Healthiest Supplement Drinks for Seniors and Diabetics
Healthiest Supplement Drinks for Seniors and Diabetics
The Benefits of Liquid Supplement Drinks In Your Parent’s Diet
As our parents age, one of the worries we have to contend with is whether or not they are receiving adequate nutrition from their daily diets. Nutritional drinks may help fill nutrition gaps in your diet.
The simple fact is that, as we age, our nutritional needs change. However, most of our diets never make the transition necessary to accommodate our changing nutritional requirements.
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Undernutrition in the Elderly
According to one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Undernutrition is a risk factor for increased mortality in older adults,” making it a problem that can’t be ignored.
Undernutrition in the elderly is driven by these primary factors:
- Physical difficulties chewing and swallowing many foods
- Cognitive difficulties with remembering how to prepare nutritious meals or with remembering to eat at all
- Fatigue and a lack of motivation or desire to prepare meals
- Changing nutritional needs due to age-related physical changes in the body
Seniors require a nutrient-dense diet — one rich in protein, vitamins D, B12 and calcium.
For those unable to meet their nutrient needs, dietary supplements, in the form of fortified beverages are an option. These protein-rich drinks come in many flavors and varieties to suit specific health needs; however, real, whole foods should always be the first option.
How can liquid nutritional supplement drinks help?
Each of the factors that can lead to undernutrition is addressed by adding a liquid nutritional supplement to your parent’s daily diet.
These drinks require no preparation, are easily swallowed and tolerated by the elderly and satisfy the need for added nutrition without empty calories and with the appropriate amount of dietary fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol.
There is a wide variety of Drinks to help your elderly parent maintain optimal health; various formulas are designed for different nutritional needs including individuals who are diabetic, need to improve bone health, are battling cancer, or are either pre or post-surgery – issues which many of us will face as we deal with the declining health of our parents.
I recommend products formulated for diabetics as the healthiest option for non-diabetics as well, since they build on the use of complex carbohydrates to give better blood glucose control – a key factor in avoiding Type 2 diabetes.
Note that these recommendations are very nutritious, but some of them are not particularly high in calories. If your senior is eating very little, choose a high calorie shake, provide a larger serving of the drink, or add some full-fat plain yogurt or whipping cream to these drinks to add calories without additional sugar.
Here are the Healthiest Meal Replacement Nutrition Shakes for Your Elderly Parent:
Glucerna SR, Vanilla, 8 ounces
- 200 calories
- 10 g protein
- 27 g total carbs
- 7 g fat (0.5 saturated)
- 6 g sugar
Glucerna is gluten-free and a good choice if you’re lactose intolerant.
These protein shakes, which are designed for people with diabetes, come in four flavors: Rich Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla, Creamy Strawberry, and Classic Butter Pecan, with the chocolate and vanilla also available in snack-size portions . Overall, they are a good choice. Their carb content of 27 grams places the shakes in the range of a moderate-sized snack or small meal.
Boost Glucose Control, 8 oz.
- 190 calories
- 16 g protein
- 15 g total carbs
- 7 g fat (1 saturated)
- 4 g sugar
Boost Glucose Control is a meal replacement drink made specifically for people on a type 2 diabetes management plan. Plus it’s lactose-free and gluten-free, making it a good choice for people with these dietary concerns.
“This nutrition profile is one of the better options available to individuals trying to find a diabetic-friendly shake,” says Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services in New York City.
Almased, 8 tablespoon serving
- 180 calories
- 27 g protein
- 15 g total carbs
- 1 g fat (0.5 saturated)
- 12 g sugar
Almased is a meal replacement drink mix made from soy protein, honey enzymes, and skim milk yogurt powder.
Because it’s a powder, if you mix it with any liquid other than water, you’ll need to factor in those nutrients. “This shake has a higher amount of sugars, but the total carbohydrate is reasonable,” Ramsetty says.
The soy and yogurt give it one of the highest protein contents among shakes for diabetes. “If you do not have kidney disease and are looking for soy replacements, this would be an option to try,” she adds.
It’s also likely to be more satisfying because of its high protein content. “This is likely to keep you full longer than other meal replacements while helping achieve better blood glucose control, Cipullo says — a plus for type 2 diabetes management.
The Almased drink mix is a good choice if you are looking to add extra calories; just mix the powder with milk instead of water.
EAS AdvantEDGE Carb Control Ready-to-Drink Chocolate Fudge, 11 oz.
- 110 calories
- 17 g protein
- 4 g total carbs
- 3 g fat (0.5 saturated)
- 0 g sugar
Besides Chocolate Fudge, Rich Dark Chocolate and French Vanilla, these protein shakes for people with diabetes also come in Strawberry Cream and Café Caramel.
Atkins Advantage Vanilla Shake, 11 oz
- 60 calories
- 15 g protein
- 2 g total carbs
- 9 g fat (3 g saturated)
- 1 g sugar
Atkins Advantage shakes, from the creators of the Atkins Diet, are marketed as snack or light meal replacements. Flavors include Café Caramel, Dark Chocolate Royale, Milk Chocolate Delight, Mocha Latte, and Strawberry.
Pure Protein Frosty Chocolate, 11 oz.
MET-Rx RTD 51 Frosty Chocolate
The MET-Rx High Protein Ready-to-Drink Shake has more of everything, particularly protein and calories. If you are looking for a very high protein meal replacement, this shake is an excellent choice.
The MET-Rx has a whopping 51 grams of protein and 250 calories in a 15 oz serving. You’re also getting a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals, and 3 grams of fiber.
If your loved one is skipping meals, this shake is an excellent choice.
The bottom line on liquid nutrition for the elderly
The majority of scientific studies indicate that adding a low-volume nutritional supplement drink can significantly improve the health of elderly individuals. These studies have researched the effects of using liquid nutritional supplements as a dietary aid for elderly individuals who reside in hospitals, nursing homes and those who continue to reside at home or in an assisted-living environment.
The conclusion of these studies is that, regardless of the setting, significant nutritional benefits can be realized by incorporating a daily liquid nutritional supplement drink into your loved one’s diet. And, they not only improve overall general health, they help increase energy, cognition and even mood.
This is good news because finding a high quality, tasty supplement drink is a simple matter. If this is your first time offering shakes, pick up a few different brands to see which one is a favorite. Remember to look for diabetic or low carb shakes to avoid unnecessary sugar.
- Undernutrition is a risk factor for increased mortality and poor overall health for older adults.
- Undernutrition in the elderly may be caused by difficulty chewing and swallowing, not remembering how to prepare nutritious meals or forgetting to eat, and/or age-related changes in the body.
- Adding a low-volume liquid nutritional supplement drink to your parent’s diet can significantly improve health.
Let me know what you think about the shakes mentioned, or others you may have tried. I’d love to hear which one you think is best.
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