Nutrition & You - 50+ Years | The National Dairy Council

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Nutrition&You 50+Years

Contents Eating Well to Age Well 2 Bone BeneďŹ ts 4 Minding Your Muscles 6 Healthy Teeth and Gums 8 Fluid Facts 9 Staying Active 10 Shopping Suggestions 11 Further Reading 12

A Time to Enjoy In Ireland, as in many countries around the world, people are now living longer than ever before. It is predicted that by 2030 one in ďŹ ve people in Ireland will be aged 65 years or older. Getting older shouldn’t mean we have to slow down as it can be a time to embrace new opportunities and adventures. To enjoy this phase of life to the full, we need to maintain our energy and vitality - whether we choose to continue working into our later years; take up new hobbies; or run after the grandchildren! As we get older, our lifestyles and appetites can change but a healthy, balanced diet can give us the nutrients we require to support our needs. For the perfect recipe for healthy ageing, remember to eat well, keep moving and call on friends and family whenever you need support. This booklet provides some tips and advice to help you along the way.


Eating Well to Age Well As we get older, it is essential to eat well. Energy and nutrient needs vary depending on factors such as gender, age, body size and physical activity levels. In Ireland, we use the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid as a guide to the types and amounts of foods needed for good health. The Food Pyramid divides foods into groups based on the main nutrients they provide. It also guides us on portion sizes and daily serving recommendations. Remember to talk to your GP if you have any concerns before making any major changes to your lifestyle. Healthy Food for Life

Not needed for good health.

The Food Pyramid

For adults, teenagers and children aged five and over

Foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt

Maximum once or twice a week

In very small amounts

Fats, spreads and oils Needed for good health. Enjoy a variety every day.


NOT every day

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts


Servings a day


Milk, yogurt and cheese

Servings a day

Wholemeal cereals and breads, potatoes, pasta and rice

5 for children age 9–12 and teenagers age 13–18


Servings a day

Vegetables, salad and fruit

Up to 7* for teenage boys and men age 19–50


Servings a day

*Daily Servings Guide – wholemeal cereals and breads, potatoes, pasta and rice Active

Child (5–12)

Teenager (13–18)

Adult (19–50)

Adult (51+)

Teenager (13–18)

Adult (19–50)

Adult (51+)
















There is no guideline for inactive children as it is essential that all children are active.

Source: Department of Health/Health Service Executive 2016.

Source: Department of Health, December 2016.


Drink at least 8 cups of fluid a day – water is best

Get Active! To maintain a healthy weight adults need at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week); children need to be active at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 60 minutes every day.

Matrix of Nutrients The ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group forms part of our healthy eating guidelines. The matrix of nutrients in milk contributes to the normal functioning of many processes in our bodies*:

• Cognitive function • Thyroid function • Growth in children • Normal skin

Iodine Phosphorus

• Bone development • Healthy teeth • Muscle function

Calcium Protein

• Nervous system function • Muscle function • Blood pressure

Potassium Vitamin B2

• Energy metabolism • Reduction of fatigue • Red blood cell formation • Immune system function

• Bone development • Healthy teeth • Energy metabolism

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B5

• Muscle growth • Bone development

• Energy metabolism • Reduction of fatigue • Nervous system function • Normal skin • Normal vision • Energy metabolism • Reduction of fatigue • Mental performance

*not a complete list of functions. Source: EU register of nutrition and health claims made on foods


Bone Benefits Having healthy bones can make a big difference to the quality of our lives. While age-related bone loss is a natural process, it can result in fragile bones which are at an increased risk of fracture. Although our bone health is influenced largely by genetics, there are some steps we can take to ensure better bone health.

Bone Friendly Tips • Eat a healthy, balanced diet (see page 2) • Include good sources of calcium and vitamin D in your diet (see page 5) • Include protein foods in your diet e.g. meat, eggs, dairy, fish, beans, lentils • Take part in daily weight-bearing exercise e.g. brisk hill walking, climbing stairs, jogging • Stop smoking • If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation • Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns


Calcium Calcium is essential for our bones and it is important we get enough in our diets at all life stages to maintain bone health. Dairy foods such as yogurt, milk and cheese are among the best sources of dietary calcium. The calcium in dairy foods is easily absorbed and used by the body. Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, pulses such as beans, and nuts can also contribute to calcium intakes. The good news is that these foods can be used in cooking and baking as heat has little effect on the calcium content.

Vitamin D Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it is made by the action of sunlight on our skin. However, in Ireland, it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. Therefore, it is important to eat foods containing vitamin D. Foods that contain vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, liver, egg yolk, vitamin D fortified dairy products and breakfast cereals. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about taking a vitamin D supplement if you have limited exposure to sunshine or if your diet does not contain sources of vitamin D (listed above).


