Nutrition & Hydration
Poor nutrition can result in a weakened immune system, tiredness, difficulties absorbing medication, impaired wound healing and a reduction in muscle and bone strength which may then lead to an increase in falls. Even if your weight is normal, if you are eating a limited range of foods, you could still be malnourished.
Good hydration is equally as important as water makes up two thirds of our body and is vital to help digestion and flush out toxins. Being dehydrated can cause headaches, confusion, dizziness (due to a sudden drop in blood pressure) , constipation, urine infections, etc. which may all increase the risk of falls.
Signs that you are not drinking enough can include feeling thirsty, headaches, tiredness, dry mouth / lips, confusion, dark / smelly urine, constipation.
If you are unsure if you are eating a balanced diet or drinking enough fluid, try keeping a food / drink diary and comparing it to the guidelines below. There are many reasons that your diet may be poor such as small appetite, swallowing diffculties, difficulty sourcing or preparing food, illness and problems with dental health.
If you have diffculty shopping or preparing food, speak to family / friends who may be able to help or consider a meal or shopping delivery service. Contact social services if you are having particular difficulties preparing meals and other daily activities as they may be able to help.
Ensure your teeth or dentures are in good condition to help you eat and drink well.
If you are having problems with swallowing or choking on food please speak to your GP.
Try to eat a varied, balanced diet and maintain good hydration by eating / drinking:
- 2-3 portions of high protein foods every day such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, pulses, soya,tofu and other meat-free protein foods
- 2-3 portions of dairy foods every day such as cheese, milk and yoghurt or non-dairy alternatives like soya, almond or coconut milk
- 1 serving of starchy food at each meal (e.g. bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta or rice) Some fruit and vegetables every day (fresh,frozen,tinned, dried or juiced)
- If you enjoy fish, go for oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring,trout, pilchards or sardines as these are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aim for 2 portions a week
- At least 6-8 glasses/mugs of fluid every day
- keep caffeine intake low as this can worsen dehydration
- Reduce alcohol intake
If you have diabetes please consultant your GP or the diabetes team about making any changes.
If you are concerned about your nutrition, Supporting independence team (SIP) can support you on lifestyle advise. Contact SIP via www.northamptonshire.gov.uk.