The importance of meat and animal food for the elderly

Meat and in general animal food are particularly important for elderly people. In fact, after the age of 70 you need fewer calories because you do not move as much as before and the metabolism slows down. But to remain healthy the body still requires the same amount of nutrients, some of which, like proteins, even in higher levels. Even the stomach and intestines become less efficient.

There is a reduction of gastric acid secretion, which may limit the absorption of iron and vitamin B12. Over the years, the body gradually reduces the perception of feeling hunger and thirst; the mechanisms that regulate the carbohydrate and protein synthesis also become less efficient. Even taste fades and you tend to prefer the very tasty food, or adding excessive amounts of salt to foods and condiments. Tooth loss or diminution of taste and smell make even your favourite foods less attractive.

Meat and cured meats are part of a balanced diet for the elderly and their consumption is recommended as it provides both high biological value protein and trace elements including iron, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. Once they reach adulthood, muscle mass begins to decline and the rate at which it reduces accelerates after the age of 50: the muscles represent about 45% of body weight between the ages of 20 and 30, dropping to only 27% at the age of 70.

This tendency to lose muscle mass is accentuated if you are not taking in sufficient amounts of protein. A slightly greater amount of protein than individual adults can be useful to the elderly, who can thus increase their reserve capacity and thereby counteract the progressive loss of muscle mass, and also prevent fragility of the skin and the reduction of the immune function, resulting in better recovery from illness.

A deficiency of vitamin B12 in the elderly is associated with decreased memory and hearing. Another nutrient at risk in the elderly is zinc deficiency, which is involved in the wound healing process, in vision, taste and olfaction. Most of the nutrient requirements which increase in the elderly are found in foods of animal origin.


The Sustainable Meat Project

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.