Nutrition: Vital in the Elderly

General Health
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Applying the Art of Good Eating

Establishing an optimal nutritional state in middle age and old age is essential. It contributes to maintaining better health and a fuller life during these stages through a balanced, healthy, and varied diet.

The main guidelines for achieving this were presented by Meztli Arreola, a nutritionist from DIF, as part of the activities program to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the SUAM (University System for the Elderly) at the University of Guadalajara, CUC in Vallarta. A diverse group of baby boomers showed their interest in adjusting or improving their nutrition.

Geriatric nutrition becomes a priority, involving the assessment of daily food consumption and making relevant adjustments or changes. This is a field that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been adapting to modern times.

In addition, regular practices of yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and, especially, strength exercises with dumbbells, resistance bands, or weights are highly beneficial, depending on an individual's physical condition and requirements.

The combination of these two aspects contributes to reducing and preventing risks and avoiding diseases such as sarcopenia, which is muscle loss, or obesity, when fat starts to define one's figure, with little muscle and excessive fat, to name just a few.

Hence, proper intake of carbohydrates, fats or lipids, and proteins is vital. Weight, age, physiological, mental, and emotional conditions are factors that a geriatric nutrition professional must evaluate.

The recommended food circle consists of three main groups, although there are a total of five. Color-coded, green represents fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, preferably seasonal and locally produced. Yellow encompasses grains and cereals, which provide carbohydrate energy. Orange stands for legumes. Red represents protein, whether animal or plant-based. Finally, brown represents healthy oils and fats. And, of course, water consumption is included as a crucial factor.

In general terms, it is advisable to follow the 3x4 rule. This means including four food groups in the three main meals, with half the plate dedicated to vegetables and fruits, a quarter to protein-rich foods, and the remaining quarter to grains/legumes/starches.

Considering protein consumption as the bricks that provide support, structure, and health to the home that is our body is an action to be implemented in all three meals.

Of course, the ideal formula should be personalized, taking into consideration the individual requirements for the preservation of cognitive function, the prevention of premature aging, and the promotion of a healthy and active old age.