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March is National Nutrition Month®

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activities habits.

Because food provides the nutrients essential to the body’s vital functions, age-related changes can affect nutritional status and the overall health of the individual.  The aging individual can experience changes in the processes of swallowing, gastric motility, and absorption (Huether, 2012; Saxon, Etten, & Perkins, 2015).

The relationships between nutrition, aging, and quality of life are recursive. Aging-caused or aging-associated factors alter certain aspects of nutrition, such as the sense of smell and taste, ability to chew and swallow, and gastrointestinal and bowel function, and these in turn may influence quality of life. At the same time, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity can lead to lack of appetite, inability to perform activities of daily living, changes in quality of life, morbidity, and mortality.

Food and nutrition are essential components of “the good life.” Good food is a sensory and psychological pleasure. Meals may also add a sense of security, meaning, order, and structure to an elderly person’s day; imbue that person with feelings of independence, control, and sense of mastery over his or her environment; and provide opportunities for making food choices. Eating with others may increase social interactions. When the social aspects of eating are attended to, food consumption may increase, thereby improving nutritional status. The positive psychological and social aspects of eating are important pleasures of life, which can persist into old age. They have potent contributions to well-being that must not be forgotten. (Nutrition and Quality of Life in Older Adults, Eleni Amarantos Andrea Martinez Johanna Dwyer).