The body evolves over time and its needs change. For example, older people do not usually feel thirsty and their metabolism works more slowly, so these circumstances must be taken into account in order to maintain a healthy food routine. Below, we give you a series of tips to bring a good nutrition for the elderly, adapted to their needs.
Spain has one of the longest life expectancy in the world. The factors that are usually taken into account to determine the life expectancy of people are three: genetic, environmental and lifestyle. Against genetic factors you can not fight, but you can (and you should) control your lifestyle.
Eating a healthy diet, avoiding toxic habits (such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs) and practicing physical activity on a regular basis are advice applicable to anyone, no matter how old they are, but it is true that all this becomes even more important for older people.
The food needs of the elderly change because the metabolism slows down, therefore, requires a smaller amount of energy than before. What you have to boost in this period are foods with lots of nutrients and avoid those that are very caloric, but do not have as many nutrients (as, for example, pastries, sweets, soft drinks, alcohol…).
The European Union carried out a project (HALE) to analyze how a healthy diet and lifestyle should be for the elderly. The general recommendations are the following: maintain an adequate body weight, follow a Mediterranean diet, perform 30 minutes of exercise a day and avoid tobacco and alcohol.
Avoid saturated fats
Getting into more details about the eating habits that an elderly person should have, in the first place, the diet must be varied to receive all the necessary nutrients. You have to be especially careful with saturated fats, usually in red meat and sausage, so it is advisable to reduce the intake of this type of food and have a little more fats with omega-3 or omega-6, which are usually found in some fish such as salmon or sardines.
Vegetable fats should also be increased, and the best way of doing so is with olive oil. Be careful with those foods that in their composition indicate that they have vegetable oils without indicating wich kind of oil, since they may be coconut or palm oil. These are high in saturated fats, which are not beneficial.
The importance of drinking water
Hydration is a very important aspect for the elderly and you have to be especially careful because as you grow older, you lose the sensation of thirst. It is very common for grandparents to tell you that they do not drink because they are not thirsty and in the end they end up having dehydration problems.
The intake of liquids should be done on a regular basis throughout the day and it does not have to be just water, but also with infusions, broths or natural juices. Milk is another important liquid for the elderly to obtain calcium, which is what strengthens the bones to prevent ailments such as osteoporosis.
In relation to calcium (obtained through dairy products), the consumption of vitamin D is also important, since it is necessary to have a good absorption of calcium in our body. Vitamin D is easily got thanks to exposure to the sun. That is why is very advisable to walk at least 30 minutes a day, both to maintain a good physical condition and also the necessary daily dose of vitamin D.
Salt is one of the products to avoid (or rather, ration) with the elderly, because it is common in this sector of the population to have hypertension problems. Therefore, it is advisable to gradually reduce the amount of salt consumed daily.
The best advice for eating for the elderly is to always lead a healthy life, so when we reach a more delicate age, we have internalized all the habits that will allow us to have a more peaceful life free of diseases. Food is a very important part of our lifestyle because it has a direct effect on our health.