There is a common saying ‘Even stone could be digested when you’re young’. This saying is commonly used to mock at youngsters who would say a particular food item is not conducive for digestion. But it is not applicable to the aged.
Even an easily digestible food item could create havoc in the stomach for the aged ones. That too, when someone has crossed 60 years it is better to exercise caution in the choice of food. We enquired about the kind of foods that the aged should consume to Dr Natarajan, a geriatrist by profession.
“Once aged appetite will come down and taste too. But quality of food should not come down. Even the quantity of food can come down but the food should be rich with nutrients and healthy.
Protein rich foods
Body weight will be lesser among the aged as there is decrease in protein their body. Therefore they should consume protein rich foods. Gram varieties contain more proteins and hence they should be compulsorily consumed by them. Protein rich food strengthens the body. Mushroom is very rich in protein. Similarly, soya and egg white are also rich in protein. They should be consumed at least twice in a week.
Calcium rich foods
Calcium is very much essential for the aged. Therefore they should compulsorily consume calcium rich foods like, milk, curd, greens and fishes.
Wheat and cereals
Consuming rice three times a day may lead to overweight, leading to some health complications. Hence it is recommended not to take more rice based foods on a daily basis. Instead they can consume wheat and other cereals.
Cereals and millets contain more calcium and fiber and therefore strengthen the bones.
Constipation can be avoided by taking in foods having high fiber contents. It will also help in reducing cholesterol in the body and also in controlling glucose levels.
Water is highly essential
Adequate water should be consumed daily. They should be cautious in avoiding dehydration of the body due to low intake of water.
Unlike youngsters whose body will be able to signal the need for water naturally by way of feeling thirsty, the feeling of thirst will be reduced among the aged. Hence it is not that only when there is a feeling of thirst that one should drink water. Instead aged ones should drink at least 1-3 liters of water daily. Only those who suffer from cardiac and kidney diseases should seek the advice of their doctor in regard to the quantity of water to be consumed in a day.
To strengthen immunity
Aged ones should compulsorily eat fruits daily and that too while the stomach is empty. There is no use if fruits are consumed after having the food. It’s better to have fruits either in the morning or evening.
Disease resistance will come down among the aged. In order to enhance immunity to diseases it is recommended to consume oranges, amla, lemon and other citrus fruits. The rich content of vitamin C in these fruits will provide considerable immunity against diseases. Besides, ginger, garlic, curd, bitter gourd and almonds also provide immunity to fight against diseases.
To prevent constipation
Regular intake of fiber rich vegetables likes, bitter gourd, snake gourd, cauliflower, coriander and dry chilies will help preventing constipation.
Prevention of memory loss
One can avoid loss of memory and enhance memory by taking in dry grapes, strawberries, sprouted wheat, yellow yolk of eggs, banana, onion, cinnamon and vallarai (Brahmi) leaves regularly.
Therefore, the food habits prescribed above are followed strictly, the aged ones will be able to protect themselves from many diseases and also continue to live healthy and long.
(This article originally written in Tamil by R Senthilkumar has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)