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Ideal Diet - As you Age Ideal Diet - As you Age

After the age of fifty-five or sixty, there occur many metabolic and physiological modifications in the body which affect the nutritional needs of an individual. As the body ages, the gastrointestinal tract changes and people tend to develop more problems while digesting the food. The metabolic rate slows down resulting in decreased need of calories. So, one has to be very careful while choosing diet for the elderly people.
An ideal diet for the elderly may consist of:
Food Rich in Fiber
A high-fiber diet can prevent constipation which reduces the risk of some common disorders in the intestine. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, dalia are fiber rich cereals. Whole grain pulses, sprouts beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, fruit and vegetables are also good sources of fiber. Dental problems and digestion is also an issue with age. Raw vegetables may not be tolerated well and can be steamed before eating. Whole grained cereals and pulses should also be cooked well and can be consumed in small portions per meal to allow digestibility.
Food Rich in Calcium
Osteoporosis is a major health issue for elderly people. Therefore their diet must contain a good supply of calcium. The main sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and dahi. Other sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, soyabean/tofu and some varieties of fish.
It is vital to drink lots of fluids. Getting plenty of fluids helps prevent constipation, maintains blood pressure, flushes out toxins with urine and also improves appetite. Coconut water, lemonade, fresh fruit juices, clear soups, vegetable juices, rice ganji, lassi and milk all rehydrate the body and can be sipped on during the day.
Food Rich in Iron
Eating plenty of iron-rich foods helps in keeping up the body′s store of iron. The best source of iron is red meat but because it is high on fat, its consumption should be limited. Iron intake can be improved in diet by taking green leafy vegetables, eggs, kala channa, kala channa flour. It is advisable to avoid tea or coffee immediately after iron-rich meals because this might affect the absorption of iron by the body. 
Most of the salt we eat is already in foods, and so it is significant to be aware of the salt content of prepared foods, which is the major source of salt. Avoid adding salt to the food when cooking and at the table. On an average, keep the salt intake not more than 5g per day (1 teaspoon).
To ensure a good vitamin and antioxidant intake all seasonal fruits should be consumed. In particular, those high in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits such as oranges, lemon, grapefruits, and blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, mango, apple etc. As one ages, intolerances to certain fruits also increase, due to sourness or sweetness. Some find it difficult to chew upon a fruit (like apple) because of dental problems. So, eat the fruits which are acceptable and try innovative means of eating them like grated, chopped, and stewed.
Vitamin D is essential for good bone strength. We get most of our vitamin D from the sunlight on our skin, but vitamin D is also found in dairy, fish, eggs and foods with added vitamins such as breakfast. A walk in the sun for 5-10 minutes a day is sufficient to allow Vit D synthesis in the body.  If you′re 65 or over, consult a doctor to check for Vit D supplementation.
A note from the Nutritionist
Though a low-fat, high-fiber diet is recommendable for the elderly people, it is not appropriate for all the elderly, especially those with repeated infections, generally in poor health or a poor appetite. It is important that these older people should choose a nutrient rich diet, high in providing protein, vitamins and minerals such as milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, fish, bread, cereals, and fruit and vegetables. A varied diet will also help to ensure sufficient nutritional intake.


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