Health

Good nutrition helps seniors avoid aging pitfalls

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Nutritional needs change as people age, “as your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body needs more of certain nutrients, such as protein. It’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value,” says the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Many senior citizens with chronic health issues, such as diabetes, need to make smart food choices, in addition to often having to follow a budget. Some seniors who take large doses of medication may lose their appetite, which can lead to poor nutrition.

NCOA offers tips to help seniors choose healthy food: Follow the revised food pyramid, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls “MyPlate.” It details how the five food groups should fill your plate, with vegetables and fruits taking up half, followed by protein, grains, and dairy sources.

“A healthy meal should include lean protein from meats, seafood, eggs, and beans; fruits and vegetables, especially orange, red, green, and purple ones; whole grains from brown rice and whole wheat pasta; and low-fat dairy. Choose foods high in fiber and vitamin D, and low in sodium,” NCOA recommends.

Healthy meals packed with nutrients can help seniors maintain an ideal weight while increasing energy levels.

Dieticians recommend that frail, elderly people make sure they eat enough protein, as a lack of protein may lower immune function, and increase osteoporosis. In addition to meat, protein is found in economical legumes including lentils, beans, and chickpeas.

Seniors who prefer a low-carbohydrate, low-fiber diet may suffer from constipation issues. Eating a variety of healthy foods, especially fiber-rich vegetables, and drinking plenty of water (if not restricted), are helpful. A low-fat diet may be recommended for seniors with high cholesterol, with advice to avoid sweet baked goods containing trans fats.

For information about senior living communities, contact Fox Point at

(815) 322-7166, or visit http://www.seniorlifestyles.com/foxpoint.

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