Eating a healthy, balanced and a nutritional diet is important at any age. However, when it comes to old age, it becomes even more essential. In the course of the natural aging process, the basal metabolic rate, lean body mass and energy requirements of the body start dropping and become vulnerable to malnutrition. There could be many reasons for the inadequate supply of macronutrients and micronutrients in their bodies such as loss of appetite, difficulty in eating, lack of interest in eating etc. Even the food they eat isn’t processed so well, the micronutrient uptake in the body is inadequate too.
Now, as we all know how important these micro-nutrients are in our body and how they play a very important role, the lack of them can lead to further chronic diseases like Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Cardiovascular diseases etc. Therefore, it becomes more necessary for people after a certain age to intake an optimal supply of essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Let’s learn about some of the nutrients required by your body in adequate amounts as you get older:
- Protein: It has been observed and studied that elderly people lose muscle at a greater speed and put on body fat easily. This age-related loss of lean muscle is known as Sarcopenia. To avoid Sarcopenia, an adequate amount of protein is required in their daily diet. They must focus on consuming at least 1.5gms protein/kg body weight a day.
- Vitamin D & Calcium: A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D helps in prevention as well as treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak, fragile and are more likely to break. Adequate intake of calcium is very important for good bone health and vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium from food, and hence is important for good bone health.
- B Vitamins: Intake of B vitamins such as B6, B12 and folate are inadequate in the elderly people. Low levels of these vitamins elevate the risk of cardiovascular diseases, anaemia and Alzheimer. Also, B12 is essential for creating the red blood cells, and DNA. So a good intake of B vitamins through food and supplements is essential for elderly people.
- Fiber: As elderly people are vulnerable to many chronic diseases, to prevent them, fiber plays a very important role. Sufficient intake of fiber has proven to lower the risk of coronary heart diseases, stroke, prevents gastrointestinal disorders, normalizes bowel movements and even helps control the blood sugar levels. So, a good intake of green veggies, whole grains and high fiber food is recommended.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: EPA & DHA, the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, have proven to help maintain the health of the elderly people because of their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also help in the maintenance of the cognitive abilities and prevent the development of Alzheimer. High intake of fish like Salmon, tuna, which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, flaxseeds, walnuts, soya bean and supplements like Fish oil capsules, flaxseeds can be taken to keep up the levels of these essential fats.
- Potassium: Lack of potassium can cause muscle weakness, nausea, high blood pressure, heart diseases, stroke and arthritis. Thus it becomes important to keep up the levels of potassium in elderly people. Green leafy vegetables and yoghurt are a good source of potassium. They can source themselves with potassium supplements as well.
When it comes to well-being and good nutrition, the older adults indeed have to take utmost care of these nutrients. However, regardless of your age, a well-balanced diet with all the macronutrients and micronutrients must be maintained. It’s often said, “Eat well to age well”. So, never compromise on nutrition!
Fitness and Nutrition Expert
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