Updated: Jun 19
Picture: My lovely grandpa & I (probably sick of me poking him haha)
He's one of the most important people in my life. He’s 89 this year and is the most kind-hearted, strong (mind & body), gentle & loving people you’ll ever meet! I try to see him every week for coffee or just for a chat or to have a catch up of some kind because he's a very important person to me.
I’ve had a big history working in aged care, as soon as I left school I jumped into working in a nursing home & moved around in different areas such as community aged care and more. Eventually, down the track I want to incorporate nutritional medicine and aged care.
But for now, here are a few nutrition and lifestyle tips that you can use, or you can pass on to your grandparents that will benefit the ageing process.
Please note that this advice is generalized advice only. It does NOT consider any supplemental/medical regime a person may be on. Through food, the doses of nutrients/minerals/antioxidants shouldn’t reaching therapeutic doses to contraindicate medications/supplements however, if passing on this information please make sure the person is aware of possible contraindications e.g. Warfarin & Vitamin K (from dark leafy greens).
5 TIPS FOR THE ELDERLY!
1. VITAMIN D is your friend!
Head out into the sunlight for 20 minutes each day. Do not sit behind glass and make sure your skin is exposed, keep your face covered or protected. If fair skinned, avoid high UV times, such as the hottest times of the day.
Exposure to sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis within your body. Vitamin D levels need to be adequate leading up to winter to ensure a person doesn’t fall into deficiency. Many Australian’s, especially the elderly do not meet these requirements due to lack of support or ability and lack of knowledge of the importance.
Deficiency may lead to increased susceptibility of: depression & other mental health conditions, poor or altered immunity and other autoimmune diseases (the elderly are already considered to be in the immuno-compromised category, this factor could just exacerbate it), bone and muscle disease or disorders, diabetes & other health issues.
TIP: Vitamin D levels can be tested through a blood test. Optimal vitamin D levels (especially leading into winter) should sit at 100nmol/L.
2. OTHER IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS:
Calcium to maintain/improve bone density. As well as magnesium, silicon, boron, copper, zinc and manganese for collagen stabilization. *Phytochemicals including lycopene & polyphenols found in olives & prunes.
Iron to maintain blood function
Protein to maintain muscle tissue, growth & development
Zinc is a co-factor to over 300 enzymes & proteins and plays a role as an antioxidant. Male needs are higher than women
Omega-3 fatty-acids to reduce inflammation, swelling, blood clotting, assist cholesterol carrier function and assist with healthy cell function and protection
B Vitamins (especially 6,9,12) cognitive function, memory, sleep, metabolism & digestive function, inflammatory conditions and much more!
3. FIBRE, PRE & PROBIOTICS
A healthy gut, a healthy mind. I’m a huge believer of this! Seratonin, your FEEEELLLL GOOOOOD neurotransmitter, is predominantly produced by cells in the digestive tract. Seratonin levels decrease as we age so optimising your gut health will not only assist digestion, absorption & excretion, but will also optimise your serotonin levels.
How to get these in your diet? EASY!
Prebiotic- rich foods: Fresh fruit and vegetables including leafy greens and green vegetables, legumes & beans, tomatoes, bananas, garlic, flaxseeds, oats, wholegrains (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, millet). *If you struggle with digesting certain foods: soaked/activated/slow cooked/ stewed/ steamed for slightly longer and blended are better options.
Probiotic- rich foods: full-fat natural or greek yoghurt (cow, sheep, goats), natural coconut yoghurts enriched with probiotic strains, tempeh, kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut & pickles (unfortunately not the sweetened pickles).
4. REDUCE PROCESSED & PACKAGED FOOD
They are generally high fat (not the good kind) or high processed carbohydrate foods. The type of fats commonly seen in packaged biscuits, cakes, confectionary, pies, pastries and “easy” supermarket/store-bought items contain high amounts of Omega-6’s. When the ratio of Omega-6’s are higher than Omega-3’s, inflammation occurs. Inflammation can be the breading ground for illness and disease or exacerbate illness or disease.
Choose: full-fat yoghurt and milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, opt for items that contain wholegrain flours, ground nuts and seeds, fresh cold-pressed olive oil drizzled on salads or vegetables, cold-pressed coconut oil. Avoid high sugar items, gain natural sweetness from fresh or stewed fruits (not straight fruit juices), raw honey, coconut nectar or coconut sugar.
5. WATER IS your friend! Yes you may need to visit the bathroom more often & it does take more effort than it used to, but water is vital for your cells!
Water is so important for many vital functions in the body. It keeps your cells hydrated, helps to flush your digestive system, assisting to push impurities, toxins and waste through your digestive tract and will prevent or assist constipation, which can commonly occur in the elderly due to the slowing of bodily functions. Water also helps to flush your kidneys and will assist to prevent urinary tract infections. You may not feel thirsty as often as you age however even when your body needs fluid, however it is just as important as ever to keep hydrated!
Water should come from water! Sounds simple but I know how this goes- NO! Tea and coffee are not water, soft drink is not water, mineral water is not water, and milk is not water! Yes, these drinks contain water content but you will not reap the benefits if you don’t drink water! PLUS you’ll actually be going to the toilet more with most of these drinks due to the diuretic and/or laxative effects they may have on your system.
TIP: You do need salt (sodium) in your body in order for the cells to absorb water. Salt is best when it comes from a pure, natural source- Sea salt (because it still contains the iodine- should be a grey/dirty white appearance) or pink Himalayan rock salt. It’s a no go to SAXA table salt sorry!
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP IN AGEING
Please read on
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE
You may be reading thinking I have no idea what I’m talking about because clearly I’m 25 and am not in the older-adult category yet. But what I mean by this is:
We’re all going to get old one day… So whether you’re reading this and YOU are old(er), or you’re reading this to pass on some helpful information to your elders. I want to get you thinking:
How big is your support network? Reach out, to your family and remind them that you’re there. If your family has been selfish enough to “forget” about you for a couple of weeks, let them know you’re there!! Yes life gets busy and your life may not be as jam-packed as theirs but surround yourself with loved ones, it will benefit them & you! If you don’t have family close by, get researching for: community events, bus trips, adventures, walks (if you’re still able), stimulate yourself! There are SO many services around and even if it’s only one day a week. That’s one less day you have gone not speaking to a single person!
For everyone who has an older someone! I’ve seen it to often in the community; the elderly seem to think they’re a huge burden, I’ve looked after clients who have literally NO ONE come to visit, except for me the WHOLE YEAR!
But how would you like it if someone FORGOT about you…
I promise you, you can bring SO much happiness to an elderly person by giving them a smile, saying hello, spending 5 minutes- 1 hour- 5 hours with them, giving them a hug, MAKING time, giving YOUR time! Listen to their stories and ask them questions because I guarantee you, theirs are much better than ours. Don’t let your grandpa or grandma feel alone. Their hearts are huge… (well of course because they’ve had all those years to grow them! haha) So appreciate all the love they have to give!
Picture: 3 years ago