Nutrition for 50+ Adults
Aging healthily and gracefully requires intake of nutritionally dense foods that give adequate nutrients to fulfill age specific nutritional needs. Physiological factors such as change in body composition, decreased muscle mass, skeletal degeneration, sensory changes etc. can put aging adults at a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies than the younger adults. Reduced food intake and a lack of variety in the foods consumed, along with diminished digestive capacity and absorption, are other reasons that negatively impact the nutritional status in the aging adults. Nutritional deficiencies, if not corrected in time, can affect major organs such as heart, liver, kidney, joints, vision, cognition etc. and can impact lifespan otherwise.
Age adjusted Nutrition:
From infancy to late life, nutritional needs change. Children must grow and develop, while older adults must counter the effects of aging. Hence, age-appropriate nutrition during all stages of the life cycle is important. The physiological and metabolic changes that occur with aging make it vital for older adults to make special consideration for specific nutrients and antioxidants to support healthy living.
Some of the age related health issues such as poor vision, poor sensory functions, poor metabolism, diminished digestion and absorption; poor cognition etc. can be prevented and managed by supplementing everyday diet with the right nutrients.
Nutrition for healthy aging:
Need of certain nutrients increases with aging due to several factors. Take vitamin B-12, for example.With aging, the body's ability to absorb the vitamin often fades due to the depletion of digestive juice and acids in the body, which is needed to break B-12 down from food sources.
Many diseases suffered by older persons are the result of dietary factors, some of which have been building up since infancy. Degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer, which are among the most common diseases affecting older persons, are mostly diet-related. Besides the burden of existing diseases and nutrient deficiencies, due to chronic intake of certain drugs amplify the risk of various nutrients in older adults.
Adequate intake of nutrient dense foods and right supplementation of nutrients and antioxidants, together with healthy lifestyle, can help slow down and prevent age related health issues.
Antioxidant support for healthy aging:
As aging sets in, the cell division and replacement of dead or damaged cells slows down. Antioxidants can speed up the cell division and cell replacement processes, which can help to slow the overall effects of aging and prevent certain age-related diseases.
Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in your body, which can cause several serious or life-threatening diseases and health problems including heart disease, cancer, immune dysfunction, diabetes, and degenerative brain disorders (including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease). Antioxidants help to keep your cells healthy and youthful, which can prevent age-related illnesses, relieve stress and increase your lifespan.
Heart Health/Nutrition support for the aging heart:
Body organs are under continuous attack by free radicals, which produces inflammation and direct tissue damage. Ultimately, chronic inflammatory insult accelerates aging and other diseases affecting the heart and circulatory system, neurological system, sensory functions etc. and shortens life span.
Antioxidant nutrients like vitamin E and carotenoids like lycopene play an important role in helping to support a healthy heart. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that counters the effects of free radicals that are produced. Similarly lycopene, a powerful carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes is known to be effective as an antioxidant and helps prevent heart damage.
Research such that lycopene and lutein (a plant pigment) works effectively together in fighting against the free radical damage of the heart.
Eye Health/ Aging and eye health:
Some vision problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration etc. occurs with aging and free radical damage. Certain nutrients and antioxidants have been studied to be effective against protecting the vision from such damages.
Lutein, an antioxidant carotenoid that occurs naturally in foods and in supplements can help prevent and manage age related macular damage. They are stored in the macula (a small and highly sensitive part of the retina) of the eye and play an important role in vision health. Also, antioxidant vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and Zinc, are important for maintaining overall eye health.