Everyone knows it's important to eat a healthy diet, though many of us struggle to commit to one on any type of consistent basis. But when it comes to your elderly loved ones, it's more important than ever to make sure they're not just eating, but also eating healthy.
But what exactly defines a healthy, balanced diet? In the age of fads, diets, and a meal plan for every achievable body type, it's easy to lose sight of what exactly our bodies need. When it comes to seniors, though, going back to basics is the best strategy to choose
That means you'll want a full, healthy plate: As described by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), that includes lean proteins (like chicken and turkey), plenty of vegetables and fruits (the brighter the colors on your plate, the better), organic whole grains (like brown rice or whole wheat pasta), more fiber, healthy fats, and staying hydrated with the recommended eight glasses of water a day.
So why is it so important to maintain a balanced diet when we get older? In short, our bodies don't work as well or as efficiently as we age, which also means it has a harder time processing bad foods, and it needs more of the good stuff to maintain normal, daily functions that we probably take for granted.
What happens when you don't put gas in your car? Or when you neglect an oil change or another check-up function? It slows down, isn't as smooth or efficient, stalls, occasionally might overheat or catch fire, and eventually just stops working all together. Our bodies work in a similar way, but instead of a “check engine” light, sometimes things internally just slow down and stop working. Occasionally, we'll have an obvious sign in a tangible symptom with pain or discomfort. But on other occasions, and especially in seniors, failing to support our bodies with proper nutrition just silently hurts us until something bad and potentially irreversible happens.
The benefits to good nutrition can be simple things that also can affect younger people who stray from a balanced diet as well. Examples include an increased mental capacity, more energy, and a higher resistance to getting sick and contracting other diseases. In short, the better we eat, the better we'll feel – and the longer we'll live. That's a goal we can all get behind.
For context, consider this bit of knowledge from the World Health Organization: At least 80 percent of all heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, and up to 40 percent of cancer could be prevented if people ate better, as well as exercised more regularly and gave up tobacco.
In a world where we're constantly searching for answers regarding our nutrition, sometimes the simplest and best ways to improve our health and reach our goals are the easiest ones. That certainly rings extra true for seniors.
One way to help be sure that your elderly loved ones are eating well is by working with Senior Helpers' caregivers, who can make home visits and even cook meals for your loved ones as part of our care packages. For more information on how Senior Helpers can make a difference in the lives of your loved ones, contact us today to speak with a representative.