Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 21, 2017

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"Age-old" eating habits

Are the elderly in your life and practice eating right? Here are four things to watch for to help you find out.

Sarcopenia

Many seniors suffer from a reduction in muscle mass. We know that protein is an important nutrient and that seniors need slightly more of it (1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of their body weight; younger adults need 0.8 grams per kilo). Other nutrients are also important. Vitamin D maintains muscle strength and helps prevent falls. Vitamin D levels should be assessed and foods with high quantities of it, like milk, eggs (especially the yolks) and fatty fish, should be in the diet. A dietary pattern high in meat and grains, and low in vegetables and fruits may have an adverse effect on the muscles. Vitamin B12 and folic acid are also needed to maintain muscle strength.1

Cognitive decline

A new study from Tufts University showed that seniors who completed the Mini-Mental State Examination scored better when they had higher blood levels of vitamin B12. This vitamin often goes unnoticed because it’s easily confused with folic acid, which is added to many foods seniors eat. Foods seniors should be eating to get their B12 are meat, chicken, fish and dairy products.2

Constipation

Seniors who are consuming a typical Western diet or a diet high in sweets are most likely not meeting their requirements for fibre. Apparently, adding as little as eight grams of soluble fibre daily to the diet could help resolve constipation issues. Adding exercise and water, however, may not play a significant role in resolving constipation. They’re excellent health behaviours to encourage as they have many benefits, but alleviating constipation is apparently not one of them.3

High-blood pressure

According to an observational study, seniors who ate lots of sweets, desserts and sweetened beverages also had high blood pressure.4 This may be due to sodium that’s often hidden in baked goods.

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