March 18, 2008

In The News: The Other Retirement Account

When we look ahead to our older adult years, we think pensions, IRAs, 401Ks, and all those other acronyms associated with financial security.

But what about our nutrition portfolio?

Sally Squires tackles this issue in one of her latest Lean Plate Club articles (courtesy of The Boston Herald).

"In middle age (40 to 65), the body begins losing about 1 percent of muscle per year. Fat replaces the lost muscle. Since fat cells need fewer calories than muscle cells to survive, metabolism slowly declines."

In other words, the eating patterns that work at 25 are not as effective at 50, and certainly not appropriate at 75.

Most nutrition advice in the mainstream media generally applies to a younger population (i.e: sodium recommendations of no more than 2,400 milligrams are acceptable for a 45 year old, but too high for someone in their 70s or 80s).

Alas, Tufts University nutrition professor Alice Lichtenstein and her comrades have come up with a food pyramid exclusively for senior citizens.

I particularly enjoy the inclusion of healthy choices throughout the entire pyramid (i.e.: the dairy group specifically illustrates non and low-fat products).

Additionally, this pyramid is lifestyle-friendly -- notice the ample inclusion of frozen, pre-cut, and ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables.

"[They] have a larger shelf life, require no peeling or cutting for hands tender from arthritis, and are often more economical for those on fixed incomes." And they are just as nutritious, too!

Older adults are particularly at risk for inadequate vitamin and mineral intake (a combination of increased needs and decreased consumption), so the hoisted flag recommending B12, D, and calcium supplements is a nice -- and accurate -- touch.

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