The Australian Government’s Health Direct website recommends a balanced diet for seniors. This includes the normal advice about fruit and vegetables (five portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit a day), wholegrain varieties of bread, pasta and rice, some milk and dairy foods, as well as protein from lean meats, fish (two portions of fish a week, including one that is oily, like tuna), eggs and beans. As always, food and drinks that are high in fat or sugar should be limited.
When older, we need to maintain our fluids – aim to drink at least six times a day to minimise the risk of dehydration. Water is best, but tea, coffee, mineral water, soda water and reduced-fat milk can all count towards your fluid intake. If you’re a heavy tea or coffee drinker, mix it up with non-caffeine drinks.
We also need to make sure we keep up our iron intake. The best source of iron is lean red meat. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend older men aged over 51 should eat two and a half serves and women over 51 should eat two serves of protein a day. A serve is 65g of cooked lean red meat such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (about 90-100g raw). Liver is a good source of iron. However, it’s also rich in vitamin A, too much of which can be harmful, so make it an occasional food only. More information is available at www.healthdirect.gov.au/healthy-eating-over-60
The World Health Organisation recommends adults aged 65+ should do at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Muscle-strengthening activities, involving major muscle groups, are important for maintaining muscle mass and should be done on two or more days a week.
The Better Health Channel website has some great exercise ideas for older Australians, including tips for staying active in your senior years. Check it out at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ten-tips/10-tips-for-active-seniors