Men’s Nutrition: over 65
As you get older the types and quantities of foods and nutrients your body needs start to change. Men aged 65 and up have their own unique set of nutritional needs. Knowing what nutrients are important for you, and how to get them is important for health and longevity as you age. Let’s find out more about how to fuel your body through the golden years.
Nutrition Through the Years
As we get older, our bodies’ needs change. As a result, we need to fuel our bodies slightly differently to what we once did. It is important to continue to choose healthy food options to support our health. However, this may look slightly different to the foods that made up a healthy diet throughout our younger years.
Some of the ways nutrition requirements can change as we age:
We might need more or less food than we once did. This can be because we are moving around less and therefore need less food for energy, or we might develop medical conditions which require us to eat more food to maintain our weight and muscle strength.
Maintaining muscle mass is particularly important as we age. This is to help prevent falls, as well as maintain mobility and independence. To do this, many people require more protein as they get older, as protein is an important building block for our muscles. Protein comes from foods such as meat, dairy foods including milk and yoghurt, as well as eggs, nuts, beans, and legumes.
Often, people will need extra calcium and vitamin D to help maintain strong bones and reduce the chance of bones breaking.
We may need to tailor our diet to medical conditions such as reducing sodium and saturated fats for heart health.
Your bowel motions may change, you may find you experience constipation or diarrhoea, and as a result you may need to increase the amount of fibre in your diet.
We may also find our taste and appetite changes as we age and therefore, we need to find new ways to bring joy to our foods so our love for food doesn’t also change.
Nutrition for the Aging Man
Men aged 65 and up have their own set of nutritional requirements to provide health and wellbeing. Recommended average daily number of serves from each of the five food groups for healthy men:
Meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes
Dairy foods and/or alternatives
You can see that as we age the number of serves required from each food group changes. In most cases the amount of food we need decreases, this is due to people typically moving around less as they get older and therefore needing less food to provide energy. One food group that does increase for everyone is dairy foods. This is due to the increased need for calcium that we get from this food group. This is to help maintain strong, healthy bones.
A serve from each of the 5 food groups might look like:
Vegetables: 1 cup of salad vegetables, or half a cup of cooked vegetables, or ½ a potato
Fruit: 1 medium fruit like an apple, banana, or pear, or 2 small fruits like kiwi fruit, apricots, or plums
Grains: 1 slice of bread, or ½ cup of porridge, or ¼ cup muesli, or 1 crumpet
Meat and alternatives: 65g cooked lean meat, or 80g cooked poultry, or 100g cooked fish, or 2 eggs, or 1 cup cooked or canned legumes/beans, or 30g nuts
Dairy and alternatives: 1 cup milk, or 2 slices of hard cheese, or ¾ cup (200g) yoghurt, 1 cup (250ml) soy, rice or other cereal drink with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100ml
Common Dietary Problems for the Older Man
There are dietary related problems we see more often in older men.
Heart disease affects Australian men at a much higher rate than women. Dietary requirements for the management of heart disease should be developed in collaboration with your health care professional and/or with a Dietitian. Most often, this will include choosing low salt foods, incorporating wholegrains, and reducing saturated fat intake.
Whilst osteoporosis is more common in women than in men, the condition is becoming increasingly common. To prevent or manage osteoporosis including extra sources of calcium and vitamin D, to maintain bone density, is important. Calcium comes from dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt, or from soy alternatives that have had added calcium (look for 100mg of added calcium per 100ml), as well as dark green leafy vegetables, beans, almonds, and tofu. We receive most of our vitamin D from the sun, but it can also be found in dairy foods, egg yolks, and oily fish. In some cases, a supplement may be necessary. A Dietitian can help you decide if this is right for you and what type of supplement would be most beneficial.
Sometimes as we age, we find our bowels begin to work differently to how they once did. You might find you start to experience constipation or diarrhoea. In these cases, increasing or changing the type of fibre in your diet may be most beneficial. If you notice a change in your bowels, it is always best to discuss this with your health care professional as this can sometimes be a symptom of more serious health complications.
Type 2 diabetes:
The prevalence of diabetes in Australians aged over 65 has doubled over the last two decades. As we get older, it can be harder to manage and maintain blood sugar levels. A Dietitian can help you to choose healthy carbohydrate sources and manage your portion sizes to help manage your symptoms.
Deterioration in health, some diseases, loss of appetite, depression, or reduction in chewing and swallowing abilities, just to name a few, are reasons that can contribute to the development of malnutrition. In this case you may need to eat small meals, but eat more frequently, usually every 2-3 hours, and choose foods that contain more energy and protein. A Dietitian can help you develop strategies to meet your nutritional requirements.
How can a Dietitian help with a men’s nutritional needs?
Our Dietitians are experienced with Older men’s nutritional needs and can help you optimise intake by prioritising certain foods and providing strategies to make the most out of your diet.
8 Dietitian Tips for fuel your body through your golden years
Eat a wide variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups every day.
Limit foods containing added salt, and don’t add extra salt when cooking or at the table.
Be physically active (Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking, every day) to maintain bone and muscle strength.
Maintain hydration, aim for 2L of water (or 8 glasses) every day.
Eat small frequent meals, try to eat every 2-3 hours.
Remember to visit your dentist regularly to maintain the health of your teeth or dentures.
If you find that nuts, grains and/or hard fruits and vegetables are difficult to chew, try swapping them for nut butters, milled wholegrains, stewed or canned fruits, and soft, cooked vegetables.
Aim to eat fish twice per week due to its benefits in reducing risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and vision loss.
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All the information provided in this article is generalised and should not be used as a substitute for individual advice. One of our OSCAR Care Group Accredited Practising Dietitians can provide personalised advice, specific to you and your needs. If you are concerned about nutritional needs for yourself or someone you know, reach out for assistance.