Elderly Nutrition Program

I was just reading an article in a supplement to my local newspaper about centenarians who are still working and loving it.

I intend to be one of them, so I am looking harder and harder at my SAD or Standard American Diet, and eliminating processed foods slowly but surely. However, one of those centenarians, Attorney Jack Borden has a breakfast everyday of biscuits and gravy with ham or sausage.

At 61, I exercise regularly and take care of the pillars of brain fitness, and I really need to tweak my nutrition. I am heavy, but at this stage of the game, I am more concerned with my immune system and making sure it gets the necessary phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fiber, glyconutrients, ect. to communicate effectively.

I would prefer not to fall prey to either an accute or a chronic illness at this stage of the game, so I am looking at juicing as a way to get good food in my body in a tasty and time efficient manner. I also want to make sure my kids get lots of nutrition so their immune systems express themselves powerfully.

And I want to model something for them about nutrition and curiosity.

At the beginning of this year, (2009), I really began to eat more vegies and salad than processed food, and as a result I lost about 12 pounds and my Doc says my blood stats for LDL and HDL are excellent.

So I am going to continue the process of exploring what good nutrition looks like for me, so I can be like James Ward who competed in the Ironman Triathalon when he was 74.

The following information is from the mypyramid.gov website which is just chock full of information, tips, plans, and has a some point and click tools for menu planning and tracking. I like that kind of convenience.

"Following a healthy eating plan and being physically active are keys to a healthy lifestyle. But just what does “healthy eating” mean?

The answer is found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the National Institute on Aging is part of this Department). According to the Guidelines, a healthy diet:

* Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products * Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts * Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars * Balances the calories from foods and beverages with calories burned through physical activities to maintain a healthy weight

MyPyramid.gov, a website developed by the USDA, offers personalized eating plans, tools to help you plan and assess your food choices, and advice to help you make smart choices from every food group and get the most nutrition out of your calories. www.mypyramid.gov shows you how to make healthy food choices. It’s easy to use: simply type in your age, gender, height, weight, and physical activity level to get suggestions about how to meet your nutrition needs.

Tips for Healthy Eating

Here are some recommendations for healthy eating:

* Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, including fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Some examples are green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, yellow corn, purple plums, blueberries, red watermelon, and white onions. Have them with meals or for a snack. Leave skins on your fruits and vegetables, if possible. For example, eat the skin when you have a baked potato, and snack on unpeeled apples, pears, and peaches. Don’t forget to rinse fruits and vegetables before eating. * Eat a diet rich in foods that contain fiber such as dry beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Breakfast is a good time to enjoy foods with fiber. For example, try unsweetened, whole wheat or bran cereals, and add fruit such as berries and bananas. * Season your foods with lemon juice, herbs, or spices, instead of butter and salt. * Look for foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat (mostly in foods that come from animals) and trans fats (found in many cakes, cookies, crackers, icings, margarines, and microwave popcorn). Saturated fats and trans fats can increase blood cholesterol levels. * Choose and prepare foods with little salt. * Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry. Trim away extra fat and remove the skin from chicken and turkey before cooking. Broil, roast, bake, steam, microwave, or boil foods instead of frying. * Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight are important for your overall health and well-being. The secret is to balance your “energy in” and “energy out” over the long run. “Energy in” is the calories from foods and beverages you have each day, and “energy out” is the calories you burn for basic body functions and during physical activity. Your weight will stay the same when the calories you eat and drink equal the calories you burn. On the other hand, you will gain weight when the calories you eat and drink are greater than those you burn. Physical activity can help you reach and keep a healthier weight. * Watch your portion size. Controlling portion size helps limit calorie intake, especially when eating foods that are high in calories.

Drinking Enough Fluids

It’s important to drink enough liquids to keep your body working properly. This is particularly true for older adults because they often don’t feel thirsty even if their bodies need fluids. Drinking enough fluids every day is essential for those who exercise regularly, eat large amounts of protein, use laxatives, or live in areas with high temperatures. Check with your doctor, however, if you’ve been told to limit how much you drink.

Drink plenty of liquids such as water and other drinks without added sugar. Fat-free or low-fat milk, 100% juice, coffee, and tea also are good sources of fluids, as are foods with high moisture content such as fruits, vegetables, and low-sodium broth-based soups. Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation, which means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Eating Out

Eating out is enjoyable, but restaurants often serve large meals, which can be high in calories, fat, and salt. Here are a few tips to help make your meal both delicious and nutritious:

* Order foods such as salads with lean meats, low-fat or fat-free cheeses, and other toppings. Choose low-fat or fat-free salad dressing, and ask for the dressing on the side to control how much you use. * Choose foods that are baked, broiled, braised, grilled, steamed, sautéed, or boiled instead of fried. With these cooking methods, little or no fat is added to the food. * Hold the “special sauces.” Ask the kitchen not to top your dish with butter or whipped cream. * Choose foods with a tomato-based or red sauce instead of a cream-based or white sauce. Cream-based and white sauces usually are made with butter, milk, and cream, and are high in calories and saturated fat. Tomato-based sauces usually contain more vitamins, less fat, and fewer calories. * Use portion control: Skip the “super sizes,” ask for “small,” or share a portion. * Ask for food to be prepared without added salt, and don’t add salt at the table. * Drink water, fat-free or low-fat milk, or other drinks without added sugars. * Instead of french fries, try a small baked potato, side salad with low-fat or fat-free dressing, or fruit. * Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.

To learn more about portion sizes and have some fun at the same time, take the Portion Distortion Quiz from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. For details, see the listing in the Resources section."


One of the very important side effects of good nutrition is increased neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, very important and recently discovered capacities of the human brain which we can enhance if we take care of the 'pillars of brain fitness', physical exercise, nutrition including omega 3 fatty acid, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.

For a resource that speaks about neuroscience in layperson terms with a sly sense of humor, check out Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan. Their entire second chapter is spent discussing micro and macronutrients and the need to get them into the brain so it can grow new brain cells.

Growing new brain cells is a good thing for us Boomers and Seniors, so we can keep our wits about us.

Neuroplasticity is what neurons do when they are challenged by novel learning experiences and they form new connections. Those new connections are very important for our brains in the alzheimers arena. The more of them we have, the better our brains do with aging, but we need to make sure we are giving our brains a novel learning experience, like that experience we have when we learn a new language or we learn a new instrument.

As a counselor, I cannot read another counseling book and hope to enhance plasticity because my brain knows counseling already.

But I can enhance plasticity by working on computerized brain fitness programs, if I do not have time to learn and new language or play a new instrument.

One of those programs, the Posit Science Brain Fitness program, was recently put to the test by over 500 Seniors, all over 65 years of age, and both the researchers and the participants were surprised at how powerful the results from using Posit Science program were. Following are a couple of links for programs that Posit Science has created.

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