Some tips for managing your food needs

Less food, more vitamins

Many are sure that the older a person is, the less food he needs. This is partly true. Of course, your calorie needs directly depend on what kind of lifestyle you lead: it is quite natural that a top athlete needs much more energy than someone who is used to spending their leisure time sitting on the couch.

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However, age also affects the number of calories needed. After all, as you age, your body’s basal metabolism slows down, hormonal levels change, and so-called metabolic plasticity—the body’s ability to digest food as efficiently as in youth—changes. Therefore, maintaining a normal weight becomes increasingly difficult. What we could eat in our youth without consequences for our figure and health, in adulthood we cannot get away with it, and overeating becomes especially dangerous.

To determine the daily calorie requirement taking into account age, there are various methods (today the Mifflin-San Jeor formula is recognized as the most accurate. - Ed.). However, now the calorie theory is somewhat outdated and does not correspond to the modern nuances of the approach to nutrition. A prime example that illustrates this is the keto diet, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Its caloric content can be twice as high as that of mixed diets, and yet people do not gain weight on it and even lose weight. Therefore, it is much more important not how many calories you consume, but how balanced your diet is.

We can also say that over the years the need for calories decreases, while the need for vitamins, on the contrary, grows. This happens for various reasons: due to an age-related decrease in the acidity of gastric juice, due to atrophic changes in the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, due to a decrease in the functions of the pancreas and other digestive glands. All this predisposes to deterioration of absorption and assimilation of anything, including vitamins and microelements.

Question answer

Why get tested for vitamin D?

If so, you will have to take vitamin tablets. Moreover, you should pay attention to complexes developed specifically for older people - the dosage of useful elements in them, as a rule, is increased. Particular attention should be paid to supplements containing vitamin B12, as well as fat-soluble vitamins such as D3, A and K. This is also due to the fact that doctors often recommend that older people limit the amount of fat, which means that the absorption of these vitamins is significantly impaired . Vitamin D is a different story. The skin's ability to produce it under the influence of ultraviolet rays decreases over time, and older people spend little time in the sun.

But dietary supplements containing calcium should be treated with caution. There is an opinion that such drugs can lead to calcification of blood vessels, which threatens circulatory disorders and the development of coronary heart disease. But, on the other hand, the official position of modern medicine requires the consumption of increased doses of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. So in this matter it is important to maintain a middle ground.

Dangerous couple. Calcium and vitamin D are useful, but... harmful? More details

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Weiner E. N. — Valeology: Textbook for universities


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Under normal conditions, all gastrointestinal valves are closed. When food is evacuated under the influence of nervous and humoral factors, signaling the completion of digestion in a given section, the valves open and allow food masses to pass into the section located below.

Given the functional importance of the valves, it should be assumed that each meal should include mainly those foods that are predominantly digested in the same parts of the gastrointestinal tract (for the adverse effects of improper combinations of nutrients, see 6.2.5).

The anatomical and physiological characteristics of the human digestive system should also be taken into account in relation to the regime of liquid intake. In particular, the widely accepted practice of drinking liquids at the end of a meal is extremely harmful. The fact is that, as already noted, the digestion of food in the stomach is associated with a certain acidity of gastric juice. If in this case, with the pyloric valve closed, liquid enters the stomach, then this shifts the acidic characteristics of the juice with a decrease in the activity of its enzymes, which entails an increase in the residence time of food masses in the stomach. Completing a meal, as is most often the case, with sweet drinks is especially unfavorable. Since the breakdown of carbohydrates does not occur in the stomach, the presence of microorganisms here leads to the fermentation of such nutrients. If we consider that as a result of this process, alcohol, gases and other products are formed, which are absorbed here and enter the blood and lymph, then the metabolic disorders they cause, belching, bloating and other troubles become clear. That is why it is recommended to consume liquids not at the end of a meal, but before it, when the pyloric valve is open and the liquid passes freely into the small intestine1.

