Types of Nutritious Foods Needed by the Elderly

Nutritious Foods Needed by the Elderly
Every living being needs food to maintain its life because, in food, there are nutrients required by the body to carry out its metabolism activities. For older people, fulfilling nutritional needs that are appropriately provided can help them adapt or adjust to the changes they experience. In addition, it can also maintain the continuity of the replacement of body cells to extend life.

Types of Nutritious Foods Needed by the Elderly

Nutrient Group

Calorie needs in older people are reduced due to reduced essential calories and physical conditions. Basic calories are needed to carry out body activities in a state of rest, such as the heart, intestines, breathing, and kidneys.

Based on its usefulness for the body, nutrients are divided into three major groups, namely:

1. Energy Substance Group

This group includes foodstuffs that contain carbohydrates such as rice, corn, wheat, sweet potatoes, bread, cassava, and many more. In addition, in the form of sugar such as honey, syrup, and others. Even foods that contain fat such as coconut milk, butter, margarine, milk, and processed products.

2. Group of Building Substances

This building substance group includes foods that contain a lot of animal and vegetable protein. Foods containing protein include meat, fish, milk, eggs, nuts, and processed foods.

3. Regulatory Substance Group

This group of regulating substances can include ingredients that contain many vitamins and minerals. Some foods containing many vitamins and minerals can be found in several fruits and vegetables.

Reduced ability to digest food due to tooth decay or toothlessness and reduced sense of taste result in decreased sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors. The esophagus is widened, hunger decreases, stomach acid decreases, bowel movements or peristalsis are weak and usually cause constipation, and absorption of food in the intestines decreases.

Nutrition Problems in the Elderly

1. Overnutrition

Overnutrition in older people is common in Western countries and big cities. Eating a lot when young causes weight gain or excess, especially in older people; using calories is reduced due to reduced physical activity. Eating habits are difficult to change even though it is directly realized to reduce eating. Being overweight is one of the triggers for various diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

2. Lack of Nutrition

Often caused by problems related to socioeconomics and also due to illness. When calorie consumption is too low for the body's needs, it causes less than average body weight. If this is accompanied by protein deficiency, it causes cellular damage that cannot be repaired. The result can lead to hair loss, decreased resistance to disease, and the possibility of infection.

3. Vitamin deficiency

When the need for consumption of fruits and vegetables in the diet is lacking and coupled with a lack of protein, the result is reduced appetite, decreased vision, dry skin, and a lazy and lackluster appearance.

Nutritional Needs of the Elderly

The following are some essential nutrients that the elderly need to help in the process of adapting to the changes that are experienced and also maintain the continuity of the replacement of body cells properly:

1. Calories

The study's results showed that the basal metabolic rate in older adults decreased by about 15-20% due to reduced muscle mass and activity. Calories (energy) are obtained from fat 9.4 cal, carbohydrates 4 cal, and protein 4 cal per gram. For older people, the energy composition should be 20-25% from protein, 20% from fat, and the rest from carbohydrates. The calorie requirement for older men is 1960 cal, while for older women, it is 1700 cal. If the amount of calories consumed is excessive, then some of the energy will be stored as fat, so that obesity will arise. Conversely, if it is too little, energy reserves need to be used so the body will become thin.

2. Protein

To be safe in general, the daily protein requirement for adults is 1 gram per kg of body weight. In older people, muscle mass is reduced. But it turns out that his body's need for protein does not decrease; it must even be higher than in adults because, in older people, the efficiency of using nitrogen compounds (protein) by the body is reduced (due to less efficient digestion and absorption). Some studies recommend that for older people, protein consumption should be increased to 12-14% of the portion for adults. Good sources of protein include animal foods and legumes.

3. Fat

The recommended fat consumption is 30% or less of the calories needed. Too high total fat consumption (more than 40% of energy consumption) can cause atherosclerosis (blockage of blood vessels to the heart). It is also recommended that 20% of fat consumption is unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA = Poly Unsaturated Faty Acid). Vegetable oils are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, while animal fats contain many saturated fatty acids.

4. Carbohydrates and Dietary Fiber

One of the problems that many older adults suffer from is constipation and the formation of lumps in the intestines. Dietary fiber has been proven to cure these problems. Good sources of fiber for seniors are vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains. Seniors are not advised to take fiber supplements (sold commercially), as it is feared that too much fiber can cause minerals and other nutrients to be absorbed by the thread so that the body cannot absorb it. Seniors are advised to reduce their consumption of simple sugars and replace them with complex carbohydrates, which come from nuts and seeds that serve as a source of energy and a source of fiber.

5. Vitamins and Minerals

The results of the study indicate that generally, older people consume fewer vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, niacin, folic acid, and vitamins C, D, and E. Generally, this deficiency is mainly due to the limitation of food consumption, especially in fruits and vegetables. The most common mineral deficiency suffered by older people is a lack of calcium mineral, which causes bone fragility, and iron deficiency causes anemia. The need for vitamins and minerals for older people is essential to help metabolize other nutrients. Vegetables and fruits should be consumed regularly as vitamins, minerals, and fiber sources.

6. Water

Fluids in the form of water in drinks and food are needed by the body to replace what is lost (sweat and urine), help digest food and cleanse the kidneys (support kidney function). In older people, it is recommended to drink more than 6 - 8 glasses per day.

Every phase of human life is related to what we consume. Food for babies must differ from when we are children or even teenagers. Likewise, when we age, our proper intake will differ from when we are young.

The following are some things that need to be considered in the diet for older people (elderly):

1. Avoid making dishes with stimulating spices, such as spicy or sour, as this can interfere with the health of the stomach and digestive system.

2. Reduce salt to no more than 4 grams daily to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

3. Reduce coconut milk, fatty meats, and oil to prevent high blood cholesterol. Instead, increase foods high in calcium, such as milk and fish. Older people, especially menopausal women, need to consume calcium to reduce the risk of bone loss.

4. Increase fiber foods, such as raw vegetables, so digestion is smooth and not constipated.

5. Reduce sugar consumption and foods containing high carbohydrates to normalize blood sugar, especially for people with diabetes, to avoid other complications.

6. Use less oil for sautéing and less fried foods. Increase foods that are processed by baking or boiling because these foods are easily digested.

7. Make soft and easy dishes to chew to maintain dental health.

Those are some food tips that are suitable for older people. By practicing it, parents, grandparents, or even us can continue to be healthy and avoid various diseases. Happy practicing!

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