site logo

Diet For Middle Age And The Aged

Sources: Papers On Health

In advancing years when less

exercise is, as a rule, taken, a restriction in the amount of food

consumed is highly desirable. The increasing corpulence, which often

begins to show itself from 30 to 40, is far from being a healthy sign;

indeed, is often the premonitory symptom of serious disease. It should

be remembered that a lessening quantity of food is required from middle

life on. This applies to all the elements o
food. It is noticeable

that a fat person seldom lives to old age, most octogenarians being

thin and wiry, and almost all attribute their long life to increasing

watchfulness over their health, and largely over what they eat.

When a person is young and taking active exercise, a good deal of

surplus food can be worked off, and if the excess be too great, a

bilious attack tends to prevent any more being taken, for a time at


But as we get on in life, the surplus food, if much is eaten, is

deposited in various parts of the body as fatty or gouty accumulations.

The liver becomes deranged, and loss of health and strength are at once


It is then, as Sir Henry Thompson has well pointed out, that the fond

but foolish wife often does her husband incalculable harm by her

efforts to "keep up his system." She urges and tempts him to take more

food, fetching him, between meals, cups of beef-tea, soup, or cocoa,

when he really would be greatly the better of total abstinence from all

food for several days. What we have said about appetite being the best

guide applies to the old especially, and if they could but realize what

a very small quantity of food is necessary, they would not be perturbed

to find that their appetite guided them to eat very much less than at a

younger age.

Milk, which is the ideal food for the very young, is for that reason

often undesirable for the old, and it is a great mistake for such to

drink much of it with solid food.

Diet for the very aged becomes mainly a question of invalid diet, and

it must be remembered that much should be granted to the individual's

choice and liking. All foods for the aged should be light and easily

digested, and careful attention paid to proper cooking.

A striking example of lost health recovered and life and activity

prolonged to a great age, by strict temperance in food, is Cornaro, a

Venetian nobleman of the sixteenth century, who lived over 100 years.

He says:--"Our kind mother Nature, in order that old men may live to

still greater age, has contrived matters so that they should be able to

subsist on little, as I do, for large quantities of food cannot be

digested by old and feeble stomachs. By always eating little, the

stomach, not being much burdened, need not wait long to have an

appetite. It is for this reason that dry bread relishes so well with

me.... When one arrives at old age, he ought to divide that food of

which he was accustomed to make but two meals into four, and as in his

youth he made but two collations in a day, he should in his old age

make four, provided he lessen the quantity as his years increase. And

this is what I do, agreeably to my own experience; therefore my

spirits, not oppressed by much food, but barely kept up, are always

brisk, especially after eating, nor do I ever find myself the worse for

writing immediately after meals, nor is my understanding ever clearer,

or am I apt to be drowsy, the food I take being in too small a quantity

to send up fumes to the brain. Oh, how advantageous it is for an old

man to eat but little! Accordingly, I, who know it, eat but just enough

to keep body and soul together."