As we age, our metabolism starts to slow down and we are not required to consume as many calories as we used to, which makes it challenging to consume sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals. How can we ensure that elderly still get the proper nutrition? What are the best foods for the elderly? This short post can answer these questions.
What are the usual factors that may affect an elderly food choice?
Most of the factors related to their physical condition and lifestyle habits. For examples:
- Decreased Taste & Smell Sensation
- Dental problems: Poorly fitting dentures or missing teeth make chewing difficult
- Dry mouth: Saliva tends to decrease with age, it may lead to difficulty swallowing
- Poor digestion ability and slower bowel movement
- Conveniency of food supply and Its preparation time
With the above, it makes foods less appealing and makes eating less enjoyable to elderly, resulting in poor appetite and ultimately may lead to poor nutritional status. Many of the conditions such as unintentional weight loss, osteoporosis and constipation are associated with malnutrition. Thus, it is important that you know how to include nutrient-dense foods into the elderly daily diet to ensure they meet their nutritional needs.
Nutrition and Diet Tips for Elderly Diet
1. Have protein-rich foods in every meal to help maintain physical function and reduce muscle loss.
A 2018 national nutrition survey by HPB shows that 2 in 1 people aged 50 and older do not meet the daily protein requirement of 1g to 1.2g for each kilogram of body weight. Without adequate intake of protein for a long period of time, it leads to loss of muscle mass, strength and function called sarcopenia. Protein helps the elderly to build and maintain muscle mass, also related to better bone mass and lower the risk of osteoporosis. The elderly can get protein from food such as eggs, chicken breast, lean meat, tofu, whole grains and beans.
2. Include calcium-rich foods for stronger bones.
Calcium gives our bones the structural strength they need to support our body. The recommended calcium intake for elderly is 1000mg per day. A lack of calcium will result in an increased risk of osteoporosis. Thus, an elderly should always get adequate calcium intake in order to maintain healthy bone mass and bone density. The food source of calcium such as spinach, broccoli, ikan bilis, sardines and milk.
3. Choose wholegrains & eat 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables daily
Wholegrains foods such as brown rice are a rich source of nutrients, like B vitamins, folic acid, iron and copper. They have been associated with lower risks of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. They also maintain good digestive health thanks to their rich fibre content.
Most of the essential vitamins and minerals come from fruits and vegetables, many elderly preferred not to consume them due to chewing problems. Vitamins and dietary fibre deficiency may be considered as a problem of the elderly. In order to meet the two-fruit daily requirement, elderly can choose those fruits and vegetables that are soft to chew such as papaya, kiwi, pineapples, berries etc. For greens, cut it into smaller bite-size or blend it together with fruit juice can help to increase their daily intake.
4. Lighten up on your salt intake.
The average Singaporean consumes about 9g of salt a day, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 5g (one teaspoon). Elderly may consume more salt due to their decreased taste sensation. Yet, controlling our sodium intake can help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and stomach and nasopharyngeal cancers. Season your food naturally with fresh foods, herbs and spices can make the dishes flavorful too!
Apart from the foods mentioned above, you can also try GoodMorning Gsure which are suitable for the older generation. Gsure is a plant-based complete and balanced nutrition beverage that specially formulated with 18 types of premium whole grains and added with 28 types of essential vitamins and minerals, CaHMB, Omega 3 & 6, Prebiotics and Lutein. Its aromatic grain taste fits elderly taste bud and you can easily prepare it anytime, anywhere! Click here to view the full GoodMorning product range!