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Nutritional Needs Of Aging

People, who receive adequate nutrition, live longer healthier lives with enhanced youthful vitality. Common health concerns associated with aging are reinforced through a poor diet. Our nutritional needs change as we grow older. Even though we may feel younger than we are, our nutrient requirement is not the same as when we were twenty five. With age, nutrient absorption becomes more difficult.


The quality of life experienced in our advanced years will be greatly influenced by the quality of our food intake. A well balanced diet, ear marked for age appropriate requirements will keep a person limber, energized and best of all, independent.

Medications and dental problems interfere with digestion, absorption and appetite. The addition of digestive enzymes with meals will increase nutrient assimilation and prevent or decrease gastrointestinal upsets. The foods most needed are often avoided because they are too hard to chew or difficult to prepare. Monotonous diets pose a threat usually consisting of not enough variety and processed or easily prepared meals.

Nutrients found in plants are natures wonder foods. Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; together they slow the aging process. Antioxidants play a major role in our health maintenance and cancer prevention. As we age, we require more of them to protect our cells from free radial damage, enhance our liver performance, and reduce the risk of cataracts and coronary heart disease.


Supplements should complement a balanced diet. Some of the plant chemicals found in berries, seeds, grape skins and pine bark for instance are powerful scavengers of free radicals. Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E, C, alpha lipoic acid, selenium and grape seed have numerous benefits contributing to strong bones, dental health, blood sugar, fighting infections, strengthening the immune system and a variety of protective functions.

Eating healthy is more important than taking supplements. However, a year long double blind controlled study of nutritional supplementation of vitamins and minerals, has shown to produce significant improvements in immune response. The effects of a test on elderly persons produced half as many infectious days, quicker recovery time from illness and higher antibody response to the influenza vaccine. Consider quality when purchasing supplements for highest nutrient absorption.


Protein in the diet typically decreases with advancing age. A study conducted by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tuffs University found, �that people over 55 need between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of body weight every day � 1/3 more protein than nutritionists usually recommended.� Building muscle mass requires protein and exercise critical for skeletal support. It is also used by the body to build and repair tissue. Best sources include lean meats, firm white fish, eggs, dairy, yogurt, whey, whole grains, legumes, (peas, beans, tofu and temph).

Hawthorn is the finest tonic herb for the cardiovascular system, providing effective treatment in many heart conditions. As a preventative, hawthorn is frequently recommended in older patients especially if there is evidence of heart weakness.


The elements silicon, organic sodium, and iodine are often deficient in the North American diet. Silicon is found in the outer hulls, peelings and husks of foods. A diet high in refined foods will be low or missing this element along with vitamins B and E. Silicon which is stored in the hair, skin and nails, heals the nerve sheath and holds calcium in the bones. This magnetic element benefits tinnitus, osteoporosis and skin disorders.

Organic sodium, not table salt related, keeps calcium in solution. The highest sources are whey, fruits, (not citrus) and vegetables. This element is used by our stomachs, ligaments, joints and connective tissue preventing cataracts and osteoarthritis.

Iodine is an essential element found mainly in sea vegetables such as algae, kelp and dulse or may be purchased in liquid drops. Today, soil quality is very low in necessary chemical elements hence the need for supplementation. Iodine is taken up by the breasts, bones, stomach and necessary to make the thyroid hormones. Metabolism, energy level, intellect and growth are primarily affected by this trace mineral.


Essential fatty acids, also referred to as �healing fats� are a great addition to any diet. EFA�s lowers triglycerides and protects the good cholesterol (HDL). Deficiency of these fats can cause liver dysfunction, kidney problems, skin disorders, dry eyes, poor wound healing, decreased brain function, inflammation and problems in the cells and organs of the body. Omega 3�s and 6�s are abundant in flax seed oil, fish oils, krill, hemp, borage, walnut, pumpkin and wheat germ oils.


Over use of laxatives are detrimental to ones health causing the colon to become lazy; eventually unable to eliminate without their help. Fiber is necessary to move feces along the intestinal tract. Supplementing with ground flax seeds will add nourishment as well as increase motility. Yellow and orange colored foods are naturally laxative in nature. Bran is a course, hard fiber not suitable for everyone. Increasing fruits, vegetables, water, whole grains and legumes while decreasing meat, cheese, processed and refined foods will promote a natural rhythm.

To further enhance gut health and boost the immune system consume plain yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk on a regular basis. The probiotics found in these foods aids digestion, lowers yeast and fungus, increases peristalsis, and protects against food borne illnesses.


The key to successful aging has not as much to do with our genes as it does with our diet, lifestyle, mental attitudes, exercise and the amount of joy in our life.

Submitted by:

Michelle Honda PhD

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Michelle Honda is Holistic Doctor (natural and preventative medicine) in private practice at Renew You Holistic Health in Ancaster Ontario Canada. She holds a Ph.D. D.Sc. in holistic health sciences, holds an advanced nutrition degree, is a Master Herbalist and an IIPA Certified Iridologist. She is available via telephone for private consultations. For more details visit http://www.healingmyfamily.com or http://www.renewyou.ca or call the clinic at 1-905-304-0111. Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved. Reprints are acceptable ONLY if the entire article remains intact, including the author resource box!


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