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Malnutrition and Good Nutrition in the Elderly

Malnutrition and good nutrition in the elderly

Good nutrition is about getting the right nutrients, in the right format at the right time.

As you read this as you can probably think of someone who is not eating well, has lost their appetite and is looking smaller than they used to. Weight loss is an obvious sign at any age that someone is not getting the calories or nutrients they need to maintain weight.

However, some people struggling with malnutrition may not be so obvious. Some people are a standard weight or overweight, and still malnourished. Calories found in sugary and fatty food may, obviously, stop you from losing weight but don’t keep you healthy. Signs of malnutrition can be physical, such as dry skin and hair, brittle nails, or sores around the mouth. They can also be psychological, including increased irritability and depression. Worsening night vision and joint pain are signs of a lack of vitamins and minerals, which is also connected to malnutrition. Many symptoms of malnutrition can be incorrectly interpreted as signs of ageing.

An inadequate diet can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult to absorb medication. Wound healing is hindered – which, combined with the frail muscle and bones often found in the malnourished, can make it difficult to recover from even minor accidents. 

Malnutrition is a real issue in the UK. It is estimated that around one in ten people over the age of 65 are malnourished or are at risk of malnutrition – that’s over one million older people in the UK today. 

So GOOD nutrition is so important as you get older, but something that has been so neglected.

Which Nutrients are Important for the Elderly and where are they found?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These fatty acids are important for people of all ages including elderly people as they help prevent inflammation which can cause cancer, rheumatoid, arthritis, and heart disease. 

It has also been found to slow down the progression of Macular Degeneration. Recent evidence has also shown that these fatty acids can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keep the brain alert. 

 We all know oily fish is full of wonderful Omega 3. Mackerel, sardines, salmon….and if budget allows oysters and caviar! However, walnuts, flaxseeds, soya beans and chia seeds are also great sources of it too. This is why Grandbars are packed full of walnuts and flaxseeds.

Calcium

Calcium helps our bodies build and maintain healthy bones. It has also been known to lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, surveys have shown that as we grow older we consume less calcium. 

So where do we find calcium? The obvious answer is dairy produce including whey protein. However other great foods also provide calcium….seeds, oily fish, pulses, some fruit and nuts. Of all nuts, almonds are among the highest in calcium. Grandbars are created with almond butter, seeds and chocolate for their calcium content.

Fibre

As we get older, our digestive system slows down. The walls of the gastrointestinal tract thicken and the contractions are slower and fewer which may lead to constipation. We all know what we should eat to increase our fibre….eat wholemeal carbohydrates, leafy vegetables and fruit. However, when someone has a low appetite…filling them with bread and pasta is not a good idea. Some of the best sources of fibre for seniors are oats, popcorn, quinoa, almonds, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate. So Grandbars contain oats, almonds and some flavours are high in dark chocolate.

Iron

Iron plays a vital role in the body. It produces hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is found in all meats, leafy vegetables and legumes. While none of these are in Grandbars, dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and apricots are also great sources of iron and all our bars contain prunes and apricots.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which are believed to prevent cancer and heart disease. It is also involved in the production of collagen, which gives your skin elasticity and gets rid of dead skin cells giving you healthy skin. It also helps repair bones and teeth and aids in healing wounds. 

A lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, which is growing in the older generation. As we know citrus fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C, but too much cause diarrhoea. Other sources include leafy vegetables, potatoes and peppers. Our Chocolate and Orange Grandbars are a source of vitamin C, but we are developing new flavours to incorporate strawberries and blackberries that also pack a vitamin C punch!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium in the body, slowing down the rate at which bones lose it. It aids in the maintenance of bone density; therefore, preventing osteoporosis. 

Vitamin D is a tricky one as the body naturally creates it from direct sunlight. The elderly venture outside less than the young so they need to get it from somewhere else. A few foods are good sources of vitamin D – oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks as well as orange and bananas. Dried bananas are put in Grandbars to add vitamin D, although we advise other sources are also eaten.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining nerve function, production of red blood cells, and DNA. It is one of the vitamins found in meat, eggs and shellfish…..cooked clams and steamed mussels being the most concentrated sources! Other sources are spinach, mushrooms potatoes and beetroot, as well as apples, bananas, blueberries and oranges. As stated previously, dried banana is in every bar, plus Apple and Cinnamon, Grandbars are stuffed to the gills with dried apples!

Potassium

Potassium aids in cell function reduces blood pressure and lowers your chances of kidney stones. It is also believed to strengthen bones. I suspect most people know that bananas are pretty much the ‘go to’ for a potassium boost, but there are other ways you can increase potassium .…avocados, pulses and potatoes plus some more surprising ones: watermelon, tomato paste and coconut water. You will find magnificent dried banana as an ingredient in all Grandbars.

Magnesium

Magnesium plays a crucial role in 300 physiological functions. It keeps your heart healthy, your immune system, and your bones strong. As you grow older, your body’s ability to absorb magnesium decreases. 

There are lots of magnesium-rich everyday foods you can eat. Here is a list of those highest in order from high to low:

ALL our Grandbars have hempseed oil, flax seeds, almond butter and dried bananas, as well as some being covered in dark chocolate!

I hope all this goes to prove that here GrandbarSnacks Ltd we have chosen the ingredients very carefully. We have researched elderly nutrition extensively and, as a result, have come up with small snacks that are highly nutritious as well as being delicious and easy to eat!

If you have found this helpful, you can check read our other blogs here: ttps://grandbarsnacks.com/blogs/

Future blogs will include how to be creative when making delicious food with great nutritional value without overwhelming the eyes, mind and stomach of someone with a low appetite. If you would like to receive them directly to your inbox sign up here

Sources:

www.malnutritiontaskforce.org.uk

www.medicalnewstoday.com

www.healthline.com

www.nhs.uk

www.starhealth.in

www.myfooddata.com

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Malnutrition and good nutrition in the elderly

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Signs of malnutrition are not always weight loss, they can be physical, such as dry skin and hair, brittle nails, or sores around the mouth. They can also be psychological, including increased irritability and depression.

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