70 and Beyond: What You Need to Eat
Concerned about the unique dietary needs of seniors, researchers at Tufts University have compiled a special MyPlate food guide for healthy people aged 70 and older. The Tufts plate highlights physical activity, fluid intake, whole grains, and nutrient-rich foods. Here is a look at what is on the plate.
On the Plate
The MyPlate illustration shows a range of activities, reminding seniors of the importance of daily exercise. The common activities shown on the plate include daily errands and household chores. Physical activity should be part of everyone's day. If you are interested in starting an exercise routine
, talk to your doctor
. The illustration also shows a knife and fork. This is a reminder to seniors to put down the remote or other electronic device and focus on mealtimes, especially when there is an opportunity for social interaction.
The beverage portion of the plate shows several examples of liquids to emphasize the need to stay hydrated. Drinking enough fluid is important, even if you do not feel thirsty. (Decreased thirst sensation is common with aging.) Being in hot weather and even taking certain medications can affect your fluid levels. You do not have to limit yourself to water. You can also drink tea, coffee, or soup. Space your liquid intake out over the course of the day.
The food portions of the plate are especially important. These divisions show the range of healthy food choices for seniors and the proportions they should be eaten in. Whole grains
, vegetables, fruits
, healthy oils, low and non-fat dairy products, and sources of protein
are all important parts of a healthy diet. Sources of fiber
are included throughout the plate because many Americans do not get the recommended amounts—20-30 grams per day. Fiber can help to prevent constipation
, a common problem as people age, and may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. High-fiber foods include whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, and beans. MyPlate for Older Adults shows a variety of forms that fruits and vegetables may come in, such as canned, dried, or frozen. This is to encourage seniors who may be worried about affording or storing a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.Also, the plate emphasizes using spices to flavor food instead of salt. It is important for older adults to monitor their sodium intake, since blood pressure tends to increase with age. Although the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture recommend keeping sodium intake to under 1,500 milligrams per day, everyone has different circumstances. Talk to your doctor about your target range for sodium.