Diets

Seniors: what diet to stay healthy?

Age causes a gradual decrease in olfactory and taste functions, and the elderly sometimes complain of being less attracted to certain foods and of having a poor appetite. The feeling of satiety is reached more quickly. The loss of autonomy, which does not allow you to go shopping yourself or prepare your meals, and loneliness probably have an impact on the pleasure of eating and on the attitude towards food.

Malnutrition, a major risk

Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to eat less. Dietary needs do not decrease with age. On the contrary. The use of nutrients by the body being less good, it is necessary to eat as much, if not more, in case of increased physical activity.

Malnutrition is a risk that is more prevalent in the elderly. A good diet is therefore essential to maintain tone and vitality; Malnutrition leads to a lower resistance to infections and a loss of muscle mass which can hamper mobility in the more or less long term.

To maintain your appetite and give a little “spice” to foods that seem bland, use herbs and spices. Pepper, thyme, rosemary, basil, mint, garlic… make it possible to prepare dishes in a different way by giving them an incomparable flavor. Product quality can also be a response to the gradual reduction in taste. The offer of artisanal or natural products makes it possible to return to tastier foods. The important thing is that you retain the pleasure of eating.

The rules of a good balanced diet for a senior

Eat three meals a day. Care must be taken to maintain a rhythm of three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing prevents you, if you are a little peckish at snack time, from eating a piece of fruit, a yogurt, a piece of cheese or a biscuit…

5 fruits and vegetables a day. Raw, frozen, canned or fresh… it doesn’t matter. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and provide you with the minerals and vitamins you need.

Starches at every meal. Bread, potatoes, lentils, rice, pasta, chickpeas… provide energy and quickly lead to a feeling of satiety. Vary the pleasures, but consume it with each meal as desired. Starches are not fattening by themselves. It all depends on how you prepare them. Fries or sautéed potatoes, pasta with cream and bacon bits necessarily increase caloric intake.

Meat, fish and eggs, 1 or 2 times a day. They contain essential proteins to preserve muscle mass, which physiologically decreases with age. Consume red meat, white meat and poultry alternately. Eat fish (in court-bouillon, en papillote, etc.) at least twice a week. Fatty fish (herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, etc.) contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to health.

3 or 4 dairy products a day. Essential for combating osteoporosis (decreased bone mass) and the risk of fractures. Whether semi-skimmed or whole, milk provides as much calcium, it is the amount of fat that changes. The more a cheese is soft, the less it is rich in fat, but also in calcium. The harder it is, the richer it is in calcium… and fat. It’s up to you to measure the pieces. Prefer home-made dessert creams and flans that are less sweet than store-bought ones.

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Vitamins, minerals and trace elements, essential nutrients with age

Selenium : fights oxidative stress, the main accelerator of ageing. It is found in dairy products, meats, seafood, whole grains…

Vitamin C : recognized for its immune function. It is found in fresh fruits, green vegetables, salads, potatoes…

Vitamin E : a specific antioxidant vitamin that protects neurons from aging. It is found in fats.

Vitamin D : prevents the loss of bone density, it is essential for the fixation of calcium by the bone. It is found in egg yolk, butter, mushrooms, sardines, salmon, tuna… But food does not provide enough of it, and its synthesis under the effect of sunlight is less efficient. with age. We are therefore often led to supplement.

B vitamins such as folate (B9) (but also other B vitamins) : play a role in the quality of memory, combat fatigue, irritability. Folate is found in dried beans, green vegetables, salads, bread, lentils…

Should I take dietary supplements?

A structured diet does not require the use of vitamin or mineral capsules. No dietary supplement can provide all the benefits of a fruit or vegetable soup. Anyway, if you want to consume it, talk to your doctor and do not exceed the recommended daily allowances (RDA) (1). Calcium and vitamin D supplements, on medical prescription, are often necessary.

Dietary balance in seniors: example of a distribution over the day

For breakfast :

– 1 drink (tea, coffee with or without milk);
– 1 dairy product (1 yoghurt);
– 1 fruit (1 orange);
– 1 cereal product (bread);
– 1 fat (butter);
– 1 sweet product (jam).

– 1 hot drink;
– 1 cereal product (1 slice of gingerbread, a little butter, etc.).

– 1 to 2 vegetables (soup and lamb’s lettuce);
– 1 meat, fish or egg (canned sardines);
– 1 dairy product (1 piece of Comté);
– 1 cereal product (bread);
– 1 fruit (1 pear);
– 1 fat (oil).

Tips for drinking 1.5 liters a day

Breakfast : 1 large bowl of coffee with milk and a glass of orange juice.

Morning : 1 glass of water.

Lunch : 2 or 3 glasses of water.

To taste : 1 cup of milk tea or chocolate.

Having dinner : 1 bowl or plate of soup and 2 glasses of water.

Evening : 1 cup of herbal tea.

Learn more about the subject

– “Recommended nutritional intakes by type of population”, (National Food Safety Agency).

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