Nutrition in common diseases in old age


In old age, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers are more common and the death rate due to these diseases increases. The most appropriate way to minimize the negative effects of these diseases is to start diagnostic studies in the early period, to implement appropriate lifestyle changes, to regulate diet, to organize appropriate pharmacological treatments, and to apply interventional and surgical treatments when necessary.

Diet is an important step in the treatment of chronic diseases in old age. The nutrition program should be determined by acting together with the doctor, dietitian, the elderly and the family.

1. High blood pressure

Weight control – reaching the appropriate weight for the height

Limiting salt consumption (pickles, pickles, added salt, )

Adequate calcium and potassium intake from food

Regular exercise (suitable for functional capacity)

no smoking

Low salt foods should be preferred. Salt should not be added to the food at the table. Excessive salt consumption can cause osteoporosis due to hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and increased urinary calcium excretion. Sodium in the composition of salt is naturally found in the structure of foods. Sodium in foods of animal origin is higher than in foods of plant origin. Adding various spices to the dishes cooked with less salt and without salt will increase the taste and will facilitate consumption in the elderly who have salt restriction.

2. Bone resorption

Increasing calcium and vitamin D intake with food and supplements

Regular exercise (exercise against gravity is appropriate, swimming is not suitable for osteoporosis. )

Sufficient calcium intake reduces bone mineral loss and plays an important role in maintaining bone health. Therefore, foods with high calcium content should be consumed in old age. The best source of calcium is milk and milk derivatives (yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, etc.). Some elderly people have problems digesting the milk sugar lactose. It is appropriate for these elderly people to drink small amounts of milk at a time or to consume special lactose-reduced milk. Low-fat buttermilk, yogurt and cheese can also be consumed instead of milk. Green leafy vegetables, legumes and molasses are also rich in calcium. Vitamin D is needed to use calcium in the body. Since the need for vitamin D cannot be met with food, the elderly should be ensured to benefit from the sun’s rays sufficiently. When sunbathing behind glass at home, the body cannot synthesize vitamin D because ultraviolet rays cannot pass through the glass.

3. High blood fats, cardiovascular disease

Avoid consuming solid fats and offal such as margarine, butter, lard

Increasing the consumption of green leafy vegetables, red and orange fruits, fish and legumes

Restricting the intake of salt and sodium-rich foods

Maintaining an appropriate weight

No smoking.

There are three types of fat in our diet: monounsaturated (olive oil, hazelnut oil), polyunsaturated (sunflower, corn oil, soybean oil, etc.) and saturated fats (butter, lard, etc.). Solid margarines, on the other hand, do not contain cholesterol, as they are obtained by saturating polyunsaturated fats with hydrogen, but they are rich in trans fatty acids. Consumption of saturated and trans fats in the diet of the elderly should be reduced.

Increased consumption of dietary saturated animal fats and solid margarines causes an increase in blood cholesterol levels. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Apart from visible fat (margarine, butter, sunflower, etc.), there is also fat in the natural composition of foods. When meat, chicken, milk and cheese are consumed a lot, fat intake increases. Since the majority of this is saturated fat, vegetable oils (olive oil and sunflower, corn oil, etc.) should be preferred in meals and salads. In reducing the fat in the diet; Skinless chicken or turkey meat should be preferred instead of red meat. , crackers and cakes should not be consumed excessively, and instead of frying in oil, grilling, baking and boiling methods should be applied while preparing the meals. Because of its content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids), fish should be eaten at least twice a week in the elderly. It is known that these fatty acids have positive effects on vision, cognitive function, bone-joint diseases and blood lipids.

4. Cancer

Reducing the amount of fat in the diet

Increasing pulp consumption

Increasing the consumption of foods rich in immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals (A, C, E, selenium) and phytochemicals

Restricting the consumption of additives, especially ready-made foods (instant soup, broth, dyed foods)

No smoking and alcohol consumption

Thanks to advances in medicine, one third of all cancer cases are preventable today, and another third of these cases are curable if diagnosed early enough. Analysis of the risk factors that play a role in the occurrence of certain types of cancer shows that several factors are important. These are tobacco, nutritional disorders, alcohol, infections and hormones. Especially digestive system cancers such as stomach and liver cancers have a very clear relationship with nutrition.

One of the main messages conveyed to us from research on cancer and food in recent years is; People who eat plenty of vegetables and fruits are less likely to get cancer diseases such as lung, intestine, chest, cervix, trachea, oral cavity, stomach, pancreas and ovarian cancer than other people. According to the results of scientists, the probability of getting breast cancer in women who eat high-fiber foods; less than women who eat very low-fiber foods. It is seen that vegetarians (cannot eat) are less likely to get cancer than other people. This doesn’t have to mean not eating meat at all. A small amount of lean meat can be part of a healthy diet. The reason why vegetarians are protected from cancer can be attributed to the fact that they eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Keeping the weight at a healthy level can help with this. Obesity also increases the risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer and colon cancer.

