Feature Archive

Eating Well, Aging Well

WebMD Feature

As people get older, they should be aware of their bodies' changing needs. Many people don't realize that healthy aging demands closer attention to diet. Here are a few essential components of a good diet for older people.

Water

Our bodies are essentially made of water. It's vital to have enough. Everyone, including older adults, should try to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses daily.

Calcium

Milk is a great source of bone-strengthening calcium, an integral nutrient. After around the age of 50, your calcium requirements jump to 1,200 milligrams (from 1,000 milligrams), the equivalent of three cups of low-fat or skim milk. Other foods like broccoli, kale, cottage cheese and orange juice, as well as a number of soy products like tofu and tempeh, may be good sources of a little calcium.

Soybeans are not only a good source of protein and calcium, but are also loaded with iron, B-vitamins, potassium and zinc. They are low in fat and calories as well. Some foods rich in soy, such as tofu, tempeh and soy milk, may help to prevent osteoporosis, ease menopausal symptoms, and reduce heart-disease risk.

Fiber

Fiber, or roughage, can be found in whole-grain breads, popcorn, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and legumes. A fiber-rich diet reduces the risk of disease by decreasing the time it takes for food to exit the gastrointestinal tract. This action may reduce cholesterol levels, aid in the control of blood-sugar levels and reduce the risk for cancer.

People should try to get about 20 to 30 grams of fiber in their diet per day, sometimes slightly more for those older than 65. The American Dietetic Association (http://www.eatright.org) recommends that seniors, or those who have had gastrointestinal surgery, seek their doctors' advice when adding fiber to their diets.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/30/2005 10:45:12 PM



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