5 Tricks for Getting Enough Fruit and Veggies

Seniors are better than younger people at getting their servings of fruit and vegetables, but that's still not saying much. Only 30 percent of people 65 and older eat five or more daily servings of fruit and vegetables, which is the minimum amount recommended for good nutrition.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is especially important as you get older, because the nutrients and fiber in these foods can help reduce high blood pressure, lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, stave off eye and digestive problems — and simply satisfy your hunger.

How Big Is One Serving of Fruit or Vegetables?

Before you try to eat an entire bunch of bananas or a bushel of apples, know this: One serving of fruit or vegetables equals half a cup, or about the amount you could hold in a cupped hand. Nutrition experts used to recommend five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, but that’s probably no longer enough, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individual needs are different, and depending on age, gender, and level of physical activity, you’ll require between 5 and 13 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. 

To help determine your specific needs, visit the CDC’s fruit and vegetable calculator.

Meeting Your Healthy Eating Goal for Fruit and Vegetables

Follow these simple tips for increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat each day:

  1. Add fruit and vegetables to your favorite dishes. Find ways to incorporate fruit and vegetables into foods you already eat. For example, stir fruit into your cereal or yogurt, add strawberries or blueberries to your pancakes, pack your sandwich with extra veggies,add vegetable toppings to your pizza, stir greens into your favorite casserole or pasta dish, or stuff your omelet with extra vegetables.
  2. Display your produce. Put your fruit and vegetables out on the counter or in a prominent position in the refrigerator, so that you'll be more likely to eat them.
  3. Try new things. Next time you go to the grocery store, pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try.
  4. Cook vegetarian. At least once every week, skip the meat (you could join in on Meatless Monday) and try a new vegetarian recipe for dinner.
  5. Snack away. Try snacking on fresh or dried fruit, carrot and bell pepper strips with a low-fat dip, or baked chips with fresh salsa.

Why We Eat Less as We Age

As you get older, certain age-related changes can make it more difficult to get the fruit and vegetables you need, such as:

  • Difficulty chewing. Some people have dental problems that make it harder to chew, resulting in a reduced interest in eating.
  • Changes in taste. Your sense of taste can change as you get older, so you may avoid some of the foods you used to enjoy.
  • Mobility problems. For older people who are no longer able to drive, it may be difficult to get out and shop for fresh produce.
  • Lack of motivation to cook. If you live alone, you may not feel like cooking just for one.
  • Changes in appetite. For many people, getting older means that you just aren't as hungry as you used to be. 

To get the most out of the fruit and vegetables you eat, aim for variety. Eat many different types of fruit and vegetables in a rainbow of colors. This will help ensure that you get the variety of nutrients your body needs for healthy aging.

By 

Krisha McCoy

 Reviewed by 

Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/health-benefits-of-fruits-and-vegetables.aspx

4 Ways to Prevent Elderly Dehydration + Must-Try Summer Mocktail Recipes

by Dana Larsen

Our elderly loved ones need a little extra TLC during the hot summer months. Find out why dehydration increases with age and get valuable tips on keeping your favorite senior hydrated.

4 Ways to Prevent Elderly Dehydration

Senior dehydration is a common health issue that can lead to bigger problems if proper hydration is not made a priority, such as urinary tract infections and low blood pressure. Proper hydration helps to keep the body and vitals regulated. The University of Chicago Medical Center found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65.

What Can Cause Dehydration?

There are a number of reasons the elderly are so prone to dehydration:

  1. The ability to notice changes in body temperature typically decreases with age.
  2. As people get older, body water content decreases.
  3. Many medications the elderly take make them more susceptible to dehydration.
  4. The elderly often experience diminished thirst; which leads to a reduced fluid consumption.
  5. With aging, the kidneys have a reduced ability to concentrate urine and retain water during water deprivation.
  6. Specific conditions, such as reduced swallowing capacity, decreased mobility, comprehension and communication disorders, as well as, decreased mobility and/orincontinence can contribute to dehydration.
  7. Many seniors have underlying health conditions that make them less able to adapt to heat.

What Health Issues Can Dehydration Create?

combatting elderly dehydration - old woman on her porch

There are some staggering statistics, compiled from The Department of Health, The Hydration for Health Initiative, The Adult & Geriatric Institute, European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, and the  Department on Aging, about dehydration in seniors.

Things you should know about dehydration:

  • Dehydration has been associated with increased mortality rates among older adults
  • Dehydration can accelerate or bring about emergency hospitalization and/or increase the risk of hospital stays
  • Dehydration is a frequent cause of hospitalization of older adults and one of the ten most frequent diagnoses responsible for hospitalization in the U.S.
  • Dehydration has been associated with many elderly health issues, including elderly confusion, impaired cognition, falling and constipation
  • It is estimated that avoidable costs of hospitalizations resulting from dehydration is $1.14 billion, annually

What Steps Can Be Taken To Prevent Dehydration?

Fluid intake is key. Families and caregivers need to be cognizant about risks and plan ahead to make sure aging loved ones are properly hydrated. Here are some tips to help encourage fluid consumption and reduce the risk of elderly dehydration:

  1. Offer fluids on a regular basis throughout the day.
  2. Encourage 8 oz. of fluid intake every time the senior takes medication.
  3. Keep water bottles and/or a water cooler available throughout the day wherever the senior is (for example, in bed, on the patio, throughout the house or at the senior living community).
  4. Provide favorite “mocktail” concoctions (see below for some great recipes) or your senior’s favorite beverages (make sure they’re not caffeinated or alcoholic).

Tasty Recipes To Keep Your Elderly Loved Ones Hydrated

Strawberries and Coconut Water

Elderly Hydration: Strawberries and Coconut Water

Ingredients

To make 2 Strawberry Mocktails combine:

  • 1 cup (250ml) of fresh coconut water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 3 T of sugar syrup or agave nectar

Directions

  1. To make the sugar syrup, boil sugar and water together in a ratio of 1:3 sugar to water until it thickens to a runny syrup consistency. Store in a jar for all future cocktail making.
  2. Measure 1 cup of coconut water, either directly from a cut-open coconut or from a store-bought container (if you are lucky enough to live in an area that sells fresh coconut water in a bottle).
  3. Combine the strawberries and sugar syrup  and blend with a blender to desired consistency.
  4. Serve with ice.

Get more information on making this delicious 

strawberries and coconut drink

.

Cucumber Lemonade with Basil

Combating Elderly Dehydration: Cucumber Lemonade With Basil

Ingredients

To make 3 to 4 Cucumber Lemonade treats combine:

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 3 C water
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 1 C soda water

Directions

  1. Start by cutting your cucumber in half. Peel one half and cut it lengthwise (you can cut it in half again first if need be).
  2. Scoop the seeds out and chop it into pieces.
  3. Put the cucumber pieces in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  4. Put puree in a fine mesh sieve over a container and push with a wooden spoon or spatula, extracting as much liquid as you can from the cucumber puree.
  5. Fill a separate bowl or container with 3 cups water. Squeeze 2 lemons into the water and mix in the sugar.
  6. Pour lemonade and cucumber juice into a pitcher or serving container.  Slice remaining cucumber half (unpeeled) and remaining lemon and add to pitcher. Add basil, too. Refrigerate until chilled.
  7. Serve with ice.