don’t get enough of certain vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. Senior whole health can be deeply affected by a lack of nutrients. However, those numbers go down dramatically when someone eats breakfast[4].

Just as you invest in a medical alert device to help ensure that you have the protection you need, it’s important to invest in good breakfast foods for the same reason. A solid breakfast every morning can help your body stay healthy and keep your mind sharp.

Why You Should Always Have Breakfast

There are many benefits of eating breakfast, not the least of which is getting more fuel in your body for the day ahead. Studies have shown that those who regularly eat breakfast see a wealth of benefits. For instance, those who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to develop heart failure and have lower rates of Type 2 diabetes. Those individuals might also enjoy a longer than average lifespan[5].

Here are other good reasons to opt for breakfast every morning[6]:

·         The brain needs the proper foods to function well, especially glucose (which primarily comes from carbohydrates). Breakfast that includes carbs can lead to a sharper, healthier mind.

·         At night while you are asleep, you are fasting. Your body isn’t receiving any nutrients, and it is using the stores it already has. When your body uses up the stored glucose for energy, you wake up feeling sluggish. You can replenish that energy with a meal upon waking up.

·         Some medications need to be taken with food to be absorbed properly. Taking your daily medications with a hearty breakfast can help ensure you get the full benefit of the medications as well as the proper nutrient intake.

·         Those who skip breakfast tend to make unhealthier food choices later as hunger catches up to them. This can lead to carrying around too much weight, and that can lead to a host of chronic conditions. By eating first thing in the morning, you are satisfying your body’s need for food and thus, might make healthier choices for subsequent meals.

You can liken having breakfast to the security of a medical alert pendant. When you choose an Alert1 Medical Alert, you are choosing to take a step toward preventing the complications you might suffer if you fall and sustain and injury, but can’t get help immediately. Having breakfast means you are taking a step toward preventing malnutrition, cognitive decline, and other problems that could result from lack of nutrients. Both steps – getting that button alert and having your breakfast – are powerful ways to protect you.

The Best Breakfast Foods for Older Adults

One of the most enjoyable aspects of breakfast is the variety. If you’re craving something sweet, you can have that. If you’re craving something savory, you can have that too. Breakfast foods are usually very easy to prepare and take little time to get on the table.

Some great breakfast options include:

·         A whole grain bagel slathered with crushed avocado

·         A handful of cherry tomatoes and a slice of whole-wheat toast

·         A smoothie filled with yogurt, spinach, and fruit

·         Hard-boiled eggs with a side of fruit and a slice of toast

·         Oatmeal topped with whatever you enjoy, including nuts and fruit

·         An omelet loaded with vegetables

·         Whole-grain waffles topped with fruit

·         English muffins toasted and smeared with peanut butter

·         A yogurt parfait topped with nuts and fruit

·         A poached egg on whole-wheat toast with a side of veggies, such as streamed broccoli or asparagus

To ensure your breakfast brings the best possible nutrients to the table, follow this advice:

·         Always include a bit of fruit. Berries, bananas, and other fruits can help ensure that you get the natural sugar you need, as well as an antioxidant boost.

·         Incorporate vegetables into breakfast when you can. An omelet that includes bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions is a great idea, as is a handful of spinach added to a fruit smoothie.

·         Lean proteins such as eggs, nuts, seeds, and yogurt can help ensure you get enough of an energy boost.

·         Whole grains are always better than refined ones. Look for waffles, oatmeal, cereal, toast, bagels, and more that include whole grains for good fiber intake.

·         Breakfast too bland? Add flavor with herbs and spices.

·         Plan out your meals. If you have a plan in mind for breakfast, you are more likely to eat it.

·         You can always sprinkle in a few good-for-you supplements. Whey powder, wheat germ, or powdered protein supplements can go into almost anything and give you an added boost.

Some Good Breakfast Recipes to Get You Started

Sometimes the same old breakfast can feel bland and unenticing. These recipes make a variety of excellent options for a quick breakfast. Many items, such as muffins, can be refrigerated or frozen and then popped into the microwave to heat them up in the morning.

Pumpkin and Banana Muffins

This is a great make ahead meal for seniors.

·         ¼ cup pumpkin

·         1 banana, mashed well

·         ½ cup nut butter (almond or peanut butter work great)

·         1 cup whole-wheat flour

·         2 eggs

·         3 tbsp. maple syrup or honey

·         ¼ tsp. nutmeg

·         ¼ tsp. cinnamon

·         ½ tsp. baking powder

·         ¼ tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Add in a dash of protein powder if desired (vanilla flavor is ideal for this). Pour the muffins into a tin lined with individual muffin liners for easier serving. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; they are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Savory Breakfast Bites

This is a great recipe for the elderly that is loaded with protein and carbs.

·         3 ½ cups Bisquik or some other biscuit mix

·         1 cup milk

·         12 eggs

·         ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

·         ½ cup diced ham or leftover sauage

·         ¼ tsp. pepper

·         ½ tbsp. dried rosemary

In a bowl, mix the biscuit mix with the milk and form into thick dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin to ¼ inch thickness. Cut into 12 rounds with a four-inch biscuit cutter. Press those rounds into a greased 12-cup muffin pan.

Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of the rounds, then sprinkle in the ham or sausage. Crack an egg into each muffin cup. Add more cheese or meat if desired. Sprinkle with pepper and rosemary.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until the egg whites are set. Cool the egg bites for a few minutes before serving alongside fruit.

Cobbler Oatmeal

Use any sort of fruit for this oatmeal for a savory and sweet breakfast experience. This is a great soft food idea for the elderly!

·         2 ½ cups rolled oats

·         3 ½ cups water

·         Pinch of salt

·         Pinch of nutmeg

·         1 tsp. cinnamon

·         2 large peaches chopped into fine bits

·         4 tbsps. brown sugar

·         ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

First, cook the oatmeal. Combine the water with the oats and the spices, bring to a boil, and cook until the oatmeal thickens to your liking. Add the peaches (or other fruit) as well as the brown sugar. Stir well and cook for another minute to heat it all through. Serve the oatmeal immediately, topped with walnuts or pecans.

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

The sweetness in these pancakes comes from the banana – there’s no additional sugar!

·         2 very ripe bananas, mashed well

·         2 eggs

·         ½ cup whole-wheat flour

·         ¼ cup milk

·         ¼ tsp. salt

·         ½ tsp. baking soda

·         1 cup cubed fresh fruit

·         Honey (optional for those who want more sweetness)

In a bowl, blend the bananas, eggs, flour, milk, salt, and baking soda. The mix should be smooth with few lumps. While you are stirring, heat up a pan or griddle to medium heat. Spray the griddle with oil and pour at ¼ cup of pancake mix onto it. Cook until it’s browned on one side, then flip over and cook on the other side. Top the warm pancake with fresh fruit and honey, if desired.

As always, Alert1 wishes you health and safety!