But it is not recommended to drink drinks later than 20-30 minutes before meals, since in this case the liquid washes away gastric juice into the underlying parts of the digestive tract - this not only reduces digestion activity in the stomach, but also distorts digestion in the intestines.

Of particular importance in ensuring normal digestion is the pyloric valve, which separates the most acidic (in the stomach) and the most alkaline (in the duodenum) environment. If the normal functioning of this valve is disrupted, the contents of the small intestine, along with bile, are thrown into the stomach and destroy its mucous layer, which provokes the occurrence of gastritis and ulcers of the stomach and duodenum.

Another feature of the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract is the presence in it of so-called symbiotic microorganisms, the number of varieties of which reaches 240 species. In 1 cm3 of gastric contents, the concentration of bacteria is about 40 thousand individuals, in the small intestine - already about 120 thousand, and in the large intestine - up to 40 million! Bacterial flora serves as a kind of metabolic regulator, ensuring the necessary ratio of substances in the gastrointestinal tract. Its functions, on the one hand, are that the microflora destroys excess and harmful components of food masses (in particular, it destroys pathogenic and putrefactive microbes, neutralizes the effect of toxic substances such as phenol and indole, and prevents the appearance of intestinal mold, which is extremely harmful to normal digestion etc.). On the other hand, the intestinal microflora from the contents of food masses, mainly from dietary fibers (cellulose, pectins, etc.) that are not digestible by the body, produces a number of vitamins (Bi, B2, B6, PP, Bi2, K, etc.), amino acids, enzymes, hormones and other substances extremely necessary for the body. During the process of these transformations, heat is released, which ensures the body's thermal stability. The above shows the importance of ensuring a digestive regime that would help maintain normal gastrointestinal microflora and prevent all the dangerous consequences for human health of its disturbance (in particular, the so-called dysbiosis).

6.3.2. Accounting for the state of the body

Nutrition must satisfy the body's need for all necessary nutritional components: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, water, minerals, fiber, etc. Naturally, ensuring this condition requires clear planning of the diet. In this case, it is necessary to take into account not only the needs of the person, but also his individual, professional, household and other characteristics, as well as the current functional state. Thus, for people of asthenic physique (thin-boned, thin person with a narrow chest, high metabolic activity), it is recommended to consume more high-calorie foods: grains, sweet berries and fruits, lightly heat-treated vegetables, vegetable and animal fats, poultry, fish, fermented milk products, etc. For people with a hypersthenic physique (strong bones, well-developed muscular system, tendency to accumulate body weight, reduced activity of metabolic processes), predominantly light foods can be recommended: cereals, vegetable oils, fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content, legumes, spices, poultry, etc. Intermediate food characteristics are recommended for people with a normosthenic build (average build, intermediate metabolic activity). When choosing a diet, special attention should be paid to both the level of mental development of a person and the type of his higher nervous activity.

When planning and choosing a diet, you should give preference to products grown in your region, as they carry information about the characteristics of the climate and place of growth. The premise of such a recommendation is that plants usually produce those substances that help them counteract unfavorable local conditions - naturally, the person who consumes these products, himself a bioparticle of the given region, increases his adaptive capabilities. Equally important is the correspondence of the nature of nutrition to the seasons of the annual cycle. Thus, during external heat in summer, the body’s reproduction of heat is reduced, and heat loss is increased by the consumption of raw plant products that have a significant moisture content, low calorie content and cause a relatively small statistical-dynamic effect, which itself increases body temperature. On the contrary, in winter it is preferable to consume natural products that not only have a high energy potential (fats, cereals, nuts), but also stimulate heat formation (meat, poultry) and contain an abundance of biologically active substances in concentrated form (for example, dried fruits).

To the greatest extent, the body's needs can be satisfied through those products that are direct natural accumulators of energy, information and matter of the Universe in all the variety of forms of its existence. Of course, we are talking about plant products. If we take into account that man is both a part and a result of natural processes, then this view seems to be the most correct.

