Lifestyle magazines and websites can never seem to make up their minds about the best foods to promote healthy aging. In fact, it seems that there’s a new super food every month. However, it turns out that many of the headlines are true. Several studies have shown that certain foods may indeed help to fend off some of the harmful side effects of aging, including lowering cholesterol, boosting immune function, and even improving brain function. Whether your own loved one has a team of caregivers or a dedicated live in assistance professional that plans, cooks and serves meals, there are plenty of wholesome food options that can help them get the best out of the golden years of life.
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also important in keeping the harmful effects of aging at bay. Along with a grocery list full of whole grains, dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and organic meats, the specific food groups below may have health properties that both prolong and improve the lives of seniors. Work with your live in assistance caregiver to find a diet that suits your loved one’s needs (and palate!)
Fight Cancer with Leafy Greens
A time honored favorite of doctors and nutritionists alike, leafy greens have the three F’s of cancer prevention: folate, fiber, and flavonoids, all of which fight off damaging free radicals in the body. Collard greens, kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce are all heavy hitters in this department.
Fatty Fish for a Healthy Heart
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish like salmon, tuna, and fresh sardines (not canned) twice a week. These types of fish contain the good fats: omega 3’s. Omega 3’s have been proven to lower cholesterol, decrease triglycerides, and even clear the build up plaque along arterial walls.
Fortify bones with Fortified Foods
The gold standard of calcium intake for adults over 50 is between 1,000-2,000 mg per day. Everyone knows that the high amount of calcium in dairy is excellent for bone health, but for those whose digestive systems are sensitive to lactates, fortified cereals and grains can also help seniors meet the recommended dietary allowance of calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong and healthy.
Berries for Brain Health
Berries like strawberries, bilberries, black currant, blackberries, blueberries and mulberries have been shown by a number of studies to protect the brain from the harmful effects of inflammation and reactive oxygen processes . These berries have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-proliferative properties that may help fight off neurogenerative diseases associated with aging.
A Balancing Act
Living life to the fullest requires balance at any age. Part of this balance includes a healthful diet that is as delicious as it is nutritious. While most assisted living care facilities offer a regimented menu each day, live in assistance allows seniors to maintain a degree of indepence and control over their own lifestyles, right down to their daily meal choices. Rather than restricting favorite foods, quality home care should focus on creating dishes that take into account both the dietary preferences of seniors as well as foods that promote overall health and wellbeing.