1. Consume more protein to prevent muscle atrophy
As we get older, we lose muscle mass and consequently our strength as well. The average person loses 3 to 8 percent of their muscle mass every decade after the age of 30, and according to a study published in 2017, this is the main source of weakness, fractures and poor health suffered by many elderly people. Adding more protein to your diet is essential in preventing this. A 2008 study found that among the elderly, those who consumed the highest protein intake lost 40% less muscle mass than those who consumed the least protein.
Not only does more protein help slow the process of muscle breakdown, it can also help the body build more and more muscle tissue, so you can prevent the frailty many people experience when they reach old age. The most effective way to combat old-age muscular atrophy is by combining this diet change with physical training and resistance exercises.
2. Consume more fiber to prevent constipation and gastrointestinal problems
Constipation is a problem which many elderly people suffer from regularly. It is most common among people aged 65 and over and appears 2-3 times more frequently in women. This is because elderly people tend to move less during the day, which reduces bowel movement, along with the consumption of various drugs that have a side effect of constipation. According to a review in 2014 of five different studies, fiber consumption can reduce the appearance of this issue, as these substances pass through the digestive system, help stool increase and increase intestinal movement.
In addition, a fiber-rich diet can prevent diverticulitis, which causes pockets in the intestinal walls that tend to become infected. This disease is very common among people of older ages, according to a study at the University of Parma, Italy. Experts say that diverticulitis is a disease caused by Western diet, because it affects half of the population living in 50 different countries in the West. At the same time, research conducted at the Beit Israel Medical Center in Boston found that in countries where fiber intake is relatively high, such as Japan and Africa, this disease affects only 0.2% of the population.
3. Consume more vitamin D and calcium to strengthen your bones
We are used to thinking that calcium is the most important mineral for maintaining bones, but it must be paired with vitamin D to be absorbed effectively in the body. According to a study conducted in 2014, adult bodies, unfortunately, tend to absorb calcium less efficiently due to a lack of vitamin D - the aging process makes it increasingly difficult for the body to produce it. Our bodies produce vitamin D from the cholesterol that is found in the skin when exposed to sunlight, but because aging causes the skin to become thinner, this process is damaged. For this reason, the bones are weakened, and this is what causes fracturing in elderly people to be more of a risk. To avoid this effect of the aging process it is very important to consume vitamin D from other sources.
4. Consume more vitamin B12 to keep brain fog away
Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin and is essential for the production of red blood cells and for maintaining the healthy functioning of the brain. Unfortunately, studies show that 10-30% of people over the age of 50 suffer from impaired absorption of this vitamin in their diets, causing long-term vitamin B12 deficiency. This essential substance clings to the proteins in the food we eat, and before our body can use it, the stomach acids must separate it from them. As described at the beginning of the article, as the years pass, there is a decline in the production of stomach acids, and therefore this important process is damaged.
Moreover, elderly people who are vegetarian or stick to a vegan diet consume less vitamin B12 and are therefore are more at risk of being deficient in it. It is therefore strongly recommended that older people consume vitamin B12 supplements or foods that are fortified with them. In these foods, the vitamin does not cling to the proteins so that the stomach can absorb it even with a reduced amount of acids.
5. Drink more water to prevent dehydration
Water makes up about 70% of our bodies, and it is important to maintain this ratio at any age, but especially at older ages. This is because as we get older, our bodies tend to be more sensitive to dehydration due to the dwindling of the communication between our senses and the brain. The brain detects thirst by using receptors in it and in different parts of the body, but over the years these receptors become less sensitive to changes in the body's fluid state, causing the brain to have difficulty detecting a thirst sensation, according to a study published in 2009.
If this isn’t enough, the kidneys are supposed to help the body maintain a balanced amount of fluids, but their function also fades with age. Unfortunately, dehydration can cause severe medical complications in the elderly, as it reduces the presence of fluid in the cells and consequently their ability to absorb drugs, which worsens the medical conditions they suffer from. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the amount of water you consume and drink enough during the day. To do this, follow this tip: Drink 2 cups of water with each meal and make sure that there is a bottle of water in each room of the house available for drinking at any time of the day.
The problem that can make things difficult for you - loss of appetite
After we’ve covered all the recommendations and dietary supplements needed to keep the body healthier at an older age, we must address another problem that comes with getting older - a decline in appetite. You will not be able to provide yourself with all the vitamins and minerals your body needs if you do not eat properly during the day, and your body can make it harder on you due to hormonal changes that reduce the efficiency of taste and smell senses, Studies show that elderly people tend to have lower levels of hunger hormones and higher levels of satiety hormones, meaning they are less hungry and full a lot faster.
In addition, there are other factors that may reduce the desire to eat, such as loss of teeth, loneliness, various diseases and drug treatments with such side effects. If you find it difficult to eat large meals, try to divide your meals into small portions throughout the day and eat every few hours. On the other hand, you can instill a habit of eating smaller healthier foods between meals, such as almonds, yogurt or hard-boiled eggs, which will provide your body with additional nutrients and calories. The important thing is that you become aware of the problem and handle it correctly.