One in three people over the age of 65 and one in two over the age of 80 have a fall each year. The average total length of a hospital stay from a fall injury is estimated to be 15.5 days. There are many things that can be done to help prevent a fall and nutrition is one area that plays a big role.
Nutrition is related to many risk factors for falls, and has been shown to be a determining factor in not only the severity of injuries from falls, but also recovery time after the injury.
In this article we will be looking at five areas of nutrition that can significantly reduce the change of falls. These ares are: protein for muscles, calcium, vitamin D and fish for bones, vegetables and fruit for eye health and hydration for balance.
Strong muscles help to prevent falls and an adequate intake of protein is needed to maintain muscle mass. The richest sources of protein for our muscles are: lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and dairy products.
Having strong bones can reduce the severity of falls and calcium is one of the nutrients needed for bone health. The richest sources of calcium include: dairy foods, salmon, dark leafy greens, tofu and almonds.
Vitmain D regulates calcium phosphorous in the body so it’s essential for bone health. The best way to get your vitamin D is of course from the sun. Spending 15-20 minutes in the sun each day and enjoying some oily fish, egg yolks and cheese will help to ensure you are getting your required vitamin D each day.
Vegetables and fruits contain many vitamins and minerals that are really important to help maintain eye health. Healthy eyes help you to see obstacles in front of you and avoid falls. Some of the really important nutrients for the eyes include: vitamins A,C,E, Zinc and beta carotene which can be found in oranges, berries, capsicums, leafy greens, carrots, seeds and dairy foods.
Last but not by any means least, hydration is another important factor in reducing risk of falls as dehydration can cause dizziness which can lead to falls. Signs of poor fluid intake can include: Dry skin, Dry mouth, Cracked lips, Headache, Fatigue, Thirst, Confusion, dizziness and Low Blood Pressure.
It is recommended that 6 - 8 glasses or 1.5 - 2 litres of water are consumed daily. Have water with you at all times and sip it throughout the day to ensure constant hydration.
Try adding a slice of lemon or lime to the water for flavour or try a herbal tea such as Peppermint, Chamomile, Lemon and Ginger, Lavender, Rose or a fruity tea.
In summary, a well - balanced diet with adequate energy and protein is essential in promoting safe mobility and greater strength, balance and cognition. Together with a stable healthy body weight, these nutritional factors can greatly reduce your risk of having a fall.