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5 Simple (But Important) Things to Remember About Elderly Nutrition.
At what age do we define a person as elderly? According to UK-Care, says there is no actual definition of older people. They further explained that the World Health Organisation website says that 'Most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of 'elderly' or older person' whilst Wikipedia has given a definition of "old age consisting of ages nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle". If we take this into consideration, we can average and conclude that being elderly is around 65 years old and above. With that definition in mind, think about what you know regarding elderly nutrition.
Why is it important to define who the elderly is when discussing nutrition? Because in the UK, life expectancy has doubled over the last 200 years and now around 16% of the population is aged over 65 years shares the British Nutrition Foundation. Elderly folks need to remember that healthy eating guidelines and general nutrient requirements are still apply to them. Especially since having extended life expectancy does not necessarily mean that their quality of life improves, in fact, that declines more often than not. With this in mind, let us see 5 simple but important things to remember when dealing with elderly nutrition:
Regulate food intake - Balance food intake with physical activity. A person who is highly active needs a lot of food. Keep an eye on meal portion size, if a person is less active choose smaller serving sizes and add plenty of vegetables, salad and fruit. For those who maintain highly active lifestyles, their nutritional needs also increase and must be met to avoid nutritional imbalance.
Fortified foods - Keep your bones healthy by having three servings of low-fat dairy foods (milk, yoghurt, or cheese) each day. Dairy foods with added calcium and vitamin D are even better. Look out for these in the supermarket as fortified foods. Some examples are cereals, flour, and oil.
Pack on protein - Protein-rich foods help the body make new cells and keep the muscles healthy. Elderly people need to stay fit and strong and eating a variety of protein-rich foods each day can help them avoid having low blood pressure as well. Protein can be found in lean meat, poultry and fish. Omega 3 can be found in salmon, sardines, trout, fresh tuna and kippers. Other protein-rich food include beans, eggs and nuts.
Combat malnutrition - Include a carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, potato, or cereal with each meal. Foods containing carbohydrates are part of a healthful diet because they provide dietary fiber, sugars, and starches that help the body function well. The sugars and starches in foods supply energy to the body in the form of glucose, which is used to fuel your brain and nervous system. Choose high fibre options whenever you can (see following section for suggestions).
Avoid obesity - Elderly people need at least five servings of fruits & vegetables daily. These are packed with important nutrients to help your body stay healthy since they are high in fiber and help regulate the digestive system. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen, tinned, or dried. It is better to have a mixture of different coloured fruits and vegetables each day such as apples, oranges, bananas, spinach, cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and sweet corn in the elderly diet. These will help elderly persons avoid excessive weight increase.
Some other elderly nutrition tips are using less salt, limiting intake of empty calories, staying hydrated and moderate alcohol intake. Eating healthily, combined with regular physical activity, can help a person live a full, active life, preserving independence into older age reminds the INDI. This comes from the knowledge that the body has different needs in the elderly stage compared to younger people. Proper nutrition becomes important and possibly life-saving.
To summarise what was discussed about elderly nutrition, remember the basics: protein, fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates. Also, Nutritionist Resource reminds that there are certain nutrients which become particularly important as we get older, including Calcium, Fats, Fibre, Fluid, Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc. For those who are having trouble with their diet, it is advisable to consult a nutritionist to help with an individualised nutrition programme for the elderly adult.