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Meat, beans, fish and dairy

Surveys have shown that 40 per cent of Singaporeans aged 50 to 59 years and 50 per cent of Singaporeans aged 60 to 69 years are not meeting the dietary guidelines for this food group. Older adults are encouraged to consume three daily servings of this food group, of which one serving should come from dairy foods or calcium-fortified foods.

Rich in protein, meat and alternatives are essential for the building and repairing of body tissues. A lack of protein will result in the slower repair of worn-out tissue and delayed healing of wounds, making them more vulnerable to infection.

Meat and alternatives are also a good source of B vitamins, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and iron.

Most of us can simply go for lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs to meet the required protein intake. Meanwhile, vegetarians can go for tofu, beans and legumes. These are extremely good sources of protein, very low in fat and loaded with fibre.

Calcium

The most abundant mineral in our body, calcium gives our bones the structural strength they need to support our body. A lack of calcium will result in an increased risk of osteoporosis – a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and weak.

Unfortunately, about 50 per cent of Singaporeans aged 50 to 59 years and about 60 per cent of Singaporeans aged 60 to 69 years are found to have insufficient calcium intake.

Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are rich sources of calcium. Calcium can also be found in tofu, tau kwa, almonds, sardines and other fish with edible bones, as well as dark green leafy vegetables.

Salt (sodium)

The average Singaporean consumes about 9g of salt a day, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 5g (one teaspoon).

Yet, controlling our sodium intake can help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and stomach and nasopharyngeal cancers.

So how can we eat less sodium? Here are a few easy steps:

When eating out:

  • Taste your food first, before adding extra salt or soy sauce.
  • Ask for less salt or sauce to be added to your food.
  • Avoid drinking up soups and sauces.

When cooking at home:

  • Limit your use of salt, soy sauce, stock cubes, MSG and seasonings.
  • Flavour your food with natural herbs and spices like garlic, onion, ginger or cinnamon.
  • Avoid using salty preserved foods like salted egg, salted vegetables, luncheon meat, salted fish and ham.

Fluids

Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than he or she takes in. And contrary to popular belief, it can happen even when we’re indoors – where many elderly spend most of their time.

We need fluids to regulate our body temperature, maintain blood pressure and eliminate waste products from our body. Go for plain water or unsweetened drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Generally, aim to drink aruond 8 glasses of water per day.

Those with fluid restrictions due to medical conditions should consult their dietitian or doctor to determine how much they can drink.

Ref: R14