Nutritional Needs for Seniors

Good nutrition plays a key role in maintaining good health as we age. It lowers the risk of many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. One-third of Americans are overweight and weight-related conditions are the second leading cause of death in the United States. Obesity stresses the heart and makes it harder to move around - therefore, less likely to exercise. It increases your chances of becoming diabetic and puts additional stress on arthritic joints. We need to choose foods that provide better nutrition per calorie to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Lean bodies are usually healthier bodies, but being too thin can also be a danger to your health. Doctors say an extra five pounds can help carry you through an illness.

Eat at least the minimum amount suggested in the five major food groups every day. Try unfamiliar vegetables and fruits and substitute whole grain foods for those made with white flour. Pick foods that are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, but have fewer calories.

Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends fewer than 30 percent of calories from fat and less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol. Eat leaner meats, remove skin from poultry and eat low-fat dairy foods and low-fat baked goods.

Limit foods high in sugar. Candies, soft drinks and desserts often take the place of healthy foods and add extra calories that add up to extra pounds of weight. Get in the habit of choosing fresh fruit as dessert and snacks.

Become more moderate in all things. Taste food before adding salt. Limit salt used in cooking and at the table. Alcohol, like sweets, may replace healthy food in our diet. There is a danger in mixing medications and alcohol. Always check with your doctor before mixing the two. Despite popular thought, alcohol doesn't cheer you up, but tends to increase depression.

Drink 6-8 cups of water each day. Aging bodies hold less water and some medications cause water loss. If you have trouble drinking this much, add a slice of lemon or lime to make it more palatable. Remember that fresh fruits and vegetables, soups and juices are also sources of water. Follow your doctor's recommendation in your use of coffee and tea.

Balance your food intake with calories used. Get 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week.


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