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Nutritional tips for senior citizens

Apart from other factors, diet also plays an important role in the fight against premature aging. This means that a healthy lifestyle and appropriate nutrition slow down the aging process and can thus increase not only life expectancy but also the quality of life in old age.

The body changes as we get older. These changes are noticeable. Energy requirements are reduced. But although overall consumption is lower, the need for protein, vitamins and minerals remains constant. Since people also become less active when they get older, either because they retire from work and/or because they suffer from health problems, it becomes especially important to pay attention to the energy concentration of the foods eaten (maximum nutritional value with minimum calorie intake).

Calcium requirements can be covered through milk and milk products. This is important in order to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin C requirements can be covered by eating fresh fruit and vegetables. The need for fats and carbohydrates sinks as we grow older. It’s important for older people to avoid eating fats containing cholesterol in order to ensure that lipid metabolic disorders cannot develop. Steaming and braising without fat are both suitable cooking methods.

Go easy on foods containing sugar. Many older people have a tendency to develop adult-onset diabetes. Dietary fibre should also be treated with circumspection. Although it is healthy, older people can often only consume small quantities. The digestive processes frequently slow down as we get older, which can cause constipation. Furthermore the production of gastric acid is often reduced, which can also lead to a reduce vitamin intake. Drinking is important for physical and mental vitality. Because older people often don’t feel thirsty, it is important to deliberately make sure you drink enough (1.5 l daily). As for younger adults, suitable drinks include mineral water, fruit juices diluted with water, and herbal and fruit teas.


Unfortunately our senses of taste and smell are also reduced. This means that we may lose our pleasure in eating. This deficit should be compensated for with herbs and spices rather than the addition of extra salt. It is all the more important that meals are served attractively. The surroundings and the atmosphere in which food is consumed are also important. Eating alone is no fun and spoils the appetite.

There are other reasons why people eat less as they grow older: low income, difficulties with shopping and preparing food and difficulties handling cutlery and chewing the food.

Five or six small meals throughout the day are ideal; the afternoon snack (coffee or teatime) and the evening meal should be especially easy to digest. The food should be planned to suit the requirements and preferences of the older person. A daily walk in the fresh air will not only ensure (some) physical exercise and the production of vitamin D from the sunlight, but also lifts your mood.