Recent research shows that by the year 2050, the global population of adults aged 60 and over will be more than double from roughly 841 million to 2 billion.
This becomes 21% of the world’s population.
Moreover, the elderly population is living longer: the number of people aged 80 and over is expected to triple in just over 30 years.
It is known that aging is a big risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some types of cancer.
All of these diseases have high costs of diagnosis, treatment, and care.
These means older people may not only face health problems, but also have financial burdens.
In a recent study, researchers explore the role nutrition in promoting healthy aging and in improving prognoses in age-related diseases.
The authors also examined today’s health care systems, looking for ways that they could better meet the nutrition needs of aging populations around the world.
They suggest that many chronic diseases is not a normal function of aging, but rather a consequence of unhealthy behaviors.
The World Health Organization shows the major risk factors for chronic disease includes smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet.
When these risk factors are controlled, the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type2 diabetes can decrease by 80%.
While the link between healthy eating and healthy aging is clear, it can be hard for old people to get adequate nutrition.
For example, many old people experience changes in taste and smell, loss of appetite, dental and chewing problems, as well as limitations in access to high-quality fresh food.
This is bad because older people need more essential nutrients, despite lower overall energy needs, due to inefficiencies in nutrient absorption and utilization.
In particular, several studies have found key nutrients that most older adults do not get enough of in their diets.
This includes protein, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, carotenoids, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B-6 , B-12 , D, and E.
One the other hand, older adults need less of certain other nutrients such as iron. Children and young adults often don’t get enough iron.
Iron, however, accumulates in the body with age, and a high intake of iron among older adults has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease.
As a result, the authors suggest that an integrated health system could help old people have high-quality nutrition care.
The authors also call for the incorporation of a “nutrition physical” or screening into the yearly physical examination of older adults.
This can set the stage for developing nutrition interventions for healthy aging.
The study is published in the Advances in Nutrition,
Source: American Society of Nutrition.
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