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Why is having the best diet crucial for the elderly?

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Elderly couple preparing food
We know that getting the right nutrition is crucial at any age. But what is the right diet for the elderly? We take a look in our latest blog.

Although a good diet is important at any age, as you get older your nutritional needs change and it is crucial to ensure you adapt your diet in order to meet these needs. Getting the best diet for the elderly is beneficial for everything, including improving or maintaining cognitive function, good bone health and a healthy digestive system.

So, what is the best diet made up of?

*Editor’s Note* While every effort is made to ensure this blog contains accurate information, please consult your GP before making any dietary changes and speak to them if you have any concerns about your health.

Fibre

According to the NHS, eating plenty of fibre can be linked with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Government guidelines published in July 2015 say our dietary fibre intake should increase to 30g a day, as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Most adults are eating roughly half of that, meaning we all need to find ways to increase the fibre in our diets.

There are several easy ways to incorporate fibre into our diets – you can find them in our blog on fibre.

Calcium

As we get older, our bones naturally weaken making us more susceptible to broken bones and joint issues. One of the most important things we can do to combat this is to make sure we are getting enough calcium in our diets. The most well-known sources of calcium come from dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, but did you know that tinned fish with bones – such as sardines and salmon- are also a great source? You can find some of our top calcium-rich meals here.

Vitamin D & magnesium

Like calcium, vitamin D and magnesium are also essential for good bone health. Vitamin D is also found in the seafood mentioned above. Vitamin D is produced in the body from sunlight, so you may benefit from a top-up from your diet in the winter. Magnesium can be obtained from nuts, green leafy vegetables, peas and beans, porridge oats, and even dark chocolate!

Vitamin B12

As noted in the UK Care Guides’ ‘Nutrition for the Elderly’, vitamin B12 deficiency can be a big problem for people over 60 as the body’s ability to process vitamin B12 from proteins decreases with age, which can cause issues with the nervous system. As well as seafood and lean meat, it is possible to get cereal fortified with vitamin B12 to give you an extra boost.

Potassium

Getting the right amount of potassium in your diet can help lower and control high blood pressure. The recommended amount of potassium is 4700mg a day. You can get potassium from sources such as dried apricots, bananas and some fish. You can find a comprehensive guide to getting enough potassium on the heart.org website

Where can I find more information on eating well?

We know it can be a minefield of information, so we’ve got some resources on the right diet for the elderly that are helpful to have a look through:

Age UK Healthy Eating Guide

NHS Advice