Minding Your Muscles Keeping muscles healthy is not just a task for professional athletes! We use our muscles throughout the day to perform everyday activities such as housework or walking up the stairs.

Protein Power Research shows that dietary protein and physical activity are important to maintain muscle mass. Experts advise that for the body to best use the protein we eat, we should spread our intake equally throughout the day. This can be done by having protein at each of our meals. Sources of protein include milk, yogurt, cheese, lean meat, poultry, eggs and fish. Legumes such as beans and lentils also contain protein. Here are some helpful tips on how to get protein into your meals and snacks: • Make fruit smoothies with milk or yogurt • Sprinkle cheese over pasta or add to a sandwich • Include hard boiled eggs/chicken/salmon in salads • Drink a glass of milk with meals • Have yogurt as a snack or add to fruit or cereal • Add legumes such as beans and lentils to soups, casseroles or salads Other nutrients important for muscle function include calcium and vitamin D; these nutrients are discussed on page 5.


Regular muscle-strengthening and balance exercises can be beneficial at all ages and are important for maintaining strong muscles. Some examples are listed below: • Digging in the garden • Lifting • Carrying • Step aerobics • Exercises using hand-held weights • Tai chi • Yoga • Standing on one foot!


Healthy Teeth & Gums Healthy teeth and gums are essential for eating well. Flossing our teeth every day and brushing our teeth twice a day helps keep our mouths healthy. It is also important for strong teeth to choose foods that have a positive effect on dental health.

Keep Smiling • Limit intakes of sugary foods and drinks which can cause tooth decay • Include foods in your diet which provide calcium and phosphorus such as milk, yogurt and cheese. These minerals contribute to the maintenance of normal teeth • If you have difficulty chewing, opt for lightly stewed fruit and vegetables instead of raw varieties • Remember to visit your dentist regularly to have your teeth checked and whenever you are having any difficulty with your teeth, gums or dentures


Fluid Facts Staying hydrated is important for good health. It is recommended to consume at least 8 glasses or cups of fluid a day. Thirst is not the best indicator of dehydration as it may occur before you feel thirsty. Other signs of dehydration can include a loss of concentration and alertness, headaches and constipation. Chilling tap water and adding a slice of lemon can create a pleasant, simple drink. Milk is also a refreshing drink which naturally provides a number of important nutrients (see page 3). Sugar sweetened drinks should not be consumed more than twice a week or in large quantities. You can also get some fluid from foods. Foods that have a high water content include soup, vegetables, fruit and yogurt.

A Note on Alcohol Remember, alcohol can be dehydrating. The Department of Health’s recommended upper limits are up to 11 standard drinks a week for women and up to 17 standard drinks a week for men. These should be spread out over the week and no more than five standard drinks should be taken in one sitting. It is also recommended to have at least 2-3 alcohol free days a week. A standard drink is equal to a small glass of wine, a pub measure of spirit or a glass of stout/lager/cider.


Staying Active Taking part in regular exercise allows us to enjoy many health beneďŹ ts. Exercise can help maintain muscle and bone strength, help manage body weight and improve heart health.

Guidelines At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on five days a week; or 150 minutes each week.

Moderate intensity exercise should cause you to become warmer and increase your breathing and heart rate to a comfortable pace. Examples include: cycling (slower than 10 miles an hour), medium-paced swimming, brisk walking (a mile in 15-20 minutes), or general gardening activities. Remember, try to be active every day. Start with ten minutes of activity each day and build this up over time to 30 minutes or more. Invite a friend or family member to exercise with you for company and motivation.


Shopping Suggestions Making smart choices at the supermarket and planning ahead can help you stock a healthy kitchen: • When food shopping, use a list and stick to it • If cooking for one, make extra servings which can be frozen to use within a few months • Flavourings such as fresh garlic, spices and herbs can be healthier alternatives to adding salt

Food Favourites Include a range of nutrient-rich foods which provide vitamins, minerals and fibre. Examples include: • Dairy products are convenient, they make a super snack and can be used in cooking and baking • A variety of fruit and vegetables should be used across meals and can also be convenient as on-the-go snacks • Eggs are a versatile food that can be scrambled, boiled, poached or cooked into an omelette • Legumes (e.g. dried peas, beans and lentils) can be added to stews, soups or casseroles • Canned tomatoes (whole, diced or crushed) can make a base for sauces, stews, soups or casseroles • Fish (e.g. salmon, tuna) can be a tasty addition to salads or sandwiches


Further Reading The National Dairy Council Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute - Factsheets Safefood Department of Health - The Food Pyramid (2016) Get Ireland Active - Promoting Physical Activity in Ireland Irish Osteoporosis Society Active Retirement Ireland Age Action Dental Health Foundation


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The National Dairy Council t: +353 1 290 2541 e: w: NDCIreland 2017