Superfoods for Seniors

superfoodsWhat are superfoods? We hear about them in the news as being something we should consume on a regular basis. Why and what are they?

Superfoods are loaded with nutritional value and contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants fight against free radicals that cause damage to cells. They are important for seniors because they reduce the risk of common health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and even cancer.

Antioxidants also help boost the immune system and can actually slow the aging process. Many types of foods are considered superfoods, but some in particular – including one spice – are especially beneficial for seniors.

The Superfoods

Tomatoes reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and digestive tract cancers. They can also improve bone health. Lycopene, which is the pigment responsible for a tomato’s red color, helps eradicate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Lycopene has also been linked to a decreased risk of osteoporosis in women.

Green tea not only reduces the risk of certain cancers, it also improves brain function, reduces inflammation and reduces the risk of depression and diabetes. Furthermore, green tea has long been an ancient anti-aging secret among people in China and Japan.

Consuming red wine has several surprising benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease. Red wine can improve good cholesterol (HDL), blood clotting and has anti-aging properties. It also can promote a lowered risk of tooth decay and gum diseases as well as the risk of osteoporosis. If on medication, be sure to consult a physician before adding red wine to your diet since mixing alcohol and medication can be dangerous.

Another heart-healthy food is dark chocolate, which can reduce the risk of diabetes and improve brain function.

Pomegranates are considered a cure for menopausal hot flashes, gastric irritation, conjunctivitis and viral infections such as the flu.

Beans and peas are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Good examples include chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, black beans and red beans.

Cinnamon is a “super spice” and helps decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lowers bad cholesterol levels, and has anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties. It can also help regulate blood sugar by improving sensitivity to insulin. Additionally, even just smelling the aroma of cinnamon boosts cognitive processing and visual motor responses.

As far as antioxidant properties, blueberries have been ranked as possessing one of the highest antioxidant properties of all fruits and vegetables.  They are a rich source of dietary fiber. Blueberries are also a potent source of vitamin C in that one serving meets 25 percent of the daily required needs. In addition to improving brain function and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, blueberries enhance the immune system and help prevent urinary tract infections. One study suggests that blueberries hinder the formation of tumor cells.

All of these super foods can be found in your local grocery store or food market.


Ten Healthy Eating Tips For Seniors

Ten Healthy Eating Tips For Seniors

seniorsOur nutritional requirements change as we age. Here are ten ways seniors can ensure they maintain a healthy diet. 

1. Keep hydrated

As we age our awareness of thirst is actually reduced. As a result seniors may reduce their intake of fluids, particularly water as they just don’t feel very thirsty. In addition, our body’s ability to regulate its fluid balance is also lessened when we get older. Seniors sometimes also limit their intake of fluid as a way of managing urinary incontinence issues. All of these factors put seniors at risk of dehydration. Not drinking enough fluids can also result in urinary tract infections, constipation and even falls. One of the best ways to ensure adequate fluid intake is to have an allocated daily amount of water (6-8 glasses) in a large jug  in the fridge. Pouring a drink from this regularly through the day will allow seniors to track how much they are drinking. Seniors can also watch their caffeine intake as it has a diuretic effect.

2.Watch your kilojoules

As people age their metabolism slows and they lose muscle mass. They will, therefore, require less energy to carry out the same activities than previously. This means that if seniors continue to eat the same amount and type of food as before they will begin to gain weight as they are burning fewer kilojoules. The best way to combat these age related changes is to choose foods that are high in nutrients but low in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Seniors can choose wholegrain cereals/breads, vegetables, legumes/beans, fruits, reduced fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, lean meat, chicken and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. They can also limit refined cereals/breads, sweetened drinks, fried foods, many take-away foods, processed meats, cakes and biscuits, pastries, chocolate, lollies and crisps.

3. Watch your salt

One of the most noticeable changes in our eating habits as we age is changes to our taste. Our ability to taste salty flavours diminishes quite considerably over time. This can lead to seniors adding extra salt to their cooking and/or at the table. As too much salt in our diets is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease it is important to try and limit our salt intake. Instead of adding extra salt to improve flavour seniors can try using garlic, herbs and spices instead. Seniors also need to be aware that many processed foods contain hidden salt, in particular cured meats, some breakfast cereals, sauces, canned vegetables, packet or tinned soups and gravy.

