Planning a Diet for an Elderly
Planning a Healthy Diet for an Elderly
Getting old is a normal physiological process that starts with the conception in the womb and ends with death. When our body reaches the level of maturity, loss of body lean mass begins which results in changes in body systems. This phenomenon of decreased efficiency of organs is called as Aging that finally ends with impairment of our organs and then death. With aging nutritional requirement of our body changes owing to physiological changes. In this article, we will discuss briefly how to plan a diet for an elderly.
Before planning a diet for an elderly it is important to know the nutritional requirement of an elderly.
Nutritional Requirement of an Elderly:
With age energy requirement of the body decreases. An elderly woman requires only 1900Kcal/day where as an elderly man requires the only 2300Kcal of energy per day. If the total intake of calories is less than 1500Kcal per day it may lead to severe health problems. While planning a diet for an elderly it should be kept in mind that although the energy requirement of an elderly decreases, but their requirement of protein, vitamins and minerals increases. Diet for an elderly should be dense in nutrients.
With advanced age, proteins stored in the skeletal tissue mass decrease so diet for an elderly should contain more protein. Recommended dietary allowance for an elderly male is 1gms per body weight and for elderly women 0.9gms per body weight.
Intake of saturated fats and should be reduced. The main sources of saturated fats are animal fats such as ghee, cheese and butter. Diet for an elderly should contain only monounsaturated and to polyunsaturated fat sources such as Safflower oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, etc. Lipids should contribute for about 30 percent of the calorie intake. Refrain yourself from over restriction of dietary fats as that may affect the quality of diet. Zinc status of old people, especially vegetarians decrease.
Zinc deficiency may cause reduced immunity, loss of appetite, poor healing of the wound and may develop ulcers. The top sources of zinc are dairy products, poultry. Red meat, nuts, whole cereals and beans. While planning a diet for an elderly one should restrict dietary sodium to 2 to 4 grams per day. Refrain addition of table salt and eating processed foods. Calcium is needed, especially in women. Elderly women re more prone to osteoporosis due to decreased estrogen level and bone demineralization of increases during the old age. The daily recommendation for calcium in older people is 1500 mg. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, green and leafy vegetables and legumes are top sources of calcium.
Diet for an elderly should include antioxidants such as vitamin a vitamin e vitamin c and carotene. These 3 antioxidant vitamins fight against the free radicals and slows aging. Vitamin b12 deficiency in older people may be to atrophic gastritis. Decreased absorption of iron due to overgrowth of bacteria. Vitamin b12 deficiency may lead to pernicious anemia. Diet for an elderly must include sources of vitamin b12 such as dairy products, meat, eggs, poultry, soya milk and fortified cereals. Vitamin b12 and b6 reduce the risk of heart diseases, depression and diseases of the nervous system. Sources of vitamin b6 are starchy foods such as potato organ meat, fish and non –citrus fruits.
Food groups to be Included in the Diet of an Elderly:
1. Cereal- Cereal should be one-third part of elderly’s meal. It includes rice, wheat, bread, buckwheat, oats, potatoes and Ragi. Elderly suffering from diabetes should avoid rice.
2. Fruits- An elderly should eat 2 fruits every day. Any fruit is good for health like apple, banana, oranges, watermelon, strawberry as they contain phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
3. Vegetables- Vegetable should be the main part of every meal either in the form of salads or in cooked from. At least 3 to 4 serving of vegetable should be part of the diet of an elderly. Fresh fruits and vegetables are more recommended than canned once. Elderly suffering from diseases of the thyroid gland should avoid broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and soya products.
4. Meat and fish- One or two serving of fish, meat, egg, and other alternatives are recommended. Animal products are a good source of vitamin b12 and vitamin k2.
5. Fats- A diet of an elderly should not contain more than 6 spoons of vegetable oil. Avoid margarine, fast foods, biscuits, animal fats and other food products that contain saturated fats.
6. Sugar- A diet of an elderly should not contain more than 5 spoons of sugar. Elderly suffering from diabetes should avoid refined sugar.
7. Milk and dairy products- diet of an elderly should include 2 to 3 servings of dairy products.
An elderly should drink at least 3 liters of water to keep their skin hydrated and avoid diseases like urinary tract infection, constipation and stone. In short diet for elderly should contain fibers, essential nutrients and should be natural rather than processed.