We all know the importance of having a properly balanced diet, still, many of us struggle to follow it daily. Especially when it comes to your elderly loved ones, it is important to make sure that they have a properly balanced diet. Let us understand why and how do we go about ensuring healthy eating for the elderly?
Definition of a balanced diet
A well-balanced diet means eating the right amount of nutrients . Supply the body with the energy it needs to function properly. It also means getting the right amount of nutrition to support growth, development, and repair of body cells. So, a well-balanced diet would contain nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups.
Importance of a balanced diet as we get older
For the elderly, disabled and ill, having a healthy diet is crucial. These groups of people are often at higher risk of malnutrition, in the form of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, for several reasons.
As people grow old they tend to suffer from low immunity, poor digestion, weak bones and muscle fatigue. Some may also suffer from diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, high blood pressure or high cholesterol etc.
A deficiency, excess or imbalance of energy, protein, and other nutrients causes adverse effects on body form, function and clinical outcome. Many elderly people suffer from diseases caused by these dietary factors. So, a healthy and balanced diet is incredibly important for elderly people.
However, it does not mean that you must eat less, it means to eat right. Nutrition deserves special attention as people reach the older age and is essential for good health. Eating properly can help reduce the risk of potential health problem, and a balanced diet simply leads to a better quality of life.
The need for vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals is different in old age than when we are young. All these nutrients must be packaged in easy-to-digest small frequent meals which are spread out and spaced well over the entire day.
According to the World Health Organization: At least 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, and up to 40 percent of cancer could be prevented if people ate better and exercised regularly.
Tips to eat right with growing age:
- Have a seasonal fruit at least twice a day, as they work as antioxidants and prevent constipation
- For the repair of worn out cells and tissues, egg whites are a good source of protein. Vegetarians can eat lentils (daal) and nuts. Chik pea and besan are very good sources of protein
- To prevent high cholesterol and improve good cholesterol in blood, use mustard oil and olive oil for cooking
- Five to six small meals in a day help in digestion and prevent fatigue
- Oats porridge, daliya and upma with vegetables is an excellent breakfast for seniors
- For muscular flexibility, preventing water retention, swellings and to maintain blood pressure, potassium-rich foods like cumin seeds, sweet limes, fenugreek seeds and coconut water are good
- Drink about 2 litres of water in a day to prevent dehydration. In old age muscle density reduces and susceptibility to dehydration is always very high, especially in summer
One way to be sure that your elderly loved ones are eating well is by hiring eldercare professional.