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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why healthy eating for seniors is important (part 2)

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Here are some reasons why healthy eating is so important for the Seniors uou serve

HelpGuide.org


Senior nutrition: What your body needs
Older adults can feel better immediately and stay healthy for the future by choosing healthy foods. A balanced diet and physical activity contribute to a higher quality of life and enhanced independence as you age.

Senior food pyramid guidelines
Fruit – Focus on whole fruits rather than juices for more fiber and vitamins and aim for around 1 ½ to 2 servings each day. Break the apple and banana rut and go for color-rich pickings like berries or melons.

Veggies – Color is your credo in this category. Choose anti-oxidant rich dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli as well as oranges and yellows, such as carrots, squash, and yams. Try for 2 to 2 ½ cups of veggies every day.

Calcium – Aging bone health depends on adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Seniors need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.

Grains – Be smart with your carbs and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and a higher fiber count. If you’re not sure, look for pasta, breads, and cereals that list “whole” in the ingredient list. Seniors need 6-7 ounces of grains each day and one ounce is about 1 slice of bread.

Protein – Seniors need about .5 grams per pound of bodyweight. Simply divide your bodyweight in half to know how many grams you need. A 130-pound woman will need around 65 grams of protein a day. A serving of tuna, for example, has about 40 grams of protein. Vary your sources with more fish beans, peas, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, and seeds.

Important vitamin and minerals
Water – Seniors are prone to dehydration because our bodies lose some of its ability to regulate fluid levels and our sense of thirst is dulled. Post a note in your kitchen reminding you to sip water every hour and with meals to avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and possibly confusion.

Vitamin B – After 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid making it difficult to absorb vitamin B-12—needed to help keep blood and nerves vital. Get the recommended daily intake (2.4 mcg) of B12 from fortified foods or a vitamin.

Vitamin D – We get most of vitamin D—essential to absorbing calcium—through sun exposure and a few foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk). With age, our skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D, so consult your doctor about supplementing with fortified foods or a multivitamin.

Senior nutrition: Tips for wholesome eating
Once you’ve made friends with nutrient-dense food, your body will feel slow and sluggish if you eat less wholesome fare. Here’s how to get in the habit of eating well.

Reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label and season meals with a few grains of course sea salt instead of cooking with salt.
Enjoy good fats. Reap the rewards of olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. Research shows that the fat from these delicious sources protects your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Fiber up. Avoid constipation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing fiber intake. Your go-to fiber-foods are raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
Cook smart. The best way to prepare veggies is by steaming or sautéing in olive oil—it preserves nutrients. Forget boiling—it leeches nutrients.
Five colors. Take a tip from Japanese food culture and try to include five colors on your plate. Fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients (think: blackberries, melons, yams, spinach, tomato, zucchini).



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