As we age, our nutritional needs, appetite, and metabolism change. Daily calories and other nutrient requirements depend onindividual’s physical activity, age, and gender. With growing age, it is important to follow a healthy and balanced diet to fulfill the nutritional needs and healthy functioning of the body.
Why elderly nutrient requirement is different?
Elder people are more prone to being malnourished due to the variety of age-related changes such as less nutrient absorption, loss of muscle mass, low hunger sensation, poor mobility, weak digestive system, medication due to chronic illness, sensitive skin, hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), and poor mental and physical health. However, focusing on a balanced diet specifically designed for elders can help meet all the nutritional needs and keep the body fit and active. The diet should be rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates, and antioxidants.
Nutritional deficiency in elders can lead to:
Nutritional deficiency in elderly people occurs due to poor absorption of nutrients, low activity levels, and loss of appetite, which can lead to anumber of health complications.
- Some common nutritional deficiencies and their effects on old-age are listed below:
- Calcium and vitamin D deficiency leads to osteoporosis, arthritis, and bone fractures.
- Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, irregular or rapid heartbeats.
- Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, anemia, bone, teeth, skin problems, and poor immunity.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, and dementia.
- Magnesium deficiency can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, loss of appetite, increased risk of arthritis, osteoporosis, and bone fractures.
- A deficiency of Vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids can lead to neurological and cardiovascular problems.
Important nutritional components of an elderly diet -
In the geriatric age,the dietary modification of each calorie should be filled with essential nutrients as thebody gets less efficient in absorbing a few key nutrients. People in old age should increase the consumption of some specific nutrients to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Some essential nutritional components for elderly people include calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A, C, D, E, and B12 which are easily available across various food groups.
One-day nutritious sample diet plan for old age people
|Time||Foodstuff and quantity|
|Tea-time (7:00 am)||Milk/ Coffee/ Tea+ 2 biscuit|
|Breakfast (8:00-9:00 am)||1 plate- Poha/ Upma/ Idli/ dosa+shambar/ 1 roti or stuff paratha (made by little ghee), 1 veg. sandwich/ 2 boiled egg or 1 omelette.|
|1 Tender coconut water/ 1-cup fresh buttermilk/ fresh fruit smoothie/ milkshakes.|
|Lunch (12:00-2:00pm)||1-2 Chapati (Indian Bread), 1 plate seasonal vegetables + 1 bowl dal (pulses) + 1/2 plate rice + salad OR 2-3 chapati + 1 plate seasonal vegetables or fish curry.|
|Snacks (4:00-4:30 pm)||1 cup- Tea/ Milk/ ½-1 plate Murmurenamkeen (puffed rice mixture)/ Makhana (foxnut)/ Handful mix nuts/ roasted or boiled chana.|
|Pre-dinner (6:00-6:30pm)||Mix vegetables soup/ Tomato soup/ chicken soup/ coconut water|
|Dinner (7:00-8:30 pm)||
1 plate- Khichdi/ Porridge/ vegetable daliya/ Dal daliya (broken wheat)
|Bed-time (10:00pm)||1 cup- Turmeric milk (golden milk)|
Points to be noted -
- Drink an adequate amount of water to avoid dehydration.
- Take 4-6 meals which should be rich in a variety of nutrients.
- Regular walk, yoga, exercise, and meditation as per body’s acceptance.
- Avoid excess consumption of deep-fried, spicy, salty, and processed foods.
- Go for regular health checkups including lipid profile, blood glucose test, blood pressure, kidney test, etc
- Stay happy and stress-free.
Seniors with specific medical condition should remain in touch with their doctor to modify their diet and medications as needed. Also, their diet should be planned by an expert nutritionist to make sure they get adequate nutrition.