The consumption of raw plant products (fruits and green parts) determines the implementation of a number of evolutionarily determined conditions for the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. Let us point out some of these important circumstances:

— in the diet of modern man, raw plant products, perhaps, remain the only natural food that provides the body with natural resources to ensure anabolic processes and information about the natural environment;

— fresh plant foods have varying degrees of alkaline reaction, which corresponds to the homeostatic characteristics of the body. This causes a weak degree of food leukocytosis compared to the consumption of animal food or food subjected to complex technological processes;

— raw plant food, when digested, requires the body to expend noticeably less energy than other types of food (fried, protein, fatty, etc.);

— raw plant products have a high water content, and it is here in a natural connection with biologically active substances, and its absorption becomes a natural process for the body. This is of particular importance when consuming predominantly refined and technologically dehydrated food (bread, pasta, sugar, cookies, etc.) - a lack of fluid in it leads to dehydration of the body, thickening of the blood and a constant feeling of thirst. Increased consumption of pure water increases the load on the heart, kidneys and accelerates the breakdown of protein in the body. Based on the above, it should be considered rational to quench thirst with natural juices freshly prepared from fruits and vegetables;

— many plant foods contain a lot of high-molecular carbohydrate fiber, which is slightly digested by gastrointestinal enzymes, but nevertheless plays a significant role in ensuring the body’s metabolism. Thus, it is from fiber that microorganisms of the large intestine synthesize a number of vitamins and amino acids; it also stimulates intestinal motility, ensuring the timely movement of food and feces; hydrolysis of fiber in the intestine promotes the release of heat, which maintains the body's thermal stability; fiber prevents excessive absorption of water from feces in the large intestine - with its deficiency, hard structures are formed, which leads to difficulty in defecation and retention (often for years) of these deposits in the folds of the intestinal mucosa;

- plant foods containing a significant proportion of relatively coarse dietary fiber require careful and active chewing, which provides the necessary load on the teeth for normal blood supply, while a deficiency of natural plant products reduces blood flow and delivery to the teeth of the building material necessary for their regeneration.

Everything that has been said about raw plant products allows us to make the following recommendation: in the diet of a modern person, their share should be at least 60-80% (including protein, starchy, cereals, dried fruits, unrefined vegetable oils, etc.).

6.3.3. Nutrition as a need

Poverty is a need for a person, and it should not be turned solely into pleasure (“a person eats in order to burn, and does not live in order to eat”). It has been repeatedly noted that food provides the animal body with three vital flows: substance (necessary for the reproduction of new cells), energy (to ensure vital life support processes and the struggle for existence) and information (as a necessary condition to remain part of Nature); As civilization developed, eating for humans increasingly became not a necessity, a condition for preserving life, but a pleasure.

It seems that the fundamental question is about the physiological prerequisites for hunger - when, how much and how to eat. Hunger occurs as a result of a decrease in the concentration of nutrients in the blood (primarily carbohydrates). When such “hungry” blood flows to the center of hunger, excitement arises in the latter, gradually taking the form of a dominant, to which from that moment all the vital activity of the animal organism is subordinated. It is important that as the individual searches for food, the nutrient content decreases even more. Thus, food intake in the animal world (and in humans throughout the vast majority of his existence on Earth) is aimed at reimbursing expenses already made, at preserving one’s life and maintaining vital functions. Moreover, the stronger the hunger, the more active the dominant is, and as a result, more effort is required to obtain food, since compensation for the nutritional deficiency requires a larger volume of it.

For modern people, who have turned eating into pleasure, the situation is different. Firstly, he eats not when he feels hungry, but when he has an appetite, which, unlike the materially determined physiological prerequisites that cause hunger (decrease in the content of nutrients in the blood), is of a psychological nature (anticipation of pleasure). Secondly, most often the direct acquisition of food is not facilitated by the need for physical labor, which makes the desired meal even more attractive. Thirdly, giving food a pleasant taste again increases a person’s craving for eating it.

The problem of hunger and appetite in humans can be solved to some extent by regulating several factors that are physiological, behavioral, and psychological in nature.

