Are You at Nutrition Risk? By Johanna Hicks

Are You at Nutrition Risk?

               I recently had the privilege of implementing a nutrition program targeted toward the 55+ crowd, and we had some very good discussions!  We started off by taking a quiz, followed by reviewing some nutrients that are often lacking in the diets of older adults.  Take the quiz below to see if you are at nutrition risk:

1)      Have you changed the kind or amount of food you eat because of a disease?

2)      Do you skip meals?

3)      Do you eat less than two servings of fruits or vegetables on most days?

4)      Do you have tooth or mouth problems that make it hard to eat?

5)      If you wear dentures, do they fit properly?

6)      Sometimes, do you run out of enough money to buy the food you need?

7)      Do you eat alone almost all the time?

8)      Do you take three or more medications (includes prescribed, over-the-counter, herbal supplements, and vitamins) a day?

9)      Do you consume more than three alcoholic drinks on most days?

10)   Without wanting to, have you gained or lost 10 pounds in the last six months?

11)   Are you unable to shop, cook or feed yourself because of your health?

12)   Are you over the age of 80 years?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be a nutrition risk.

Age related changes can affect nutritional status.  One of those changes if the ability to perceive thirst.  This may lead to dehydration especially when medications are taken or combined with the inability to communicate the need for water.  As we age, we also have a decreased need for calories.  Caloric needs decline because of the decrease in metabolic rate, as well as a decrease in physical activity that usually accompanies aging.  Sensory changes also occur.  A diminished sense of smell can cause food to lose much of its flavor while poor vision can cause food to look less appealing.  Finally, there is an increased need for certain nutrients such as protein, vitamins D and B12, calcium, and zinc.  Obtaining these nutrients through a healthful diet is of utmost importance.

This all lead to the question, “What’s missing in your pantry?”  Several nutrients have been identified that are often NOT consumed in adequate amounts by adults over the age of 55 years.  These nutrients are needed for optimal health and well-being.

–        Protein:  important for optimal immune function, wound healing, and fluid balance.  Food sources include lean cuts of meat, skim milk, egg whites

–        Calcium and Vitamin D: keep bones strong and helps prevent osteoporosis.  Food sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified orange juice

–        Vitamin B12: important for nerve function, cognitive performance, and healthy blood cells.  Food sources include beef, milk, fish

–        Folate: also called folic acid, it is needed for growth and repair of body tissues.  Food sources include fortified grain products, orange juice, dark green vegetables, beans

–        Zinc: needed for wound healing.  Food sources are beef, some breakfast cereals, whole grains

–        Potassium: helps lower blood pressure, reduces the risk of developing kidney stones, and decreases bone loss.  Food sources are sweet potatoes, bananas, orange juice, tomatoes

–        Fiber: promotes digestive health, lowers blood cholesterol, and aids in weight loss.  Food sources include whole grains, dry beans, fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and berries

–        Water: helps with temperature maintenance and transportation of oxygen, nutrients, and medications to the cells of the body.  Food sources include water, decaffeinated coffees and teas

Challenge yourself to stay healthy.  Maintain a healthy weight, stay active, be optimistic, spend time with friends and family, try a new hobby, and enjoy crossword puzzles, games, and puzzles.  Increase social contact by getting involved in church or community volunteer programs, visit the local Senior Citizens’ Center, share meals with a friend, and attend a cooking class or other community events.  Hopkins County frequently offers special events, programs, and workshops, so take advantage of them!

Dairy Festival’s “Whipped Challenge”

               The 2018 Hopkins County Dairy Festival Board is proud to announce the “Whipped Challenge.”  Similar to the Food Network’s popular “Chopped” show, the Dairy Festival version will take place on Saturday, June 16, on the Hopkins County Civic Center grounds, with check-in at 9:30 a.m., orientation at 10:00 and contest starting at 10:15 a.m..  We are now accepting registration for the first eight teams (four member per team) who would like to participate.  Here’s a brief synopsis of how it works:

Each team will be assigned to a food preparation station.  Teams will be provided with a bag of ingredients which must be used to prepare a dish.  A pantry of additional items will be available if teams choose to add more ingredients.  In addition, each dish must also include 2 dairy products, which will also be available in the pantry area.  All equipment will be provided, with the exception of knives.  Each team is requested to provide its own knives for slicing and dicing.

All eight teams will participate in the appetizer round.  They will have a certain amount of time to plan, prepare, and plate the dishes for a panel of judges.  Two teams will be “whipped” (eliminated), and the remaining six teams will continue to the main dish round, after which three teams will be eliminated.  The final three teams will participate in the dessert round, with the winning team being named as “Whipped Challenge” winner.

A fee of $40 per team will be charged to help with expenses related to the contest.  For registration and rules of play, go to https://hopkins.agrilife.org and click on ‘publications.’  Spectators are welcome to watch!  Please call 903-885-3443 if you have questions.

Closing Thought

Everyone is a genius at last once a year.  The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together – George Lichtenberg

Johanna Hicks
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
P.O.Box 518
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone
903-439-4909 – Fax
[email protected]

Author: Savannah Owens

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