How Your Nutritional Needs Change As You Age
As we age, it becomes imperative to follow a healthy and nutrient-rich diet which makes for all the deficiencies in the body that are related to old age.
Body's nutritional needs change with aging
- Lack of nutrients in the body also begins to show its symptoms with aging
- Bodys ability to recognise hunger and thirst reduce as we grow old
- It is important to follow a nutritious diet as we grow old
Eating healthy is something we must follow at all times. But as we grow older, it becomes more of necessity for our body to function properly. Growing older or aging causes several changes in the body. We begin to feel less energetic and the lack of nutrients in the body also begins to show its symptoms. So, it becomes imperative to follow a healthy and nutrient-rich diet which makes for all the deficiencies in the body that are related to age.
Other challenges of aging include thinner skin, loss of muscles, reduced calorie intake and chronic inflammation. Additionally, there is a reduction in the body's ability to recognise senses like hunger and thirst. This makes the body more prone to conditions like dehydration and unexpected weight loss.
Read more to find out the various kinds of changes in the nutritional needs that our body experiences as we grow older:
1. More fibre
Constipation is a common problem that aging people face. Hence, having fibre rich foods help in dealing with constipation. Constipation is common among people older than 65. The condition is twice or thrice as common among women. The reason behind this is lack of physical activity and increased intake of medicines. Apart from relieving constipation, eating more fibre also promotes regular bowel movements.
High-fibre diet prevents diverticular disease, which leads to infections and inflammation in the small pouches along the colon wall. Whole grains, fruits, legumes, starchy vegetables, beans, chia seeds and avocados are a few examples of foods rich in fibre.
2. Lesser calories but more nutrients
Our daily calorie intake depends on our weight, height, muscles, the amount of exercise we do and numerous other things. Older people have less muscle and need to maintain their weight because there is very less physical activity that they engage in. Hence, they need fewer calories. If they consumed the same amount of calories as they used to when they were younger, it might lead to gaining extra fat, especially around the belly.
While there is a reduced need of calorie, the need for some nutrients increases with aging. Older people need to consume whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. These health foods can help make for the nutrient deficiencies in the body without any weight gain. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and calcium are the most essential nutrients for aging people.
3. More Vitamin B12
Production of red blood cells and maintaining a healthy brain functions are the essential functions performed by Vitamin B12. According to studies, around 30% people above the age of 50 become less able to absorb Vitamin B12. This leads to the deficiency of this vitamin after a certain point of time. Foods like eggs, fish, meat and dairy are all good sources of Vitamin B12. Vegetarians and vegans can opt for Vitamin B12 supplements.
4. More protein
We tend to lose strength and muscles with aging. Research shows that on average, adults lose 3-8% muscles mass in every 10 years after turning 30. This is the major reason why elder people feel weak and become more prone to fractures and injuries. Increase your protein intake can help in maintaining muscle mass and fighting the weakness in body. Foods rich in protein include almonds, chicken, egg whites, tuna, cheese, etc.
5. More calcium and Vitamin D
These are the two most vital nutrients for healthy bones. While calcium is required for healthy bones, the presence of vitamin D in the body helps in better absorption of calcium. With aging, the tendency to absorb calcium reduces significantly, and the deficiency of Vitamin D is the primary reason for this.
Sun rays are an excellent source of Vitamin D. It is made from skin's cholesterol exposed to sunlight. But because of skin thinning with aging, there is lesser production of Vitamin D. Calcium rich foods include dark green and leafy veggies and dairy products. Vitamin D rich foods include a variety of fish like salmon and herring, and cod liver oil.
6. More potassium
Having more potassium lowers risk of hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney stones and heart diseases. All these conditions are extremely common among the elderly. Bananas, white beans, avocado, spinach, sweet potato, dried apricots, pomegranate and coconut water are all good sources of potassium.
7. More iron
Iron deficiency is another common symptom of aging. It can lead to anaemia, a condition in which the blood does not supply enough oxygen to the body. Red meat, quinoa, legumes, broccoli, tofu and dark chocolates are some examples of foods rich in iron.
8. More magnesium
Magnesium is an important mineral for various body functions. But aging causes magnesium deficiency because of poor appetite and increased intake of medicines. Foods that are a good source of magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, dark chocolates and banana.
9. More omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce risk of heart diseases among the elderly. Foods rich in omega-3 include salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and soybeans to name a few.