How a Healthy Diet Can Enhance Senior Living
Eating a balanced, healthy diet is important for people of all ages, but it’s essential for older adults. As we age, many parts of our lives that require an extra bit of attention, like ensuring we get adequate sleep, ensuring we’re properly hydrated, and ensuring that we’re eating a healthy diet. When we neglect these aspects, our health can go downhill fast. In this article, our senior health specialists will go over why a healthy diet in particular is so important for older adults.
Helps Keep Chronic Diseases at Bay
Did you know that eating a healthy diet is a form of disease prevention? Certain chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol are more likely to affect seniors. While many of these chronic diseases are manageable or treatable, prevention is always the best course of action.
We recommend you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet. To keep certain chronic diseases at bay, your doctor may advise you to eat foods that are rich in nutrients but low in saturated and trans fats, processed sugars, and excess calories. Too much sodium in your diet can also have negative effects on your health.
A diet rich in calcium helps keep our bones healthy and strong as we age. Osteoporosis is a condition where bone density is reduced, which increases the risk of fractures, and it’s especially prevalent in senior-aged women. You can incorporate several tasty and calcium-rich foods into your diet, including broccoli, spinach, soy beans, and tofu.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are also high in calcium, so it’s beneficial to try and add these foods to your diet if they aren’t already a part of it. If you don’t enjoy foods that are naturally high in calcium, you can take a calcium supplement, but please speak with your doctor before doing so.
Reduce the Chance of Infections
Our immune systems protect us from various diseases and illnesses, and eating a healthy diet is critical to maintaining a strong immune system. As we get older, it’s natural for our immune systems to weaken, making senior adults more prone to infections like colds and flus, especially during the colder winter months.
Foods rich in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits, help to fortify the immune system and fight off certain infections. You can also take a Vitamin C supplement if citrus fruits aren’t a regular part of your diet. However, as with any supplements, consult your doctor before taking anything.
Improved Bowel Movements
Healthy digestion and regular bowel movements are essential to our overall health. Diets that are lacking in fiber can result in constipation, while diets lacking in certain nutrients can result in infrequent bowel movements, constipation, or diarrhea. Many older adults have sensitive stomachs, and finding the right balance for you when it comes to your diet can require some trial and error. If you’re experiencing infrequent bowel movements, constipation, or diarrhea, talk to your doctor about altering your diet to bring you some digestive relief.
A Healthy and Happy Mind
Perhaps the most important benefit, a well-balanced diet is a vital part of a healthy, happy mind. Studies show that diets consisting of nutrient-rich foods can help eliminate mood swings, improve ability to focus, and even help mitigate symptoms of anxiety and depression. As always, we recommend speaking with your doctor first if you’re concerned about you diet’s effects on your mental health.
If you’d like more information about creating and maintaining a healthy diet for seniors, or if you have any questions about independent senior living in NJ, please contact our team or visit us at: https://umcommunities.org/