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Posted on April 13th, 2014, by

INTRODUCTION

 

Aging is a set of changes that occur in body as a result of the time factor. Accumulation and summation of these changes throughout life leads to irreversible changes in the life support systems and the body as a whole. In old age, the body’s need for nutrients significantly changes. The calorie intake is reduced, and the need for vitamins and minerals is the same as before and even is increased. This is explained by the changes that occur in the human body. With age, muscle and bone masses require a relatively large amount of calories to maintain their functioning: around 210 calories per 10 kg. In turn, fat mass requires only one-quarter (or less) of this amount.

In addition, it is possible to add that the food for old people should be varied, easily digestible and biologically valuable, but in comparison with the food of young people it must be less energy intensive. It should contain a sufficient amount of proteins, vitamins and salts, especially calcium, potassium and iron, trace elements, as well as plenty of fluids.

 

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

 

The nutrient and energy needs of the elderly do not differ considerably from those of young adults. However, the nutrients can significantly vary depending on the individuals’ functional status, as well as their health. Recently Risonar et al. studied the intakes of older person and came to the conclusion that older persons have special health needs and nutritional requirements arising from long-standing dietary habits, a lifetime of different disease encounters and changes in body structure and metabolism (2). The basic energy and nutrient requirements needed for the elderly are as follows: proteins, fats, carbohydrates and other vitamins.

There is no doubt that the debates concerning protein needs for the elderly still exist. Taking into consideration Lin’s research, it is possible to conclude that decreased efficiency of digestion and absorption associated with aging suggests that an increase in dietary protein is necessary (36).

Thus, proteins play an important role among the above-mentioned nutrients that go into the construction of the cells and tissues involved in the formation of enzymes, hormones, and promote the absorption of other nutrients. Proteins are made of amino acids, and thus they cannot be found in fats or carbohydrates. Fats are the basic energy materials that are much more caloric than proteins and carbohydrates.

However, in order to grease the energy released in the body, you need adequate amounts of carbohydrates and oxygen. Fats, involved in the metabolism, are a part of cells. They are very useful nutrients that improve the taste of food and increase the feeling of satiety. Carbohydrates, as well as fats, are the energetic materials. They are necessary for the normal functioning of the central nervous system, heart, and liver. Vitamins are actively involved in metabolism. They are essential for the digestion, growth and repair of cells and tissues. Most of them are not synthesized in the body; a person receives them with the products of plant and animal origin. Vitamins are particularly important for older people, and have a normalizing effect on the state of the vascular and nervous systems, as well as vitamins involved in the reactions associated with the reduced development of sclerotic process.

Furthermore, the elderly require energy needs in their diet. However, the energy requirement of the body in old age is reduced due to the decrease of the intensity of metabolism and physical activity. Since low levels of physical activity and unchanged levels of energy absorption typically accompany older age lower energy intakes are required to prevent obesity (World Health Organization 54).

Thus, those are the basic energy and nutrient requirements needed for the elderly. Examining this issue we can see that the energy and nutrient needs of the elderly are commonly similar to those of younger adults.

 

DISCUSSION

 

The older people’s health largely depends on the correct and balanced nutrition. Any living organism continuously spends its constituent substances necessary for continuous updating of cells, tissues and organs. Therefore, the old people have a need for energy and nutrient requirements (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals).  Additionally, in old age, a diet is particularly important to prevent the weakening of the secretory and enzymatic function of digestive glands associated with aging. The main principles of the diet of older people should be a balanced diet and an exclusion of overeating.

Thus, a balanced diet is a compliance with the three basic principles, such as:

  • Balance between the energy from food and the energy consumed during the life of a man, that is, an energy balance;
  • Maintaining a balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals;
  • Compliance with the diet: it is advisable to eat at least 4-5 times a day, do not overeat at night.

In conclusion, it is possible to add that the food for old people should be diverse, digestible and biologically valuable. It should consist of a sufficient amount of proteins, vitamins, salts and trace elements, including calcium, potassium and iron.

 

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