Elders: Tradition and Nutrition

Emmy Huddleston, Certified Herbalist

Traditionally in times of need we would initially look to our elders for guidance — for answers to the problems that we had yet to encounter, and for help navigating the often treacherous waters of life with grace and wisdom by way of their past experiences. Unfortunately in today’s society, this seems to have changed. I hope to aid in the process of obtaining this tradition again through educating and empowering individuals to heal themselves through nutrition, herbs, and a few lifestyle tweaks that can go a very long way! For now, let’s focus on some nutritional tips and information that can enhance your golden years.

As we age, we experience a few of these changes that occur in our bodies regarding digestion and assimilation:

  • The senses of taste and smell often decline with age. Older adults tend to lose sensitivity to salty and bitter tastes first, but retain the ability to taste sweetness the longest, so one may be inclined to salt food more heavily than before or overindulge in sugary foods. This could possibly be a result of zinc insufficiency and may resolve with supplementation
  • Elders tend to generate less saliva, stomach acid, and pancreatic enzymes, therefore making it more difficult to absorb certain vitamins and minerals. This may be improved by adding bitter foods, drinks, or tinctures prior to eating a meal.
  • The need for protein generally increases with age. The daily recommended amount is an intake of 1.5 grams of protein multiplied by your weight in kilograms.
  • Your body may be more prone to dehydration because the body loses some of its ability to regulate fluid levels, and the sense of thirst may not be as sharp. The recommended daily intake of water is about 50 oz.

Fortunately (and in some cases, unfortunately) the old saying “you are what you eat” has great merit. With large amounts of marketing misinformation, food processing, and products that are made to become addictive, we are often left wondering what is actually good food for the nourishment of our bodies. Some of the most highly nutritious foods for our bodies are things that we have been eating for a very long time, but have recently stopped consuming due to convenience alongside more easily accessible meats, fruits, veggies, and oils. Here are a few foods that are sure to nourish your body- especially as it ages.

  • Fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens- eat the rainbow!
  • Bone broths (and marrow once removed from broth). They provide easily assimilated protein, minerals, collagen, glucosamine, and more. Add any assortment of vegetables and herbs as you like to enhance the nourishing quality of this healing concoction.
  • Organ meats (grass fed is key). Although many of us are not used to their flavors or textures, organ meats contain some of the highest density nutrient profiles of all foods.

Join me to learn more about gaining and maintaining health throughout the aging process with nutrition, herbs, and additional practices on March 4th.