When we get older there are physiological changes that affect nutrition in old age to a great extent. Mainly, around oral health: decreased saliva flow -which causes dry mouth- and loss of teeth, which decreases chewing efficiency.
On the other hand, changes in the digestive system are also common in old age, such as a decrease in the ability to absorb nutrients or dysphagia or difficulty swallowing food.
Therefore, it is necessary to prepare soft-textured diets for the elderly to achieve safe swallowing, minimizing the risk of choking. Nutritionists recommended purees, soups, eggs, and dairy products as a healthy diet for seniors.
Osteoporosis is also common at this stage of life, especially in women. Bone formation requires the daily intake of protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and fluoride. For this reason, it is highly recommended to take dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and some cheeses for strong bones at an older age.
Another common health problem in old age is constipation. This can improve by increasing the consumption of water, with the use of olive oil to dress the dishes, and with the intake of foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.
How the diet of a healthy older adult should be?
In general, it is necessary to maintain a varied and balanced diet to ensure an optimal supply of nutrients and adapt the energy supplied to the lower energy expenditure that aging entails and the reduction of physical activity.
Nutritionists explain that the physiological changes that we have discussed originate on numerous occasions, a modification of the habitual diet. For example, abandoning or reducing the consumption of protein foods, mainly meats, due to difficulty in chewing, causes the loss of muscle mass and increase the risk of anemia due to iron and vitamin B-12 deficiency.
In general, older people need a diet that is high in nutrient density as varied and balanced as possible to ensure that it meets all their health needs, since although energy decreases those needs for vitamins and minerals increase.
We have to be especially careful with the consumption of B complex vitamins – such as cyanamide, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and proteins – in order to avoid deficiencies since they are the nutrients in which there are usually more deficiencies at those ages.
Nutrition in Old Age: Tips for Eating a Healthy Diet
These are our best tips for following a healthy diet in old age:
When choosing carbohydrates, it is preferable to choose cereals that are whole grains and legumes, since they provide more fiber, vitamins B, and minerals.
It is important to opt for roasted and boiled preparations, soups, stews, and purees, rather than fried ones.
As for meats, it is important to remove visible fat before preparing them (remove the skin from the chicken and the fatty parts of the meats) and eat fish three times a week.
Finally, be careful with your salt intake. Ideally, it should be low or moderate to help maintain normal blood pressure.
Hydration, very important at this stage:
Drink water with meals.
Decrease the consumption of beverages such as coffee or tea because they alter sleep and, in general, at this stage of life there is a tendency to reduce the hours of continuous sleep. You can choose other types of infusions or decaffeinated coffee.
If you drink alcoholic beverages, reduce your consumption to no more than one glass of red wine a day. We must remember that alcohol modifies the effect of medications.