4. Watch your sweet tooth

Our ability to detect sugar also decreases over time which can lead to over indulging in sweet foods and/or over-sweetening cooking. The problem with many sweet foods (ie, chocolate, desserts, pastries) is they are often high in saturated fats. There are also a lot of added sugars in processed foods that we may not be aware of. Pasta sauces, tomato sauces, mayonnaise, tinned soups, breakfast cereals and frozen meals can all be high in sugar. Seniors can try using spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon to add flavour to foods rather than extra sugar.

5. Get enough fibre

Our digestive system also undergoes changes as we get older, gradually slowing down. When food moves more slowly through the digestive tract more water is absorbed which can lead to constipation. Older people are also more susceptible to diverticulosis, a condition in which small pouches form in the lining of the large intestine or colon. If these pouches become inflamed or infected it is referred to as diverticulitis. A diet high in fibre reduces the risk of constipation and diverticulosis. There are two types of fibre and both are important for our health. Soluble fibre is found in oatmeal, oat bran and psyllium while sources of insoluble fibre include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.

6. Calcium rich foods

Seniors are in danger of losing  bone density placing them at risk of osteoporosis and fractures. As a way of countering this bone loss, seniors can participate in weight bearing exercise and eat calcium rich foods. It is recommended that seniors over 50 have 1300 mg of calcium daily. Foods high in calcium include dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese), calcium fortified soy milk, fish with soft, edible bones (canned salmon, sardines), dried figs, almonds, green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli) and tofu. A glass of milk, a 200g tub of yoghurt or 200ml of calcium fortified soy milk all provide approximately 300mg calcium. There are also calcium fortified milks available which provide higher amounts of calcium than regular milk. It is important to note that the low or no fat varieties of dairy products still provide the same level of calcium so people can choose these healthier options without compromising on their calcium intake.

7. Vitamin D

In addition to calcium, Vitamin D also plays an important role in maintaining strong bones. Sun exposure is the main way our body obtains Vitamin D. However, ageing decreases the skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D so that older people need to have more sun exposure to be able to make enough Vitamin D. Seniors who do not have a lot of sun exposure (those who spend the majority of time indoors or whose clothing keeps them well covered) are, therefore, at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the winter months. While Vitamin D can be found in certain foods (fatty fish, egg yolk, liver and fortified milk) it can be difficult to obtain enough from diet alone. Therefore, seniors who don’t have enough sun exposure may benefit from taking a Vitamin D supplement.

8. Limit alcohol

In the most recent Australian Health Survey, seniors in the 55-64 year age group had higher rates of drinking at risky levels than people in the 18-24 year age group. These alcohol consumption trends are a concern as the body’s ability to absorb and metabolise alcohol decreases with age. The current Australian national guidelines for alcohol consumption recommend that people drink no more than two standard drinks on any day and drink no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion. The guidelines also recognise that older people should take special care with alcohol as it can increase their risk of falls and interact with medications.

9. Include good fats and oils

Previously there was a focus of limiting the intake of all fats and oils in the diet. We now know, however, that fats and oils are not all the same. While saturated fats and trans fats (ie., hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated vegetable fats) should be avoided, we can include some good fats and oils in our diet. These include polyunsaturated and monosaturated oils (canola, sunflower, olive, sesame and peanut oil), as well as those found in avocado, unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews) and seeds (linseeds, pumpkin and sunflower). In addition, omega-3 oils found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are also good for us. Omega-3 oils reduce the risk of heart disease and are also thought to prevent depression, Alzheimer’s and eye diseases.

10. Find company

In our society eating is often a shared activity. If seniors are widowed or divorced they may find they lose interest in preparing food as they do not enjoy eating alone. Cooking a meal may seem like a lot of effort to go to for just one person. If seniors find themselves in this predicament they can try making lunch or dinner dates with family or friends. Joining a local club can also provide an opportunity to enjoy a reasonably priced meal in the company of others. Visiting a farmer’s market to buy fresh produce can re-energise an interest in cooking and provide a chance to chat to stallholders and other market goers.