High-fat foods can cause colon cancer and prostate cancer in men.
There is much more to learn about how foods affect health.
Nutritionists’ recommendations on what foods we should eat to reduce the risk of cancer; eat different and nutritious foods. Experts attribute this to the fact that our bodies need different substances from different foods while fighting cancer. Eat at least three portions of vegetables and five portions of fruit every day. Eat plenty of starchy and low-fat foods such as bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, rice, other grains, potatoes, dried peas and beans. Prevent obesity by combining a low-fat and high-fiber meal regimen with regular exercise. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet by eating fish, skinless chicken and lean meat. Cut down on fried foods, “take away” fatty foods, sausages, salami, pies, pastries and cakes. Save chips, sweet biscuits, butter cream cakes and fattening desserts for special occasions, do not eat them every day. Spread a small amount of spreads made from monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils (such as canola and sunflower oil) on the bread. When cooking, use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and safflower oil. Try to avoid foods that are pickled or smoked and therefore very salty. These increase the risk of some types of cancer. Alcohol; can increase the risk of oral cavity cancer, trachea cancer, laryngeal cancer and liver cancer. Drinking together with cigarettes can increase the risk of cancer. Following all these recommendations does not guarantee not getting cancer, but it increases our chances of living a healthy life.

5. Diabetes

Weight control – reaching the appropriate weight

Consumption of foods rich in fiber and low in glycemic index* such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits

regular exercise

No smoking and alcohol consumption

glycemic index

It is the index determined by the rate of increase in blood sugar when the food is taken into the body. Foods with a high glycemic index increase blood sugar suddenly, while foods with a low glycemic index increase blood sugar slowly, providing a protective effect especially against diabetes. Refined sugar (table sugar) has a glycemic index of 100. Corn, rice, potato, white bread, banana are foods with high glycemic index (between 90-70), lentils, dried beans, pears, soybeans are foods with low glycemic index (29-15). It is recommended to consume foods with low glycemic index in diabetes and obesity. The glycemic index values ​​of some foods are given in Table 1.

Table :1 Glycemic Index Values ​​of Some Foods

High glycemic index foods / example

Low glycemic index foods / example


one hundred

Whole wheat bread, wholemeal rice, peas


table sugar

one hundred



French fries, whole white bread


Oats, rye bread


mashed potatoes, honey


Pastas made from unrefined flour


Fried carrots, cereal


Unsweetened fresh juices, green beans




Kidney beans, diet breads, dairy products




Lentils, chickpeas, fresh fruits


White bread, sugary refined grains


Haricot bean


Chocolate, biscuits, corn, white rice


Dark chocolate






Jam, cakes


Green vegetables, tomatoes, lemons, mushrooms

under 15

Sugars are a source of simple carbohydrates. Elderly people prefer salty and sugary foods more because of sensory loss. In the diet of the elderly, consumption of simple sugar (tea sugar, jam, honey, etc.) should be reduced. Instead of these, foods rich in complex carbohydrates (cereals, legumes, potatoes, etc.) should be preferred. While simple sugars only provide energy, foods containing complex carbohydrates provide energy, as well as protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber necessary for body functioning. The risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases can be reduced. By limiting sugar consumption and paying attention to oral hygiene, the rate of caries formation will also decrease.

6. Neurological diseases

Adequate energy and protein intake

Increasing the consumption of foods rich in vitamins and minerals that improve brain functions (green leafy vegetables, red and orange fruits, fish)

No smoking and alcohol consumption

It has been reported that regular consumption of vegetables and fruits prevents the decrease of brain capacity. According to the article published in the journal “Neuroscience” published in the USA, American researchers determined that the decrease in cerebral capacity that occurs with age was less common in experimental mice, in which they regularly applied a spinach and strawberry-based, vitamin E supplemented regimen for 8 months, in other mice with a normal diet. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. The brain needs sodium and potassium. It is known that the right fats and fatty acids, especially containing phosphorus, are very important for brain functions. The lecithin found in soybeans is very beneficial for brain functions as it contains phosphorus. Amino acids are also nutrients that are important for brain function. They contribute to brain health by being taken with food and turning into different proteins. The most important amino acid for brain activities is L-glutamine.

7. Constipation

Increasing fiber and fluid consumption

Regular exercise.

Foods with high fiber content are legumes, grains and vegetables and fruits, respectively. pulp; It reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer and coronary heart disease, and also has therapeutic properties in the elderly with this disease. It prevents constipation and is important for the regulation of intestinal activities. It also reduces the risk of colon cancer formation. In ensuring adequate fiber intake in the elderly; Legumes should be consumed 2-3 times a week, vegetable and fruit consumption should be increased, and wholemeal bread should be preferred.

