What’s the Best Diet for Seniors?
As we age, the definition of healthy eating starts to change. That’s because your nutritional needs and metabolism begin to slow down, so you burn fewer calories. When that starts to happen, it’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods that give you the best nutritional value without adding calories. The best eating plan will help you maintain muscle mass while providing proper nutrition without interfering with your medications or management of medical conditions.
This post will examine some of the common low-carb diets for seniors and also discuss recent findings about the Mediterranean diet.
Low-Carb Diets for Seniors
A lack of protein can put seniors at risk for lower immune function and osteoporosis. Low-carb diets (like Paleo, Atkins and Ketosis) for seniors can help ensure you get the protein you need. Advocates of a low-carb lifestyle claim weight loss isn’t the only reason to adopt a low-carb diet. They also say you could see benefits that include improved cholesterol levels; decreased blood pressure; lower risk for diabetes, stroke, and heart disease; and increased energy.
Low-carb diets emphasize a menu rich in healthy fats, lean protein, and foods that are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants and other essential nutrients. Avoid refined carbohydrates and foods with a high glycemic load – potatoes, white bread and short-grain rice. They can cause high blood sugar and insulin levels, insulin resistance and diabetes.
If lean meats aren’t in your budget, lentils, beans and chickpeas can also be a great source of healthy, inexpensive proteins.
A Food Science and Human Wellness study shows that elderly people who eat a diet rich in healthy fat and protein are at a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment.
Because a high-carb diet can have a negative impact on insulin and glucose metabolism, it’s a good idea to limit sugary drinks, sweets, cakes, and other products that are laden with sugar. Different studies – like the Seven Countries Study – show that saturated fat is one of the main culprits for different chronic conditions, which is why low-carb plans recommend foods that contain monounsaturated fat.
The Mediterranean Diet
Although there are a variety of definitions for what makes up the Mediterranean diet, it generally consists of the following core components:
- High intake of leafy greens and other vegetables, nuts, fruits, whole cereals and olive oil
- Moderate consumption of fish, dairy, meat and red wine
- Low intake of eggs and sweets
The Mediterranean Diet Findings
A new study from the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed Mediterranean Neurological Institute [LINK TO URL: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322941.php] analyzed the link between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and survival in 5,200 individuals age 62 living in the Molise region of south-central Italy.
Scientists found that participants who closely followed the Mediterranean diet over an 8.1-year median follow-up period reduced their risk of death from coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular diseases, and diseases not due to cancer or cardiovascular causes.
Researchers found food habits that appear to offer the most protection in the Mediterranean diet are higher intakes of monounsaturated fats, such as in virgin olive oil, and moderate consumption of alcohol during meals.
Heart-Healthy Diet Suggestions for Seniors
To promote heart health and help prevent heart disease, start small and follow these guidelines:
- Healthy weight: Extra weight may increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and bone issues.
- Lean meats: Buy lean meat with the least amount of visible fats but don’t avoid fat altogether. Try to eat two servings of fatty fish – salmon or trout – a week to help lower the risk of heart disease and increase the amount of omega-3s. Eggs also have healthy fats, high quality protein, and many vitamins and minerals.
- Colorful plate: Five servings each day of fruits and vegetables. For a lower-cost option, try frozen or canned fruits/vegetables.
- Dairy: Low-fat milk and cheese, or soy, rice or almond milk fortified with Vitamin D and calcium provide essential vitamins for heart health.
- Fiber: Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain breads and nuts are high in fiber and will keep you full and help lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Read the label: Check for things like salt, which can easily be hidden in foods. Seniors usually need around 1500 mg of sodium per day.
- Slow changes: Trying to manage everything you need to eat can feel overwhelming. Try sticking to these dietary guidelines as much as you can to start improving your heart health.
Before making any changes to your diet or exercise program, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor. Once you establish a goal, the chef, nutritionist and fitness coordinator at Rolling Green Village can help you reach your goals.
To learn more about our wellness philosophy or how you can benefit from making the move to Rolling Green Village, use our contact form to schedule a personal visit.