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Nutrition and the Elderly
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 • Posted July 3, 2014

There are several nutritional components we should look at as we get older. As we age, our body has a more difficult time either digesting or absorbing nutrients or both. There are several nutritional needs for almost every elderly person. By knowing what to look for and how to fix it, this will help almost any elderly person live a much healthier and happier life.

You are not what you eat, you are what you absorb: Technically any nutrient isn’t in our body until it is absorbed in our small intestine. As we get older, our body makes less of something called intrinsic factor. Our bodies need this in order to absorb vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential for brain, nervous system and blood formation. If B12 is low on blood work, taking either B12 under the tongue (sublingual) or injectable B12 will help this as it will bypass the digestive system and the need for the intrinsic factor for absorption. If there is any indigestion or acid reflux, they could benefit from digestive enzymes to help them make sure all of the food is being broken down and digested correctly.

Protein: Over time our hormones fall to lower levels, therefore, we might have a higher percentage of fat versus protein on our bodies. This can also be a result of chronic inflammation due to various stresses in the body (poor diet, stressful living conditions, etc). By having high quality proteins (organic eggs, wild fish, grass fed beef, etc ) we can aid in making sure the body is getting enough protein. How much? It depends on our stress level: mild stress is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, moderate stress increases the need to 1.2 and high stress increases the demand to 1.5. If chewing or digestion is an issue, a high quality grass fed whey protein powder that is easy to absorb can be very helpful.

Water: Drink fresh pure water. I know it might sound too simple but most people either don’t drink enough water or are doing too many dietary wrongs that cause increased excretion (excess coffee intake and/or alcohol, diuretics, etc). Also many medications can cause dehydration or dry mouth. Drink a minimum of 8 8 oz. glasses of water per day.

Fats: There are benefits to both omega 3 and appropriate omega 6 fatty acids. Remember, it’s all about balance. Eat plenty of Omega 3 foods such as wild salmon, sardines, flax seeds, walnuts and halibut. Oils rich in Omega 6 are black currant seed oil, borage oil and foods such as avocado, pasture raised chicken and eggs. The current ideal ratio of omega 3 to 6 around 2.1.

Any questions on the above nutritional information please contact me. Any questions let me know!

You can contact Dr. Scott Jurica, MS, DC, PAK, AC, at his website, www.drscottjurica.com, or at his office, 830-833-0889.

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