Ancient wisdom says that, you are what you eat, we must then be careful about what we put into our bodies. We cannot cure all illness or stop the hands of time. We cannot protect ourselves from all diseases, but we can certainly be careful. What we can do is treat our bodies well and enjoy the health benefits that result from this conscious effort.
Senior citizens’ nutritional needs vary little from the nutritional needs of other age groups, yet there are some slight differences. Our younger bodies are able to withstand lack of nutrition more than those of the elderly, and hence it becomes more and more important to get proper nutrients as we age. These factors must be taken into consideration by elders as well as those who provide senior care services and act as their caretakers. Here are a few things essential for elderly care through proper diet for senior citizens:
1. Fiber – Fiber serves two purposes. It fills us up more quickly than empty carbohydrates (carbohydrates that lack nutrition) and it aids in digestion. Fiber forms the bulk of our waste, so encourages our intestinal tract to continue functioning properly. Sources of fiber include: Wheat, spouted pulses, green leafy vegetables etc.
2. Protein – As we get older, we need to work harder at keeping our muscle toned. Muscle wasting occurs naturally with age and getting enough protein can help slow this process. Protein is also very important for transporting necessities, such as hormones, to the cells. The belief that vegetarians will have a hard time consuming enough protein is unfounded. Vegetarians can easily meet their protein needs by eating a varied diet. Sources of protein include: Kidney beans, Lentils, apples, almonds etc.
3. Calcium – Calcium helps strengthen bones and teeth. Osteoporosis happens when calcium levels have reached a low level that results in bone cell losses. Because these levels fall more frequently, it is quite important to consumer more calcium to keep bones strong. Sources of calcium include: Dairy products, cabbage etc.
4. Vitamins – From assisting our bodies in sending out nervous signals to keeping our immunity strong, from warding off potential chronic illnesses to helping our hair and nail grow. Vitamins are the cornerstone of the proper functioning of our body. Some essential Vitamins that need to be consumed are Vitamin B, C, D, E and F
5. Omega 3’s – These nutrients have just -come into fashion- and are now being proven in scientific studies to enhance and improve joint health. They contribute significantly to the immunity system are somewhat considered to be the mechanic of the body, helping keeping it in shape.
6. Water – The need for water cannot be overstated. When not enough water has been consumed, dehydration will set in quickly. Dehydration is a frequent cause for hospitalizing in the elderly and can result in mental confusion and exhaustion among other symptoms.
Staying hydrated is as simple as drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day. Getting the rest of the aforementioned nutrients can be as simple as eating a meal full of vegetables, some fruits, nuts (if you are not allergic), seeds, lean meats, eggs, and beans.
These best practices are adopted by most of the senior care services providers and elder care specialists.
So eat healthy, stay in good shape and keep sharing your thoughts with us.