A brief guide to healthy eating while aging

“Young people should know that one day they will be old,” said Gregorio Maragno. Aging is a vital process we will all go through sooner or later. At this stage of life, health, more than ever, acquires great importance and begins to be considered the center of interests and concerns.

Follow an active lifestyle and diet Healthy and balanced increases quality of life during aging. However, a large part of the elderly do not have a good diet. In fact, one in three older adults have nutritional deficiencies in their diet, leading to the further reductions in muscle mass and bone density that naturally accompanies aging, as well as Makes immune function less effective.

But what caused this situation of malnutrition?

On the one hand, the deterioration of cellular processes has been very evident over the years. However, not all people experience aging with the same severity, because everyone’s lifestyle is highly variable. Likewise, aging is usually accompanied by many chronic diseases that make it very difficult to distinguish between changes produced by the aging process itself and those that result from a disease.

Reference picture on aging – Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto

Likewise, there are various factors, both physical and physiological, that can influence the nutritional status of the elderly and the development of diseases. An example of this is the deterioration of the senses that we perceive Food: taste, sight and smell. This deterioration determines some changes in eating habits, which can make meals less attractive and appetizing.yes

Problems when chewing and digesting…and buying

On the other hand, in the elderly, the prevalence of changes in the processes of mastication and digestion is very high. This fact causes the absorption of nutrients contained in some foods, and therefore their use is insufficient. In addition, changes in the cardiovascular system and damage to the liver and kidneys also impede the proper use of nutrients.

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These changes affect nutritional requirements. Thus, there is a decrease in energy needs and Increased nutritional requirements for Vitamin D and Calcium. All these changes refer to the diet of the elderly without pre-existing diseases. However, it should be noted that the high prevalence of some diseases in the elderly means that many of them have to follow diets that are restricted in certain foods or ingredients. secondly, Many older adults take many medications per day, and thus interactions, which often negatively affect the utilization of certain nutrientsmore frequent.

The life of the elderly does not change only in terms of physiology. In general, older adults can have balance disorders, movement limitations, and even disabilities. In many cases, this requires the possibility of shopping and cooking. In addition, psychological state is a factor that must be taken into account in the diet of the elderly, since the loss of independence, loneliness, deterioration in mood and appetite leads to a monotonous diet with a deficiency of multiple nutrients.

These changes affect nutritional requirements. Thus, there is a decrease in energy needs and Increased nutritional requirements for Vitamin D and Calcium. All these changes refer to the diet of the elderly without pre-existing diseases. However, it should be noted that the high prevalence of some diseases in the elderly means that many of them have to follow diets that are restricted in certain foods or ingredients. On the other hand, many elderly people take several medications per day, so the interactions, which most of the time negatively affect the use of certain nutrients, are more frequent.

Gerascophobia is the irrational fear of getting old.
Reference picture on aging – Photo: Getty Images

The life of the elderly does not change only in terms of physiology. In general, older adults can have balance disorders, movement limitations, and even disabilities. In many cases, this requires the possibility of shopping and cooking. In addition, psychological state is a factor that must be taken into account in the diet of the elderlybecause the loss of independence, loneliness, deterioration of mood and the state of appetite lead to a monotonous diet lacking many nutrients.

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Recommendations to eat better

A large part of the elderly have problems eating. What are the recommended solutions?

Oral problems such as decreased salivation and tooth loss make chewing difficult. Thus, easy-to-chew foods such as dairy products should be given priority, and some other foods such as meat and some vegetables and fruits should be replaced. This can have a negative effect on the amount of nutrients in the diet.

In other words, what is eaten is just as important as what is not eaten.

In addition, other strategies that can help with eating in older adults may be:

  • Use appropriate non-slip cutlery and reduce the distance to the plate to prevent food from falling before it reaches the mouth.
  • To facilitate chewing, eat small amounts of food, and before eating again, empty what is in the mouth. Eat vegetables in the form of puree, roasted, stewed fruits or compote and meat as minced meat (meatballs, homemade hamburgers) to facilitate chewing.
  • To avoid coughing and choking, it is recommended to adjust the texture of the food, avoid mixing or tripping, tilt the head forward when swallowing, and push the food with the tongue. In case of frequent suffocation, liquids can be thickened with dense powders.

However, is it possible to follow a healthy diet during old age?

The answer is clearly yes. Eating right, in addition to being good for health, should also be a pleasure.

To do this, you need to start with a good purchase, which includes a wide range of healthy foods, and choose those with the highest amount of nutrients. food style like Mediterranean diet It would be an example of a varied and balanced diet. It has been shown that a high adherence to the Mediterranean diet is directly related to Reducing the risk of suffering from chronic diseases of nutritional origin.

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Let’s eat well and take care of ourselves. Being old is not a reason to stop caring about a machine that will allow us to live fully for many more years. Let’s age well!

by:

Iker Gomez Garcia

PhD student, University of the Basque Country / Euskal Heriko Unibertsitatea

Alfredo Fernandez Quintella

Professor of Nutrition and Researcher at CIBERobn, University of the Basque Country / Euskal Heriko Unibertsitatea

Jennifer Tribbiana Aren

Researcher in the Nutrition and Obesity Cluster of the University of the Basque Country and the Biomedical Research Center of the Obesity and Nutrition Pathology Network (CiberObn) and the Bioaraba Health Research Institute, University of the Basque Country / Euskal Heriko Unibertsitatea

Maria Boy Portillo

Professor of Nutrition. Center for Biomedical Research in Obesity Physiology and Nutrition Network (CIBERobn), University of the Basque Country / Euskal Heriko Unibertsitatea

The article was originally published in . format Conversation

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