Nutrition for Special Groups 3(3+0)

Lesson 28: Nutrition for the Elderly


Carbohydrate has protein sparing action and complex carbohydrates are also rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins.
Complex carbohydrates rich in fibre can also alleviate constipation which is common among the elderly.


Fat needs to be limited in the diets of elderly people as it could lead to the development of cancer, atherosclerosis and other degenerative diseases. Fat should not be completely avoided, but limited to the use of poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats in the recommended quantity.
Part of fat intake should be in form of vegetable oils which are rich in essential fatty acids and part of it should be in form of animal fats which are rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
The total amount of fat from direct, indirect sources should not exceed 40 gms daily.


Constipation is a common complaint in the elderly. This may be due to -

  • Decreased elasticity of the digestive tract that hampers normal peristalsis.
  • Reduced consumption of food.
  • Improper food selection.

There should be a conscious attempt to increase the consumption of fibre rich food but it should be done gradually otherwise it may result in bowel discomfort, distension and flatulence.

Rough fibre and bran may not be advisable for the aged but the fibre of tender vegetables and fruits will make the food mass go down the intestinal tract.
Fibre also helps in reducing cholesterol that contributes to atherosclerosis.

Last modified: Tuesday, 8 May 2012, 6:48 AM