Sunday, January 15, 2006

food groups, basic

People need the same nutrients throughout their lives yet the amount needed varies with age, health, and activity level. The main nutrients in food are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. An elderly person's body tends to increase in fat and decrease in muscle mass and metabolic rate. Physical activity may also decrease. Thus, elderly people need to decrease their caloric intake and consume adequate amounts of calcium and fiber. The basic four food groups should be included each day;
1. Four or more servings of fruit and vegetables.
2. The equivalent of two glasses of milk
3. Four or more servings of breads or cereals
4. Two servings of a meat group
The older individual may find it easier to chew and digest fruits and vegetables that are chopped or dried. Stewed fruits, especially prunes, can help constipation, which is a major problem among the elderly. The dairy product requirement may be met with milk, cheese, yogurt, or other dairy products. Milkshakes, ice cream, and custards are often enjoyed by older people since they pose no problem in chewing, but they may be high in fat and thus not the best choice. Skimmed milk and buttermilk are frequently preferred because of lower fat and caloric content.
An adequate amount of the bread group helps to form necessary bulk in the older person's diet and also helps to eliminate constipation.
The meat group is the most expensive and the most difficult to chew. Because of this it is the one most commonly omitted from the older person's diet. Older people should be encouraged to buy a variety of meats and to broil or boil them. Frying meats adds more fats and calories without increasing the nutritional value. Fish and poultry have become increasingly popular due to the low fat and caloric content.
Eggs, beans, nuts, and peanut butter are also excellent sources of protein and can be substituted for some of the meat requirement.
See also CONSTIPATION.
Scherer, 1. C. Introductory Medical-Surgical Nursing, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1982.
Steinberg, F. U. Care of the Geriatric Patient, 6th ed. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983.

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