Nutrition

Elderly Nutrition and the Supporting Role of Goat Milk

Elderly nutrition is a concern for many older adults and their caregivers. Natural changes in our bodies create challenges for proper nutrient intake and absorption as we age. Goat milk products have properties that can help address these challenges to reduce the prospect of inadequate nutrition for the elderly.

Goat’s milk is rich in calcium, protein, beneficial fats and many vitamins and minerals. But, as you will see, the nutritional components are not the only important aspects of goat milk products in meeting the nutritional challenges of seniors.

The first set of challenges to consider involves changes in reduced physical sensations and, therefore, a reduced desire for nutritional intake. Many older people no longer feel or recognize the feeling of hunger. This, in itself, can lead to a significant reduction in food intake, particularly if the older person lives alone with no one to remind them to eat.

Taste sensation also appears to change with age, with many older people reporting reduced enjoyment of foods they once enjoyed. With less pleasure from the taste of food, as well as reduced feelings of hunger, there is less incentive to eat. Also, as with food, the desire for fluids is often diminished, leading to an increased risk of dehydration in older people.

With less food intake, it is vital that any food consumed is of high nutritional quality. Whole goat’s milk is high in calories and protein, containing more fat, protein and amino acids than cow’s milk. Milk and dairy products also have a mild taste and creamy textures are generally well accepted. They also mix easily with many cooked foods; and milk, plain yogurt, or sour cream can be used to moisten foods that would otherwise be dry or chewy.

Additionally, milk is almost 90% water and can provide hydration in a form that many seniors find more appealing than water or juice. Milk is also easily flavored with available syrups, such as chocolate and strawberry, to suit particular tastes.

Digestive issues present a second set of challenges for the elderly that can be managed by incorporating goat milk products into the diet. Often, gum and mouth problems, such as missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures, minimize the food that can be ingested, contributing to the increased possibility of nutritional deficiencies. Reduced saliva production also makes soft foods sometimes difficult to swallow.

The next problem appears in the stomach, where many older people have reduced stomach acid production. This makes it harder to digest food and absorb nutrients. To complicate matters further, food travels more slowly through the gastrointestinal tract in older adults, often leading to constipation.

Goat milk products are particularly well suited to provide support in these difficult areas. Besides hard cheeses, goat’s milk products are soft and can easily be mixed with other soft foods, such as pureed fruit, to provide nutritious snacks or meals. The consistency can even be thinned to the point where a straw can be used, creating liquid meals or nutrient dense snacks. Milk or yogurt can be added to blended vegetables or meats to moisten and fortify.

And, goat’s milk is one of the most easily digested foods available, thanks to some very unique properties of its protein and fat molecules. With a protein structure that is completely digested before reaching the large intestine, goat’s milk has also been shown in studies to aid the body’s metabolism of minerals. This added benefit of goat’s milk is important for preventing bone softening, a very important factor in the health of older people.

To support gastrointestinal health, fermented goat milk products like yogurt and buttermilk can be consumed. These have bacteria that benefit the digestive process.

Good nutrition for older adults presents a unique set of challenges that includes physical limitations and the natural decline of bodily functions. Individual assessment of these limitations is essential to provide satisfactory solutions.

Goat dairy products can play an important role in addressing these challenges. Goat’s milk has long been known for its sweetness and has properties that make it significantly more suitable for feeding the elderly than cow’s milk.

Goat’s milk is versatile, highly digestible and nutrient dense. The protein and fat content of goat’s milk can help maintain weight and muscle, while the vitamins and minerals provide the nutrients needed for body and cell function. Milk also contains simple carbohydrates which can provide an energy boost.

Conclusion? Goat milk products can be a nutritious and tasty addition to most seniors’ diets.

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