What are the nutritional needs of the elderly?
Everyone, no matter what their age, needs to eat a balanced diet consisting of a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate. But as your tastes change and your calorie requirements diminish it can become tricky to find the right balance. It is a good idea to know what you should be eating so you can ensure that your homecare services are offering you a varied and nutritious diet.
How much energy?
Although your calorie requirement naturally diminishes a bigger effect on it is if you lose your mobility. For an adult between 65 and 75 who is moderately active the calorie requirements are 2342kCal for men and 1912kCal for women which is not much different for adults in the 75+ category who are advised to eat 2294kCal for men and 1840kCal for women.
If you are not mobile then it is essential that you eat fewer than this recommendation and you should make sure that your live in care assistant isn’t offering you portions that are too big!
How much carbohydrate?
Carbohydrate is where your body gets most of its fuel from and the bulk of your diet (around 50%) should consist of carbs. Sugary carbohydrates are burnt quickly and can lead to blood sugar problems so are best limited to around 5% of your daily calorie intake.
Good carbohydrate sources are wholemeal bread, wholegrain rice and pasta.
How much protein?
Around 15% of your dietary calories should come from protein sources. For most people the bulk of their protein will come from animal sources – meat and dairy products – although lentils, beans and seafood are good sources of protein as well. Make sure you choose protein rich foods that are also low in fat – trim the excess off bacon and pork and choose lean cuts of beef.
How much fat?
Unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor or nutritionists around 35% of your calories should come from fat. Fat is a very concentrated source of energy, so this is not actually all that much in practice. Fat is essential to allow your body to obtain certain nutrients called “fatty acids” that it can’t otherwise digest.
Good fats – such as olive oil and the fat in avocado, nuts and seeds – should be where the bulk of y our fat intake comes from. Limit animal fats such as cream, butter and fatty cuts of meat to special occasions.
In the UK it is hard for anyone to get enough vitamin D naturally, but your body finds it even harder as your skin ages. Vitamin D is essential for bone health so it is important to ensure you take a daily vitamin supplement including at least 10microgrammes. Oily fish and fortified breakfast cereals are also a good source of dietary vitamin D.