Staying healthy, as you grow older is important. Maintaining or improving good nutrition helps increase your chances for lasting good health and reduces the risk of some diseases. Living a healthy lifestyle also can reduce health care cost. Everyone ages differently but some aspects of aging are common to most people. As you grow older, it becomes more difficult to tell when you are thirsty. Drinking enough fluids is important for proper body functions, temperature regulation, and to relieve constipation. Your level of physical activity and certain types of medications can affect your need for fluids. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, plan to drink six to eight cups of water each day. It is best not to count alcoholic beverages, coffee or tea as part of your fluid intake. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda intake act as diuretic substances that promote the removal of fluids from the body through urination.
Less energy is needed as you grow older, especially if you have low physical activity. While the need for nutrients is the same, the nutritional quality of your diet must be maintained. Focus on nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean protein, and whole grain. The ability to taste foods changes as people grow older due to a decrease in the number of taste buds. Adding spices and herbs to foods can make them more flavorful. The new food guidelines system “My Plate” is a good place to start planning for good nutrition. “My Plate” helps individuals use Dietary Guidelines to make smart choices from every food group, find balance between food and physical activity, get the most nutrition out of calories, and stay within daily calorie needs.
Try adding the following spices and herbs to add more flavor to foods:
Bay leaf - stews, soups, meat, sauces
Curry - rice, chicken, casseroles, soups, salad dressings
Dry mustard - casseroles, meats, salads
Garlic - soups, spaghetti, mixed dishes, stews, meat and chicken
Ginger - baked goods, chicken dishes
Lemon - salads
Mint - salads, sauces
Onions - mixed dishes, stews, meat dishes, salads, soups
Paprika - meats, salads, fish, soups
Tomatoes - salads, sauces, mixed dishes, meat and chicken dishes, soups
Parsley - soups, stuffing
Pepper - salad dressing, meat dishes, stews, soups, sauces
Rosemary - soups, stews, sausage, stuffing, lamb.
Resources: Daily Food Plan, Report of Nutrition Screening Initiative, Fresh Herb and Food Combos.
For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.