Choosing Types of Food and Healthy Menus for the Elderly

Choosing Types of Food and Healthy Menus for the Elderly
Entering old age, a person may experience a decrease in appetite due to natural conditions and certain health factors that occur in his body.

Usually, this decreased appetite in the elderly occurs due to dysphagia or difficulty swallowing, difficulty chewing, problems with the digestive system, drug effects, reduced sensitivity to taste, to mental health disorders in the elderly, such as depression or loneliness.

Whatever the cause, it is important to immediately address the problem of the elderly having difficulty eating. The reason is, this condition can cause malnutrition in the elderly. Malnutrition can cause weight loss and increase the risk of various diseases.

Conversely, overcoming eating difficulties in the elderly can help meet their nutritional needs. Meeting these nutritional needs can help maintain the health of the elderly, so they can still move independently.

To meet the nutritional needs of the elderly, you can provide a menu of foods that are attractive but also healthy. Not only that, but the health condition of each elderly person also needs to be considered.

Tips on choosing food for the elderly

Giving food to the elderly must be following the condition of their bodies, starting from the selection of nutrients, and food processing, to adjusting the diet. Before determining which foods and menus are right for the elderly, here are tips or things you should pay attention to:

1. Give nutritious food

For the elderly to get a healthy quality of life, make sure you serve healthy food with complete nutrition. The selection of these nutrients is important for maintaining the ideal weight of the elderly, strengthening muscles, and supporting the body's metabolism.

The following is a selection of nutrients for the elderly that need to be in their diet:

Protein, both animal and vegetable protein.

Carbohydrates to meet their energy needs.

Fiber, either from vegetables or fruits.

Vitamins and minerals for the elderly, such as vitamin A, Vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, and others.

2. Choose processed foods that are easy to swallow

For the elderly who have difficulty chewing and swallowing food, give processed food with a soft texture, which you have cut into small pieces or chopped. To soften, you can use a blender or food processor to produce a smooth, mush-like texture.

But remember, when serving porridge made from meat and fish, don't forget to remove the bones first. Do this so that the elderly can enjoy food properly and prevent thorns that may get stuck when the elderly chew or swallow.

3. Apply a regular diet

Ensure that the elderly eat regularly so that the nutrients in their body are maintained. Set a schedule for three large meals each day, starting in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Try not to skip these meal times to reduce the risk of malnutrition.

In addition, you can also divide the elderly's food portions into smaller, but frequent. Alternate the main meal with healthy snacks, such as fruit in small pieces. This eating pattern can prevent the elderly from feeling full, prevent flatulence, and maintain energy all the time.

4. Avoid foods that can cause digestive problems

The elderly often have problems with the digestive system, such as constipation or ulcers. Therefore, avoid foods that can make the condition worse, such as sour and spicy foods or drinks and soft drinks.

You can choose foods that contain fiber to help prevent and treat constipation in the elderly. Also, make sure that the elderly meet their fluid needs of at least 6-8 glasses per day to help smooth the digestive system and avoid dehydration.

5. Choose healthy fats

Also avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat, such as beef or butter. Even though fat is important for the elderly's body as an energy store, you can still choose healthy fat foods, such as nuts and avocados.

In addition, when processing food, avoid using oil as much as possible because it can increase saturated fat levels. Healthier foods are better served by boiling and steaming. Boiling and steaming can also make food softer so that it is easier for the elderly to consume it.

6. Limit foods containing sugar

Excess sugar in the body can increase blood sugar levels which can increase the risk of diabetes. Not only that, but excessive sugar consumption can also make you feel hungry faster, so you tend to overeat.

Therefore, the elderly should avoid consuming foods or drinks containing high sugar or adding excess sugar to food, especially for the elderly who have a history of diabetes.

7. Reduce salt intake

Not only avoid sugar, but also salt. High levels of salt in your body can increase the risk of hypertension. Even for the elderly who already have a history of hypertension, excessive salt consumption can increase the likelihood of complications, such as heart disease.

