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Nutrition for the Elderly

Renuka Berry

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Sources of antioxidants
  • Vitamin A and carotenoids are anti-oxidants with a particular role to play in protecting the lungs and skin. The chief sources of vitamin A are fish, liver oils, green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, melons, red, yellow and green peppers, apricots and mangoes.
  • Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant and immune booster. The chief sources of vitamin C are oranges, grapefruit, lemons, black currants and red, green and yellow peppers.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant and immune booster. It plays an important role in the prevention of heart disease. The chief sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and wheat gram.
  • Selenium is a powerful anti-oxidant, which may help to reduce the risk of cancer. The sources of selenium are meat, fish, butter, citrus fruits and whole grains.
Eating for Immune
Health Since the immune system of the body also gets affected in the old age making the body susceptible to all types of infections and increasing the risk of cancer also, it is very important to take care of the immune system. The efficacy of the immune system is to some degree dependent on the fuel we give it. Certain foods contain nutrients, which are known to have quite potent immune-stimulating effects, which can be used to improve resistance to infection and to help fight against cancer.

Vitamin C, zinc and beta-carotene are the nutrients that play a key role in boosting immune health. These should be included in the diet. Bananas, citrus fruits and green vegetables are rich sources of vitamin C. seafood and whole grains are rich sources of zinc. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. It helps protect the immune system from the action of damaging free radical molecules and also appears to have powerful immune enhancing properties. Foods rich in beta-carotene include green and yellow fruit and vegetables.

Helping the elderly choose wisely from among the food groups can improve their health and zest for life. As a matter of fact, these recommendations wouldn't be bad for adults of any age to use daily!

Preventing Osteoporosis
Diet has an important role to play in preventing osteoporosis. Some foods can increase the bone loss, while others supply the body with nutrients essential for healthy bone formation. Sugar, red meat and fizzy drinks all tend to speed up the rate at which calcium is lost from the bone. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis. Foods rich in calcium and Magnesium are good for bones. These include green leafy vegetables, sardines, mackerel, seafood and sesame seeds. Gentle weight bearing exercise reduces bone loss and may even increase bone density, therefore exercise is a must.

Antioxidants and the heart The damaging effects of free radicals on the heart and blood vessels are neutralised by the action of the antioxidant nutrients. Foods that contain high levels of these nutrients can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Your heart and your diet
Heart disease is the leading cause of death but there is a lot that we can do to prevent heart problems and adjustments to eating habits are among the most beneficial measures. Reducing cholesterol through limiting overall fat intake. Eat lean meat and avoid red meat. Poultry is better than red meat. Eat more fish and moderate consumption of eggs and dairy products. Avoid frying foods as much as possible. Grilling, baking, steaming and boiling are healthier ways to prepare food.

Avoid intake of sugar. Reduce salt in the diet. Intake of foods rich in anti-oxidants should be more. Alcohol should be consumed in a moderate quantity. Where moderate quantity of alcohol is believed to have a beneficial effect on the heart, excess intake of the same increases the risk of developing heart disease.

Food for Elder Women
After menopause, the production of hormones-oestrogen and progesterone reduces dramatically and these can give rise to a number of symptoms and an increase in risk of certain conditions such as raised blood cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis. Certain dietary changes may help the women during and after menopause. Soya products and Soya milk are helpful for they are considered to have oestrogen like compounds.

Combating Constipation in the Elderly
Constipation also becomes a common problem during old age due to a lack of exercise and a sedentary life. Constipation leads to problems such as fatigue, bad breath and poor skin health. One essential ingredient for healthy bowel function is fibre. Increasing the intake of fibrous foods will help n relieving constipation. Food rich in fibres include fruits, vegetables and pulses. Natural bulking agents such as the psyllium husk (isabgol) can be added to the diet. Plenty of water should also be taken-atleast 2-3 litres of water should be had.

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