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The importance of nutrition for the elderly

The importance of nutrition in the elderly is essential to maintaining their health throughout their lives. But as we age, our appetite diminishes, and this has a series of consequences and repercussions on the body.

Let’s take a closer look at why nutrition in the elderly is so important, and how to avoid the problems inherent in undernutrition. But as we age, our appetite diminishes, and this has a series of consequences and repercussions on the body. Ensuring that our seniors eat well is an aspect that is still greatly underestimated. As appetite fades over time, the effect of satiety in the elderly comes much more quickly when it’s time to eat.

Little by little, without realizing it, they risk becoming undernourished, a phenomenon that can lead to numerous complications, including increased risk of illness and psychological disorders such as depression and recurrent anxiety, weakened immune systems and reduced life expectancy. That said, it is vital to pay particular attention to the diet of the elderly, to ensure that their daily intake of nutrients is sufficient. Unfortunately, we still too often believe that it’s normal for seniors to eat very little, but this is absolutely not the case and can seriously damage their health. It’s also important to know that as we age, our sense of taste and smell diminish, which in turn reduces the pleasure we derive from eating.

How do you ensure an adequate, balanced diet?

The first important thing to remember when feeding an elderly person is to give them at least three meals a day. Not to mention snacks.

This routine will make it easier to calculate quantities and ensure adequate calorie intake. While it’s true that metabolism slows down with age and that the body tends to expend less energy, it’s a mistake to believe that it’s necessary to limit food intake.

This poor practice quickly leads to significant deficiencies, which can be the cause of the disorders mentioned above.

To make up for this shortcoming, it’s best to eat regularly and check your calorie and nutritional intake.

Which foods are best?

The importance of nutrition in the elderly allows the body to replenish the many nutrients it needs. Proteins, found in meat, fish, legumes and eggs, are among the most important. As a reminder, proteins are among the essential nutrients for the renewal of muscle tissue and skin, as well as for the regrowth of nails and hair.

For healthy bones, you also need to have a sufficient intake of calcium, which means eating enough dairy products.

Vitamin D is also important, and can be synthesized through brief exposure to the sun. You’ll also need to eat enough fibre every day, found mainly in fruit and vegetables.

Legumes, such as peas and lentils, are excellent carbohydrates that complement potatoes, pasta or rice perfectly, and also have an important role to play.

When it comes to lipids, opt for monounsaturated fat sources.

And don’t necessarily eliminate all sweet desserts, just eat them in reasonable quantities and on occasion. Finally, remember that it’s the diversity of foods that makes for a healthy, balanced diet.

You can also consult Canada’s new food guide in brief.

The importance of nutrition in the elderly with Canada's new food guide, Manoir Gouin
Note: You can view this article in dynamic format: nutrition in the elderly, Manoir Gouin seniors’ residence.

Related pages : Menu for seniors

Article updated: August 19, 2019