8. Immune system weakness

Increasing protein intake

Increasing consumption of fish, soybean oil, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, vegetables and fruits

regular exercise

No smoking and alcohol consumption

A healthy, adequate and balanced diet plays an important role in balancing the immune system. After eating food, they burn with oxygen to give energy to the body, during combustion, free radicals, which are harmful substances, are formed. The free radicals that multiply begin to damage all cells and organs of the body. Insecticides, chemicals used in industry, processed foods, cigarette smoke, sun’s harmful UV rays or alcohol entering the body, stress cause the release of free radicals in our body.
Apart from this, many factors such as environmental air pollution, ultraviolet rays, radiation, exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, etc. affect our cells and increase free radicals. The proliferation of free radicals in the body causes health problems such as heart disease, cancer, cataracts and aging more quickly. In order to get rid of these harmful effects, our body develops a defense mechanism against free radicals. Some enzymes produced in the body allow us to get rid of free radicals, anti-oxidant substances that prevent burning (oxidation) increase the amount of enzymes and thus the defense mechanism becomes stronger. The most important antioxidants are vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, some protein compounds, isoflavones. We should consume foods containing these antioxidants in plenty in our daily diet.

Adding some nutrients other than anti-oxidants to our daily diet will strengthen the immune system. Omega 3 fatty acids Fatty acids and arginine amino acid, which we get from protein foods, are important food sources for our immune system. Foods to strengthen our immune system beta-glucan, echinacea, probiotics, isosomes and green tea as well as natural ingredients. Beta-glucan is a completely natural substance obtained from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, which strengthens the immune system. By increasing the immune response, it enables the body’s defense cells to destroy pathogens more effectively and often prevents diseases. It makes the person feel healthier. It also delays skin aging and lowers cholesterol levels. It increases body resistance against factors that weaken the immune system such as stress. It also facilitates the body’s fight against the disease in people who have frequent infections. Echinacea has been used by doctors since ancient times to treat colds. It should be used under medical supervision.

Alcohol has negative effects on health. It is known that excessive alcohol consumption causes liver, brain, heart muscle damage, ulcers, pancreatitis, digestive system cancers, hypertension and depression. Smoking causes some types of cancer, malnutrition due to the loss of nutrients from the body, and increases the body’s need for antioxidant vitamins.

What should we pay attention to in nutrition in old age?

1. The number of daily meals should be arranged as 3 main meals and 3 snacks. Thus, difficulties related to digestion, absorption and excretion functions can be avoided.

2. Every meal should contain foods from 4 basic food groups (meat and its products, milk and its products, vegetables and fruits, cereals) and care should be taken to ensure nutritional diversity. In this way, the need for macro and micro nutrients is met and the distribution ratio of the structural compartments is preserved.

3. At least 3 servings of vegetables and fruits should be consumed per day.

4. Care should be taken to consume foods such as legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains with high fiber content.

4. Fluid consumption should be increased. At least 8-10 glasses of water (1500 ml) should be consumed per day. If this amount cannot be consumed as water, this amount can be met by consuming linden, freshly squeezed fruit juice, herbal teas, ayran, compote or light tea. However, none of these are as effective as water in body functions.

6. Foods with high calcium content should be consumed. Low-fat or skimmed milk and products are the best source of calcium.

7. Fish species with intense omega 3 fatty acids should be consumed at least 2 times a week.

8. Consumption of solid fats such as margarine, butter, lard causes an increase in blood cholesterol levels and creates a risk for cardiovascular diseases. Meat, milk and their products contain invisible saturated fat. For this reason, the lean ones of these foods, the skinless parts of chicken and turkey meat should be consumed, and additional fat should not be added to the dishes cooked with meat.

9. Salt consumption should be limited. Excessive salt consumption causes problems such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis. Salt should not be added to the meals at the table, and foods with high sodium content such as pickles, brine, tomato paste and canned food should be avoided.

10. Consumption of sugar, sugary foods and pastries should be limited.

11. Consumption of fast food type foods (such as hamburger, french fries, pizza) should be avoided. These foods, which are very high in fat and salt, can pose health risks.

12. Attention should be paid to the risks that may occur during the purchasing and cooking of foods. Foods that are expired, lost their freshness, or packaging should not be purchased, foods should be cooked by boiling or grilling instead of frying and roasting, and hygiene rules should be observed during the preparation or storage of foods. Thus, the nutritional value of the food is preserved and adequate and balanced nutrition is provided.

13. Appropriate body weight should be maintained. Obesity and underweight increase the risk of disease.

14. Smoking and alcohol should not be used.

15. Since the senses of taste, smell and sight are reduced, attention should be paid to these features while preparing food. Their menu should include pleasant and easy-to-eat foods.

16. Soft foods should be given to those who have difficulty chewing.

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