A good diet is fundamental in each of the stages of our life from childhood to old age. The basics of a diet are the same throughout our life, but individual nutritional needs change as we get older. In addition, the correct absorption of food can be affected by some disease. In this article we are going to discuss about the nutrition that older adults need to be healthy.
Older adults need the same nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals) as younger people, but in different amounts. Some may be more necessary than others. In addition, for the elderly, fiber is essential for improving digestion and avoiding constipation.
As we age, we require less energy (calories) than when we were young. This is because the body’s natural processes require less energy when physical activity decreases and there is less muscle mass.
Although calorie requirements vary according to age and activity level, an older adult requires about 1,600 calories daily. These should be chosen carefully by providing the necessary nutrients. The recommendation is to divide the thousand 600 calories into portions of each of the groups included in the nutritional pyramid:
- Bread and cereals: six servings
- Vegetables: three servings
- Fruits: two servings
- Milk and its derivatives: two servings
- Protein: two servings
- Fats: Use in moderation
Meanwhile, older adults need to include two servings or 90 grams of protein daily in their diet. Some options are meat, chicken, fish and if these are difficult to chew you can supply them for eggs or beans.
In addition, as we get older, our calcium requirements increase. We should increase 20% of calcium to maintain bone mass and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Both men and women over 50 should consume at least 1,200 mg. of calcium per day. Milk and its derivatives (cheese, cream, yogurt) are the best sources of calcium, as are green leafy vegetables and sardines.
It is never too late to consume more calcium, but you also need to consume enough vitamin D to absorb it and perform at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Iron deficiency is a common problem as we age and this usually causes anemia, whose symptoms are weakness, fatigue and deterioration of health. Vitamin C, contained in citrus fruits, helps our body to absorb iron from foods that contain it. Besides it is an excellent antioxidant it contributes to delay the process of deterioration of the organism.
Experts recommendation for older adults need
Experts recommend daily consumption of 20-35 grams of fiber (for an adult) to improve digestive tract movement, moderate post-meal blood sugar and cholesterol changes, and increase elimination of The carcinogenic substances produced by the bacteria in the large intestine. It is found mainly in whole grains, some fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin A contained in green leafy vegetables and those of yellow and orange, helps the eyes to adapt to a dim light, protects our skin as well as other tissues.
Folic acid is involved in the formation of red blood cells and its deficiency can lead to anemia. It contains green leafy vegetables, some fruits, beans and fortified grain products.
Vitamin B12 participates with folates in making red blood cells; The absence of this causes anemia and in some cases is related to neurological problems. Meat, fish, chicken eggs and dairy products are a good source.
Zinc helps the body fight infections and repair diseased tissues. Its main sources are: meat, seafood, grain products and milk.
Older adults need to drink plenty of fluids: 8 to 12 cups per day. Some foods provide liquids, but you still need to drink all kinds of drinks, juices, milk, soup, tea or coffee, which can also include other nutrients, not forgetting the best option is pure water.
Each person is different, so it is advisable to consult with the doctor what your food requirements for your particular case taking into account your age, health status and the activity you perform daily.