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Why Nutrition is Important in Aging

Maintaining a well-rounded diet is especially important in the later years of life. The body goes through many changes during the aging process that, in the later years, can result in reduced muscle mass and a decrease in energy output. These changes require less calorie intake with emphasis placed on the quality of food rather than the quantity.

Aging and Nutrition

Maintaining a well-rounded diet is especially important in the later years of life. The body goes through many changes during the aging process that, in the later years, can result in reduced muscle mass and a decrease in energy output. These changes require less calorie intake with emphasis placed on the quality of food rather than the quantity.

A healthy diet for an elderly person should include a variety of foods with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and grains. Many older people tend to avoid crisp and nutritious vegetables as many have difficulty chewing them. What they do not realize is there is quite a variety of softer choices such as bananas, peas, peaches, baked potatoes, baked or steamed squash, and steamed broccoli. Vegetables and fruits are very important in providing vitamins and minerals that are essential for an active, independent lifestyle.

When planning a menu it is important to consider weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent heart problems, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

Excess fats and cholesterol should be avoided. Salt and sugars should be monitored and used sparingly. There are many lean meats available which are low in both fat and cholesterol. Some of these are skinless chicken, ground turkey, and lean ground beef. Fish is also a good substitute for meat as it adds a little variety.

While some older people have a problem keeping the weight off, others have difficulty keeping it on. Malnutrition is another problem among much of the elderly population. Studies have shown that malnutrition is generally caused by loneliness and depression that affects many older people who live alone.

To help combat malnutrition and the emotions associated with it, here are some helpful tips: develop a meal schedule and stick to it, have a friend over to share meals as often as possible, set the table attractively and sit down to eat, buy groceries in small amounts so that boring leftovers are avoided, and join a community or senior program that offers delicious meals at a discount.

Remember, there are a lot of different, nutritious foods out there and mealtime can be fun with a little variety and creativity.

Another serious condition that can be caused by lack of good nutrition is osteoporosis. This disease affects over 40,000 women each year and studies have shown that lack of calcium due to poor diet is the cause. Dairy products are high in calcium and it is recommended that a person have two to three servings each day. If dairy products are not for you then foods rich in calcium such as broccoli, cornbread, tofu, soybeans, waxbeans, and orange juice with calcium should be substituted. A calcium supplement can also be utilized. It is also important that alcohol and tobacco are avoided as they can interfere with calcium absorption

Fluid intake is also very important. A person should have at least 3 glasses of water and 3 glasses of other fluids daily. Caffeine drinks do not count and they should be used in moderation.

Remember, if you have a condition such as diabetes, or heart disease, you should consult your doctor or a professional dietician.

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