Therefore, you should avoid using excess salt in cooking. Not only table salt, but you also need to limit other food ingredients that contain high salts, such as flavoring or processed sauces. To add flavor to your food, you can use spices, such as pepper or coriander, or add healthy oils, such as olive oil.

Examples of healthy food for the elderly

Based on the previous explanation, here are some examples of healthy foods for the elderly:

1. Fish, such as tuna, salmon, or mackerel

Fish is one example of good food for the elderly. This is because fish contains protein, but has a lower fat content than other animal protein sources, such as red meat.

This type of food contains good fats, namely omega-3 fatty acids which help maintain heart health, reduce inflammation, and slow down the decline in cognitive function in the elderly. In addition, the soft texture of the fish is also suitable for the elderly. There are several examples of fish with high omega-3 content, namely tuna, salmon, or mackerel.

2. Eggs

Apart from fish, eggs are also a good source of animal protein for the elderly. Not only that, but these foods also contain various vitamins and minerals that the elderly need for their health, such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, folate, to iron.

Apart from that, eggs are also a favorite type of food, so even the elderly might easily enjoy this food. Moreover, most people know how to cook healthy and delicious eggs. However, you also need to be careful if you want to give eggs to the elderly, because some of them may have allergies to this food.

3. Chicken meat

Chicken is also an example of healthy food for the elderly. Moreover, this type of food tends to be easy for you to find and much liked.

Not only that, but high levels of nutrition can also help the elderly meet their nutritional needs, such as protein, vitamin B12, and iron. However, you must know how to cook chicken properly so that it is perfectly cooked and can get optimal nutrition. The reason is, consuming undercooked chicken can be harmful to health.

4. Nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts

Although the texture is not soft, nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, or peanuts, can be a complement to a healthy menu for the elderly. The reason is, nuts are a good source of vegetable protein for the body. This type of food also contains high fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and is low in saturated fat.

To get optimal benefits from this food, you can grind peanuts or make bean paste that you can mix with other foods. But the elderly who can still chew well can immediately eat nuts as a snack.

5. Fruits, such as bananas, kiwi, and strawberries

Not only for the elderly, but fruits are also an important type of food that needs to be included in everyone's daily menu. This type of food contains high fiber, water, and various vitamins and minerals so that the elderly's body stays fit.

For example, bananas contain fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and magnesium. Potassium is good for the elderly who suffer from hypertension and other ingredients can help maintain the digestive system.

Apart from bananas, you can also choose kiwi, strawberry, melon, avocado, or other fruit that is also healthy. However, for those of you who have diabetes, you should avoid fruits with high sugar levels, or ask your doctor which type of fruit is suitable if you have a history of certain diseases.

6. Vegetables, such as tomatoes, spinach, carrots

Just like fruit, vegetables are also important for the health of the elderly because they contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One recommendation for vegetables for the elderly is green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. These vegetables contain calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and a myriad of other nutrients that are good for the elderly.

Moreover, you can process these vegetables into various food creations, such as vegetables with clear broth or various other spinach vegetable recipes. However, it's a good idea to diversify your choice of vegetables every day, such as tomatoes, carrots, and others. Do this so that the nutritional content for the elderly is more optimal.

7. Milk and dairy products

It seems that it has become a major requirement for the elderly to consume this type of food. This is because milk and dairy products, such as cheese or yogurt, are rich in calcium and vitamin D which are good for bone health in the elderly. Moreover, as you get older, bone density decreases so you are at risk of developing osteoporosis and other bone problems.

However, the elderly should choose low-fat or fat-free milk to reduce levels of fat in the body. As for the need to drink milk for the elderly, there is no limit. You can consume three glasses per day or adjust it with other calcium sources.

8. Foods containing starch, such as potatoes, rice, corn, or wheat

Starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, corn, or wheat, contain carbohydrates for the elderly as a source of energy. Not only that, but this food also contains fiber and various vitamins and minerals which are good for the elderly.

But for the elderly, it's best to choose starchy foods with a soft texture, such as potatoes, whole-grain oatmeal, or rice porridge, especially for those who have swallowing problems.

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