Diet for older persons - guidelines:
Proper nutrition helps to keep fit physically and mentally. Aging processes of organism are inevitable. However we can often slow it down and thanks to this keep physical and mental efficiency. Lot of scientist provide that human organism is able to reach 110-120 years. Why does so many people don’t manage to live that age? It is because of mistakes made in youth concerning inter alia wrong nutrition. Even after 60 it’s still not to late to make proper everyday changes and thanks to this improve its quality. In old age lot of changes in organism functioning appears.
Digestive system is working with lower efficiency (reduced secretion of digestive juices, inhibition of vermicular movements), which can lead to frequent indigestion, diarrhea or constipation. The immunity is also decreasing, that is why in old age infections might be so harmful. Unfavourable changes also occur in bone and skeletal system, where the disturbances in calcium-phosphate are leading to osteoporosis. The changes do not omit the circulatory system and relate primarily to an increase in blood pressure and loss of elasticity of the arteries, which can be caused by atherosclerosis. The demand for nutrients does not decrease dramatically with age. For older people, they often have a deficiency that may be caused by: inaccurate grinding food, inferior work of digestive system, reduced appetite due to the diminished sense of smell and taste aversion to prepare meals for themselves. After retirement the life activity is decreasing. Because of that decrease of food caloric should be made, which can help to keep proper body weight. Frequent problem of old age persons, especially women, is osteoporosis. After 40-50 starts physiological loss of bone mass, assesed at aprrox. 1% annually with healthy persons. In postmenopausal women and in people predisposed to osteoporosis, this rate may be much higher and exceed 3-5% per year. Although the calcium demand of people in old age is the same as in youth, the process of calcium absorption with the food is lower and because of that it should be provided in bigger amount. Reduced absorption of calcium results from vitamin D metabolism disorders, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption, as well as lack of estrogen in postmenopausal women (level of calcium absorption is reduced by 10% then). The best source of calcium is milk and dairy products. People with lactose intolerance may replace milk with fermented dairy products (yoghurt, kefir or acidophil milk), which usually don’t lead to adverse digestive system symptoms, or use lactose preparations (available in pharmacies). Lactase is an enzyme, responsible for milk sugar digestion – lactose. Its lack in digestion system in older age causes problems with milk digestion. Lactose preparation should be used right before planned meal containing milk. Lot of studies provides, that even in healthy older people fat meals are not tolerated so well as in case of youth people. That is why standards recommend that persons over 60 diet should provide less than 25% of energy coming out of fat.
Most important rules of diet for older persons
- It is recommended that women after 60 increase daily intake of calcium to 1100 mg
- You should take care of the diet should be reach in vitamin D. Older persons enjoy the sunshine very rare, so the vitamin D is synthesized in proper amount in their skin. Sources of vitamin D in food are especially fat fishes (herring, mackerel, tuna), milk with above 1,5% fat content, cod-liver oil. In some cases physician can advice some additional preparations with vitamin D
- Antioxidants C,E and beta-carotene should be also remembered. Shortages of these can increase aging process and increase susceptibility to diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis. Vitamin E besides that prevent degenerative changes. Vitamin C and beta-carotene we may find in vegetables and fruits, vitamin E in plant oils and margarines. Among the minerals we should be aware of providing proper amount of potassium, iron and magnesium, which deficiencies are very common in elderly.
- Meals should be varied and visually attractive which activates the personal appetite.
- It is recommended to avoid hard-digestible food, which lies in stomach for a long time period. That is why frying is not recommended as a cooking method. Much better is cooking, stewing or foil roasting.
- In everyday menu there should be dairy products, wholegrain products, vegetables, fruits, lean meats and processed meats.
- Sugar and sweets should be reduced, because of decreased in elder persons glucose tolerance.
In many casus diet should be settled individually in case of eventual diseases, present overweight or malnutrition.
Example of diet for people in old age:
Breakfast: oatmeal with milk, wholemeal bread with margarine, chicken sausage, salad with tomatoes and peppers
II Breakfast: kefir with graham bread, mandarin
Dinner: vegetable soup, veal meatballs with vegetables and rice, stewed beets, fruit juice
Snack: baked apple
Supper: wholegrain bread, smoked mackerel, salad with oil, tea