Physiological factors include those circumstances that are associated with the characteristics of digestion and metabolism, the state of the food center and, above all, the nature of the absorption of various nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract.

It takes at least about 20 minutes from the moment you start eating for a person to feel full. This makes clear the need for thorough chewing of food, which can be expressed by the condition: chewing must be active, swallowing must be passive. Fulfilling this condition provides a number of advantages:

— every particle of food already in the oral cavity is well moistened with saliva and is ready for further transformations into the gastrointestinal tract;

— sufficient load is provided to the teeth, which creates an influx of the required amount of blood to them, on the one hand, preventing the decay of dental tissue, and on the other, providing conditions for their regeneration;

- the appearance of a feeling of satiety when consuming a smaller amount of food, since the time factor is triggered, and after 20 minutes the first particles of consumed food are absorbed in the stomach and delivered with the blood to the center of hunger, signaling the onset of saturation and reducing the level of its excitability.

With poor, rapid chewing of food, not only the indicated favorable conditions are not created, but a whole series of unfavorable ones arise. Thus, insufficiently chewed food is poorly digested in the lower parts of the gastrointestinal tract, and, therefore, the body will receive less useful nutrients with more food consumed. In addition, when eating quickly, a person feels full not from the entry of the first portions of consumed food into the blood and to the hunger center, but from the fullness of the stomach, the stretching of the walls of which leads to a flow of impulses into the central nervous system, signaling the danger of further food intake.

The rate of absorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract depends on the order of their intake during meals. Thus, taking high-carbohydrate refined food (cakes, sweets, cookies, etc.) from the very beginning leads to rapid absorption of carbohydrates, but the time factor does not work, and the person continues to eat (especially since such food does not need to be chewed thoroughly - it itself dissolves under the influence of saliva). The opposite effect is achieved by consuming fatty foods at the beginning of a meal: by covering the gastric mucosa with a film, they inhibit the secretion of gastric juices and significantly slow down and distort the digestion of food here (undigested food in the stomach in the underlying sections of the gastrointestinal tract is no longer transformed into the necessary final products). This is why it is recommended to start every meal with raw plant foods. Indeed, they require thorough chewing, ensure the absorption of carbohydrates, which they are rich in, in the stomach already in the first 20 minutes of eating, do not linger in the stomach and pass into the intestines in a timely manner. In addition, having low energy value, raw plant foods allow you to consume them in large quantities, providing a feeling of fullness.

Behavioral factors in organizing food intake include the following.

First of all, food must be “earned”, that is, before it is consumed, it is necessary to achieve a decrease in the concentration of nutrients in the blood. Naturally, the best means for this is physical activity. It is important that the latter is carried out in a relatively intense mode (within the heart rate of 100-140/min) and for at least 20 minutes - these are the conditions that ensure the objective occurrence of the feeling of hunger; even inactive, but quite long-term movement (for example, jogging or light walking) only stimulates appetite, and short-term movement does not have time to give the necessary effect.

The set of food products in one meal is no less important: with monotonous food, the volume of food consumed is less than with a significant number of changes in dishes. Usually the menu is structured in such a way that appetizers stimulate the appetite, and dessert forces you to eat even when you feel full.

In many countries, they usually put on the table the amount of food that should only satisfy hunger - and no more.

'Apparently, the optimal volume of food should be considered to correspond to the normal volume of an undistended stomach - about 350-450 ml, however, with systematic overeating, this volume increases.

In Russia, on the contrary, traditionally there is so much food on display to ensure that there is enough food. In the first case, the desire for additional food leads to the need to perform some more work, which the owners do not always do. In the second case, the availability of food (no need to go anywhere) makes a person hostage to excess nutrition.

Psychological factors include a number of circumstances.

The condition is well known: you have to get up from the table feeling slightly malnourished. Such malnutrition is purely conditional and does not pose any danger, since within a few minutes after eating the feeling of malnutrition disappears - it exists only as long as the easy availability of food provokes a person’s desire to prolong the pleasure; This is also facilitated by abundantly flavoring food with spices, salt, sugar - all this activates the appetite and again makes you want to eat something else. Therefore, a person should remember the need for mild malnutrition not at the end of the meal, when he reproaches himself for forgetfulness, but even before it begins.

