Nutrition

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Introduction

Despite the major advances in science and continuous increase in our average lifespan, the aging process entails a series of physiological changes that cannot be avoided. This includes reduced functionality and capabilities of the organism, resulting in changes in body composition, such as decreased levels of water content, muscle and bone mass, as well as increased body fat. As for the digestive system, the major modifications that occur in the elderly are: decreased (hypogeusia) or even the disappearance (ageusia) of the sense of taste and smell, due to the reduced functionality of the taste buds and increased difficulty to discern flavors. This causes the elderly to find food less tasteful and appealing. In order to improve its taste, they or their caretakers add salt, fats, sugars or flavorings. This in turn decreases the ingestion of nutrients and energy, which causes several health problems. The defects in chewing due to alterations in the dental pieces as a consequence of aging or to the use of pro640px-Tasty_Food_Abundance_in_Healthy_Europesthetic teeth also play an important part in the alteration of flavors and reducing the intake of solid foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables.

Consequently, the elderly present a diminished digestive capacity, which includes the production of insufficient saliva, as well as decreased levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach (hypochloridia or achloridia) which in turn hampers food digestion. Furthermore, intestinal alterations are present, reducing peristaltism that in turn increases the tendency for constipation, exacerbated by the fact that their diets are poor in fiber (which is present in raw vegetables, especially leafy ones, and fruits). The generally excessive use of medications that alter the sense of taste as well as the assimilation of certain nutrients also condition the nutritional state of the elderly.

Aging is a very individually-specific process, each person reaching old age in a different state of health. The morphological, physiological, psychological, functional and social aspects evolve differently in the transition from adult to elderly. Thus, the idea of these advises is not only to inform of the possible problems related to the aging process, but also to adopt healthy eating habits in order to live this stage of life in a healthier and more comfortable manner. These strategies include an adequate and varied diet (with the necessary energy content, and assuring the intake of both macro and micronutrients) that is adapted to the individual, while taking in account the vital role that the sense of taste and smell play in the process of acceptance, motivation and interest for food. The objective, which the current studies corroborate, is to improve the quality of life through nutrition in order to reach the last years of our life as best as possible. SEARCHING TO GIVE MORE LIFE TO THE YEARS INSTEAD OF MORE YEARS TO LIFE.Elderly_exercise

Links to:

Alzheimer´s Disease

Cardiovascular Disease

Drug-Nutrient Interaction

Dysphagia

Macronutrients

Micronutrients

Obesity

Physical Activity

 Type II Diabetes