Seniors learn how to eat healthy and stay strong

By South Cove Manor

A senior breakfast seminar took place Oct. 26 at the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church. (Image courtesy of South Cove Manor.)

During a South Cove Manor breakfast seminar, about 50 seniors learned about maintaining a healthy lifestyle as they age on Oct. 25 at the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church.

The first part of the seminar was from Blue Cross Blue Shield of New England diabetes educator Eva Wang.

In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes, Wang said. About 1.25 million American adults and children have type 1 diabetes. The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.2 percent, or 12.0 million seniors.

In addition, 1,784,000 people in Massachusetts, or 35 percent of the adult population, have prediabetes with blood glucose levels higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Wang said 28,000 people in Massachusetts are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

The cost of treating diabetes is expensive. The United States paid $245 billion in 2012 for the total costs of diagnosed diabetes. Wang said diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated $8.1 billion in Massachusetts each year. The total direct medical expense for diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes in Massachusetts was estimated at $6.1 billion in 2012.

A good way of preventing diabetes is proper nutrition. Registered dietitian Wailing Balsley from the Greater Boston Chinese Gold Age Center presented on general nutrition.

Balsley said as people age, their metabolism slows down. This leads to a decrease in muscle and bone mass. They will also experience a change of taste, smell and appetite as they age. She said the body needs fewer calories depending on age, gender and activity level. Balsley told the seniors to focus on quality nutrient-dense foods.

Balsley said eating foods high in protein is important. Protein maintains muscle mass and bone health, wound healing, immune function, skin integrity and recovery from an accident or surgery. You can find good protein in lean meat, poultry, fish, soy-based foods, tofu, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and low-fat/fat-free dairy products.

Balsley also told the seniors to focus on calcium, which helps keeps bones strong. She recommended 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day for those over the age of 51.

She recommended that the seniors get plenty of vitamin D, B 12, fiber, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Balsley said seniors need to make sure they are drinking enough fluids throughout the day. She said aim to drink eight cups of water, juice milk or soup in a day. It is important for seniors to take sips of water throughout the day.

However, to prevent diabetes, seniors also have to stay physically active. Being physically active helps improve overall health, maintain independence, prevent diseases and manage stress and improve mood. Balsley recommended walking, tai chi, lifting weights, swimming and jogging as some activities.

Image courtesy of South Cove Manor.

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