7 common myths about nutrition in elderly debunked

By Editorial Team | Published:Mon, September 18, 2017 12:14pm

These myths can pose various health risks.

With age, we need to take extra care of our diet and nutrients. We are told to eat a good amount of leafy green vegetables, drink plenty of water and so on. But as you age, you not only require a nutritious diet but also good amounts of adequate sources of minerals like calcium and vitamin rich food. Many a time seniors find themselves falling prey to a number of myths that surround the basic dietary and nutrition needs of old people. Most of these myths are untrue, unhealthy and pose various health risks. Dr Sriniwas Thakur, Consultant Geriatrics, Fortis Hospital, Mulund dispels some of these common diet and nutrition myths you should stop believing. Also read about tips to ensure safety at home in old age.

Myth #1: Loss of appetite can be ignored.

It is normal that appetite changes with age; metabolism slows down and caloric requirement decreases. Energy output also drops as compared to younger people. However, completely losing your appetite is not a good sign. It may indicate an underlying problem like poor dentition, difficulty swallowing or a thyroid problem. Weighing oneself on a regular basis can help keep track of optimal weight count and monitor weight loss.

Myth #2: Seniors have a slower metabolism and thus require fewer nutrients

While seniors require fewer calories, and their food volume is lesser than younger adults, they too require a healthy amount of nutrients. As we age, physical activity tends to decrease therefore our body's ability to absorb nutrients also decrease. This entitles a senior to more nutrient consumption. It is recommended for a senior to increase their consumption of vitamins such as vitamin D and B12 and calcium, through natural sources or supplements recommended by their physician.

Myth #3: Seniors who are not overweight can consume sugar, salt & fat in large amounts.

People who appear thin but have good eating capacities and enjoy burgers, sweets and other fatty food items tend to be looked at as healthy. However, the underlying truth is that they too are at risk of developing heart disease and diabetes due to improper sugar consumption, cholesterol problems and so on. Seniors who are on the slighter thinner frame should nevertheless adopt a well-balanced diet and healthy eating option to keep health risks at bay. Here are 8 symptoms in old age that warrant attention.

Myth #4: It is ok for a senior person to skip meals

Skipping meals cause a person to overeat during the next meal. Blood sugar levels drop often causing dizziness. It is recommended that even if you are not hungry, eating small portions will suffice, especially for seniors. Those who eat 5-6 small meals will have reduced chest congestion, breathing problems and insulin levels will be moderate. Skipping meals will make the body crave food at odd hours which is unhealthy. Here are 7 reasons you should not skip meals (EVER!)

Myth #5: As long as you eat, you are healthy

Elders, living alone usually find it difficult and tiresome to cook meals; this makes them opt for readymade food options or tend to snack on packaged food. These types of food include high amounts of salts, added preservatives, sugar, etc. which are not a healthy option, resulting in major health risks.

Myth #6: Artificial supplements are a must as we grow old

It is a common misconception among people that as we grow old, we need to take multivitamin and calcium supplements. It may unnecessarily lead to problems like constipation, diarrhoea and even malnutrition. Relying too heavily on artificial supplements for your nutrition is not good. It should be taken only if advised by your doctor, along with a balanced healthy diet.

Myth #7: It is ok to avoid food because of constipation or bloating

A very dangerous myth. It is not only the quantity but also the quality of food that matters with our toilet habits. It is very important to consume foods that are rich in fibre if suffering from constipation or bloating, rather than take over the counter medications or decrease the food intake. Read about 10 conditions that ail the elderly.

Ensuring that you watch what you eat, will ensure your health being in a good condition too. And most importantly, it is better to seek the help of your doctor, if suffering from loss of appetite or weight loss or weight gain and get timely medical attention. As rightly said, Prevention is better than cure .

Image Source: Shutterstock

Published:Mon, September 18, 2017 12:14pm

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Old age Healthy living Geriatrics
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