Should we alter our eating habits as we age?
Guest post by Mia Johnson
As we age, our bodies change in some unpredictable ways. Nowhere is this more apparent than our digestive systems. Some of these changes make eating certain types of food difficult. Older folk need to be prepared to adapt their diet to their body’s changing needs. If you’re unsure of how to get your diet on track, these are some of the most important things to watch out for.
1. Senses get numb
Our sense of smell and taste are very well connected. If you’ve ever pinched your nose while tasting something, you’ve probably realized that most of the taste simply disappears. This is because smell has an enormous influence on your taste sensation.
As we get older, our sense of smell starts deteriorating. It doesn’t start off strong in childhood, either. This is why children can’t appreciate all kinds of different tasty foods. The peak of functionality for smell happens around people’s late teens, and then it starts falling off. Once you reach a certain age, it starts significantly affecting your sense of taste.
It’s not that you’re used to the same old food, it fundamentally changes how you taste it. Everything is bland and boring and spices don’t have the same effect as they used to. This is something you can remedy by going overboard with the spices. The only exception would be salt. Adding a little too much salt can cause some major health issues and it’s not recommended. Everything else is fair game.
2. Digestion gets complicated
There has been a lot of talk about intestinal bacteria and their importance. It seems that they’re a lot more essential to our health than we previously thought. The gut flora of our digestive system helps break down food and allows our intestines to absorb it more efficiently.
As people get older, their gut flora starts weakening and this has many side effects. Some of the metabolites that bacteria create are essential for our body’s systems, which means a decrease in bacterial activity could cause problems. Not to mention, bad gut flora makes digestion less efficient, which can affect bowel movements and cause discomfort.
Any food which negatively affects gut flora should be avoided. Probiotic food like yogurt is strongly recommended for everyone, but there should be some extra emphasis for the elderly.
3. Separating good fats from bad ones
There’s a common misconception of fats being bad for your health. They’re a very important part of everyday nutrition. However, it’s important to create a distinction between healthy and unhealthy fats.
Saturated fats are the kind that most people should try to avoid. They serve very little purpose and are mostly seen as an energy resource. Monosaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are the ones you should be aiming for. They are less likely to cause heart disease and they help our body fight against infections and diseases.
4. Teeth need more attention
Dental issues are the most easily recognizable side-effects of aging. Teeth aren’t exactly durable compared to most of our other bones. You get one set and they last you your whole life. After decades of use, they tend to break down and deteriorate. Dental issues often cause difficulty when chewing food, which can significantly decrease how well the food is digested. They also make eating uncomfortable and most people would rather skip out on certain foods rather than go through the pain of trying to chew them.
It’s important for us to watch out for our dental health as we grow older. Going in for regular check-ups becomes increasingly important as you get older. Finding affordable dental care isn’t all that difficult nowadays, so there’s no excuse to miss your dentist’s appointment. Taking care of your teeth will allow you to eat any food you please without having to worry about pain or discomfort.
5. Fibre should play a bigger part
As you already know, digestion gets a bit more chaotic as you age. The digestive system isn’t as well equipped for digesting food as it used to be and this leads to problems. Sometimes it’s in the form of constipation while other times it might be diarrhea.
A great way to improve digestion and bowel movements would be to introduce some extra fibre to your diet. People often neglect their fibre intake and this has negative effects on their digestive systems and their bowel movements. Older folks are especially vulnerable to these types of digestive problems, which is why it’s especially important that they consume more fibre in their diet.
Older folk can expect to see lots of changes when it comes to their body’s reaction to food. To avoid digestive problems, people need to adapt their diet as they get older. It’s a very important part of countering the negative effects of aging. With the right dietary adjustments, you can continue eating normal food without encountering too many problems.
About the Author
Mia Johnson is a writer with a ten-year-long career in journalism. She has written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle. A native to Melbourne, she now lives in Sydney with her 3 dogs where she spends her days writing and taking care of her 900 square feet garden.
Nice article! When it comes to nutrition, I think the winning combination for almost anyone is 80-90% whole, nutrient-dense foods, and 10-20% foods that are delicious and that you crave. Also, I think we should all educate ourselves about nutrition and then try various approaches to see what suits us best. And this is a continuous learning process as what suits us best is changing as we age. 🙂