Taking care of your diet is vital throughout life, but it is even more so in old age.  Find out which foods are suitable and some basic tips and recommendations to follow a more suitable nutrition for older people.

Although life expectancy is increasing, it is true that there are certain diseases that usually appear, for example when they have reached the age of 60, which has a decisive influence not only on the years that we can live, but on the quality of life itself. Is. In addition, did you know that many of these diseases have to do with the diet that has been followed throughout life, and that is also followed during the so-called third age?

For this reason, one of the fundamental questions is to try to know what is the best diet to follow in the elderly, as well as to know what a balanced diet should be like in this special moment of Life.

As we get older, a series of different disorders appear that tend to affect eating. One of the most important, for example, is the loss of teeth, which tends to make it difficult to eat some foods, especially those of a hard consistency.

Precisely for this and other reasons, many nutrition experts recommend preparing or even modifying the food itself to try to achieve a soft texture, thus facilitating its consumption. To a certain extent, it must be taken into account that the sense of taste decreases, which is why a somewhat more showy presentation of the dishes is necessary, while using spices that help enhance the flavor of the food.

How should nutrition be in the elderly?

Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals

Although essential within a healthy, varied and balanced diet, during the elderly it is vitally important to increase the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and vegetables, which stand out for being especially rich in water, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and also tend to be low in fat and calories.

Nor should we forget about foods that are equally essential in our diet, such as cereals and legumes. In the case of cereals, for example, whole grains are recommended, especially rich in fiber, which help improve intestinal transit, maintain adequate intestinal motility and avoid constipation (which usually increases during this age stage).

Reduction of saturated fats and increase of healthy fats

Although it is appropriate to follow this dietary recommendation at any age, the truth is that during the third age it is even more important, since during these years the risk of cardiovascular disease increases, especially if the levels of fats in the blood are high (cholesterol and triglycerides).

Thus, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of saturated fats that we usually find in foods of animal origin such as red meat and sausages, and increase healthy fats, such as essential fatty acids omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Fish: mainly salmon, mackerel and sardines.
  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
  • Seeds: flax or linseed seeds.
  • Legumes: soy.

Foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids:

  • Vegetable oils:  sunflower oil (unrefined sunflower oil is recommended), soybean and corn oil.
  • Eggs.
  • Dairy:  especially fortified dairy products.

Foods rich in omega-9 fatty acids:

  • Vegetable oils:  olive oil (especially extra virgin olive oil), sunflower, Argan and safflower oil.
  • Fruits:  especially avocado.
  • Nuts:  almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios.

Increase the consumption of vegetable fats

At the same time that during the elderly it is highly advisable to reduce the consumption of saturated fats, it is advisable to increase vegetable fats, which we obtain precisely from the consumption of foods of plant origin.

It is mainly recommended for the vegetable fats from olive oil (extra virgin olive oil if possible), a powerful food that in fact has a tremendously prominent position in the healthy -and so highly valued- Mediterranean diet. Of course, we must avoid consuming it in excess, so it is recommended not to exceed 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day.

On the other hand, we must monitor the labeling of certain foods and food products where it is indicated that they contain vegetable oils. The reason is obvious: vegetable fats from palm or palm kernel oil and coconut oil should be avoided, due to their high content of saturated fat.

Opt for semi-skimmed or skimmed dairy

Dairy and derived dairy products are recommended at any stage of life. In particular, they are especially important during childhood and adolescence thanks to their richness in good quality protein and calcium (essential for the development of bones and teeth). And during the third age they are also interesting, precisely because of their nutritional richness. For example, milk is considered the “most complete” food by many nutritionists.

Of course, it is recommended to avoid whole milk, and replace it with other varieties with less saturated fat content, such as semi-skimmed milk or skimmed milk.

On the other hand, it is advisable also increase the intake of calcium and vitamin D. In fact, these two nutrients are essential since vitamin D helps the correct absorption of calcium. An excellent option, for example, is to increase calcium consumption (not only found in calcium, but also in nuts such as walnuts and almonds), and to expose the skin to the sun for about 30 minutes each day (for example, while taking a walk and doing physical exercise).

Limit salt and sugar intake

It is usual that, in many cases, when a person reaches this stage of age, they are also ‘accompanied’ by a series of certainly common pathologies and disorders, such as, for example, it could be the case of diabetes or high blood pressure. And, in addition, it is also usually common for them to follow drug-based medical treatment to control high levels of glucose and / or blood pressure.

Therefore, it is highly appropriate to reduce or limit salt intake to avoid possible unnecessary cardiovascular risks. To achieve this we can avoid adding salt to our dishes and the food we are preparing when we are in the kitchen, and substitute salt for other more natural and healthy options, such as spices or aromatic herbs.

We must also limit the consumption of sugar. And it is not only advisable to limit the consumption of sweets, pastries and cookies. We must also limit the amount of sugar we take with coffee with milk, the typical cut or tea. The best? Try to get used to the taste of these popular drinks.


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