Aging and diet are closely related. As we age, our bodies need high-quality foods with plenty of nutrients to stay healthy. In today’s food landscape, making healthy choices can be difficult — especially for seniors.
Knowledge is power when it comes to senior nutrition. Here are some of the foods aging adults should avoid and what to replace them with.
High salt intake is one of the biggest factors that contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure). Seniors are especially sensitive to high sodium intake, which is why it’s important to monitor your diet for excess salt.
It’s not just added table salt that harms your health; some foods are already high in sodium. Prepackaged, processed foods are the biggest culprits of excess salt, even the ones marketed as “healthy” meals.
Avoid fast food, frozen meals, and other high-sodium foods to protect your health as you age.
What to Eat Instead
Instead of loading up on added salt, try using other spices and herbal flavorings. You can still get the same flavor punch from your food without using tons of table salt.
Try preparing your meals with fresh ingredients in advance. This will give you the same convenience as frozen or fast food without the extra sodium.
Raw and Undercooked Foods
Raw or undercooked foods are responsible for many foodborne illnesses every year. Seniors may be vulnerable to problems like food poisoning, which can spell bad news for your general health.
Your immune system doesn’t always remain quite as strong as you get older. When you consume undercooked or raw eggs, meat, or fish, you can ingest bacteria that cause unpleasant symptoms. In some cases, raw or undercooked foods can lead to severe dehydration and emergency room visits.
How to Avoid Raw and Undercooked Foods
Always check the temperature of the food you’re making at home. If you order food from a restaurant, order it “well done” to ensure it reaches a temperature that kills harmful bacteria.
If you have an especially weak immune system, it may be best to avoid eggs, red meat, and poultry entirely. Consult your doctor for more information about foodborne illnesses.
Sugary Foods and Drinks
Added sugar is a big problem in the standard American diet today. Most processed foods and beverages are loaded with added sugar, which contributes to many different health problems down the road.
Unfortunately, sugar has an addictive effect. The more you consume, the more you have to eat or drink the next time to get the same satisfaction. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t respond well to refined sugars. Sugar consumption is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health conditions.
Alternatives to Soda and Sweets
As an aging adult, it’s best to avoid sodas and sweets with lots of added sugar. Instead, opt for natural sugars found in fruits and whole-grain products. Always check with your doctor before trying a new food or drink if you have diabetes or other sugar-related health conditions.
Hard, Brittle Foods
Most seniors should avoid hard, crunchy foods. These pose serious choking risks for vulnerable adults, especially if you have dentures or dental health problems that make chewing painful.
It’s okay to enjoy crunchy snacks once in a while. Just monitor your mouth for any pain, and make sure you chew everything as much as possible before swallowing.
Some people enjoy alcoholic beverages with their meals, especially in the evening. However, alcohol has several harmful effects on your health.
Alcohol is processed as a toxin (poison) in your body, which is why it’s so hard on your health. Alcoholic beverages dehydrate you and affect your judgment, both of which can lead to severe health problems.
Aging adults are better off avoiding alcohol entirely or at least limiting it to a few drinks per week. See a doctor or addiction specialist if you have trouble limiting your alcohol consumption.
Maintain Good Health as a Senior
You’re in your golden years; now is the time for your body to thrive. Treats are alright occasionally, but you should opt for nutritious foods most of the time as a general rule. You can remain in good health by following these guidelines for your diet as a senior.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.