Why Malnutrition is a Growing Problem for the Ageing Population

Health and wellness have become a huge focus for many young people throughout the world, but there is one group of people whose needs aren’t being recognised. For the ageing population, both malnutrition and over-nutrition are key areas of concern. This is largely due to the fact that as we grow older and our bodies change, it’s often harder to change or acknowledge the need for change.

Today we look at why health is a major concern for the ageing population and how it can be improved with a few simple lifestyle changes.

What is over-nourished but malnourished?

Over-nutrition is a term used to describe the frequent overconsumption of food where it affects health and becomes dangerous and compounding health problems. Generally, people are over-nourished on fats and carbohydrates.
Malnutrition refers to the chronic depletion or undereating of particular food and nutrients. This can have a detrimental effect on health due to the low availability of food and its role in propagating disease. People that are malnourished can also be a result of problems associated with the absorption of food in the gut.

What causes both over-nutrition and malnutrition in ageing people?

Chronic illness and changes in body compositions contribute largely to the decline in health that many ageing people experience. Changes in muscle tone, function and gastric juices all contribute to the way food is absorbed and utilised in the body. If we don’t adapt our diet and lifestyle to accommodate for these changes, our bodies might not absorb the necessary nutrients it needs to thrive.

This is why it’s important for ageing people to seek professional nutritional advice, ensuring they stay on track and continue to thrive in their ‘golden years’. An experienced dietitian will be able to formulate a personalised plan that allows ageing people to eat and live in a way that works for their bodies and needs.

With all this in mind, however, there are a few things we can do as we age to ensure we feel our best.

Healthy tips for the ageing population

  1. Make an effort to eat a balanced diet that covers all the necessary food groups, in particularly dairy and meat protein. Limit the amount of oil, sugar and salt in your meals. These additions are fine in moderation, however it’s ideal to keep them to a minimum as they can easily add up.
  2. Make sure you’re drinking enough water! 2 litres of water each day is necessary to ensure you are adequately hydrated, allowing your body to rid itself of any digestive end-products and promotes a healthy digestive system.
  3. Ensure you are being physically active. This can be difficult if you are living with chronic pain, illness or disability, but even something as simple as a daily walk or swim can be beneficial to our ageing bodies. Ideally, you should incorporate different types of varied activities into your lifestyle, ensuring that you are promoting cardiovascular and muscular health.
  4. Eat foods that contain enough fibre. As we age, dietary fibre becomes more important than ever in promoting healthy bowel movements and minimising the risk of constipation. Foods that are high in fibre are wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
  5. To minimise the risk of bone breaks and fractures, make sure you are getting enough calcium. This can be from milk, yogurt and soy products.
  6. As we age, we can easily develop iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies. To counteract this, it’s important to enhance your intake of these nutrients by eating iron-rich food such as red meats, spinach, nuts/seeds and lentils. Vitamin B12 can be found in milk, meat and poultry, however a daily supplement can also be taken if needed.

For more diet and lifestyle related tips, browse our website! We have advice from industry professionals that helps you live a healthy, happy life at any age!

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