Australian guide to healthy eating for the elderly
DPS Shop - Healthy eating for the elderly in Australia
Posted by Liz Alderslade January 2020
Nutrition and good eating is essential for an older person, as it promotes a healthy mind and body, which will help keep you capable of living independently at home for longer.
As we age, our taste and smell decreases, which will impact on eating habits and enjoyment of food.
It means older Australians need to put a lot more thought into how they fuel their bodies with the right nutrients while also enjoying the food they are eating.
Jane Freeman, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Spokesperson for Dietitians Australia, says eating healthy in your older age is really critical when reducing the likelihood of developing chronic health conditions.
"Good nutrition is important as you age and ageing obviously brings body changes with it. These can be health issues or high risk of heart disease, diabetes or things like arthritis and osteoporosis," says Ms Freeman.
"A diet has to be quite nutrient-dense, meaning the food you eat needs to be packed full of healthy food nutrients, particularly protein.
"Really focusing on the quality of the food that you are putting on the plate more so than the quantity."
Good nutrients reduce the risk of developing diseases and illnesses, such as:
- Weakening of muscles and bones
- Chronic health problems
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Poor nutrition can result in:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Impact the security of your immune system
- Increasing the likelihood of catching illnesses, like the flu or common cold, more often
- Poor healing of wounds or other sickness
- Higher likelihood of hospitalisation or falls and fractures
Chronic health problems tend to appear in your 50s and 60s, so this is when having a good diet can really support your body to be as healthy as possible.
Additionally, the older you get, the more muscle you will start to lose, which can greatly impact your mobility and strength. Eating high protein foods needs to increase compared to what a normal adult would normally consume.
As mobility is vital to remaining independent and active for longer, it's important to do what you can to fuel your body with the right food.
Healthy eating habits
Your body requires less calories when you are older, so every bit of food you eat really needs to count!
Ms Freeman recommends encouraging a well rounded diet that is both non-restrictive and covers all the important food groups.
Some tips for health eating include:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Reduce your salt and sugar intake where possible
- Eating lots of protein
- Get Vitamin D to be able to consume calcium
- Cut down on saturated fats
- Don't excessively drink
Take some time out of your week to develop a meal plan, as they can support healthy eating habits and ensure you are incorporating enough nutrients and vitamins into your food.