Celebrate National Nutrition Month by Being Healthy
It’s not a secret that we in the US have concerns with weight. The growing statistics of children and adults growing in weight has drawn focus on what can be done in order to curb this dangerous trend. March is National Nutrition Month and it’s a good time to look into how your food choices affect your body.
This is especially true if you are in your elder years; the older we become, the more we have to keep a hold on the choices we make when it comes to the food we eat.
For seniors, illnesses and diseases have a higher consequence. For example, eating too much salt can help to increase high blood pressure, while a lack of calcium can speed up the advancement of osteoporosis. It is reported that high fat diets can even help to contribute to some cancers.
So what can seniors, families and their loved ones do to ensure a healthier diet?
First, be aware of what is being put into the body; seniors should take stock of what foods can help or hurt them. Often times, a senior may not be as active as they once were so they don’t need to have as many calories as they once did. However, healthier choices are always better despite less activity.
Maintaining a healthy diet is important to seniors; it helps you live longer, stay stronger, maintain mental sharpness and overall, it helps you feel better.
Second, understand calories: Do not hesitate to ask your primary care doctor or Hopkinton Home Care what is recommended based on your age, level of activity and health. Typically, women over fifty can have between 1600 and 2000 calories a day, while men over fifty should be able to have between 2000 and 2800 calories.
At any age, the food pyramid is still a best practice. Tufts University recommends a modified food pyramid – here is a good link: http://www.nutrition.tufts.edu/index.php?q=research/modified-mypyramid-older-adults
A few important notes:
Fruit and vegetables are still an important facet of maintaining a healthy diet; berries, apple, bananas, and melons are a good source of proteins and nutrients and you should strive to eat one or two servings each day.
Calcium is also a needed source for maintaining bone health, especially in the later years of life; seniors should get about 1200mg of calcium every day, from cheese, milk, or yogurt.
Even though dairy is a good source for calcium, there are other sources including kale, almonds, and tofu, which is great for those who might be lactose intolerant.
Grains, proteins, and vitamins are also important for a healthy life in the later years.
Water, something that doctors recommend having several times a day, is important for seniors too. The reduction of fluid levels in the body can cause seniors to be prone to dehydration and for those seniors who live in hot areas, it’s extremely important to keep hydrated in order to avoid UTIs, constipation, and confusion.
Now that you have some idea of how seniors should consider eating, here are some things that seniors should be avoiding.
As mentioned above, salt (sodium) intakes are okay, but don’t take it to the extreme – eating too much can lead to water retention and high blood pressure.
Carbohydrates, which can be found in grains, fruits, veggies, and beans, are important to the body, but make sure that you’re choosing the good carbs and not the bad ones.
What are bad carbs? Those likes white flour, refined sugar, white rice, and anything that might have been stripped of bran, fiber, and nutrients can help spike blood sugar levels and are only good for short-term energy.
And speaking of sugar, it seems as though there’s nothing edible that doesn’t have it. You can certainly avoid it, but it doesn’t mean you can never have it, however moderation is the key.
Nutrition isn’t the only way to stay healthy. Often, life changes can sometimes place seniors in isolation, whether it be living in a house without their beloved spouse or living on their own and away from family and friends, these changes can also affect a senior’s dietary needs.
It’s not uncommon for seniors to experience loneliness and depression, especially after the death of their spouse or another loved one, and this can cause a lack of eating.
In these cases, it’s important that a senior is around family and friends to support them and making sure that they are eating well and living well. If a senior is living in an assisted community, it’s important for family members to visit; depending on the community, seniors should be able to get involved in the community’s activities. Some communities will have arts and crafts, daily or weekly outings, as well as group get-togethers for residents.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t just for those under fifty; those over the age of fifty can benefit from taking care of themselves and ensuring that they can continue their remarkable lives.
Connect with Hopkinton Home Care for additional advice, support, connections and reinforcement for healthy aging!
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