For older adults, the benefits of proper nutrition include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. Healthy eating and proper nutrition does not have to be about dieting and sacrifice. Eating well as a senior is all about consuming adequate amounts of fresh and colorful foods.
Remember the old adage, you are what you eat? Seniors, and everyone for that matter, should make this their motto when it comes to choosing what foods they eat. By choosing a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins you’re creating an environment where the body can easily feel vibrant and healthy, inside and out.
Live longer and stronger – Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs, and other body parts strong for the long haul, and this is important for seniors. Eating vitamin-rich food boosts immunity while fights illness-causing toxins. We all know that a proper diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anemia. Making wise food choices means consuming fewer calories and more nutrient-dense foods, and helps to keep weight in check.
Sharpen the mind – Key nutrients are essential for assisting the functions of the brain. People who eat a selection of brightly colored fruit, leafy veggies, fish, and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve mental focus. These foods and increased mental cuteness may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in seniors.
If you’re used to consuming foods that lack proper nutrients, nutrient-dense food, your body will feel slow and sluggish and your mind simply won’t be as sharp as it could be. Here are a few tips on how to incorporate better eating habits into your daily routine.
- Reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label and season meals with garlic, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
- Consume good fats. Reap the rewards of olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. The fat from these delicious sources can protect your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
- Add fiber. Avoid constipation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing your fiber intake from foods such as raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
- Avoid “bad” carbs. Bad carbohydrates, also known as simple or unhealthy carbs, are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Bad carbs digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and short-lived energy. For long-lasting energy and stable insulin levels, choose “good” or complex carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
- Look for hidden sugar. Added sugar can be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, and ketchup. Check food labels for other terms for sugar such as corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane juice, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned goods, and choose low-carb or sugar-free versions of products such as tortillas, bread, pasta, and ice cream.
- Cook smart. The best way to prepare veggies is by steaming or sautéing in olive oil, it preserves nutrients. Forget boiling, it drains nutrients.
- Put five colors on your plate. Roots, fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients.
Wholesome meals give seniors more energy and keeps the mind sharp. t’s all connected—when your body feels good you feel happier inside and out. If you or a loved one would like assistance in the kitchen preparing meals full of colorful nutrient-rich foods, the Home Health Care Professionals of Naples team is a wonderful resource. One of the many services they offer is meal preparation and meal planning. For a senior or caregiver who may not be comfortable in the kitchen, or for those who just need a little help in choosing the right foods and planning meals the team members at HHCP can help ensure that seniors are getting proper nutrition. When meals are prepared using tasty, healthy ingredients, it is much easier to form and maintain healthy eating habits. Having the assistance of those knowledgable about what foods to consume more of and which ones to avoid makes eating better a whole lot easier. Consumption of the wrong foods can increase the risk of developing unwanted health conditions while decreasing mental and physical strength. When seniors and caregivers do not have the time or know-how to prepare well-balanced meals the body suffers tremendously.
Nutritional well-being is a necessary part of remaining healthy as one ages. Improper nutrition can result in a variety of diseases, and can lead to weakened muscles that result in falls, hip fractures, pressure ulcers, and forms of infection. If you or a loved one need help planning or preparing wholesome, well-balanced meals, please contact Home Health Care Professionals of Naples at 239-234-6297. We come to your home and offer tips on how to eat better while living longer and stronger!