The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Senior Outlook

March 3, 2010

Allison Riddle: Eating healthy important as we age

The American Dietetic Association has designated March as National Nutrition Month so now is the ideal time to reevaluate your eating and exercise habits.

Nutrient needs change as we age, so it’s important to stay healthy throughout your entire life. It’s also essential to be aware of which foods offer the vitamins and minerals we need to keep us healthy as we get older. We’re told to choose foods that are lower in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. And don’t forget to be physically active everyday.

Unfortunately, as we age, a lot of us don’t eat the way we should. There are a few common reasons some older people don’t eat healthy meals. Lifestyle changes, activity level, metabolism, taste and appetite, health issues, digestion and emotional factors are the main obstacles to healthy eating for seniors.

According to Nutrition.gov, a healthy diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy, but you still need just as many of the nutrients in food.

Important nutritional guidelines for seniors include:

Reduce sodium/salt intake to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure.

Monitor fat intake in order to keep healthy cholesterol levels.

Eat foods with plenty of calcium and vitamin D for bone health.

Eat more fiber-rich foods.

Reduce sugar intake and cut back on dry foods.

Consume the recommended amount of important vitamins and minerals.

Increase your water intake, and participate in regular physical activity.

If you don’t like eating alone, you may not be motivated to eat as healthy as you should. Try contacting your local senior center to ask about the senior meal programs in your area, or get involved with more activities that will lead to new friendships and dining buddies.

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