As you grow older, it is very vital that you ensure to eat healthy meals. This is because aging causes various changes to your body. This includes being more prone to nutrient deficiencies. Aging can also predispose you to poorer health outcomes and decrease the quality of your living. But then, you can avoid these nutrition aging negative effects by doing a few things. One of them is to make changes in your eating habits as you age. Nutrient-rich foods with appropriate supplements are 2 things you may find helpful for remaining healthy despite your age. You know that aging can cause thinner skin, muscle loss, and less digestive juices. We know that these changes may affect your cognitive abilities and living quality. But then, they can also interact and cause certain nutrient deficiencies.
In this article, we will explain how age affects your dietary needs for certain nutrients. For instance, lower digestive juices in old age may affect how well your body will digest and absorb nutrients like calcium, certain vitamins, magnesium, and iron. But while you need more nutrients in old age, your body may not be able to handle as many calories. This poses another challenge in the nutrition of aging people. It is like a nutrition dilemma. You want more nutrients but you can’t take more calories. Anyways, this will not be a dilemma if you know what to do. Whole foods with the right supplement might be the nutritional hack that you need in old age.
Nutrition and Aging – Proteins and Fiber
Muscle loss is common in old age. This makes older people quite weak and frail, compared to their younger years. As you grow older, you will lose about 3 to 8 percent of your muscle mass every decade from your 30th birthday.
Experts refer to this muscle loss as sarcopenia. It’s the reason why older people are often weak and may fracture their bones more easily. It generally affects the quality of health as people age.
Well, you can mitigate these negative effects by getting more protein in your body. Protein will maintain your muscle mass and help you fight sarcopenia.
For about 3 years, experts examined more than two thousand elderly people to see how protein intake affected their muscle mass. Those who increased their protein intake lost 40 percent fewer muscles than those who didn’t.
Experts reviewed another 20 studies and they all pointed in the same direction. They showed that when older adults eat more protein, muscle loss will be slower. Protein supplements also produced the same effects. They will help build your muscles.
Protein becomes even more effective when you combine it with resistance exercise. This combination does great work in fighting sarcopenia.
Aside from proteins, you will also benefit from eating more fiber. This is because constipation is very common in older adults. They often have this health problem, especially at above 65 years of age. More so, it’s 2 to 3 times more in women than in men.
So if you are a woman in your 60s or older, you should up your fiber intake. Men should do the same too, but it is more vital for women at that age.
With more fiber on your plates, you will solve the problem of constipation. It will also help regulate your bowel movements. Aside from that, fibers will help protect you from diverticular disease, another common condition in older adults.
Half of all adults above 50 years in the West have diverticular disease. This number is quite alarming. But then, those who eat more fiber hardly have it. In Africa and Japan where people eat lots of fiber, only about 0.2 percent of people in this age group suffer from diverticular disease.
Calcium, Vitamin-D, and Other Nutrients in Old Age
Calcium and vitamin-D are two very vital nutrients for your bone health. You need calcium not just to build healthy bones, but also to maintain them. Vitamin-D, on the other hand, helps your body to absorb calcium.
Unfortunately, as you grow older, your body tends not to absorb as much calcium from your diets. The inability to absorb calcium well is likely due to vitamin-D deficiency, which is common in old age. Your body will no longer be able to produce enough vitamin-D to meet your needs as you grow older.
To mitigate the effects of aging on calcium and vitamin-D levels, you must consume more from your diets, as well as from supplements.
Various foods can supply calcium to your body. These include dark-green leafy veggies and dairy products. Meanwhile, great sources of vitamin-D include various fishes, including herring and salmon. You can also get these vital nutrients from supplements.
Vitamin-B12 is another nutrient you may need more in old age. As you grow older, you may become deficient in vitamin-B12. As such, you will benefit greatly from B12 supplements or B12-fortified foods in old age.
Other important nutrients to increase as you grow older include the following:
You can get these nutrients from diets rich in veggies, fruits, lean meats, and fish. But then, iron from vegetables is not as effective as the one from animal sources because your body does not absorb them well enough.
The Nutritional Dilemma in Old Age
We talked about this earlier. As much as you need more nutrients in old age, your body cannot handle so many calories.
Your daily caloric need depends on your weight, height, activity level, muscle mass, and many other factors. But then, older people exercise and move less. So they need fewer calories than younger people in general. So you can’t keep eating the same calories daily as in your younger years.
But even though you need to restrict calories, nutrition aging requires more protein, fibers, vitamins, calcium, and a few other nutrients. You can find the balance from whole foods, including fruits, veggies, lean meats, and fish. These are healthy staples that can assist you in fighting nutrient deficiencies in old age.