Actively Aging: Nutrition

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Keeping our bodies sizzlin’ isn’t as easy as cooking chicken, but chicken is a good place to start.

“Malnutrition is a huge problem in the community dwelling older adults,” said Pam VanKampen, a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Nutritionists recommend 90 grams of protein a day and suggest splitting that up between three meals.

“And do it in a way that lends itself the highest flavor with the littlest amount of added fat and salt,” said Alex Slimax, the executive chef at the Lismore Hotel. “So for instance, with the pork tenderloin today, instead of salt and peppering it before I cooked it, I used a lot of fresh herbs and marinated it to try to coax the flavor out of it that way.”

Salt and especially sugar are like the "s" words of food. They’re to be avoided by all, but especially by those who are actively aging.

“As we get older, sugar in certain foods causes inflammation in our body and that can trigger our arthritis or our GI issues or whatever,” VanKampen said.

But, if you’re like Ginger Bluem, a member of the L.E. Phillips Senior Center, you have to have at least a little desert. Dark chocolate is a good option for desert because it’s a probiotic food source which helps manage bad bacteria in your gut.

Bluem said she’s pretty good at watching what she eats. “I try to prepare a little bit of meat a little bit of vegetable and a little bit of fruit,” she said.

Her problems come in portions.

“It’s basically my just my husband and I most of the time and so when I make a meal we usually have that same meal for about two or three days because I don’t know how to par down to two people,” Bluem said.

The freezer can be your friend, as long as your don’t forget what you put in there. Another thing you shouldn’t forget is your age.

“As we get older our metabolism slows down,” VanKampen said, “And it’s easier to put on weight if you’re not eating mindfully.”

If being mindful takes a miracle, look no further than "My Plate".

“Half of it should be fruits and vegetables,” VanKampen said, “They don’t always have to be fresh, canned, frozen, dried, all count. And then a fourth of the plate should be a protein source, it doesn’t have to be meat, it can be beans, fish, poultry eggs. And then 1/4 should be grains, and whole grains would be lovely. And then think about your dairy source, your calcium vitamin D source, so think of your glass of milk up there.”

The nutritionist News 18 spoke with also recommended the MIND Diet, which stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It’s been said to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and it includes eating food like green leafy veggies, berries, whole grains and fish. 

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