Eating healthy is even more important as people age

“Nutrition is a really good way to keep your immune system up”
Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 12:33 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Everyone knows eating healthy is important, but eating healthy becomes especially important as people age.

“As we get older, our bodies need change so we do need slightly different nutrients than we do when we’re younger,” said Haley Willison, a St. Luke’s dietitian.

Getting proper nutrients combined with exercise can ensure people stay healthy and that helps keep seniors out of hospitals where they could potentially be exposed to other illnesses.

“Nutrition is a really good way to keep your immune system up, staying healthy stay on top of any chronic conditions you may have,” Willison said.

Resources like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate is a great way to see the best diet recommended for people, calcium and vitamin D are always needed to help with brittle bones, and fiber is needed for a healthy gut.

Unfortunately during a pandemic when those most vulnerable are being advised to stay inside, it can be difficult for some seniors to have access to a healthy meal.

“COVID-19 has definitely created more food insecurities especially within our senior population because they’re not wanting to go out to public spaces trying to keep safe and healthy,” Willison said. “So, contacting the local senior centers or food banks seeing what in the area is delivering meals.”

Both the Twin Falls and Jerome senior centers have Meals on Wheels programs, and the Jerome Senior Center is also open and offering meals in its center.

And all meals served from these centers must be approved before being prepared.

“We have to have ... the meals verified by a nutritionist in the Office On Aging before we can prepare them,” said Sheila Harmon, site manager at the Jerome Senior Center. “We have to send that menu in a month in advance so she can qualify them so she can make sure that the seniors are getting what they need.”

And the Office On Aging explains what it takes to meet the meal requirements.

“We have to do one third daily requirements in each meal they’re served,” said Shawna Wasko, the program manager at the Office On Aging. “So, we have a state dietitian that looks at their menus that qualifies them.”

And for those who do have a way to get out or have someone who can shop for them, there are some suggestions on what to buy.

“Getting lots of frozen fruits and vegetables is something that’s going to be fairly shelf stable," Willison said. “Even canned vegetables and giving them a good rinse is a good way to get some fiber and some vegetables in that way.”

So whether it’s cooking at home, having family cook or getting food from a senior center, remember it’s more about what people are eating then where they’re eating.

Copyright 2020 KMVT/KSVT. All rights reserved.

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