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 Annual 2011

Annual 2011

 

           
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Senior Nutrition

Eating Well During the Golden Years

     Maintaining healthy eating habits in your senior years can extend your life, help you stay fit and prevent disease.
     Elaine Magee, a registered dietitian in the East Bay and the author of more than 25 books on nutrition and healthy cooking, says that eating a diet rich in whole foods (including plant foods and less processed food) helps to prevent and can even reverse a number of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and acid reflux.
     Seniors also need certain minerals to ensure optimal health. A study published in the August 2010 Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that seniors with healthy blood levels of zinc are 50 percent less likely to develop pneumonia than those with sub-par levels.
     “Zinc is important for proper functioning of the immune system,” Magee says. “It also aids in the regulation of blood pressure and the materialization of bone.”
     Seniors also need vitamin D, which can help ward off heart disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure, insulin resistance and the risk of bone fractures.
      “Seniors can increase their vitamin D intake by spending 10 minutes outdoors in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., taking supplements and eating more foods rich in vitamin D including salmon, tuna, yogurt and cheese,” Magee says. “New research suggests that 700 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D may the ideal amount to prevent bone fractures, but seniors should talk to their doctor about the best supplement and dosage for their individual needs.”
     Sandy Der, an Oakland-based nutritionist, also recommends that seniors take a daily multivitamin and to talk to their doctor about taking supplements of omega 3 that can help with cognitive function.
     “Many seniors are also suffering from a B12 deficiency,” Der says. “If you aren’t getting enough B12 vitamins in your diet, you can suffer from fatigue and cognitive function, symptoms that often mimic cognitive decline.”
    Taking a sublingual B12 supplement or eating a daily vitamin B12-fortified breakfast cereal can usually help seniors who might not be getting enough vitamin B12
in their diet. Dietary sources of vitamin
B12 include meat, shellfish, eggs, poultry, milk and milk products.
Der notes that achieving a well-balanced diet can be hard for many seniors who have mobility problems, digestive problems or other health conditions that make them lose their appetite.
 “Poor appetite can often be managed by having small snacks throughout the day,” Der says.
Baby carrots, sliced apples, string cheese and peanut butter with whole crackers are all nutritious foods that require little or no preparation.      For seniors who have problems chewing, canned fruits, vegetable juices, cooked veggies, ground turkey and chicken, milk, cheese, peanut butter and soups all provide nutritious options.
     For seniors who have problems physically preparing foods, Der, who doubles as a personal chef, says there are many chefs in the Bay Area who can either provide prepared meals or cook individual meals
in their client’s home.
     For seniors who are living on a fixed income, Der suggest shopping at stores including Trader Joe’s, Berkeley Bowl and local farmers markets where customers can purchase a lot of healthy foods for little money.
     “Poor nutrition among seniors can stem from physical ailments to lack of desire or skill to cook,” Der says. “The good news is there are a lot of community resources in the East Bay that can help seniors ensure they get the nutritious meals they need in order to maintain good health.”


Resources

■    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has many free downloadable brochures on the importance of good nutrition for seniors. Some of the topics addressed include difficulties with shopping or cooking, poor appetite, upset stomach, chewing problems and simple nutritious meals to make on a budget. Visit http://fnic.nal.usda.gov

■    Download the Alameda County Public Health Department’s free cookbook for seniors at www.healthylivingforlife.org/i_index.htm.

■    Elaine Magee offers recipes at her site www.recipedoctor.com including cookbooks on how to eat healthy if you have medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease.

■    On the third Wednesday of each month, Sandy Der offers free healthy cooking classes at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland to men and women of all ages. Call (510) 601-4040 for more information or visit www.wcrc.org.

■    For seniors who have mobility problems and health issues and would like to receive daily hot meals, contact Alameda Meals on Wheels at (510) 865-6131 or visit www.alamedamealsonwheels.org or the Alameda County Meals on Wheels in Oakland at (510) 577-3581.

■    For seniors in Alameda who are living on a fixed income, the Alameda Food Bank provides a number of services. Visit www.alamedafoodbank.org or call (510) 523-5850. The Food Bank seeks donations of funds and non-perishable food for the upcoming holidays. The Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland can also help seniors with their food assistance programs. Call (510) 635-3663 or visit www.accfb.org.

 

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