franciscan ministries logo

Summer Health Tips for Living Joyfully

July 15, 2023

Blog image

There’s nothing like the warm weather and fun outings of the summer! From beach days to gathering with friends for a barbecue, the summer brings many opportunities to indulge in seasonal foods, hearty meals and sweet treats.

However, many of these seasonal treats are laden with unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt, fats and harmful ingredients. This is bad news for those who want to keep their summer health in check while still enjoying the fun social opportunities of the summer months. 

At Franciscan Ministries, our senior living communities promote healthy, active aging for residents and provide programs and resources to help every individual reach their full wellness potential. 

However, don’t pack up the picnic basket or RSVP “no” to your summer barbecues just yet! We’re sharing helpful nutrition tips to help you re-evaluate your relationship with seasonal treats and plan for your summer health goals.

How Do Nutritional Needs Change with Age?

As we age, natural age-related changes can create risks for nutritional deficiencies and health conditions. While these changes are often unavoidable, learning as much as you can about each can help you know how to create dietary adjustments to complement your body and compensate for any nutritional losses.

Decreased Bone Density

The human body has a natural mechanism that removes old bone and rebuilds new bone structure, but after age 50, people begin to lose bone faster than the body can rebuild it. 

Decreased bone density affects about 43 million older adults in the United States, and when this condition goes undetected and untreated, it can progress into health conditions like osteoporosis

Increasing the amount of calcium, Vitamin D and protein in your diet can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and strengthen overall bone health.

Increased Need for Fiber

Fiber can help improve digestion and decrease the impact of high cholesterol and high blood sugar. 

Not only does fiber enhance the digestive process, but it also increases metabolism and assists with building up muscle mass in older adults. When prioritizing your summer health goals know that fiber can be found in a wide variety of foods, like:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Grains, legumes, and whole wheat products

Reduced Caloric Needs

Due to the reductions in body mass and metabolism that occur over time, older adults have lower calorie needs than younger age demographics. For example, adults over the age of 51, the energy requirements for women are about 1,600 to 2,200 calories per day and 2,000 to 2,800 per day for men. 

However, empty calories can become a serious problem for older adults. For instance, foods containing a high amount of sugar or artificial sweeteners, fats and oils add calories without providing the vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutritional necessities.  

Set (Realistic!) Summer Health Goals

Rather than focus on the foods to avoid this summer, prioritize what you should be incorporating more of into your nutrition plan. After all, everything is fine in moderation, and there’s no reason you can’t treat yourself every now and then!

Here are some foods, vitamins and other healthy ingredients to seek out this season:


Water is essential for older adults during warmer months, as hydration can become a serious health concern. Increasing your water intake can keep you hydrated, especially during outdoor activities in the heat, and can assist with the digestive process. 

If you already drink plenty of water throughout the day, you can also take advantage of fresh fruits and veggies with high water content, like cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, watermelon, strawberries and oranges.

Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are common as adults get older due to natural issues with vitamin absorption that occur with age. Vitamin B12 can improve fatigue, depression and even anemia while giving your body plenty of energy. This summer, aim for foods that are a high source of Vitamin B12, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Crab, lobster and fish

Vitamin D is closely related to building and maintaining healthy bone structure and can also help with anti-inflammation, muscle function, immune support and regenerating brain cells.

While Vitamin D isn’t naturally found in many foods, plenty of summertime foods you can seek out, many of which are forms of seafood – perfect during a coastal vacation! – including:

  • Swordfish
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Seasonal Veggies and Fruits

The best part of the summertime? All of the delicious, seasonal produce! Keep in mind that depending on your location and weather conditions, seasonal produce can vary, but are a few examples of the typical fruits and vegetables you can expect to find in season during the summer:

  • Avocados
  • Corn
  • Mangos
  • Summer Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches

Finding seasonal produce can also provide a fun excursion to your local farmer’s market, whether you want to enjoy a day by yourself or gather with friends and family.

When many people think about beginning a summer health journey, they often imagine restrictive diets that cause them to miss out on all the seasonal fun in store at barbecues, picnics and indulgent vacation dinners.

Rather than focusing on restriction, think about all the fresh, healthy ingredients you can incorporate into your diet to reach your wellness goals, discover delicious new recipes and use them as alternatives at your next summer gathering. 

We invite you to explore our website to learn how one of our Franciscan Communities can support you or someone you love to reach your summer health goals!