Eating Healthy In Your Senior Years

 eating healthyEating healthy for seniors!  Want to stay fit and keep your mind sharp as you age? Looking for the best ways to maintain your health? If so, start by making small changes to your diet. What you eat affects the way you look and feel. A well-balanced diet can add years to your life and ward off diseases. It may also reduce the need for medications, ease the pain, and increase your energy.

The Importance of Good Nutrition for Seniors 

Seniors have different nutritional needs than younger people, so it’s essential to keep up with the changes in their bodies. Eating healthy can reverse aging and minimize its impact. As you age, your metabolism slows down. This increases your risk of weight gain and muscle loss. Thus, you need to eat fewer calories and choose high-protein foods that help preserve muscle. Protein also has appetite-suppressing effects, so it curbs hunger and fills you up quickly.

Eating healthy is important at any age, but its benefits can be even more noticeable as you get older. If you don’t pay close attention to your diet, you’ll gain weight and develop chronic diseases. Seniors with diabetes or insulin resistance should avoid excess sugar and eat small, frequent meals. Those with cardiovascular problems need to cut back on sodium and trans fats. If you have poor digestion, get plenty of fiber and stay hydrated. Consider switching to a gluten-free diet. Older adults who are lactose intolerance can try lactose-free milk and calcium-fortified foods.

What Does a Eating Healthy Senior Diet Look Like? 

Your diet should consist of lean meat, fish, vegetables, seeds, raw nuts, and whole grains. Consume nutrient-dense foods with few calories, such as chicken, salmon, tuna, oats, and leafy greens. Eat local and seasonal produce as often as possible. Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day to prevent high blood pressure.

Avoid foods containing refined grains, trans fats, added sugar, and cholesterol. Cook your own meals and replace salt with herbs and spices. Fill your plate with kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkin, and other high fiber foods. This way, you’ll keep your digestive system running smoothly and avoid insulin spikes. Additionally, a high-fiber diet can lower your risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

Get Enough Vitamin D 

Make sure you get enough vitamin D in your diet. Proper intake of vitamin D can help prevent depression, bone disorders, autoimmune diseases, flu, obesity, and glucose intolerance. This nutrient maintains bone density and lowers your risk of osteoporosis. It also supports cardiovascular health and lung function, regulates insulin levels, and slows down aging. Since most people have vitamin D deficiency supplementation is highly recommended.

Eating Healthy Fats 

Seniors shouldn’t be afraid to eat high -fat foods, such as walnuts, pistachios, avocado, and olive oil. Not all fats are created equal. Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids keep your heart healthy, lower inflammation, and reduce bad cholesterol. Just make sure you limit saturated and trans fats, which are found in processed meat, margarine, butter, and junk food. If you’re overweight or have high cholesterol, choose low- fat dairy products and avoid fried foods.

When Should You Eat Fruit?

fruit

FRUIT: WHEN TO EAT IT and WHEN NOT 
There are specific times we should eat in relation to how we digest it. When you eat fruit, it enters the stomach and digestive juices as alkaline and the food begins to spoil and does not digest properly. This is why it’s important to eat fruit in an order that supports digestion.
Here is some simple advice on how to eat fruit and digest it efficiently.
SAY YES TO FRUIT
Eat fruit on an EMPTY stomach. First thing in the morning is best as you absorb all the vitamins. This way, you will avoid digestive problems.
Give yourself at least 30 minutes after eating fruit before you eat something else.
Eat fruit 3 times a day. In-between meals is best, so we recommend eating fruit 30 minutes before you eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.
SAY NO TO FRUIT
DO NOT eat fruit with other foods. Our body uses different enzymes to digest fruit and it needs to process the nutrients and the fiber separately.
DO NOT eat fruit before you go to bed or after a meal. Sugars will disturb your sleep and ruin the digestion process.
DO NOT eat fruit right before drinking cold beverages. If you drink COLD water after you eat, it solidifies any oily food you’ve consumed and slows down digestion. After you eat, it’s best to have a warm drink.
BOTTOM LINE
FRUIT is a natural DETOXIFICATION tool and provides us with natural healthy sugar, so when eaten the right way it will cleanse your body of toxins and help the digestive system.