The Relationship Between Nutrition and Aging

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The Relationship Between Nutrition and Aging

Nutrition is the process by which food needed by the body is obtained for the purpose  of health and growth while aging is the process of growing old. Nutrition plays an important  role throughout the lifespan of an individual . This has led to increase in interest for scientist and clinicians  to look into the way health and nutrition interact as a part of the aging process . Nutrition plays a major role  in growth and development of the body from childhood affecting the risk of occurrence of those diseases that are acute  and chronic. It also affects the aging process biologically and the physiological process maintenance.

As a person  ages, there are changes  that occur which may hinder  proper nutrition. The changes could  be pathological; physiological or due to reduced energy. Pathological changes  are those related to an individual medical history which could affect their eating habits . Reduced  energy comes with age. Therefore older people may not have the zeal for food compared to younger people. This  also is affected by basal metabolic rate which becomes lower as an individual grows older. In the elderly people often after a fast overnight ,appetite becomes lower. Metabolic rate is increased by all types of infections of therefore making it difficult for elderly people to consume enough food to keep up with increased energy demands (Sullivan and Lipschultz 1997).

In addition to that , there's a major role played  by nutrition when it comes

to triggering  health conditions and chronic diseases in everybody no matter how old they are. Nutrition impacts the immune system of people of 65 years  and above, so that older people are more prone to diseases compared to younger ones. The elderly are more likely to die of infections than young adults (High 2001), and malnutrition is related to an increased risk of sepsis in the elderly (Potter et al 1995). As an individual  advances in age , the likelihood of suffering chronic diseases such as stroke , arthritis , demetria, respiratory diseases and depression is high . There is a huge effect on appetite , ability to swallow and function properly as a result therefore intake of food and proper nutrition is impaired. Side effects such as  nausea , dry mouth and diarrhoea associated with medication used to treat these diseases have a negative effect on proper nutrition maintenance.

Moreover , as an individual advances in age , the ability to taste and smell  decreases and if accompanied by loss of teeth it may limit the choice of food to soft food. Dental problems including poorly fitted dentures are often associated with nutrition problems (Moraiset et al 2003). This will cause physiological changes in the body . Xerostomia which means  dry mouth becomes common . It makes it difficult to swallow hence avoiding certain foods . Atrophic gastritis which is a gastrointestinal change causes malabsorption of nutrients that are essential . Gastric emptying becomes lower with age affecting appetite and all of the above functions affect good food intake either independently or together. After a meal greater satiation and delay in emptying the gastric is more evident in older people as maybe implicated in the absorption of iron and vitamin B12.


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Furthermore, the older an individual becomes the renal function declines. As a result antidiuretic hormone responsiveness decreases so that there's high risk of dehydration in older people. Therefore it becomes difficult to replenish the fluids lost by taking them orally only. Impairment of the renal system could also affect the metabolism in vitamin D leading to its reduced levels and in the elderly people, it  contributes to osteoporosis (Compher et al 1998).Poor nutrition and loss of weight may be contributed by issues such as economic, psychological,functional and social which are concomitant associated medical problems (Bartali et al 2003).

In addition to that , fat mass increases with age while the body muscles decreases on the other hand . At the age of 50 muscle loss starts and accelerates after the age of 60. Fat mass on the contrary increases continually up-to to around 75 years of age. Basal metabolic rate is reduced by loss of muscle mass by an approximated 15 percent and this happens between 30and80 years of age. As  a result there's energy requirements of around 150 kcal daily after hitting 75 years. In the elderly people for example, weight loss could be associated with reductions in muscle mass which is age-related making it difficult for health practitioners to recognize it readily (Kane et al 1994).

Lastly,the ability to prepare a meal in elderly people decreases affecting their ability to be nourished sufficiently and as cited severally, it's a sign of a pre-Alzheimer's condition of which mild cognitive impairment is one of its earliest signs. (Borrie et al 2003). People with moderate to severe Alzheimer disease, may forget to eat, unable to access food or even have utensils apraxia further impairing oral intake.

In conclusion, adults age does not necessarily change nutritional requirements but as they increase in age there is gradual reduction in calorie intake. It’s rare to find deficiencies in diet in people who live a normal life in a community as compared to poor people and the disadvantaged people such as the elderly. Vitamins intake or use of special diet does not lengthen the lifespan of an individual or improve their health. Old people reduce their food intake and tend to consume same diet day in day out which leads to them being vulnerable to deficiencies in minerals, proteins and vitamins ,proper nutrition is an essential  element for an individual health and living a long life. The diet is simply one which plays a major role in determining how well the body functions and how healthy is an individual. Where there's no proper diet , the body does not function well. Nutrition plays a very important role in triggering chronic diseases and other health conditions which an individual becomes more prone to as they advance in age. For one to realize a long healthy life, one need to know that their eating habits currently and those in the past affect greatly a long-term status of health in the future .