Life expectancy in the UK has doubled over the past 200 years, and about 16% of the total population is over 65 years old. The older age group has seen even higher population growth among those who are 85 years old and over.
Those extra years being added onto our lifespans, unfortunately, aren’t necessarily healthy, and that has had a detrimental impact on older people’s quality of life.
- As we are ageing, the physical changes that occur to our bodies can affect how we feel and think about food. Those changes may prevent us from being able to access a healthy diet and also make us think we are not as hungry, which can result in eating less food. If you have a private carer they can help ensure you that you eat well, finding private live in care jobs are essential for helping with this.
- Regular physical activity and good nutrition help to protect many age-related conditions which include cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease and may also help to protect joint and bone health, as well as dental and oral health during the later years of life.
Here are 10 myths about eating a healthy diet and ageing that need to be dispelled.
1) As You Grow Older Your Stomach Gets Smaller
One common myth about ageing is your stomach grows smaller, and this results in you needing to eat less food. Although capacity to eat and appetite might change, the size of your stomach doesn’t shrink as you grow older.
2) Older People Need to Consume Less Food.
People often mistakenly think that as energy requirements go down, food intake needs to be reduced as well. That isn’t true. As we age our metabolism might slow down, but eating healthy food fuels and protects our bides, and is key for ageing well.
3) It is Healthy to Lose Weight
We may believe all throughout life that it is healthy to lose weight, but as we grow older that isn’t the case. Instead, in later years, unintentional weight loss and dieting should be avoided unless advised by a dietician or GP.
4) You Should Only Eat Whenever You Feel Hungry
The ageing process sometimes affects the normal triggers that let us know whether we are full or hungry. Loss of appetite isn’t normal and might be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
5) A Low-Fat Diet is Necessary
A low-fat diet, contrary to popular belief, isn’t always the best method, especially for older individuals. Some fats are an important calorie source and some older individuals might need to eat more of them in order to maintain a healthy level of weight.
6) Consume More Vegetables
For any diet, nutrient-rich vegetables are absolutely essential but need to be consumed as part of an overall balanced diet which includes fluids, carbohydrates, and protein. As we age, protein is most important, since it protects our brain, body organs, immune system, and muscles.
7) You Only Have to Drink Water Whenever You Are Thirsty
When you are feeling thirsty, there is a good chance that your body is letting you know it is low on hydration. When you are dehydrated it can negatively impact normal kidney function and cause confusion.
8) Meal Supplements are Enough
Our bodies are unable to live off of just vitamins and meal supplements. Some supplements may interact with certain medications and there are others that don’t really work as claimed. Also, meal supplements eliminate the chance to enjoy food with friends and family.
9) You Need to Eat 3 Meals Per Day at All Times
Eating on a regular basis is essential to staying well and healthy but it can be a struggle to eat three satisfying meals per day if you don’t have a good appetite. If it is too challenging to eat three good-sized meals, then consuming five or six snacks or smaller meals is also acceptable.
10) Malnutrition is a Sign of Growing Older
Malnutrition is something that can affect anybody no matter what their age is and isn’t a normal part of the ageing process. Malnutrition may occur in any size body, small or large, but elderly people are especially at risk. Malnutrition warning signs should not be dismissed as being something normal.
With so many different things to consider, it isn’t surprising that many elderly people who live alone struggle with keeping their diets healthy.