Over the last 200 years, UK’s life expectancy has doubled. Consequently, about 16% of our population is aged 65 and above. Furthermore, among our senior citizens, today we have a greater number of people aged 85 and above.
While a greater life expectancy is generally great, it can also prove to be troublesome for many people. For some people, they do not live a healthy life across the added years. This negatively affects the quality of life among our senior citizens.
- The physical changes that our bodies undergo as we age can affect and change the way we feel and think about food. These seemingly natural changes can prevent seniors from taking a healthy diet. Furthermore, these changes can alter our appetite, making one think he or she is full and, therefore, eating less.
- As you might appreciate, good nutrition, as well as regular physical activities, play an integral role in protecting people from age-related conditions and ailments, especially cardiovascular diseases and cognitive decline. They also play a role in protecting one’s bone and joints and oral and dental health. As we age, people tend to slow down and take up less physically engaging activities, which can have a negative impact on your life.
Ageing and Healthy Eating: the Myths
To help you understand what happens as you age, we will debunk top 10 myths regarding ageing and eating a healthy diet.
1. You Will Experience Stomach Shrinkage As You Age
This is a very common and popular misconception about ageing. Many people think that as they age, their stomach gets smaller, hence why they take less food. While your capacity to eat food and appetite might change over time, your stomach does not change.
2. You Should Eat Less As You Age
The vast majority of people think that they should eat less as they age reasoning that their energy requirements diminish as they age. This is not necessarily true. Whilst our metabolism does slow down with age, eating quality food in the right might amount plays a huge role in protecting and fuelling the body. It is the key to ageing well.
3. Weight Loss Is Always Healthy
Among the masses, losing weight is almost universally considered as healthy. However, this is not the case as we get older. In fact, Gabriel’s Angels suggest extreme dieting and sudden weight loss must be avoided as we age unless advised by a dietician or a GP.
4. Eat Only When You Feel Like It
As we age, your body alters in very many ways. As such, you should expect the usual triggers such as hunger or feeling full to change. However, you should know that extreme losses of appetites is not normal and could be a sign of underlying problems.
5. You Should Eat a Low-Fat Diet to Stay Healthy
Contrary to what many people think, a low-fat diet is not necessarily the best diet nor is it the best dietary approach, especially for the elderly. We need fat as a source of energy. Some senior citizens need a healthy supply of fat to maintain a healthy diet.
6. Eat More Vegetables
Eating is nutrient-rich vegetable is important as a part of a healthy diet. However, it should be eaten as part of a balanced diet; therefore, it should eat along with a healthy supply of fluids, proteins, and carbohydrates. Do note that as we age, we need a healthy supply of proteins to protect and restore your immune systems, your body organs, the brains, and muscles.
7. You Should Drink Water Only When You Feel Thirsty
Thirst is a trigger to drink water. It is a means your body uses to tell you that you need fluids. If you feel thirsty, and you feel confusion or a headache, chances are that you are dehydrated. Dehydration can negatively impact your kidney function. As such, do not wait to feel thirsty. Drink plenty of water.
8. Meal Supplements are Sufficient to Stay Healthy
This is not true. Our bodies are not capable of living off vitamins and supplement alone. Furthermore, some of the supplements may interact with medication, reducing their efficacy or not working at all. As such, the focus should be on eating a healthy diet.
9. You Must Eat 3 Meals a Day
Staying healthy and ageing well requires you to eat regularly. However, due to appetite changes, eating three full-sized meals might prove to be a huge challenge for many seniors citizens. An alternative to the 3 meals is to eat more frequently but smaller portions.
10. Malnutrition Is Just Another Symptom of Ageing
Malnutrition is a condition that can affect anyone at any age. It is not strictly an age-dependent condition. Moreover, it can affect people of any body size. That being said, you should note due to the changes that you experience as you age, the elderly are more susceptible to malnutrition. As such, do not dismiss malnutrition as part and parcel of ageing.
As you can appreciate, there are many things to consider. It is little wonder that the elderly citizen living alone struggles to eat correctly and stay healthy.