Page 6 - BusinessWest 2022 Senior Planning Guide
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61-year-old (or older) male may require only 2,000 calories per day. Focus on building meals and snacks with nourishing foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean-protein foods, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. To learn your specific food-group and calorie goals, calculate your MyPlate Plan at myplate-plan.
Pay Attention to Nutrients of
Calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber are nutrients of concern for the general population, and protein and vitamin B12 are additional nutrients of concern for older adults. Focusing on meeting food- group goals can help to ensure these needs are met, but be sure to speak with your healthcare provider in case additional supplementation is warranted.
Calcium: Older adults should consume three cups
of dairy per day, yet, according to the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines, most are consuming fewer than two cups per day. Enjoy dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese (or soy-based alternatives) to meet calcium needs,
or opt for fortified sources such as orange juice and cereal, sardines, and dark, leafy greens.
Vitamin D: Like calcium, vitamin D can be found in dairy products as well as in fortified foods, though it can be hard to get enough through diet alone. This is why supplementation is often recommended, especially when exposure to adequate sunlight is limited here in the Northeast.
Potassium: Potassium can help counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure, and it’s also important for nerve and muscle function, as well as heartbeat regulation. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods provide potassium, as well as soybeans, lentils, and certain beans, like kidney beans.
Fiber: We often hear about fiber being beneficial for
digestive health, but it can also help reduce cholesterol and keep you feeling full for weight management. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans all provide fiber — so reap the benefits of these plant- based foods daily.
Protein: Muscle loss, or sarcopenia, is a natural part of the aging process, making it a real concern for older adults — especially since it’s estimated that about 50% of women and 30% of men age 71 and older don’t
get enough protein-rich foods on a daily basis. Aim to incorporate a mixture of animal-based protein foods, like beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and fish; as well as plant- based sources like beans, whole grains, nut butters, soy products, and lentils.
Vitamin B12: The ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases as we age, and certain medications can further decrease absorption. Eat animal-based foods and foods fortified with vitamin B12, like breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast, to boost intake.
Limit Sodium, Added Sugar, and
Saturated Fat
Because older adults are at greater risk for chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease, it’s especially important to monitor intake of sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat. Additionally, according to the most recent Dietary Guidelines, 54% to 58% of older adults are exceeding recommended intakes for added sugars, 77% to 80% for saturated fat, and 72% to 94% for sodium. Read labels and aim for no more than 10% of total calories from added sugars, 10% from saturated fat, and no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily — or less if directed by your doctor.
Drink Up
Since the sensation of thirst can decline with age, paying extra attention to fluid intake is a must to
prevent dehydration. Focus on taking sips throughout the day and opt for choices such as water, seltzer, tea, coffee, 100% juice, and milk, as well as foods that provide liquid, such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.
Take Advantage of Local Resources
Numerous nutrition-based community programs exist for adults 60 and over, such as Meals on Wheels for at-home meal delivery and congregate meal sites that are typically available in locations like senior centers, community centers, schools, and churches. Not only do these services provide nutritionally balanced meals, they also offer socialization to promote general and emotional health. In addition, keep open communication with healthcare providers — especially when experiencing things such as dry mouth, trouble chewing, and/or lack of appetite. Many solutions can be provided to help make eating enjoyable once again. n
Andrea Luttrell is a registered dietitian nutritionist for Big Y Foods.
  “Because older adults are
at greater risk for chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease, it’s especially important to monitor intake of sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat.”
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