Nutritional Needs of Older Adults
Older adults have unique nutritional needs and may need to make changes to their diets as the years go by. Muscle mass can decrease as a natural part of ageing, and people do not burn calories at the same rate as they do during their younger years.
Targeting nutrient-dense foods is essential for older adults, and avoidance of high-calorie foods that lack vital nutrients is crucial.
Beneficial foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, legumes, and low-fat dairy. Portion control may also be necessary — for older adults especially — as people may eat more food than they need.
It can be challenging to cook for a smaller family, so experts sometimes suggest cooking ahead and freezing portions to eat later when cooking is less appealing.
The particulars of this latest study seem to mirror the nutritional needs of older adults. However, the authors suggest that the addition of more protein may be the key to avoiding some of the unhealthful pitfalls that can take place when an older adult loses weight. The study released in February 2019 shows that a high-protein, low-calorie diet helps older adults with obesity lose more weight, maintain more muscle mass, improve bone quality and lose bad fat.
Geriatricians have long struggled with how to recommend safe weight loss for
seniors,because dropping pounds can lead to muscle and bone loss.
This study aimed to quantify the risk of doing nothing by comparing results from a weight loss group vs. a weight stability group. The researchers decided not to include exercise, because many older adults are unlikely to perform the volume and intensity of exercise needed to preserve muscle and bone. Here's what the researchers found:
· Participants lost about 18 pounds, most of it fat (87 percent), and preserved muscle mass. The control group lost about half a pound.
· Even when participants lost weight, they maintained bone mass. In fact, the trabecular bone score, a measure of bone quality that predicts fracture risk, seemed to improve.
· Fat was lost in the stomach, hips, thighs and rear, which is important for preventing or controlling cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes and stroke.
· Participants' score on the Healthy Aging Index, which measures biomarkers that predict mortality and longevity, improved by 0.75 points.
· In this study, the researchers had the weight-loss group follow a high-protein, nutritionally complete, a reduced-calorie meal plan that included the use of four meal replacements, two meals of lean protein and vegetables prepared by the participants, and one healthy snack. The researcher said that any high-protein, a nutritious low-calorie meal plan would likely work.
· The weight-stability group attended health education classes and were encouraged to maintain their baseline diet and normal activity.
Doctors hesitate to recommend weight loss for fear that losing muscle and bone could cause mobility issues or increase the risk of injury," said the principal investigator of this study. "This study suggests that a diet high in protein and low in calories can give seniors the health benefits of weight loss while keeping the muscle and bone they need for better quality of life as they age."