Food for elders: 10 tips older adults must follow for a healthy living

All food that is served to an elderly person should create such a balance that the body chemistry is predominantly alkaline to keep them healthy. 
old woman eating
Make sure your elders eat right! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Bhavani Swaminathan Published: 26 Jun 2022, 13:00 pm IST
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Our health entirely depends on the chemical environment existing in and around our bodies, both internally and externally. Especially, as people age, what they eat plays an important role in creating a better internal chemical environment for them. For them, cooked food means it’s palatable and digestible. More so, food for elderly persons becomes more or less like a medicine when herbs and spices are used in the right proportions to enhance the nutritional value of  the food they eat. It not only satisfies all their taste buds, but also helps them to maintain physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony.

What is suitable body chemistry?

As per a study by National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and National Institute of Health (NIH),  metabolic acidosis promotes muscle wasting. So, diets rich in net acid–producing protein and cereal grains contribute to a reduction in lean tissue mass in an elderly person as compared to alkali–producing fruit and vegetables.

bone health in elders
The right food and exercise can keep bones stronger. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

That means an alkaline body chemistry is an important key to good health and a long life. With age, our body chemistry becomes more acidic and the wear and tear mechanism becomes stronger and happens faster. If an elderly person is introduced to more alkaline foods or foods whose post digestive actions are alkaline, in their diets, they can remain healthy and live long lives.

Foods incompatible for an elderly person

Certain foods are good for health when consumed alone, but when taken in combination with other foods, they generate harmful chemicals in the body. For instance, honey should never be taken with ghee or radish. Yoghurt should not be taken with foods that are hot in temperature. It should also not be mixed with milk, bananas (except when balancing spices are used), or tea. Follow these tips to know more:

  1. It is not advisable to use milk with oil, salt, vinegar, green squash, radishes, bananas, lemons, oranges, plums, candy, sesame and yoghurt.
  2. Milk mixed with water should not be used with ghee. Buttermilk should never be mixed with bananas.
  3. Avoid the following:
    * Vinegar and sesame seeds
    * Honeydew melon with honey, yoghurt or water
    * Cucumber with water
    * Rice with vinegar
    * Meat with sesame, milk cheese, vinegar or honey
    * Hot foods should not be taken immediately after cold food and vice versa. Avoid having cold drinks after having tea, cucumber, cantaloupe.

Also, read: It’s never too late begin! Here’s why exercise is a must for older adults

Older people may be more susceptible to health problems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Things an elderly person must follow for a healthy living

  1. Food should be eaten only in a relaxed state.
  2. Eat only freshly cooked food.
  3. Eat only when hungry and after a sufficient gap from the last meal for digestion. Generally, it is good to avoid eating until six hours after the previous meal. Avoid in-between meal snacks especially junk, oil fried foods.
  4. Sipping a small amount of water during a meal helps assimilation and digestion. Water dilutes digestive juices and acids, which help digestion. One should avoid having water, an hour before eating and about half an hour after eating.
  5. Eating food should neither be too fast or too slow.
  6. Food should be thoroughly masticated so as to form a paste in the mouth. In this way, the high quality digestive juices in the saliva are transferred to the food. This enhances the process of digestion since assimilation begins in the mouth, not the stomach. It also helps people having inflammatory issues with the stomach/intestines.
  7. Eat only once or twice as desired. Have a light morning meal and, if possible, a main meal before sunset.
  8. Resting after lunch and walking after dinner is helpful.
  9. Fruit, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, sprouts are ideal for breakfast or brunch.
  10. One quarter of the stomach should be filled with grains and cereals, pulses, legumes, nuts and seeds, one quarter with fruits and raw foods, one quarter with water. The rest should be left empty to allow free passage of body gases.

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About the Author

Dr Bhavani Swaminathan, Nutrition and Wellness Coach at GetSetUp ...Read More

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