A brief guide to healthy nutrition of older people

What is proper nutrition?

Proper nutrition means nutrition based on food intake that contributes to psycho – physical balance and increases resistance to stress, infections and diseases.

Numerous physical, mental, social and environmental changes that appear over years change the quality of life of the older population. Nutrition in this period additionally helps prevent the development, sensitivity and consequences of chronic diseases such as arthritis, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

The older age brings additional problems related to low food intake, digestive problems, a reduced tactile and olfaction senses and the deterioration of mental functions.

How to write a menu in a proper manner?

Choose daily low-calorie foods according to the food pyramid as follows:

Daily eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and cereal products; particularly whole wheat;

Daily distribute the total amount of food in several portions

Avoid eating late-night meals;

Choose low fat foods, low cholesterol and low-saturated fat foods;

Choose unsalted or slightly salty foods;

Choose foods and beverages that contain less sugar;

Practice physical activity daily;

Reduce sugar intake.

How to add years to life and more life to your years?

Physical activity

The combination of moderate activity, regular physical activity and proper nutrition is a requirement for healthy and active aging that should be applicable from an early age.

Prevention of the incidence of chronic diseases

Smoking, hypertension, and high cholesterol and blood sugar levels are the main reasons for the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

By applying the aforementioned dietary measures we can postpone or completely avoid the incidence of the aforementioned chronic diseases.

Food pyramid

Cereals and cereal products that can be consumed in unlimited quantities form the basis of the food pyramid. Above this is the group of fruit and vegetables that with their fibrous structure help digestion and are a rich source of minerals and vitamins. Above fruit and vegetables there are milk and dairy products and meat products which intake must be controlled, while at the top of the pyramid there are sweets and fats which consumption must be reduced to a minimum!

Food groups

  1. Vegetable and vegetable juices
  2. Fruit and fruit juices
  3. Milk and dairy products
  4. Meat and substitutes
  5. Bread and substitutes
  6. Fats

Nutritional needs of older people

Nutritional needs decrease throughout one’s lifespan.

Fats

The daily intake of energy from fats should not exceed 30% (60 to 80 g per day). Oils are more suitable for the nutrition of older people because they are easily digestible and for their effects on the whole metabolism (olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, sunflower oil). The consumption of fish oil is very useful because it has a high content of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Carbohydrates

The daily intake of carbohydrates must meet between 55 and 60% of the energy needs (about 200 – 250 grams of carbohydrates and 20-35 grams of vegetable fibers). The daily food base must include whole wheat products (bread, pasta), potatoes and rice. Particular caution is needed when consuming refined carbohydrates – sugar because diabetes is common at this age.

Proteins

Proteins must be consumed because they are essential for maintaining body vitality. First of all, white meat should be chosen for its nutritional properties.

Vitamins and minerals

Various fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and plant fibers. They prevent the production of free radicals, responsible for aging, it is necessary to consume foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin E, beta carotene, bioflavonoids, lycopene and selenium. If food intake is reduced or there is malabsorption of nutrients, additional vitamin and mineral supplements should be consumed.

In the nutrition of older people it is necessary to take sufficient amounts of liquid to avoid constipation and dehydration (at least 8 glasses a day).

Author: Dubravka Jurišić-Eržen

Publisher: Irena Deže-Starčević (project Rijeka – Healthy City)