When it comes to food, we can't ignore the facts — or the science. You need a healthy diet for a healthy life. Research shows a healthy diet could help or prevent a number of health problems, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
What You Should Know
Adopting a disease-fighting diet is easier than you think. When you shop, choose fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread. Avoid foods high in sugar and fat.
Here are some tips for arming yourself against disease with good-for-you foods:
1. Think color
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, eat lots of deep-colored produce. The darker colored produce is especially rich in antioxidants that can protect you against diseases like cancer and heart disease, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will give your body extra water and fiber, which will help keep your digestive tract clean and healthy. Beans, bran, whole-grain breads, brown rice, and high-fiber cereals are also good sources of fiber. A bonus of eating lots of fruits and vegetables is that they're rich in a compound called bromelain, which may alleviate joint pain.
2. Make Good Bacteria Your Friend
Fermented foods like yogurt are especially good for you as you get older because they contain “good” bacteria that keep your digestive tract healthy.
3. Eat “Good” Oils
Your body needs some fats to stay healthy, but saturated and trans-fats can be very unhealthy. Instead, replace these “bad” fats with “heart-healthy” fats like fish oil (salmon and sardines are particularly good for Omega 3 oils), and vegetable oils like olive and canola oil.
4. Try Soy
Eating about one to two ounces of soy protein daily can help lower cholesterol and unhealthy fat in your diet, and protect you from heart disease. You can find many different soy products, which come from soybeans, in your food store. The most popular are tofu, soy milk (in different flavors), and soy “meat” products like burgers.
5. Eat Foods Rich in Protein and B12
The body's ability to absorb vitamin B12 declines with age, so it makes sense to consume foods rich in both protein and vitamin B12, such as salmon, sardines, albacore tuna, sardines, and flounder. The added bonus to these foods is that they are a source of omega-3 fats (as are walnuts, avocados and seeds), which may help improve brain function and reduce inflammation.
6. Limit Sodium Intake
It is common for the elderly to have a diminished sense of taste and smell. This may be why they readily add salt to their meals. The new dietary guidelines suggest limiting our sodium intake to less than 1 teaspoon per day to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. We recommend adding other herbs and spices to meals or salt substitutes to add flavor.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
To stay healthy, drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
8. Consider Home Help for Meal Preparation
One of the biggest hurdles for seniors is the energy or ability to prepare hearty meals, especially lunch and dinner. We offer companion caregivers who can help with grocery shopping and meal planning and preparation, as well as clean-up after the meal. This type of service can ensure your loved one eats a healthy meal, and gets the proper nutrition needed.