Aging And Nutrition

Aging and nutrition: When you get older your body needs change. The body's need for energy decreases while the need for nutrients increase. Studies show that some diets can actually slow the aging process.

Aging is inevitable, but many of the degenerative changes in the body are not. You must take the proper steps to prevent this, but it is possible.

Medical research shows that proper nutrition can slow down or even prevent many dibilitating conditions. Some examples would be: heart disease, osteoperosis, and diabetis.

Did you know that almost one half of the health problems in the elderly are related to diet? It is a proven fact that people whose diet is rich in vegetables live longer and are healthier.

Our elderly are amoung the most poorly nurished of all Americans. The reason for this is really quite simple. As you age you sense of smell and taste decreases. When this happens food does not look as good to you as it did when you were younger. Also, there are more health problems that make food less appealing. It is harder to chew, you get constipated, there are more digestive problems, and you just plain old don't feel hungry.

Then there is the fact that family has changed. You are no longer feeding all the children; you may have lost your spouse. Financial needs have also changed and most often you are on a fixed income. It may be more difficult for you to get out and shop. All of these are factors in the change of diets in the elderly.

Your body composition changes with age. Your muscle mass decreases because you are not using them the way that you once did. Your metabolism slows down and you need to consume far less calories. (It is estimated that you should drop your calorie intake by at least 10% after the age of fifty. At the age of seventy your need decreases again.) If you fail to cut back, it is most likely that you will gain weight and be at risk for several of the diseases that we mention earlier.

As you get older, the body is not as good at absorbing or using up some of the nutrients that it consumes. Some of those that may need to be increased or replenished as you get older are:

Calcium: This is what gives us healthy bones. An elderly person may need to find a way to supliment to prevent such things as osteoperosis. This is expecially true of woman.

Vitamin D: The body needs this to help it absorb the calcium.

Vitamin B-12: This helps to build red blood cells. Many elderly need to get weekly shots so that they can maintain healthy nerves.

Vitamin E: This is important to help ward off heart disease.

Zinc: This helps the bodies ammune sysem which can be affected by aging as well.

Potassium: This is important to help with high blood pressure and can be depleated by some of the medications used to treat it.

Sometimes it is just a matter of a daily vitamin to help you replenish what you are lacking. Sometimes it may be more. This you need to discuss with your doctor as you make plans for a healthier diet.

These are just a few tips to help a person as they get older to plan for a better diet and a healthier life:

Plan regular meals for the day and try to avoid so much snacking. If it is a must to snack try things like fruits and vegitables instead.

Make meal time something to look forward too. Even if you are eating alone you can make it fun. You may want to set your table up. Put on some candles. Pull out your favorite cloth napkins. Treat yourself to some music. The possibilities are endless.

If you have trouble chewing--switch to things like fish or ground meats. Soups can be wonderful and much better for you than just something to drink.

Don't like to eat alone. Try round-robins or pot lucks. You will not have to cook as often and you will have the pleasure of someone elses company.

Add some color to your plate. Dress it up. Add some greens, sprinkle some of your favorite spices. Give your plate some personality.

These are just a few ideas on how you can take steps to maintain your health as you begin to age. Getting older happens/feeling older does not have too.

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