A healthy diet can slow the onset of many diseases and help seniors manage the symptoms and impact of disease on lifestyle and longevity.
Good nutrition plays an important role in overall health and can be especially important for seniors. As part of the Comfort Keepers®’ STOP Senior Hunger® initiative in the month of September, we want to help you play an important role in helping seniors understand how a healthy diet benefits the management of:
• High blood pressure and high cholesterol. Low sodium and low-fat food choices can help manage these conditions.
• Diabetes which is present in more than 22 percent of people 65 and older, according to the National Diabetes Education Program. To manage diabetes, seniors should control weight, drink plenty of water and eat whole grains, multi-colored fruits and vegetables, small amounts of healthy fats, lean poultry and low-fat dairy. It is also important for diabetic seniors to follow up with their physician regularly for proper medical management, as diabetes can also lead to other health concerns.
• Vision loss which is the second greatest fear, next to death, among the elderly, according to research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. One in three seniors over the age of 75 will develop age-related macular degeneration(AMD) – which has no cure and can lead to blindness – and many will face cataracts. High levels of antioxidants, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper may significantly reduce the risk of advanced macular degeneration and associated vision loss.
Seniors who eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars (whole grains versus processed white flours and refined sugars), have a lower risk of developing cataracts and AMD. Dietary choices to help prevent AMD may also help prevent heart disease and cancer. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids also have vision benefits.
• Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. These diseases may be lessened by consumption of fish containing omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, according to a SeniorJournal.com study of almost 15,000 senior citizens in seven countries. The spice turmeric and cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower and related vegetables) or green, leafy vegetables also show promise in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. Note: Seniors, their family members and other caregivers should speak with their doctors about managing their tnutrition.