Taking advantage of the new food pyramid for seniors

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 02, 2011

If you are wondering about the best diet for elderly people, you might be surprised to learn that there has been a special food pyramid that was designed specifically with the needs of seniors in mind. Tufts University recently created this new pyramid, which helps to guide seniors to understand their nutritional requirements.

The first food pyramid originated in 1974. The concept was the idea of a Swedish author to give people an idea of the types of foods that they should consume for their health. It was adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture in the early 1990s. Before the 90s, the USDA simply recommended four basic food groups, which included “proteins,” “dairy,” “grains” and “produce.” Since the 1970s, the information and guidelines that are recommended in the food pyramid have changed significantly.  

Tufts University Invented this Diet for Elderly People’s Needs

Tufts University created a special food pyramid for seniors called “MyPyramid,” which is geared primarily for those who are over the age of 70. This new food pyramid focuses on the types of nutrients that a diet for elderly people necessitates. It emphasizes foods that are very nutrient dense.  Tuft’s pyramid also stresses the importance of fluid balance. This recommended diet for elderly individuals also encourages exercise like walking and yard work.

Foods Recommended in the Diet for Elderly People

Among the recommendations in MyPyramid include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, fortified grains, low fat dairy products, dry beans and nuts along with poultry, fish, eggs and lean meats and healthy oils.  This diet for elderly people was published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2008.

MyPyramid also takes special lifestyle considerations of seniors into account. For example, Tufts’ researchers stress that eating frozen, canned or dried fruits is a good idea.  For those people who find that it is increasingly difficult to go shopping and need elderly assistance, these types of foods can be very beneficial. Also if seniors are living on their own, single serving foods can be very convenient.

Diet for Elderly Individuals: The Importance of Fluids

Many seniors overlook the vital importance of getting enough fluids. However, the pyramid for seniors places a vital significance on getting enough water. In fact, six to eight glasses of water are at the base of the pyramid.  As it turns out, when we get older, we often are not as aware of how thirsty we may be. However, getting enough fluids is essential for staying in good health.  Dehydration can cause problems including constipation and kidney issues.

Supplements are an Essential Part of a Diet for Elderly Individuals

The food pyramid for seniors also includes supplements including calcium, vitamin D and B12. It is important to note that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. Yet, seniors are more likely to stay indoors and not get direct rays of sun. As a result, this is a vitamin that should be taken in a supplement form.  As for vitamin B12, this is a vitamin that seniors often cannot absorb properly.  The MyPyramid for Older Adults also stresses that people should check with their doctor to discuss their exact needs for supplementation.

How to Get Customized Information

MyPyramid is a web-based program that seniors can use to get individualized information. They merely need to go online and insert details about their gender, age, height, weight and exercise habits. There is also a print form for seniors who are less likely to go online.

While Medicaid and Medicare services are no doubt important, the best way to go is to stay healthy and not need to use any insurance coverage. One of the ways that you can readily achieve this is by choosing to eat a healthy diet for elderly people and exercising regularly.



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