It is very important for seniors to maintain a diet that is rich in protein. Consuming too little causes seniors to experience nutritional deficiencies that are related to other diseases, therefore affecting their quality of life.
Carlos Cano, geriatrician and Director of the Geriatric Unit at the San Ignacio Hospital, part of the Javeriana University in Bogotá, explains that on average, eight of every ten seniors that were treated at this institution in 2015 were experiencing malnutrition that was generally related to conditions that are common to this age group such as pneumonia, chronic pulmonary disease, heart attacks and cardiac failure. According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics in Colombia, 3,899 seniors died between 2012 and 2015 due to nutritional deficiencies.
“One of the most important roles of medicine is to show that it is possible and realistic to age while staying healthy. There are some people that get to old age with diseases that constrain them, and nutrition becomes a critical issue. One of the important roles of healthcare systems is to improve mortality rates as well one’s quality of life by addressing the patient’s nutrition in a timely matter through an interdisciplinary approach,” Cano states.
A recent clinical study published in the U.S. medical journal Clinical Nutrition, showed that specialized nutritional supplements reduced the mortality rates of undernourished patients older than 65 that had heart and lung diseases by 50%, after being hospitalized for 90 days.
The study estimated that within this population, for every 21 patients that receives a nutritional supplement, one life can be saved, therefore proving that this treatment is highly effective. Those participating in the analysis included 652 people over the age of 65 if in a state of malnutrition who were admitted to medical facilities as a result of heart or lung disease.
Carlos Cano explains that an ideal diet for seniors should include 25 grams of protein and the proper amount of vitamin D during breakfast, lunch and dinner. These nutrients strengthen muscle mass and improve how other vital organs operate. Cano stresses the importance of family support during this phase of life as well as being conscious of the foods that are given to this population in an effort to improve their chances of prognosis, if be the case, and for this population to lead the best quality of life possible.
- Proteins are essential macronutrients that play an active and diverse number of roles in order for the body to function.
- They are mostly found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and milk. While the proportion is less, proteins are also found in legumes such as soy and beans, and are also found in grains. For every gram of protein consumed, the body receives four kilocalories.
“Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity,” World Health Organization (WHO).