Psychologically, a favorable environment, high aesthetics of preparing and serving dishes, pleasant communication, etc. are conducive to prolonging the meal process. Of course, this has a positive effect on juice secretion and digestion, but it is often fraught with adverse consequences. First of all, of course, this is excess food consumption. In addition, no less important is the fact that in this case a person pays more attention to the environment, and not to the process of eating food itself, and does not feel what can be extracted from food (it’s not for nothing that Europeans o). That is why when eating there should be a calm environment and even silence, allowing a person to completely disconnect from current events and devote himself to food. This allows a person to obtain from food everything that constitutes its essence as a source of matter, energy and information.

Food prepared with a minimum of spices and relatively homogeneous quickly causes a feeling of fullness, since the psychological motive to prolong the pleasure disappears. Special “provocateurs” among spices are salt (as an appetite stimulant) and sugar (as a pleasure stimulant). That is why these two ingredients are used in abundance in any industrial (and home) food preparation processes - to make it attractive and so that the consumer has a desire to purchase and consume such food more and more often.

6.3.4. Valeological assessment of some dishes and nutrients

Some dishes that are mandatory in the diet of many people deserve a separate discussion.

In many families, soups are considered almost the main condition for a balanced diet. However, it is impossible to find any satisfactory experimental or theoretical justification for such a view. On the contrary, there is a lot of evidence showing that soup in the generally accepted sense - most often a hot liquid dish prepared on the basis of meat (chicken) broth with vegetables (or pasta), seasoned with spices - cannot be considered as a healthy product for the body. First of all, it should be noted that soups do not occur in nature at all and are an invention of the culinary art of man in the relatively recent past - only millennia after he learned to use fire and make dishes, c. which soup can be prepared. That is, in evolutionary terms, the body does not have the physiological and biochemical prerequisites for assimilating the products contained in soups. Moreover, during the cooking process, most of the natural products included in the soup recipe are destroyed and do not have any special nutritional value (except for energy value). The extractive substances formed during cooking cause excessive secretion of digestive juices, which leads to gradual atrophy of the gastric glands and irritation of the gastric mucosa, provoking its inflammation. The situation is further aggravated by the high temperature of the broth. When eating soups and other semi-liquid dishes, enough saliva, which has disinfecting properties (due to the presence of lysozyme), is not released. In this case, the part of the body’s protective reaction is an increase in the excretory function of the duodenum, which has to remove toxins from the blood. As a result, a number of factors arise that (especially in people with high acidity of gastric juice) lead to the development of disorders of the mucous membrane: to its inflammation and erosion (loosening), hypersecretion, as a result of which the gastric mucosa ceases to play the role of a shield from the digestive action of its own enzymes ; to difficulty digesting food and the formation of toxic and putrefactive products from it, etc. That is why it is hot food - and above all soups - that should be considered the main cause of a shift in the acid-base balance of the body to the acidic side, disruption of gastric digestion and the development of diseases such as catarrh, gastritis and stomach ulcers (of course, this factor cannot be considered the only one, since how heredity, and improper diet, and a significant proportion of refined foods, and a lack of natural substances, and much more play a role here, but there is no doubt that soups have a harmful role in these disorders).

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This is not necessary!

To maintain health in adulthood, it is worth limiting some foods. Among them:

Sugar and sweets. They give the body nothing but empty calories. In addition, over the years, many of us develop insulin resistance - reduced sensitivity to insulin. And this is the first step on the path to diabetes.

Red meat. For older people, 1 serving per week is enough. The fact is that red meat contains carnitine. As a result of the metabolism of this substance, a compound is formed that causes inflammation of the vascular wall, the formation of vascular plaques and blood clots. Another disadvantage of red meat is its high iron content. An overload with this microelement can cause increased oxidative stress (an increase in the number of those very free radicals that not only accelerate the aging process, but can also cause cardiovascular diseases and cancer). Therefore, you should not lean on meat. It is better to give preference to fish, seafood, eggs.

