Common health issues that plague the elderly include low immunity, loss of muscle mass, weak bones, sluggish digestive system and general weakness. Metabolic disorders also surface as we age, and it is not uncommon for the elderly to suffer from at least one debilitating disorder such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and high-cholesterol.
Therefore, food intake must be carefully planned to ensure proper nutrition that can control and abate these health problems.
An elderly person's diet must be rich in vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fiber and fluids. It is best that these nutrients are obtained from natural sources and not through supplements. The foods must be well-cooked, light and must digest easily, so the body can absorb the nutrients well. It is advisable to have a number of small meals spaced through the day, instead of 3 heavy meals. A wide range of colors and textures should be included in the diet.
Here are foods that can be included in the diet:
1. Copious amounts of seasonal fruits. These are healthy because they have a high-antioxidant quotient, are nutrient rich, provide fiber and water and are easy to digest.
2. Egg whites, tofu, low-fat dairy, fish, lean meat and well-cooked beans and pulses. These are wonderful sources of protein.
3. Intake of healthy fats such as olive oil, sunflower oil, mustard oil, canola oil etc. Healthy oils lower cholesterol and prevent arteries from clogging, thus preventing cardiovascular problems. Seeds and nuts may also be included in the diet, as they are packed with nutrients and omega-3 *6 fatty acids, that are beneficial for the heart health.
4. Seasonal vegetables and including a lot of greens in the diet will ensure a steady supply of minerals and vitamins.
5. Whole grains product, instead of processed products should be eaten.
6. Clear soups made from fresh ingredients can be nutritious as well as filling.
Here is a meal plan:
1. Breakfast can comprise of oats, wheat porridge, muesli, idli, poha or cornflakes. Egg white omelettes with butter and toast can also be eaten. A glass of fresh juice or green tea can complete the meal.
2. A mid-day snack can comprise of a fruit or a few healthy biscuits and buttermilk
3. Lunch can include pulses or meat, greens, seasonal veggie, salad and chapatti/rice and a platter of chopped fruits.
4. Teatime healthy snacks include like fruit salad, vegetable crudites with a healthy dip, Moong dal chila, etc.
5. Dinner can consist of boiled veggies or veggies cooked in very little oil. Grilled fish or meat can be served with rice or roti. A fruit can complete the meal.
6. A glass of toned milk can end the day, and if the individual prefers a drink, a glass or two of wine or 2 small pegs can be had.
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