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Nutrition for Aging Adults: What’s for dinner?

Making nutritious food choices is easier than you think.

Nutrition is important for all age ranges. Just like gas for a vehicle, what we eat powers everything that keeps us going. However, as we age, our bodies have different fuel requirements. Not only does a person’s healthy nutrition provide energy and weight moderation, it also helps combat certain diseases (e.g. osteoporosis and diabetes). Malnutrition is very common in adults over the age of 65. It can be attributed to longer hospital stays, medical complications and disabilities, and even death. Lack of nutrition raises the likelihood of developing anemia, skin problems, weakness and fatigue, and electrolyte imbalances in the blood. It also increases the risk of infection. One way to optimize your intake is by choosing a variety of nutrient-rich foods with lower calories. Fruits and vegetables, whole grain, low-fat cheese and milk, seafood, beans, and nuts are great sources of nutrition. Foods containing “empty calories” such as chips and candy should be avoided. It is important to avoid foods that are high in cholesterol and fat, particularly saturated and trans fat (i.e. fats that come from animal products and processed fats). Also, staying hydrated is key. It is scientifically proven that some elderly adults lose their sense of thirst to some extent. Furthermore, some medicines may dehydrate the body. Adequate nutrition requires plenty of fluid intake. Diet also plays a role in brain health. As we age, our memory capacity often diminishes. Some power foods that help fight memory loss are: berries and cherries, vegetables, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, and walnuts. By eating the right foods, you can potentially prevent dementia and even lower your “brain age” to a certain extent. Check out the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

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