Dairy products. You shouldn’t give up on them, but you also don’t need to drink milk without moderation. And it’s not even a matter of milk sugar intolerance, which occurs in some people (this is a congenital feature that has nothing to do with age). The point is the amino acids contained in milk, which, according to some data, can increase the risk of developing cancer (we will discuss this a little later). Therefore, when consuming milk and fermented milk products, you should take reasonable precautions.

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Does meat cause cancer?

Some experts say that for a long life it is necessary to reduce the amount of protein in the diet. Others, on the contrary, are sure that animal protein is a protection against senile infirmity. Let's try to figure out who is right.

On the one hand, there are a lot of studies showing in laboratory animals that limiting animal proteins increases life expectancy. The fact is that amino acids contained in protein products stimulate certain mechanisms, in particular, they accelerate the division of all cells in the body, including tumor cells.

But there is another side to the coin. With age, older people experience fragility syndrome, or, in Russian, decrepitude. One of the components of this syndrome is sarcopenia - muscle atrophy. The risks of fatal things such as hip fractures increase. Some conditions and complications in this case can be slowed down by increased protein intake.

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In general, a lot of copies around this topic have been broken. Over the past years, several large scientific congresses have been held at which experts exchanged opinions on the effect of protein foods on oncological processes and the prevention of senile infirmity. The latest data suggests the following. In the age group under 65 years, increased protein intake (more than 1.5 g per 1 kg of weight) is associated with a number of negative events, including an increased risk of cancer. In people over 65 years of age, an increased amount of protein, on the contrary, produces a protective effect and prevents the development of frailty.

Interpreting the results of such findings is not easy. But it seems that for those who are predisposed to cancer, increased doses of protein in the diet will contribute to this process. And then, if cancer has not developed, another possibility arises - the threat of frailty, and, probably, the amount of protein in the diet needs to be increased.

However, there is a way to eat protein foods and not be afraid of cancer. You just need to play sports. After all, proteins are the building material for our muscles. During physical education at any age, amino acids are directed specifically toward the synthesis of muscle tissue. In other words, the muscles will always take over and prevent amino acids from circulating throughout the body, increasing the risk of cancer.

Nutrition standards

When preparing a diet, the calorie content of the food consumed is usually taken into account. However, this is not enough to provide adequate nutrition. It is important for the body that the food contains all the necessary nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, water, mineral salts and vitamins). The ratio of nutrients in the diet is also important.

The protein requirement for an adult per day is 100-110 g. During heavy physical work, the protein norm in the diet should be 150-160 g. A large amount of protein taken disrupts metabolism, and intermediate metabolic products that are harmful to the body accumulate.

For a growing child's body, the norm of protein in the diet is relatively higher than for an adult. For children 1-3 years old, 55 g of protein per day is required, for children 4-6 years old - 72 g, for children 8-9 years old - 89 g. At the age of 10-15 years, 100-106 g of protein are required per day.

The younger the body, the more it needs fats. A child of primary school age should consume up to 85 g of fat per day (for adults - about 60 g of fat). A lack of fat in food causes a decrease in children's immune properties and less resistance of the body to adverse effects.

The daily amount of carbohydrates in human food should be 400-500 g.

It is especially important for children that they consume not only enough nutrients, but that these substances are in a certain ratio. For children of primary school age, the best ratio of proteins to fats and carbohydrates is 1:1:6, and for younger children as 1:2:3.

The ratio between phosphorus and calcium introduced with food in the diet of a preschooler is best 1.5:1.0, for younger schoolchildren it is 2:1. The ratio between calcium and magnesium should be maintained at 1:0.75. In mixed food, these relationships are easily maintained.

When compiling children's diets, special attention should be paid to providing the child's body with vitamins and minerals. The norms of a person's daily requirement for vitamins are presented in Table 22.

Table 22

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