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The diet that ages with you

As people age, they must modify their dietary choices to get appropriate nutrients, according to the National Institute on Aging and the Human Nutrition Information Service at the Department of Agriculture.

Some people need to consider possible interactions between medications they take regularly and the foods they eat. If physical conditions limit their activity, some older people must adapt their meals to maintain a healthy weight with less exercise. The sense of thirst declines with age, so drinking enough fluids, which help the body flush out wastes, becomes more important.

The eating patterns below are based on nutritional guidelines for older Americans developed by the Department of Agriculture. The lower number of servings, with modest amounts of fat and sweets, totals about 1,600 calories per day, right for many older women. The higher number of servings contains about 2,400 calories, right for many older men.

Food groups, with suggested number of daily servings and the portion sizes:

Bread, cereal, rice, pasta _ 6-9; 1 slice bread, { cup cooked cereal, 1 ounce cold cereal, { cup rice or pasta.

Fruits _ 2-3; 1 piece fruit, melon wedge, } cup juice, { cup canned fruit, \ cup dried fruit.

Vegetables _ 3-4; { cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup leafy raw vegetables.

Meat, poultry, fish _ 2; 2{-3 ounces cooked dry beans, eggs, nuts, lean meat, poultry or fish. Count { cup beans, 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter as 1 ounce lean meat.

Milk, yogurt, cheese _ 2; 1 cup milk or yogurt, 1{ to 2 ounces cheese.

Fats, sweets, alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, liquor) _ optional; limit calories from these especially if you need to lose weight.

Source: Based on nutritional guidelines for older Americans developed by the National Institute on Aging and the Human Nutrition Information Service, USDA.

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