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new guidelines Over-65s advised not to drink strong tea with meals 

New guidelines to optimise the health and nutrition of older adults

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People over 65 who like strong tea should just have it between meals rather than with their food, because it interferes with absorption of iron and zinc, according to new nutritional guidelines.

The recommendation comes in a new report by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) which promotes the “positive role” nutritional intake can have in people over 65 “to enable them to live life, and to live it to the full”.

A daily 15 microgram vitamin D supplement is also recommended by the Department of Health for all older adults in Ireland.

Fortified foods are noted as a good source of B vitamins and vitamin D. Unsweetened orange juice, salads, fruit and vegetables are reliable daily food sources of vitamin C.

Older adults who are obese with weight-related health problems should receive individual intervention to ensure weight reduction undertaken is beneficial and minimises loss of muscle tissue through slow weight loss with physical activity.

Lower-risk older adults who are overweight are advised to avoid weight-loss diets in order to prevent loss of muscle mass. Older adults at risk of ‘low-intake’ dehydration need adequate amount of drinks. Women need 1.6ltrs and men 2ltrs a day, unless they have clinical condition which requires fluid restriction.

Sense of taste diminishes with age and can lead to increased salt intake; therefore, the FSAI guidelines recommend consumption of salty foods should be avoided and alternatives such as herbs and spices used to increase flavour.

Healthy older adults should also eat a more protein-dense diet – foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.

They need adequate calorie intake to prevent development of frailty, muscle loss (sarcopenia) and undernutrition.

Diets should contain high fibre carbohydrates, but must be low in free sugars. The average intake of carbohydrates are at the lower end of recommended consumption range, while one third of older people exceed recommended free sugar intake.

Over-65s are the fastest growing age group in Ireland, having increased by 19pc in the 2016 census to some 630,800 people with expected ongoing increases to a predicted 1.6 million older citizens by 2051.

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