8 Nutrition Tips for Seniors

March 1, 2011

Happy National Nutrition Month!

Ruth Douthett, Dietetic Technician for Concordia Lutheran Ministries, believes older adults need to pay particular attention to the food choices they make. By adhering to the following nutrition tips, seniors can look forward to living and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

1. Choose your calories wisely: Most older adults need fewer calories to maintain their weight due to decreased muscle mass and decreased physical activity. General estimates for anyone 51 and older are about 2,300 calories per day for men and 1,900 for women. Individual needs vary according to physical activity level, health status and metabolism.

2. Be aware of fats: Dietary fats provide energy and essential fats, and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Look for foods that have low saturated fats, low trans-fats and low cholesterol. Most people should aim for:

- less than 30 percent of their daily calories from fats

- less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids

- limited intake of trans fatty acids

- less than 300 milligrams per day of cholesterol

3. Count your carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are good sources of energy. Most people should aim for 55 60 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates. Be sure that at least half of your grain intake is from whole grains and try to spread your carbohydrates throughout the day.

4. Fill up on fiber: Dietary fiber is the indigestible component of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It can help control blood cholesterol and blood sugar and work as a natural laxative. Adults should aim for 20-35 grams of fiber each day. Remember, as you increase your fiber you should also increase your intake of fluids.

5. Take care of your bones: Consume three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or dairy products. Dairy products are a good source of calcium that helps prevent osteoporosis. Many older adults may have a decreased ability to digest lactose (milk sugar). Look for lactose-free milk and cheese or a supplement. You can also try calcium enriched soy, rice or almond milk to add a little variety to your diet. Vitamin D is great for bone health as well.

6. Prevent dehydration: Many older adults have a high risk for dehydration. Adults need about 6 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water or other fluids each day. Dehydration can cause confusion and urinary tract infections.

7. Consume adequate protein: Consuming adequate protein can help maintain muscle mass. Suggested intake for an 1800 2000 calorie diet is five ounces per day. One ounce of lean meat, poultry, or fish, one egg, one tablespoon peanut butter,

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