It is imperative for older adults to get enough daily nutrients since they are more susceptible to acquiring diseases. Hence, people aged 50 or older should choose healthy meals every day from the following:
Fruits — 1½ to 2 ½ cups
What is the same as ½ cup of cut-up fruit? A 2-inch peach or ¼ cup of dried fruit.
Vegetables — 2 to 3½ cups
What is the same as one cup of cut-up vegetables? Two cups of uncooked leafy vegetables.
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Grains — 5 to 10 ounces
What is the same as one ounce of grains? A small muffin, a slice of bread, a cup of flaked, ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or whole-grain pasta usually equal one ounce of grains.
Protein foods — 5 to 7 ounces
What is the same as one ounce of meat, fish, or poultry? One egg, ¼ cup of cooked beans or tofu, ½ ounce of nuts or seeds, or one tablespoon of peanut butter.
Dairy foods — 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
What is the same as one cup of milk? One cup of yogurt or 1½ to 2 ounces of cheese. One cup of cottage cheese is the same as ½ cup of milk.
Oils — 5 to 8 teaspoons
What is the same as oil added during cooking? Foods such as olives, nuts, and avocado have a lot of oil in them.
Solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS) — keep the amount of SoFAS small
If you eat too many foods containing SoFAS, you will not have enough calories for the nutritious foods you should be eating.
Fluids Are Important at Any Age
Fluids play important roles in the body. They prevent constipation, regulate body temperature, carry nutrients to cells, and regulate the balance of fluids in body cells. They also make it easier for people to chew and swallow foods. Every day, people lose fluids when they sweat, breathe, urinate, and have bowel movements. Thus, they need to replenish fluids to prevent dehydration and help their bodies function smoothly.
Aging and Fluid Needs
As adults get older, they need about 1 1 ⁄2 to 2 liters of fluids each day. However, older adults may find it harder to maintain fluid balance, for several reasons:
- They may have a reduced sense of thirst, leading them to drink less fluid.
- They may drink fewer fluids due to poor bladder control, poor mobility, or illnesses.
- Their bodies may have lost water due to diarrhea or poor intestinal absorption.
- They may use diuretics and laxatives that raise the risk of dehydration.
- They may be using other medications that increase fluid needs.
Aging and Calorie Needs
Compared to their younger years, older adults need fewer calories to maintain their weight. This is because their metabolism tends to slow down and because they may be less physically active. The chart at right lists the estimated daily calorie needs for older adults based on their level of physical activity.
Finding the Right Balance
Older adults need the right balance between eating too many calories or too few calories. Too many calories can lead to obesity, which raises the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. On the other hand, too few calories can lead to weight loss, frailty, or fatigue, and can prevent adequate intake of essential nutrients. So, it’s vital to find balance.