Nutrition and Older Adults

As we age our lifestyle and appetite can change, affecting the types and amounts of food we eat. It’s important to continue to choose nutritious foods and enjoy eating as part of healthy social interaction.

A decreased appetite or reduced ability to purchase and prepare balanced meals can contribute to older people becoming deficient in essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, which can result in general unwellness or worsen chronic illnesses. Health issues may also make it difficult to eat or enjoy certain foods.

How much do older adults need to eat?

Throughout life, men generally require more energy than women. This is because men tend to be larger and have a greater percentage of muscle mass. The amount of energy required each day is dependent on age, height and activity level. Though, as we age our activity level and metabolism tends to decrease and energy (kilojoules/calories) subsequently needs to decrease. This usually means a loss in muscle mass follows. Lean muscle mass uses up a lot of the energy we consume, so the less lean muscle we have, the less energy we burn.

Even though total energy decreases, the need for certain nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water) remains roughly the same, if not increases. For example, our need for calcium increases as we age to optimise bone and teeth strength, so extra serves of dairy foods (milk, yoghurt and cheese) are recommended. Other good sources of calcium include tinned salmon, sardines, almonds, tahini and leafy greens like spinach, kale and bok choy.

The below table from ‘The Australian Guideline to Healthy Eating’ outlines the recommended daily number of serves from the 5 core food groups for older adults.

Protein and maintaining muscle mass as we age

Muscle mass can start to decrease by the time people reach their 40s. It is therefore important to stay active and consume adequate dietary protein. For Older Adults the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend to consume between 1 – 1.5 grams protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Nutreat Pro40 can support protein intake by providing 16 grams of protein per serve.

Nutreat Pro40 can simply be added to a range of foods or beverages (including breakfast cereals, tea/coffee, smoothies, baked goods, soups and pasta sauces) to support nutritional intake for older adults.