Successful aging includes good nutrition

By Leatta Byrd

Michigan State University Extension
As people age it is important that they know how to help their body stay healthy.

Older adults need daily protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water for good nutritional health. Michigan State University Extension recommends that older adults follow the My Plate recommendations. There are key eating plans which older adults should incorporate into their lifestyles which include:

  • Adequate nutrients: Eat enough food throughout the day to get your daily nutrients.
  • Weight management: Eat healthy, low fat, low sugar foods and avoid overeating to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Physical activity – National Institute of Health recommends that staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits. It has been shown to improve health for some older people who already have chronic diseases and disabilities.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables: Include fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits, 100 percent fruit juice and vegetables that are fresh, frozen, canned and juices into your diet.
  • Whole grains: Plan to eat at least three servings of whole grain foods daily; bread, pasta, oatmeal, cereals, brown rice, etc.
  • Low fat dairy foods: Choose low fat milks including lactose –free and reduced products, fortified soy beverages, yogurts and cheeses.
  • Limit added sugars and sweeteners: Candies, desserts, sweet beverages which have added calories should be limited in your diet.
  • Limit sodium: Intake to less than 2,300 mg of salt per day which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. Specific populations with hypertension Afro Americans, middle-aged and older adults should have no more than 1500 mg of salt daily.
  • Alcohol: No more than two drinks for men and one drink for women per day.

Adults over the age of 50 can receive added nutritional benefits from eating foods which are fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals or dietary supplements. For successful aging older adults can maintain their energy level, reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases and if already have a chronic disease, eating well can help to manage the disease.

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