As part of the natural ageing process, the human faculties, go into a slow burn process and along with other strengths, the digestive capabilities of our parents and elders also start slowing down and hence it is particularly important that dietics for elders needs careful calibrating and due care.
The ideal diet of the elderly person should be wholesome and nutritious. As you age, your nutritional needs increase. The body is in a degenerative mode. Growth of cells and tissues is slow, however repairing of tissues assumes greater significance. Prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or hypertension, in elderly people, necessitate certain dietary restrictions which results in a further compromised diet.
Low immunity, poor digestion, weak bones and muscles and fatigue are other fall outs of the ageing process. Activity levels reduce and metabolic disorders like diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, etc. further complicate nutritional intake. What about parallel medication???
All this does not mean ‘eating less’, but the most critical parameter is ‘Eating right’
An ideal diet for the elderly may consist of:
Food Rich in Fiber
A high-fiber diet minimizes constipation which reduces the risk of some common disorders in the intestine. Whole wheat bread, rice, oatmeal, dalia & millets . Whole grain pulses, sprouts beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, fruit and vegetables are also good sources of fiber.
Dental conditions and digestive capabilities is also an issue with age. Raw vegetables may not be tolerated well and can be steamed before eating. Whole grained cereals and pulses should also be cooked well and consumed in small portions per meal to allow digestibility.
Food Rich in Calcium
Osteoporosis is a major health issue for elderly people. Therefore their diet must be have calcium abundance. The predictable sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and dahi. Other sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, soyabean/tofu and some varieties of fish.
Regardless of what the internet claims in ‘new study’sections, water is life, and It is vital to consume lots of non alcoholic fluids. Fluid intake aids constipation, maintains blood pressure, flushes out toxins with urine and also improves appetite. Coconut water, chaas, fresh fruit juices, clear soups, vegetable juices, rice gruel, lassi and milk all rehydrate the body and can be sipped on during the day.
Food Rich in Iron
Eating plenty of iron-rich foods helps in keeping up the body′s store of iron.. Iron intake can be improved in diet by taking green leafy vegetables, eggs, sattu atta. It is advisable to avoid tea or coffee immediately after iron-rich meals because this could affect the absorption of iron by the body.
Most of the salt we eat is already in foods, and so it is significant to be aware of the sodium content of pre cooked/par cooked foods which are already sodium heavy. Avoid adding salt to the food when cooking processed /pre packaged foods and at the table. On an average, keep the salt intake not more than 5g per day (1 teaspoon).
Fruits are nature’s gift to mankind before the tetra pack assault happened and to ensure a good vitamin and antioxidant intake all seasonal fruits should be consumed. In particular, those high in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits such as oranges, lemon, and blackberries, strawberries, peaches, mango, apple etc. With age, intolerances to certain fruits also increase, due to sourness or sweetness. Some find it difficult to chew upon a fruit (like apple) due to weaker dentistry. So, consume fruits which are acceptable and try a little bit of innovation in grated, chopped, and stewed versions.
Vitamin D and good bone strength have a direct correlation. Principally, we get most of our vitamin D from the sunlight on our skin, but vitamin D is also found in dairy, fish, eggs and foods with added vitamins such as breakfast. A walk in the sun for 5-10 minutes a day is sufficient to allow Vit D synthesis in the body. If you′re 60 or over, consult a doctor to check for Vit D supplementation.
Correct nutrition with the correct food to suit your age and lifestyle in essence remains the secret behind the sauce to happiness for a long time.