BNF older adults nutrition

A new resource has been launched to inform older adults suffering with low appetite, or finding it hard to eat well, what foods provide the vitamins and minerals they need.

The resource, which should boost awareness of the health properties of fruit and vegetables, has been launched by the British Nutrition Foundation. ‘Nutrition and Immunity for Older Adults’ aims to provide practical insights to help older people get all the nutrients needed for a properly functioning immune system.

As we age, our immune system begins to work less effectively, BNF explains, making us more susceptible to diseases and infections, such as colds, flu and pneumonia. This, combined with a loss of interest in food and poorer appetite that may occur in later life, can make it harder to eat well and get all the nutrients needed for good health.

The new resource profiles 10 key nutrients the body needs throughout later life to support the immune system and provides handy hints on the foods that can provide these vitamins and minerals.

For example:

Vitamin A, which can be found in foods such as eggs, cheese and liver. Soups that are made from vegetables, such as butternut squash, sweet potato or carrots can also be delicious providers of beta carotene that the body converts to Vitamin A.

Vitamin B6; can be found in poultry, fish (for example canned tuna) and in some fruit and vegetables, such as bananas and avocados.

Vitamin C; can be found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, as well as vegetables, such as cabbage, peppers and tomatoes. Serving a meal with a portion of green cabbage and a portion of cauliflower will provide you with all the vitamin C needed for the day.

Sara Stanner, science director at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: “The immune system is a complex network of cells and chemical compounds that help defend the body against infections. There are a number of different nutrients, including protein, omega-3 fats and many vitamins and minerals, that are involved in supporting our immune systems to work normally, and these are found in a wide variety of foods – there’s no single nutrient or food that can ‘boost’ immunity.

'This means that having a healthy, varied diet is key for getting the nutrients that are most important for our immune system, as well as all the other systems of the body.

“Our new Nutrition and Immunity for Older Adults resource has been developed bearing in mind the challenges we face when trying to eat well and stay healthy later in life and it is important to remember that our bodies and nutritional needs alter as we age.”