As reported by the New Britain Herald, October 30, 2005.

Nutrition Tips Offered to Aid Healthy Aging for Adults 40 and Up

By Jen Haggerty

FARMINGTON — Dr. Lavern Wright, UConn Health Center geriatrician, considers age 70 to be “fairly young.”

“Getting older doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. To age successfully, you have to do something,” she told a group of women gathered at the L’Oréal Paris store in Westfarms Mall recently. “Age should not be a limiting factor.”

The sponsored program, “Forty and Fabulous!” addressed various ways people could age successfully and confidently. The program was in conjunction with a UConn Celebrate Aging seminar.

Wright said there are physical and social ways to stay healthy as people age.

“Physical activity is very important. It can be as simple as dancing or gardening,” she said. In addition, when people have a safe social environment, stress can be handled more effectively.

“We don’t realize how important social connections are. You may have to push yourself to get involved.” Wright recommends joining programs, church activities or senior centers to keep social interaction in daily life.

“We can use getting old as an excuse but we should use that more to do things,” she said. “Often we feel as we get older, we’re not useful.”

A diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables, as well as drinking the recommended water a day aids healthy aging.

For post-menopausal women, osteoporosis is often a problem. To prevent this, women need calcium and Vitamin D, which can be found in milk (the body needs Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium). Multi-vitamin pills can also help reach the recommended amount.

However, in order for the Vitamin D to work, women need sun exposure.
“When it’s winter, people stay inside more. You need to be in the sun to get [Vitamin D] activated,” she said.

Paying attention to food labels can also aid in healthy aging. For example, picking frozen vegetables over canned is better, according to Wright, because there is less sodium in the frozen variety. However, if your cupboard is full of canned vegetables, fear not. “Run them under water to get rid of excess sodium.”

Heather Gifford, registered dietician, agrees, and praises the benefits of frozen foods —even over fresh produce.

“Fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients every day since being picked. Sometimes frozen can be more nutritious than fresh produce,” she explained. “Frozen food is flash frozen to keep nutrients in.”

Another interesting tidbit is that not all wheat breads are healthy. “Make sure you’re getting whole wheat. Just because it’s brown doesn’t mean its healthy.” Even choices of meat can make a difference. Gifford said if a cut of a meat ends in “round or loin,” it is a leaner cut of meat.

When grocery shopping, registered dietician Lisa Lester recommends shopping the perimeter of the store to find fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

“If you go down the aisles, that’s where convenience foods are with more preservatives added,” she said. In addition, she advised to rub — not just run — vegetables and fruits under water to get chemicals off.

Celebrate Aging is a free membership program aimed at improving the health of men and women age 40 and older. For more information, visit www.celebrate.uchc.edu.