10-15,000- that’s how many taste buds we have in the prime of our youth! Yes, we have 4 essential types of taste buds for sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes. But as we age, we lose at least 2 of these sensory taste buds. So food tastes bland and elders might add more sugar or salt unknowingly to make it taste better, thus risking their health.
Excess salt and sugar escalate the blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Elders are more prone to these ailments and must adhere to a strict elderly diet plan to balance salt and sugar in their diet.
How does excess salt and sugar affect elders?
Excess salt and sugar affect the health of seniors in the following ways.
• Excess sugar can increase insulin resistance, diabetes and cause obesity in elders.
• Excess salt causes water gain and increases high blood pressure causing heart attacks or stroke.
• Slowed metabolism due to age requires elders to reduce their salt and sugar requirements in order to fight obesity and other related diseases.
• Excess salt might cause some autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis.
• Too much sugar can affect the liver causing fatty liver disease.
Elders must be conscious of their vital health parameters and check their salt and sugar level regularly to maintain a healthy life. They can use a blood sugar test machine to monitor their glucose levels and visit a hospital regularly to check their sodium levels.
Why do seniors consume more salt and sugar?
Seniors consume more salt and sugar than needed, either knowingly or unknowingly. Here are the reasons
1. Sugar cravings – Seniors crave sugar if they do not have adequate carbohydrates in their meals. This happens if they skip meals or eat a poor ill-balanced diet.
2. Salt cravings – Salt cravings usually occur in elders due to the loss of taste buds which makes them add more salt to make the food taste better. Sweating can also cause salt cravings in elders due to mild dehydration.
3. Senior health issues– Diabetes, hypotension, diarrhoea and fatigue make cause elders to consume more sugar or salt.
4. Chronic ailments – Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may decrease the production of saliva, making seniors consume more salt or sugar to keep their tongue wet.
5. Packaged food– Elders who consume packed or tinned food are at more risk of consuming excess salt daily.
How to balance salt and sugar in elders’ diet?
Regulation of salt and sugar in the elder’s diet is a must and can be done in the following ways.
• Elders must be given fresh, nutritious and balanced meals with reduced salt and sugar content.
• Seniors must not be allowed to skip meals at any cost.
• An elderly diet plan must be charted and administered for elders.
• Elders must take their medications on time regularly. They can avail medicine delivery at home from senior home healthcare services.
• Seniors must take regular sugar and sodium test by visiting a hospital regularly. They can also take these tests at home by using the senior home healthcare services.
• Elders must be allowed to have snacks in between meals to make up for lowered salt and sugar.
• Mild spices can be added to the senior diet to make it more tasty and appealing to elders to compensate for low salt and sugar in their food.
• Caregivers must take care to add only the recommended dosage of salt and sugar to the senior diet.
What is the recommended dosage of salt and sugar in the senior diet?
A correct elderly diet plan ensures that
• Salt must be restricted to only 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon or 1500 mg for elders above 50.
• Sugar is allowed up to 9 teaspoons or 36 grams for men and 6 teaspoons or 34 grams for women daily.
• No packed or tinned food, carbonated drinks etc. are allowed for seniors.
• Fruits are consumed wholly and not as juices to avoid sugar,
• More fibre is added to their diet in the form of fresh vegetables to reduce salt and sugar.
Seniors need a lot of balance in life and one such thing is for salt and sugar. Let us help them to lead a healthy, illness-free life by helping them to balance salt and sugar in their elderly diet plan.