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Old Meets New

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 12:10 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Modified Food PyramidThere is a difference, beyond amount, between 17 and 70. A senior citizen does not and often cannot do the same things a teenager does. That level of activity – that overly abundant flamboyance associated with youth diminishes with age. As a result, the elderly require less energy-fueling calories and eat less. This wouldn’t be a problem if they continued to ingest an appropriate amount of nutrients, but many don’t. Their smaller meals, less frequent trips to the grocery store and desire for easier food processes leave them deficient, unsure of where to turn for the nutrients they need. With that in mind, researchers have modified the USDA’s MyPyramid to address the over-70 crowd. 

The new pyramid, as the old one does, emphasizes the importance of nutrient-rich, fresh, real food. Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy and fiber, along with a limited amount of fat, particularly saturated fat, and sodium is the pyramid’s primary message. However, the guide also suggests purchasing frozen, canned and dried fruits and vegetables.  These products are more easily prepared and have a longer shelf life yet continue to offer the desired amount of vitamins and minerals. The pyramid is topped by a flag, alerting the elderly to the importance of calcium and vitamins D and B12. These are the nutrients that may require supplementation, as they are vital to ongoing health, especially with weakening bones, but are often lacking in diets. To balance out the pyramid, suggested exercises and a row of water glasses serve as reminders for much needed activity and hydration.

Age means change. Appetite and activity lessen, but nutritional needs don’t. If anything, they magnify. The elderly need to consume an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This pyramid can guide them to intelligent choices that coincide with their abilities and limitations. It can help them see that wellness is not a thing of the past but a fact of the future.

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