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The right nutrition in old age: That's how it works.

Each of us develops individual eating habits in the course of our lives. This begins in early childhood and continues when we make our first discoveries as schoolchildren or adolescents and cultivate corresponding preferences. Later, as adults, we usually have very concrete ideas about what we prefer to eat when and how it should be prepared.

At this point you are welcome to go inside yourself. What is your favourite food that you would not want to do without? Is it the Sunday roast with potatoes and sauce or the piece of cream cake once a week in your regular café? Perhaps it is also the good food at your favourite Italian restaurant that you enjoy while drinking a glass of red wine with your friends?

As long as your diet does not lead to more than slight overweight, you are already doing a lot right. Then you probably don't have to fear an increased risk of diet-related diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2, gout, the vascular disease atherosclerosis or high blood pressure with consequences for the heart and circulation. If you feel good and hopefully healthy, you can treat yourself to these little pleasures.

Nevertheless, there is a catch: People age and change over the years. This aging process takes place both physically and psychologicallymore for some of us and less for others. In other words, what was right about our living and eating habits 20, 10 or 5 years ago is no longer necessarily optimal today.

Think differently about eating.

Healthy nutrition in old age should therefore look different. In the ideal case it promotes your health and the aging process can be stopped to a certain extent. We therefore recommend a varied, complete and needs-based diet in addition to sufficient mental and physical activities. The main reason is that everyone is different and your digestion, your muscles, your metabolism or even your bones and joints may be subject to individual signs of old age at this point in time, which of course we cannot know.

What exactly does it mean to meet your needs? Our metabolism determines how many calories we burn per day. Now that we may have reached the middle of our lifetime where women are often tormented by the menopause and also men can have their midlife-troubles our hormones and our metabolism are no longer as active as before. And they'll never be again.

On the one hand, fewer hormones produce fewer enzymes such as digestive enzymes. The intestinal mucosa changes as a result and our digestive system can no longer break down our food so well into its components and transport them into every cell. Our organism therefore receives less vital and health-promoting nutrients, vitamins and minerals – possibly too little to cover our needs.

Proteins and calcium, for example, will no longer reach our muscles and bones as before. We reduce muscle mass and bone density. The risk of osteoporosis increases!

On the other hand, we burn fewer calories with reduced metabolism-activity. Our daily energy requirement is lower because our basal metabolic rate decreases. With unchanged eating habits, this means that we gain body weight.

Demand-oriented therefore means: We need less energy density in old age and more nutrient-dense food instead. Only then do we have the chance to compensate for the poorer processing of food and nutrients, to avoid overweight and not to get into a nutrient deficiency with the risk of immunodeficiency, nutrition-related illnesses or possibly even malnutrition.

Take the steps towards a rich and conscious diet.

  1. The more varied your diet, the better. In this way you protect yourself from one-sided nutrition and ensure the greatest possible variety of nutrients.

  2. Choose regional products that have been freshly harvested and have no long transport route behind them. It still contains most of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

  3. Include enough vegetables and fruit in your diet. Up to 5 servings a day are ideal! This will ensure that you have enough dietary fibre that satisfies you well and stimulates intestinal function, but also slows down the rise in blood sugar.
    Calcium from kohlrabi and broccoli and vitamin D from mushrooms, for example, protect you from bone loss. And of course we have some recipes, you can try out.

  4. Find out which particularly high-calorie foods you habitually consume. This gives you the chance to replace or at least reduce the energy-rich ones. For example: replace cream cake with fruit cake and hold the cream, substitute pork with lean poultry or very fatty with low-fat cheese. Here's a list, which food can substitute the high-calorie ones.

  5. Natural foods have priority because they are richer in nutrients. For example, replace a refined oil with a cold-pressed one.

  6. A gentle cooking process preserves the nutrients. That is why cooking at lower temperatures is better. You might like "Sous Vide" cooking in a vacuum bag. This is a slow cooking process in a water bath at just these lower temperatures, which gets the most out of food and spices in terms of taste. Have a look at, how to prepare food gently.

  7. Avoid excessive food intake. Instead, eat smaller portions slowly and with pleasure. Then you will perceive the saturation point better and your organism will not be overstrained.

  8. Drink plenty of water, unsweetened tea or other low-calorie drinks. If all nutrients and especially the essential ones are to reach every cell in your body, your fluid balance must be right.

    Thumb value: 30 ml per kilogram body weight, for example 75 kg x 30 ml = 2,250 ml liquid daily.

Finally the most importa
nt thing.

This all sounds nice and simple and can be implemented immediately. But don't do everything at once. It is better to get used to new eating habits step by step with small goals, because these definitely need time. After all, you have not accustomed yourself to your previous preferences overnight. The chances for a sustainable implementation and corresponding successes for your health are greater if you proceed slowly and patiently.

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Editorial office for nutrition: sv