By J. Manuel Cordova, M. D.
Internal Medicine & Geriatric Specialist
Dietetic And Nutritional Overview
NUTRITION AND AGING
Throughout life, nutrition is an important determinant of health, physical and mental function, vitality, overall quality of life, and longevity. The quantity and variety of available foods, as well as the meaningfulness of the social interactions provided by meals, are important to psychological well-being. The composition of the diet and the amount of food consumed are strongly linked to psychological function. When a well-balanced diet is not maintained, malnutrition may develop, with consequent detrimental effects on health and well-being.
Malnutrition can have many manifestations. The greater the magnitude and duration of nutritional deprivation and the more fragile the individual, the more likely the occurrence of noticeable body compositional changes, functional impairments, or over disease caused by nutritional deficits.
Even borderline dietary deficiencies may have important health consequences, such as producing subtle organ systemic impairments, causing diminished vitality, or increasing an individual`s susceptibility to disease. Protein and protein-energy under-nutrition are two of the most common, frequently unrecognized, and potentially serious forms of nutritional deficiency.
Although there is a complex interrelationship among nutrition, disease, and clinical outcome, protein and protein-energy under-nutrition appears to be a significant contributor to disease-related to facility status to disease predisposition and mortality in these populations groups.
At the other end of the spectrum, the persistent consumption of excess quantities of one or more nutrients can have similar untoward consequences. Forms of malnutrition that result from excess consumption include hypervitaminosis (excess of vitamin consumption) and obesity.
Studies indicate that obesity is the most common nutritional disorder of advanced age in western societies, with a high prevalence among non-institutionalized (not in hospital or nursing homes) free-living elderly people. Many obese older individuals have other nutritional disorders as well.
Under-nutrition is a common, serious, and frequently unrecognized problem that can develop for many reasons including an imbalanced diet, disease, and inactivity.
WHAT IS A HEALTHFUL DIET?
Not many subjects are of consuming interest to virtually all of us-but food is certainly one of them. It is one of the principal pleasure of life and also a life-giving essential. Without the continual replacement of nutrients in our bodies, we would die.
Food is so important that from time immemorial it has formed the basis of ritual in every society is the abundance and quality (or lack thereof) of its food.
As recently as 50 years ago, the focus of nutrition research was to fight malnutrition and diseases caused by a lack of basic nutrients. Today the situation is changing, and overconsumption has replaced deficiency as America`s leading nutrition problem.
In these articles I try to explain basic concepts and information on how your body uses food, correct weight control, and how to eat properly when faced with disease. You will need to talk to a Registered Dietitian here in Mexico. To obtain this Credential, a person must earn an undergraduate degree in a four-year program in Food Science and Nutrition at an Accredited College or University, complete six to twelve months of accredited or approved training in practical aspects of dietetics, and take a National Examination. In addition, registered Dietitians must complete 75 Hours of professional education every five years. Some States have licensing procedures, and a dietitian may also be licensed under the regulations of the state health department.
Usually your local health department or physician can refer you to a competent dietitian. To Be Continued
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