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Healthy Eating in Older People

The huge challenge over the coming years along with this increasing number of older adults is maintaining their health. There an increasing number of adults all over the world. It was reported that in 1994, 15 percent of the population in Western Europe was aged over 65 and was estimated that by 2031, it will increase to 24 percent and 11 percent of this numbers will be over 75 years old.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has the following classification of what we mean by ‘older people’: middle age are those that aged between 45 and 59; elderly are those from 60 to 74 and old are those that over 75.

Nutritional needs of older adults are still hard to categories with their respective age group since their dietary needs still depending on their current health.

Nutrition for fit and healthy older adults

Studies show that being physically active can help to maintain both physical and mental health. Keep in mind that activity doesn’t really mean that you need to enroll on exercise classes, just by doing housework, gardening and even walking can be already counted as an activity.

Energy

As we aged, energy requirements decline especially when physical activity is already limited. But what stays the same is the body’s need for protein, vitamins and minerals. But the food choices are very important, it should be nutritionally dense. There is still a need of eating variety of foods to get all the vitamins and minerals needed but should little calories.

Fats

For older people who are fit and well, it is advised to limit the fat intake especially saturated fat. But for people aged 75 and above, that suffered from weight loss and those that has poor appetite, additional fat may be needed to increase their calorie intake to help them gain weight.

Fibre

Eating cereals with high fiber content, fruits and vegetables can help older people to avoid suffering from constipation and bowel problems due to reduce gut motility and inactivity. Raw fiber and too much amount of foods with very high fiber content is not a good solution, they are too bulky and could interfere the absorptions of some nutrients. In addition, drinking a lot of water, about 8 glasses a day is very important.

Fluid

There is a higher risk of dehydration for older people since their kidneys aren’t functioning as good as those younger ones. A fluid intake doesn’t really connote water; it may also include other beverages as tea, coffee and fruit juices.

Sugar

Normally older people that are fit and healthy should reduce foods and drink intakes that are rich in sugar. But foods rich in sugar can be useful for those that have poor appetite and who have lost weight.

Iron

Poor iron absorption for older adults causes Anaemia, this is because of the changes on gastrointestinal tract, loss of blood and may also be the use of certain drugs. Eating red meat, cereals and green leafy vegetables daily is sufficient for iron intake. In addition, consuming foods that are rich in vitamin C like glass of juice, fresh fruit and vegetables can maximize the absorption on iron.

Zinc

Zinc is important for a healthy immune system as well as helps with the healing of wounds including pressure ulcers. Meat, pulses, bread and shellfish are known good sources of zinc.

Calcium and vitamin D

Sufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D is known to minimize the rate of calcium loss from bones so as foods rich in calcium such as milk and dairy is recommended to be eaten daily.

It is advisable to take vitamin D intake as you grow older since it’s not enough by just depending on your regular diet. Vitamin D can be obtained mostly by exposing skin to sunlight but there are other food that contains vitamin D, such as oily fish, fortified spreads and cereals.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C intake for older people may be low because of not being able to consume enough fruits and vegetables. This happened because older people has poor teeth conditions that their avoiding crisp fruits and vegetables. For them to enjoy variety of foods, regular visit to the dentist is recommended for this helps them maintain their overall health.

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