The digestive system is a hard-working, well-oiled machine. It’s designed to convert all the food you eat into energy, absorbing essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. As we age, this biological system tends to slow down and may take longer to send a message to the brain that it is time to eat and drink again. This leaves you eating and drinking less than you used to. It’s potentially not providing your body with the right amount of nutrients it needs.There are a couple of ways to make sure a loss of appetite doesn’t lead to serious dietary issues. Issues could include weight loss and malnutrition. One would be to entice your sense of appetite with a meal or snack you really enjoy, triggering your hunger. Another would be to stick to a schedule, and prepare meals when you know you usually feel hungry. Many older people can’t eat a lot. Try small amounts of healthy foods at the right times will ensure you still receive the right nutrition.
As the digestive system slows down, and the body doesn’t get the right amount of food and liquids needed to keep things moving, irregularity can become a problem. Generally, this issue arises due to a lack of fibre and water. It’s also affected by irregular exercise and can make you feel both nauseous and bloated. Inevitably your appetite becomes suppressed.Fortunately, this is an issue that is both easy to prevent as well as treat. To ensure your body gets enough fibre, the eat well nutrition service advises eating wholewheat breads, high fibre cereals and at least two pieces of fruit a day. Fluid intake can also be easy to forget, especially if you’ve recently retired and you’re no longer following a rigid schedule. Set reminders to drink water not only at meal times but also in between. Lastly, get your body moving. Regular exercise improves the digestive system, and 30 minutes a day is the recommendation.
A dietary change that many aren’t aware of, is the change in your sense of taste. Taste buds are known to diminish as we age, and our reception of aromatic and flavourful meals becomes less effective. Inevitably our lust for food is not as it once was. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Approximately 25% of adults over age 65 have a reduced ability to detect one or more of the four basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty and bitter) at threshold concentrations due to a reduction in the number and function of the tongue’s taste papillae.”While this may not be something we welcome, it does give us the chance to have some fun with our food and everyday cooking. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to ramp up the amount of salt in your meals. Salt should use it sparingly or not at all for health reasons. Consider it a good reason to test out greater quantities of herbs and spices. Think citrus, ginger and even stronger curry powders to test out in your upcoming dishes. Try out new recipes and make the experience a new challenge.While the ’60s might come with new nutritional needs, don’t fear them. Instead, embrace them. With this new phase in your life, your body changes. Welcome the change and respect what your body requires and it will thank you in return.
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