Healthy eating options for seniors
COURIER LIFE, FEBRUARY 21-27, 2020 35
“Let food be thy medicine” is a quote attributed
to Hippocrates, the ancient scholar considered to be
the father of modern medicine. The saying relates to
the notion that what people put in their bodies can
heal and/or prevent certain conditions.
For seniors with medicine cabinets full of overthe
counter and prescription medications, the idea
of relying predominantly on food to promote optimal
health may be tempting, and various foods can be
particularly useful to the 50-and-over demographic.
According to the World Health Organization,
poor diet is a major contributor to many of the diseases
that affect older people. Poor diet has been connected
to the development of diabetes, and degenerative
diseases such as osteoporosis also may be linked
to the foods ones eat. The National Council for Aging
Care says micronutrient defi ciency is often a problem
among the aging due to factors like lack of variety
in diet and reduced food intake. Eating a variety
of foods can provide all of the nutrients people need
to stay healthy as they get older. Certain foods may
be particularly helpful.
• Brain-friendly foods: Foods such as avocado,
leafy vegetables, sunfl ower seeds, blueberries, and
salmon are good sources of vitamin E, antioxidants,
omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that may
help ward off dementias like Alzheimer’s disease,
advises Sonas Home Health Care.
• Anti-infl ammatory foods: Foods rich in omega
3 fatty acids may help prevent infl ammation that
can cause cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Aging.
com says foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids,
like salmon, should be consumed at least twice per
• Fruits and vegetables: Fresh, canned or frozen
produce tend to be high in micronutrients, including
a variety of important vitamins that are essential for
all components of health. The Academy of Nutrition
and Dietetics advises eating dark green vegetables,
such as leafy greens or broccoli, and orange vegetables,
such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
• Energy-boosters: Choose whole grains that can
provide sustained energy by way of healthy carbohydrates
over processed grains.
• Bone-friendly foods: Calcium-rich foods, such as
milk, yogurt and cheese, can prevent calcium from
being leached from the bones, which contributes to
conditions like osteoporosis.
• Digestive system-friendly foods: The digestive
system slows down as the body ages, as the walls
of the gastrointestinal tract thicken and digestive
contractions that push waste along may slow down
and become fewer. Foods rich in fi ber can promote
proper digestion by moving food through the digestive
tract mor easily. High-fi ber foods also may help
naturally reduce blood cholesterol levels.
• High-iron foods: Without enough iron in the
body, a person may feel tired and lethargic from a
reduced production of hemoglobin, which carries
oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the
body. A lack of oxygen in body tissues from anemia
can be serious, says the National Council for Aging
Care. Tofu, spinach, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and fortifi
ed breads and cereals are high in iron.
Smart food choices can help seniors live long and