The human body is constantly running an amazing number of processes, all of which rely on various nutrients to thrive.
As we age, paying attention to these nutrients becomes more important, as certain issues can be exacerbated by age. In addition to staying active and social, eating the right nutrients can help bodies to keep functioning at top efficiency.
There are six essential nutrients ― carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water ― that should be part of every diet. As we age, focusing on the proportions of each can provide particularly good dividends in the areas of memory, weight and bone health.
Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and fish ― such as the various Mediterranean diets ― have been shown to reduce memory and thinking problems. Particularly good fish are salmon and sardines, both of which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and protein. In the vegetable family, focus especially on the cruciferous variety, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale. Eat lots of dark berries, too. Blackberries, blueberries and cherries are a great source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may improve memory function. Other great foods for brain health include flax seeds, walnuts, eggs, avocados, green tea and (hooray!) chocolate.
When it comes to excess weight, one important thing to pay attention to is soda intake. Empty calories don’t do any good whatsoever. Replacing soda with water can help people lose as many as five pounds a year, according to one study cited by Prevention magazine. Plus, according to that same article, the phosphoric acid in soda may contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis, which we’ll pay attention to in the next point. But what if you’re underweight? High-calorie foods that are good for the body include peanut or almond butter, avocados, potatoes, coconut and full-fat dairy.
Those milk advertisements you’ve seen since you were a kid may be right. The best things for bones are calcium and vitamin D. The calcium helps strengthen your bones, and the vitamin D allows your body to absorb more calcium. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are a great place to start. If you can’t eat dairy products, try spinach (high in calcium) and salmon (high in vitamin D). Salmon also is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain health.
If you have a loved one who needs assistance managing a daily nutrition plan, consider what Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center can provide. Our goal is to help people keep living at home, as independently as possible, for as long as possible. Contact our enrollment team for more information.