Nationwide, up to 60 percent of hospitalized older adults may be malnourished, with an estimated price tag of $51.3 billion. It is no surprise that a 300 percent increase in health care costs can be attributed to poor nutrition status. In Oregon, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are in the forefront of the fight to prevent and treat malnutrition.
Partnering with nutrition leaders, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council is working to raise awareness and has gathered educational tools to help health professionals recognize and treat malnutrition. The resources also help older adults realize that they need to ask about nutrition and advocate for improved care.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown joined the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in shining the light on the impact of malnutrition – especially in older adults – by proclaiming September 26 to 30 as Malnutrition Awareness Week in Oregon.
Preventing and treating malnutrition can be as simple as following the MyPlate guidelines. Eating enough food and the right amounts from each food group is the key. Protein is especially important.
Everyone, and especially those at risk of malnutrition such as the ill or elderly, should aim to consume 3-4 ounces of protein at each meal (30 grams). Protein-rich dairy foods are a convenient, affordable and tasty option for seniors. Try milk (lactose-free, if needed), cheese, Greek yogurt, yogurt and cottage cheese. Find out what a serving is and how you can get enough with these fact sheets:
Eating to Optimize Surgery or Treatment
Eating to Meet Your Body’s Needs
Eating for Your Best Health
Malnutrition awareness is important. Learn more about this issue at this link to a KPTV television story with Providence nutrition services.
Early this year, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) were released jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Similar to previous versions, the new DGAs recommend three servings of dairy each day as an important part of a healthy eating pattern.
The full report brings attention to the fact that daily dairy intake for most Americans falls below recommendations and calls for increased consumption. Adding one serving of dairy every day can help Americans get the nutrients they need in an easy and affordable way.
Dairy foods are nutrient rich and among the top sources of calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are nutrients of concern in the American diet. Few other foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way. By comparison, it would take 21 cups of chopped broccoli to deliver the same amount of calcium as three glasses of milk.
The DGAs are significant because they form the foundation of all the USDA nutrition programs – school meals, WIC, Head Start, extension and SNAP-Ed. They also impact the nutrition recommendations health professionals give their patients and curriculum in the classroom.
RELATED ARTICLE: Decoding the Dairy Case
Milk provides a package of protein and essential nutrients that are not easily replaced with other foods. Among registered dietitians, family physicians and pediatricians who participated in a recent survey, fluid milk was among the top sources of calcium and vitamin D they recommended to their clients/patients.
So what’s up with all of the other items filling the shelves claiming to be milk or just like milk? Walk past the dairy case at any given grocery store, and the choices can be dizzying. To make matters even more confusing, the products’ nutrients are not consistent, and the ingredient lists range from simple to complex.
Only cow’s milk has a long track record of research supporting its health benefits, and other alternatives simply cannot match the complete nutritional equivalent. Non-dairy beverages have no FDA-regulated standard of identity as cow’s milk products do, and the nutrition claims for these items vary greatly.
To help you ‘decode the dairy case,’ here’s a short video from our friends at the American Dairy Association: