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Myths & Facts About Food and Nutrition After 60

Myth: If you drink fluids when you feel thirsty, you won’t become dehydrated.

Fact: “Physiological changes associated with aging mean that the sensation of hydration is less accurate as we age,” says Lichtenstein. “Older people may not feel thirsty even when they’re becoming dehydrated.” 

There are no set guidelines for how much each of us should drink, since fluid requirements vary widely depending on body size, weather, activity level and other factors. The best advice: drink liquids regularly throughout the day. If you’re trying to lose weight, choose water or zero-calorie drinks.

Myth: Dividing meals in half and keeping leftovers is a great way to save money and time.

Fact: While it’s true that leftovers can make cooking easier and help tight budgets go farther, there are dangers.  

“Seniors who get meals delivered to their homes through programs such as Meals-on-Wheels should avoid dividing those meals into two,” says Kathleen Niedert, RD, director of clinical nutrition and dining services for Western Home Communities in Iowa and a leading advisor to the American Dietetic Association. “These meals are usually prepared to give you balanced nutrition. If you divide one meal into two, you can easily fall short on key nutrients.”

Storing leftovers also raises the risk that food can go bad, according to Carolyn Raab, PhD, a food and nutrition specialist and professor at Oregon State University. “As we age, the sense of smell declines, so seniors sometimes can’t tell as easily that a food is spoiled. That’s especially worrisome because food poisoning from spoiled food poses a particularly serious risk for seniors.”

Her advice: make sure to keep your kitchen clean, cook foods thoroughly, and refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible.

Myth: Once you hit 65, it’s really too late to start following a healthy lifestyle.

Fact: It’s never too late to make healthy changes in your diet or lifestyle. Even if you’ve already developed insulin resistance, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by eating more whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, and becoming more physically active.

Also, studies have shown that lifestyle changes after people have suffered a heart attack can reduce the risks of another heart attack. Exercise and a healthy diet have together been shown to reverse the accumulation of cholesterol-laden plaque in the arteries.

Reviewed on May 04, 2012

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