Ageing is an inevitable process and it operates throughout the life cycle; right from the journey of birth to the coffin. The last few decade of mankind have experienced the marked increase in the life span, thanks to the medical technology. However it seems that the ultra-modern life supporting systems equipped at health centres have been failed to render quality of life and functional ability. Let’s not mistake the mere lack of infirmity to good health.
To certain extent the senescence starts manifesting after the age of mid 40s, although it is relative and arrives bit early for some folks and quite late for fitness enthusiasts. It intrigues us of what can make this course of ageing effortless. Perhaps the answer lies in the very science of nourishment.
As per the best nutritionist in Mumbai, nutrition being the most imperative dimension of health and well-being is often perceived to be outdo by medications; however there are substantial instances where adequate nutrition performed better than anything in treating old age ailments.
Calories- With the advancement of age beyond 30 years of life; the body composition changes over time and demands special nutritional attention. Aged people require less calories as the basal metabolic rate decreases pertaining to reduced lean muscle mass and less participation in physical activities. However the need of protein, vitamins and minerals do not plunge or even call for higher inclusion.
Proteins- Impaired anabolic process leads to decreased skeletal tissue mass and lower protein stores in the body. Protein consumption of 1 g/kg of body weight is desirable to meet the need of protein synthesis. Food sources of protein such as 2-3 serving of Low fat milk, curd, egg white, fish can be included to enrich the protein level menu.
Lipids- It’s been advocated by health agencies that the elderly should not consume more than 20 g of oil per day to maintain their body weight as they need fewer calories. Geriatrics are more susceptible to atherogenic risk, hence saturated fats like hydrogenated oil (vanaspati), clarified butter (ghee), butter, coconut oil should not be encouraged as dietary source of fats & oil. Further it is necessary to enhance the α-linolenic (n-3) acid intake over linoleic (n-6) acid to confer anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic & anti-arrhythmic benefits for cardioprotective effect. Sources such as fish oil, micro algae, rapeseed oil, mustard oil, soyabean oil, flax seed oil and walnuts are good source of n-3 fatty acids. Combination of two or three plant oils helps in achieving balanced n-6 to n-3 fatty acid ratio of between 4:1 and 10:1 and in addition delivers sterols, lignans, tocopherols, oryzanole, carotenoids; these reduce the burden of oxidative damage caused by ageing and helps lowering cholesterol and maintaining lipid profile.
Carbs– Lower insulin sensitivity among elders is not uncommon and can be corrected by balanced energy distribution throughout the day to ease weight management. Consumption of complex carbohydrate is being emphasized. Whole grain cereals, millets, pulses and legumes should be given in adequacy. Refined cereals and simple sugars are discouraged in the diet of an elderly. Concerning less energy need; 50 per cent of the total energy requirement can be derived from carbohydrates.
Fibre– Soluble fibre is advised for the geriatrics to prevent bowel discomfort, distension and flatulence secondary to insoluble fibre consumption. Fibre from citrus fruits, oatmeal, apples, guavas, strawberries, melons and tender vegetables adds bulk to the faecal matter and relieves constipation, poor bowel function, hypercholesterolemia and haemorrhoids.
Minerals- Aged people require more calcium than normal. Women over the age of 50 years have experienced demineralisation of bones due to less oestrogen production and leads to progressive osteoporosis. Due to diminishing appetite and low dietary intake, calcium supplements are suggested. Provision of milk and milk products could help as good source of calcium and could depress the loss of bone mineral density in long run. The prevalence of anaemia and delayed wound healing among elderly gathered attention for other minerals like iron and zinc; older people who don’t consume flesh foods can be victim of the deficiency. Coming to the early restriction of the sodium, it does not help in delaying the onset of cardiovascular diseases; hence 5 g/ day of salt can be permitted for geriatric population.
Vitamins- Calcitriol synthesis is deprived in elderly due to less exposure of sun light and decreased renal function, directing towards less absorption of calcium. Iatrogenic causes calls for increased anti-oxidative vitamins such as ascorbic acid, tocopherol and carotenoids. Scientific research has shown that assured serum levels of B6, B12 and B9 among elderly extent protection against raised homocysteine level and so cardiovascular disorders. Neurological manifestation such as Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented by vitamin K, green leafy vegetables may provide sufficient vitamin K. Four servings of fruits and vegetables are suggested to ensure adequacy of micronutrients for the elderly.
Geriatric nutrition has its core into the wise distribution of macros throughout the meal planning. The nutrients delivered through food should be mapped to cater the specific need of the individual. Best nutritionist in Kolkata can help in nutritional supplements can be used to fill the protein calorie gap. A successful ageing not only termed for longevity; but for function and social wellbeing.