Balanced food for adults

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Anupama Nair


I had written about balanced food needed for new born, children and teenagers, now as an adult male and female, you must take care of your diet. Adults generally complain of time crunch and with inactive lifestyle, it becomes even more difficult to follow a strict diet. Adults need to use salt in moderation as high intake of salt might lead to high blood pressure and should avoid preserved foods such as pickles or papads and also canned foods as it contributes to higher intake of salt. An adult female should take a diet which is rich in calcium  like milk and dairy products, as well as iron  like green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli etc. Limit use of saturated fats and trans fats such as ghee, butter, cheese, vanaspati ghee and add more fibrous food in diet in the form of whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

A healthy adult needs:

  • Fruits, vegetables, legumes like lentils, beans, nuts and whole grains like unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice.
  • At least 400 grams (5 portions) of fruits and vegetables a day. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables.
  • Unsaturated fats found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola and olive oils are preferable to saturated fats found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard. Industrial trans fats found in processed food, fast food, snack food, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, margarines and spreads are not a part of a healthy diet.
  • Less than 5 g of salt equivalent to approximately 1 teaspoon per day and use iodized salt.

Diet for Elderly People:

An Individual above the age  of 60 years and above are the elderly .The diet for elderly people should include nutrient rich foods to enable them to be fit and active. Senior citizens need more of vitamins and minerals to be healthy and active. The changes in the body composition changes with the advancing age and all these changes affect nutritional needs of the elderly.  Elderly or aged people require lower amount of calories as their lean muscle mass and physical activity decreases with ageing.  Elderly need more calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and anti-oxidants to prevent age-related degenerative diseases and for healthy ageing. It is very essential to maintain your health as ageing process starts and it increases the life expectancy. It is very important for elderly people to exercise as it helps to regulate body weight and flexibility in the joints. The risk of degenerative diseases also considerably decreases with regular exercise session.  

Elders generally complain of loss of appetite or sometimes difficulty in chewing. A soft diet should be given to elders, with inclusion of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Calcium rich foods like dairy products and green leafy vegetables should be included in the daily diet to maintain bone health, so as to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Eat pulses, toned milk, egg-white etc. in good quantities as they are rich in proteins. Elderly people should cut down on their saturated fats, sweets, oily food, salt and sugar level. Use of ghee, oil, butter should be completely avoided. Avoid eating spicy food.

The diet for elderly people needs to be well cooked, soft and should be less salty and spicy. Ensure to eat small quantities of food at more frequent intervals and drink water at frequent intervals to avoid dehydration and constipation. Consult a doctor for an individualized diet depending upon the medical condition in the case of persons suffering from chronic diseases and bed ridden patients.

You need to remember:

  • Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
  • Match food intake with physical activity.
  • Avoid fried, salty and spicy foods.
  • Consume adequate water to avoid dehydration.
  • Exercise regularly or go for a walk.
  • Avoid smoking, chewing of tobacco and tobacco products and consumption of alcohol.
  • Go for regular checkups. Check regularly for blood sugar, lipids and blood pressure.
  • Avoid self-medication at all costs.
  • Adopt stress management techniques like Yoga and Meditation.

Always remember to have a healthy mind, you need to have healthy food.

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