It is well known that in many ways there is an interaction between the diet and the aging process. Nutritional problems of the elderly population are increasing due to susceptibility to chronic diseases. Deteriorating organ functions can affect metabolism, digestion, absorption of nutrients and excretion. Eighty percent of people over the age of 65 suffer from at least one chronic disease and diet plays a significant role in the prevention and recovery of a disease. For this reason, the importance of nutrition for the elderly should by no means be undervalued.
Energy demand changes with aging due to a higher body fat percentage and lower levels of lean muscle tissue. Decreased activity can lead to a further decline in calorie requirements. The challenge is to meet the same nutritional needs as at a young age while consuming fewer calories. The solution lies in the selection of nutrient-rich foods with a high nutrient density per calorie. The protein requirement does not change significantly in older adults, although the demand for protein may vary due to impairments or diseases.
Pay attention to the reduced fat content in food
It is advisable for older people to pay attention to a reduced total fat content in the diet. Desirable is a daily calorie intake, which does not consist of more than 30% fat. 60% of all calories should be covered by the supply of carbohydrates. The focus should be on complex, natural carbohydrates, as they contain many vital substances. Glucose tolerance decreases with age, and a lower intake of refined carbohydrates puts less strain on your body.
Also, a high-fiber diet is recommended. Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods and, with adequate hydration, provides normal bowel function. In addition, it is believed that the high-fiber diet can reduce intestinal inflammation. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts are excellent sources of fiber.
The fluid requirement in old age
Water is the most important thing, especially for seniors, because the water content of the body decreases as you get older. Water fulfills many essential functions. Adequate water supply relieves the function of the kidneys, as the kidney function tends to decrease with age. Drinking 5-8 glasses or at least 1.5 liters of water daily is recommended. However, not only does the fluid need to be covered with water, but it also contains water in other beverages, such as tea, coffee, and juice spritzers. Older people often do not have a pronounced thirst and dehydration easily, so the water intake should be habitual and not be waiting until the thirsty. It is important that the nutrition for the elderly also the correct amount of drinking is taken into account.
Declining odor and taste
The gradual decrease in the sense of smell and taste over the course of one’s age can affect the appetite, as the food no longer seems so tasty. As a result, older people often tend to sweeten and spice up their food. However, increased consumption of salt and sugar should be avoided at all costs, and herbs and other spices should be used instead.
Problems when shopping
Also, the loss of vision may prove to be a hindrance in the context of nutrition in old age. Older people often find it difficult to read food prices and small-print nutritional and descriptive information when shopping. In addition, many do not understand the information on the food packaging and therefore can not assess whether a product is beneficial to their health. Although these restrictions generally do not have a general effect, they may affect the ability to eat healthily.
Vitamins Minerals and trace elements
If medications are used to control certain diseases, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, the need for electrolytes, sodium, and potassium in the elderly may be altered and the diet should be adjusted to these changing needs.
Vitamin D is important for bone health. Just like calcium and vitamin K, vitamin D has a preventive effect on osteoporosis. Older people often have a vitamin D deficiency. Since vitamin D is mainly formed by the sunlight in the body, you can prevent a deficiency by sufficient sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in richer types of sea fish, liver, egg yolks, and dairy products. In some cases, the intake of vitamin D supplements may be appropriate.
There is also a lack of vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) in older adults. This is often due to impaired absorption of vitamin B12 due to stomach or bowel disease or drug use. In some cases, artificial vitamin B12 intake may be required. Vitamin B12 is important for various essential metabolic processes in the body and for the formation of red blood cells. In addition, vitamin B12 ensures the proper functioning of the nervous system and a trouble-free and normal brain activity.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause various neurological symptoms, including memory and dementia, vision impairment, and sensory disorders.