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Nutrition for Optimal Health

No matter your age, making healthy food choices is key in maintaining optimal health and overall wellbeing. The body changes throughout each stage of life and nutrient requirements do as well. The following list some tips from the National Institute on Aging to help choose food and beverages to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Drink plenty of fluids

 

Aging has been known to cause loss of thirst, so it is important to track water consumption throughout the day to ensure fluid requirements are being met. In addition to water, here are some other good choices:

 

      1. Low or fat-free milk
      2. 100% juice – no added sugar
      3.  Limit beverages containing added sugars and sodium

Meal planning and portion sizing

 

Meal planning helps make preparing meals easier and builds a healthy routine. This, when coupled with portion sizing, promotes adequate calorie intake and optimal health.

Vary veggie intake

 

Eating vegetables is not always everyone’s favorite thing to do, but including a variety of different colored, flavored, and textured veggies can make things more interesting. Vegetables are low-calorie, nutrient-dense, and full of fiber. Aim to include a serving of vegetables at each meal and who knows, you might even discover a new favorite!

 

Read nutrition labels

 

Reading and understanding nutrition labels is an important part of healthy eating. When choosing packaged foods, pay special attention to key nutrients:

    • Calories
    • Fats (limit saturated/trans fats)
    • Protein (ensure recommended intakes are met)

 

    • Carbohydrates (ensure recommended intakes are met)
    • Sodium (limit)
    • Sugars (limit)

Always check with your doctor about your specific nutrient requirements as they can provide you with intakes to best suit your health needs.

Keep food safe

 

Food-related illnesses can be life-threatening for older individuals. Be sure to properly store and date food (all non-shelf-stable foods should be used within 5-7 days) and cook/reheat all foods to proper temperatures. The biggest threats when undercooked are:

 

    • Eggs
    • Sprouts
    • Fish/shellfish
    • Meat/poultry

 

 

Detailed information on meal planning/portion sizing, recommended nutrient intakes, reading nutrition labels, and food safety can be found at:

 

https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/older-adults

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/healthy-eating

Torie Beckwith, BS

VSC Nutrition Coordinator