The human body changes as one gets old. There are physiological changes that occur slowly in the body systems over a time. These changes are caused by illnesses, life events, genic qualities and social and economic conditions. Sensory changes include decline of sight, hearing, smell and taste. These changes have a marked influence on the nutritional intake and health.Structural changes are the loss of body mass. Reduced muscle mass affect all organs in the body affecting the liver, kidneys, lungs and heart. The most apparent loss of lean body mass is the decrease of metabolism. Intake of calories needs to be reduced to avoid weight gain. Bone density is also lost with age. This can lead to diseases of the bones and fractures with light falls.
How to face the old problems?
“Eat Well to Age Well”
Nutrition plays a vital in all the changes. Digestion secretions reduce leading to digestive problems. It is important to eat a healthy well balanced diet. This will include\
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Bread, rice, potatoes and other starchy foods.
- Milk and other dairy products.
- Meat, eggs, fish lentils and other sources of protein.
- Small amount of foods and drinks which are low in sugar.
Along with age people tend to lose interest in food and start taking less food. The reason for this is that the person is not that active as before. Hence the body burns fewer calories. But all the nutrient and energy is still required. It is better to switch to smaller meals and supplement them with healthy snacks life fruits and vegetables.
It is essential to keep the body hydrated in old age Do not remain thirsty and drink water several times in the day. Alcoholic drinks need to be limited and increase the intake of water fruit juices and milk. Every meal must be taken as an opportunity for nutrition. It is advisable that one must select foods to improve the diet by considering the taste, ability and lifestyle.
Some special guidelines to maintain healthy eating habits in elderly people
- Use less salt—Extra salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure and lead to heart problems. Older adults should avoid foods with high salts like cure meats, snack foods and sauces.
- Drink more water-Water supports the functioning of many organs in the body, Hydration, digestion also depend on water. Water in the form of tea, juices, coffee etc. should be taken at least 6-8 times a day.
- Go slow on high fat foods—Pies, pastries chocolates and other fried snacks are high in fat. They can be taken occasionally High sugar desserts need to be reduced considerably. Fresh fruits and low fat sweet flavored yogurt and oat based cakes are a better option.
- Vitamins and minerals play a role in deficiencies which are common in old age. A variety of diet will fulfill the requirement of vitamins and minerals.
Special considerations for older adults
Bone health– Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that commonly affects old persons. It increases the risk of fractures of hip, leg, and wrist. It is caused by lack of calcium in the body which is difficult to replace. Milk and milk products like yogurt and cheese are high in calcium. Fish with soft bones like canned salmon or sardines, are also good sources of calcium. Vitamin D is also needed to maintain healthy bones. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Vitamin D s also got from egg yolk, butter whole milk yogurt and cheese.
Arthritis is a result of lean muscles and overweight. The best way to get rid of this is a variety of diets and maintenance of body weight.
Constipation in old age is a common problem. It calls for foods that are rich in fiber. These foods include wholegrain, dry fruit, seeds and lentils.
Having a healthy diet and remaining active helps to maintain the health of elderly people. Remember that they eat food that is rich in starch and fire, iron and calcium. Reduce their intake of salt. Expose their body to sunshine and consume foods that are rich in Vitamin D. Maintain a healthy weight.