How Nutrition Intervention Plays a Positive Role in Aging
A new study published in Clinical Nutrition, in partnership with Abbott and Javeriana University and San Ignacio Hospital in Bogotá, Colombia, explored the impact of a personalized nutrition program for older adults on physical and psychological well-being and overall quality of life.
Approximately 600 older adults, many of whom had a recent hospitalization or were managing a chronic disease and were either malnourished or at risk, received a personalized nutrition program that included nutrition and exercise education as well as nutritional drinks for 60 days.
More than half of the participants showed improvement in their nutritional status and calf circumference, which is a measure of leg muscle mass. In addition, participants showed improvements in body weight and body mass index, which helped drive other benefits. At least 1 in 3 participants had compromised baseline status in cognition, physical functionality, psychological well-being and/or quality of life. Among these individuals:
- 84% had improved psychological well-being.
- 76% had improved quality of life by improving their mobility and self-care.
- 75% had improved cognitive function.
- 48% had improved physical functionality.
How Simple Steps Can Support Healthy Aging
Prioritizing good nutrition can go a long way for older adults, and improving dietary choices doesn't have to be difficult. Adults can implement simple steps to support healthy aging:
- Focus on nutrient-rich foods. Older adults may experience lower appetites, which is why it's important to select foods that are high in nutrients, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, lean proteins, nuts and seeds.
- Prioritize protein. Starting at age 40, adults may lose up to 8% of muscle mass per decade, and this rate may double starting at age 70. Focusing on regular physical activity and incorporating protein-rich foods can help maintain or prevent loss of muscle mass.
- Consider nutritional drinks. Oral nutrition supplements provide complete and balanced nutrition and can help older adults get the nutrients they need every day. Older adults at risk of malnutrition who consume oral nutritional supplements are almost twice as likely to see improvements in their nutritional status.
- Be mindful of nutritional status. Malnutrition is often a hidden health condition that affects up to 1 in 3 older adults. If you suspect that you or a loved one is at risk for malnutrition, talk to your doctor about a nutrition screening.