Eating healthy is a matter of great importance that is instilled in us since we are small, however, when it comes to nutrition for the elderly, there is no other alternative. Nutrition in the elderly contains special characteristics and must follow a pattern, which helps to improve the quality of life of people during this stage of their lives.
The importance of food is almost the same for everyone, but especially children and the elderly are the ones who should take more care of what they eat since diet is vital for their health and development. However, this does not mean that we should neglect our diet in other stages of life since what we eat today will take its toll on us tomorrow.
What should we eat in old age?
This is a question we should all ask ourselves, not only if we live at home with grandparents or other elderly relatives, but also because we will all be elderly at some time, and we should be aware that a proper diet during old age is of vital importance to contribute to good health.
To be healthy it is necessary to have a good diet, even more so when we talk about the elderly. A proper diet can minimize the risks of suffering from certain diseases, whether arterial, cardiac, hypertension, among others. It is very important to include minerals, proteins, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, and, above all, plenty of water on a daily basis.
Nutrition for the elderly
As the years go by, nutritional needs change. When you are beginning to leave adulthood, it becomes necessary to have a balanced diet in the third age in which empty calories should be reduced and enhance the consumption of protein, fiber, vitamins, and ensure that the food provides calcium, iron, and other minerals essential for good health.
With the passage of time, several changes are associated with age, such as physiological and social changes that considerably affect the nutritional status of the elderly, and therefore their dietary patterns.
For example, when teeth are lost, salivation is reduced and it becomes more difficult to chew food well; also, the senses are no longer the same, they become weaker, and therefore there is the possibility of losing interest in food.
In addition to the above, there is a progressive loss of muscle mass, which is linked to lower energy demand. In addition, we cannot forget that during this stage it is usual to take medications that could hinder the absorption of nutrients, therefore, the risk that an older adult is not well nourished is tripled if all these conditions and alterations that are experienced during old age are not taken into account.
In the diet after 70, it is necessary to review and modify the eating habits that have been taking place to adapt them to the new biological needs and change of life. For a healthy life after 50, higher consumption of fish, poultry, eggs, skimmed dairy products, legumes, whole grains, and nuts is recommended, emphasizing that at least half of the proteins consumed should be animal and vegetables.
Any person-focused or dedicated to the care of the elderly should know the different diets for the elderly, taking into account several fundamental aspects in order to achieve the most appropriate diet. Certainly, fats and proteins should be included, but in the right measure.
Thus, fats should not exceed 25% of the diet, paying special attention to cooking and avoiding the consumption of fatty products. As for the proteins, they have to be included in 20%, betting for the skimmed milk products and increasing the consumption of fish with the consequent reduction of meats.
Fruit, cereals, and pasta in 55% being very convenient the intake of certain foods rich in minerals and vitamins A, B, C and D such as nuts, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables that can not be missing in a diet for the elderly.
Vegetables and fruits in the diet for the elderly
A diet for seniors should include a minimum consumption of two servings of vegetables per day, as well as at least 3 servings of fruits between meals. Vegetables for the elderly are vital, as they provide necessary nutrients that will help to have a better digestion process and stay healthy.
To facilitate the chewing process, vegetables should be cooked and prepared in the form of puree, while fruits can be consumed in their natural form if they are ripe and soft, otherwise in compotes, juices, or smoothies, but without including processed sugars in their preparation.
Increased consumption of fiber and water
As the years go by, the intestinal transit and the digestion process become slower, so constipation problems may become more acute. Therefore, it is advisable to take between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day, combined between insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber can come from whole grains, while soluble fiber comes from fruits and vegetables.
In addition, in any diet and especially in the diet for the elderly, the consumption of water is vital. During old age, the percentage of water in the body decreases, so it is recommended to drink a minimum of two liters a day between water, juices, and broths.
Healthy eating for the elderly: 5 or more meals per day
We know that the process of feeding an elderly person can often be difficult. Certainly, the appetite is decreasing considerably and people usually eat a third or less than half of what they ate when they were young.
The importance lies in the variety of foods, the way they are prepared, and the quantities that can be consumed each day. Organizational changes in diets for the elderly are very important so that they do not fall into boredom, and there is more combination of nutrients in each dish.
The meal can be divided into 5 or more intakes per day, combining proteins, fibers, vegetables, cereals, and fruits. It will always be better to opt for small portions more times a day, than the traditional three meals in abundant portions.