March: National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month
Every March, the American Dietetic Association promotes National Nutrition Month. Nutrition is especially important for older adults, as a good diet can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, certain cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Eating right can also give seniors a sharper mind, a greater resistance to disease and illness, higher energy levels, quicker recovery times, healthier immune systems, and can also help managing persistent health problems.
Essential Nutrients for Seniors
- Water. As our body ages, it loses some of its ability to control fluid levels. As a result, older adults have a decreased sense of feeling thirsty. To avoid urinary tract infections, constipation, and even confusion, be sure to drink plenty of water.
- Vitamin B. Our stomach absorbs less vitamin B-12 after the age of 50, so it’s important to get the recommended daily amount through fortified foods or vitamin supplements.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to absorbing calcium, mainly through sun exposure. Unfortunately, as we age, our skin doesn’t synthesize vitamin D as well as it once had. Fortified foods or vitamin supplements are also recommended.
Nutrition Tips for Seniors
- Reduce Salt. Reducing sodium in the diet will help to inhibit water retention and high blood pressure.
- Increase Your Fiber. Raw fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains are good sources of fiber. Fiber helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases and helps digestion.
- Add “Good” Fats to Your Diet. Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed are examples. These help control “bad” cholesterol levels and raise “good” levels.
- Don’t Eat “Bad” Carbs. White flour, refined sugar, and white rice are examples of bad carbohydrates. These carbs provide temporary energy and spikes in blood sugar levels. Good carbs provide long-lasting energy and stable blood sugar levels. Eat whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables for a diet rich in good carbs.
Meals for Seniors
- The Mercer County Nutrition Project for the Elderly provides older persons with nutritionally balanced meals. Suggested donation $1.00/meal. The Pennington Nutrition Site is located in the Hopewell Valley Senior Center, 395 Reading Ave., Pennington, NJ 08534. Call 609-737-3855. For more information on the sites and door-to-door transportation, call 609-989-6650.
- Meals on Wheels: Call the Burlington County Office on Aging, at 609-265-5069 or 609-702-7053. For Meals on Wheels of Trenton/Ewing, call 609-695-3483. Or visit www.mowaa.org.
Read more resources regarding senior nutrition. Download our National Nutrition Month PDF, which contains more great information: “Tips for Eating Well for Older Adults,” “Eat Right: Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,”, Nora de Cárdenas’ article on “Elderly Nutrition: Is Your Aging Loved One At Risk for Malnutrition?,” “Nutrition Sudoku 2013″ from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and “Salt and Sodium: 10 tips to help you cut back” from the USDA.