Healthy Aging pp 263-274 | Cite as

Nutrition and Healthy Aging

  • Amy C. EllisEmail author


Hippocrates is credited with saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Although important throughout the life span, nutrition is foundational for healthy aging. Consequences of inadequate nutrition include decreased immune function, poor skin integrity, and loss of independence. Physiological and psychosocial barriers to good nutrition tend to arise with advancing age. Polypharmacy can also increase nutritional risk with the potential for food-drug interactions and unintended side effects.

Although energy needs decline with age, requirements for certain nutrients such as protein and vitamin D increase, making a nutrient-dense diet even more important. Yet, an increasing percentage of seniors are overweight and undernourished. Most adults over age 65 have at least one nutrition-related chronic disease; among the most common are type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or a combination of these. While overly restrictive diets are contraindicated, healthy eating patterns underpin both primary and secondary prevention of these chronic conditions. In addition to physical health, food and diet affect quality of life and cultural expression. Thus, strategies to ensure nutritional adequacy promote both physical and psychosocial aspects of healthy aging.


Nutrition Aging Malnutrition Weight management Nutrient density Diet pattern 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Nutrition and Hospitality ManagementUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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