Life expectancy in the UK has been on the rise for the last 200 years, with at least 16% of the population aged above 65 years. It is also worth noting that the highest percentage of seniors in this age group are 85 years and above. Unfortunately, most seniors do not lead a healthy lifestyle; a factor that impacts their quality of life and health significantly. This is due to a popular misconception that most people seem to believe. Some of these are myths and do not have any basis at all. Here are some of the beliefs about ageing and healthy eating that a live in care agency decided to look into.
Ageing brings about several changes in our bodies and how we perceive food. Many are of the belief that ageing prevents us from accessing nutritious and healthy diet, and that it reduces our need/desire to eat good food. This makes most people eat less than they should. Regular physical activity and proper nutrition play a huge role in protecting our bodies from health conditions related to ageing such as cognitive decline and cardiovascular diseases. It also helps preserve dental, oral, bone, and joint health.
Top 10 Myths About Healthy Diet and Ageing
- Your stomach size reduces as you age
This is far from the truth. The size of the stomach doesn’t shrink as we age. Only eating habits, how much you eat, and appetite may change over time.
- You should eat less food as you age
This, again, is a myth. You don’t need to eat less food as you get older. Although metabolism tends to slow down a bit as we age, this doesn’t mean you should eat less food. Enjoying a hearty meal of good food is what fuels and protects our body cells. This plays a huge role in ageing gracefully.
- It’s good to lose weight
Many of us have grown believing weight loss is the key to a healthy body. This is however not entirely the case for seniors. Unless advised otherwise by your doctor or dietician, unintentional weight loss and dieting should be avoided.
- Only eat when you feel the need to
The natural ageing process may affect how the brain responds to hunger hormones. Significant loss of appetite isn’t however ‘normal’ and could be a sign of a health issue.
- It would be best if you focused on a low-fat diet
Despite being the popular opinion for younger generations, this isn’t particularly recommended for older people. Essential fats play a crucial role in providing calories for seniors, one of the reasons older people should eat more food.
- You need to eat more vegetables
A portion of nutrient-dense food is recommended for all. Vegetables alone won’t provide you with all the essential nutrients (carbohydrates, fluids, vitamins, and proteins) needed for a healthy body. Proteins are particularly crucial for they help strengthen the immune system, muscles, the brain, and other body organs.
- Drink water only when thirsty
Dehydration affects the normal functioning of the kidneys and the brain, a reason you should drink plenty of water through the day.
- Dietary supplements are enough
Seniors too should be allowed to enjoy good food just like anyone else. While you cannot live off meal supplements alone, only real food will provide you with all nutrients in their full spectrum. Food enjoyed in the company of friends and family is more enjoyable than supplements.
- You should eat three meals every day
While three meals are recommended for all, you don’t necessarily have to eat all these meals at one go. If struggling with appetite, you should then consider having smaller servings of the same, but frequently. Well-portioned snacks are recommended in such instances.
- Malnutrition means you are getting older
While anyone can suffer from malnutrition, seniors are at a higher risk as compared to younger individuals. You should, therefore, watch out for signs of starvation to get ahead of it.
Such myths are the reason most people struggle through their senior life, and live alone. Ensuring these individuals have access to healthy and nutritious food is recommended.