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Nutrition Matters For Seniors

National Nutrion Month

Nutrition Month

Growing up it was always a treat when our mom let us go to the grocery store and pick out our own cereal, and like most kids we chose the high-in-sugar kind. It was even more exciting when she would let us get a hot lunch from school, especially if it was pizza day. But most of our lunches were PB&J, bologna, or pimento loaf with Miracle Whip. Nowadays we steer clear of processed deli meats, because though they are delicious, we know there are many other healthier choices.

As we age those healthier choices become even more important. The National Council on Aging reports that people over the age of 60 are especially at risk for obesity. Extra weight can increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It can also be the culprit behind chronic conditions like osteoporosis, sleep apnea, and arthritis. It can be challenging to maintain a healthy diet while aging, but here are a few nutrition tips to maintain a healthy weight and lower health risks.

Pay attention to calories. Each person’s energy needs vary according to their age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity. Generally women’s daily calorie intake should be between 1,600-2,200 and men’s between 2,000-2,600. We often underestimate the amount of calories we are taking in, so food tracking websites and apps can really help.

Get enough healthy protein. Protein is essential for seniors in order to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass which occurs naturally with age. Most seniors should aim for two to three servings of high-protein foods each day. Some healthy protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and tofu.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is especially important as we age becauseour bodies become less efficient at retaining water. Dehydration can cause a variety of health issues, such as dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. Remember fluids can also be obtained from foods with high-water content like certain fruits and vegetables.

Include regular exercise. This is essential for healthy aging, and it is never too late to start. Exercise improves brain function, cognition, better balance, and bone strength. Just basic exercise, including walking, can help lower someone’s risk of falls or injuries.

Limit sugar and salt intake. As we age so do our senses: hearing, sight, taste, and smell are all affected. This can mean the overuse of salt and sugar to make something taste good. However, adding fresh herbs and spices into the diet can help offset the need for salt and sugar.

Always talk to a doctor. We should always speak with a healthcare professional regarding our individual dietary needs and possible restrictions. They can answer questions like whether supplements would be beneficial, any concerns about changes in appetite, or possible interactions with medications.

In conclusion, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, incorporating fruits and vegetables, consuming healthy protein sources, monitoring sodium and sugar intake, and exercising regularly, are all essential for seniors to maintain good health. By following these nutrition tips, seniors can look forward to a healthy and more enjoyable life as they age.

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