Elderly Nutrition in Malaysia 21 Jun 2021 09:00 09:45

Professor Dr Suzana Shahar Speaker



Good nutrition is essential for healthy aging, as it prevents malnutrition, dietary deficiencies and also reduces risk of nutrition related diseases and promotes optimal functioning. However, results from several cross sectional and longitudinal studies indicated that aging has been associated with an inadequate energy intake. Energy intakes between ages 25 and 70 years can decline by as much as 1000 to 1200 kcal/day for men and 600 to 800 kcal/day for women. By age 80, 1 in 10 men consumed less than 890 kcal/day whereas 1 in 10 women consumed less than 750 kcal/day. Inadequate energy intake is associated with low micronutrient intake, in particular B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E and calcium. These deficiencies have an impact on health and physical function including poor cognitive performance and bone health status. An optimal or prudent diet for older adults includes energy and nutrient dense meal which is acceptable and palatable to meet the nutrient needs. The specific nutrient needs have been expanded to antioxidant, flavonoids and polyphenols. Food based dietary guidelines have recently been advocated as compared to nutrient based recommendations, as a better health and nutrition promotion strategy. Environmental aspect related to food preparation and consumption should also be considered in order to increase the food intake among the elderly. There is a trend towards personalized nutrition, through more understanding of nutrigenomics, of how nutritional molecules influence biological systems through metabolic pathways and homeostatic control. Further, nutrigenetics, of how an individual’s genetic makeup determine how the body reacts to food is also being emphasized. Nevertheless, the bottom line is a holistic, balance nutrition through a sensible art of eating leading to healthy aging.