The time for resolutions is soon upon us all and for seniors, this can be a time to make a switch for the better than can prolong your life if you stick to it. The risk of developing health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer increases with age. For this reason, it's important that seniors take steps to prioritize a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating.
Dietary changes have been shown to reduce the risk of many health issues and can also help seniors remain active and independent throughout their golden years. Mixing in the right foods and supplements to someone’s daily life can make them act, look, and feel decades younger if they remain consistent. Anti-aging products like firming eye cream or wrinkle removal mouthguards can help, but they will work even better when the user is eating the right diet too.
1. Going Gluten Free
Seniors often experience irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, and other stomach issues such as constipation and diarrhea. Gluten can irritate the stomach and cause an inflammatory response in some people. While going entirely gluten free isn't always necessary unless one has a formal diagnosis of celiac disease, eating a few meals each week with no gluten may help alleviate any stomach symptoms one is experiencing. Oats, rice and other flours can be good substitutes when you want to try gluten free baking. Additionally, there are many pastas that are now made from black beans, chickpeas, or lentils, making it possible to still enjoy pasta night without gluten.
2. Avoiding Sugar
Refined sugar includes any kind of cane sugar such as white granulated sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. It is typically found in processed foods such as crackers, yogurt, tomato sauce, ketchup, and salad dressing. These sugars contribute to inflammation in the body and can raise the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues. Additionally, frequently having meals that are high in refined sugar can lead to a feeling of lethargy.
To minimize your sugar intake, try to base your meals around fruits, vegetables, and legumes. If buying frozen or pre-packaged meals, make sure to check the sugar content on the nutrition label. As recommended by the American Heart Association, try to aim for less than 24g of sugar each day. In particular, limit the number of boxed cookies and crackers you buy. If you need something sweet, experiment with making your own low-sugar desserts using natural sugars such as coconut sugar or sugar-free alternatives such as stevia and xylitol.
3. Reduce Saturated and Trans Fat Intake
Trans fats and saturated fats raise the risk of heart disease and can quickly build up in the arteries, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke. To limit your intake of these, try to minimize your consumption of fast food and fried foods such as french fries and fried meats. In place of cheese or butter, consider using hummus or non-dairy butter spreads which have less saturated fat. Try substituting mustard instead of mayonnaise.
4. Add Fiber
Adding fiber to the diet is one of the most effective healthy eating strategies for seniors. It can help in resolving constipation, diarrhea, and other stomach issues that seniors frequently experience due to side effects from medication. Oatmeal, brown rice, black beans, lentils, and avocados are some of the high-fiber foods that can easily be incorporated into a healthy eating plan.
5. Add Magnesium
Seniors may sometimes have trouble sleeping and experience muscle cramps. Increasing your intake of magnesium can help improve sleep and reduce cramping. Magnesium supplements can help with this, and you can also obtain magnesium from foods such as bananas, almonds, spinach, and tofu.
6. Add Potassium
Potassium helps lower blood pressure, and having adequate levels of this nutrient may lessen the need for blood pressure medication. While supplementation can help, obtaining this nutrient from food is particularly effective. Consider adding some high-potassium foods to your diet such as broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes, peas, and cucumbers.