Boomers Can Achieve Better Health with Super Foods

Super foods. The name alone evokes images of capped heroes, swooping in to save the day. But are these foods really worthy of such superlative nomenclature? And are the health benefits to seniors all they are cracked up to be? For some of these foods, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But for others, recent studies have given mixed reviews.

What makes a food “super”?

The trademark of most of the super foods is that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, “good” fats, and/or lean protein. On top of that, many are loaded with antioxidants. Diets rich in antioxidants are frequently associated with the prevention of cancer, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disease–all issues of concern as we age.

Super foods with health benefits for seniors

Berries 

Many varieties of berries are high in vitamins, fiber, and flavonoid–a powerful antioxidant that boasts anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting immune system benefits. In addition to berries’ antioxidant properties, a 2013 research study out of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston showed that women who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries each week reduced their risk of heart attack by up to one-third. Another berry, avocado (yep, it’s a berry!) is also high in blood pressure-controlling potassium, lutein for eye health, and monounsaturated fat, which is the “good” kind that helps lower bad cholesterol.

Dark chocolate 

When it comes to this bittersweet indulgence, moderation is the key. While dark chocolate is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, it is also high in fat and calories. A few morsels here and there can have cancer-fighting benefits, but too much will result in weight gain, which has numerous negative effects on seniors’ health. Stick to the higher percentages of cacao as these varieties usually have a higher concentration of flavonoids but have less added sugar.

Kale 

Kale and other dark green leafy vegetables are renowned for their low calorie/high fiber content, while also providing vitamins A, C, E, and potassium. But it is kale’s abundance of carotenoid, an antioxidant that protects cells and may help halt the early stages of cancer, that escalates it to the super food category. In fact, studies have shown that eating two to three servings of green leafy vegetables like kale per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancer, making it one of the top cancer-fighting foods. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.

Nuts and legumes

Nuts and legumes (like peanuts) are great sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (“good” fats), but many people shy away from nuts because of their high fat content. However, clinical research suggests that moderate nut consumption is unlikely to contribute to obesity and may in fact aid in weight loss. Other epidemiologic studies have correlated nuts with reductions in coronary heart disease, gallstones, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. With their bevy of cardiovascular benefits, the American Heart Association recommends getting four servings a week of unsalted nuts like almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts.

Olive oil

Despite the high fat content, moderate amounts of olive oil are a key ingredient in the world-famous Mediterranean diet. People in the Mediterranean region who regularly consume olive oil have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and inflammation, compared to residents of North America and Northern Europe, and the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) found in olive oil may be the reason why. MUFAs have been shown to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. And for those with type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that MUFAs can help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.

Red wine 

This one is probably the most hotly debated among the super foods list. Like with chocolate, moderation is key to any health benefits of el vino since high alcohol consumption can cause increased triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and liver damage…not to mention wine’s high calorie count. Yet numerous studies have shown that moderate amounts of red wine can lower the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. It’s thought that the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine may be responsible for preventing damage to blood vessels, reducing bad cholesterol, and preventing blood clots. But it’s not all rosy news: some studies have suggested red wine increases the risk of certain cancers and dementia, while other studies found a decrease. So the jury is still out on whether a glass of red wine should be a part of the doctor’s orders for a healthy diet.

Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings per week of fatty fish, like salmon. That’s because salmon is low in saturated fat but high in omega-3 fatty acids, a “good” fat which can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides, and slow plaque growth in the arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids also may help lower seniors’ risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis.

The bottom line on super foods

For seniors, good nutrition is key to staying healthy and active as you age. In fact, a sensible diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and super foods can help prevent or slow the progression of many of the diseases and conditions that are so common among seniors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, arthritis, and certain cancers.

 

The above content is provided by and with express written permission from My LifeSite | www.mylifesite.net.

 

 


Physical Fitness and Aging

We all want our parents to remain as active and independent as possible, and we want the same thing for ourselves! Regular exercise is pivotal for seniors. Seniors are at greater risk for disease, lost mobility, and falls than any other age group. Conversely, they often realize the positive effects of exercise more quickly than other age group. If your parent hasn’t been exercising, it can be difficult to get started.

Healthaging.net offers some tips to get over that initial hump. Click the link above to learn more.


Older Adults and the Benefits of Meditation

At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.


Healthy Aging Through Food

We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes!

Protein
Protein is needed to maintain and rebuild muscle. Strong muscles help to protect bones and joints, keeping arthritis pain at bay. Sources of protein include poultry, fish, eggs, soy, nuts in limited quantities, dairy, and lean meats.

Carbohydrates
“Carbs” have become a dirty word, but there are carbs that are beneficial to the body. Complex carbs from vegetables and grains are often called “good carbs.” Good carbs fill you up, create energy in your body, and provide minerals such as folate, potassium, and dietary fiber. Simple carbs, are sugars. They include refined white sugar, fructose (sugar in fruit), and lactose (sugar from milk). While fruits have vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and milk has calcium and vitamin D, empty carbs are found in corn syrup, honey, refined white sugar, and molasses. These sugars have very few nutrients, but plenty of calories.

Fat
Fat provides energy, but not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats such as beef, pork, veal, butter, shortening, and cheese, can wreak havoc with blood cholesterol and plaque levels. Trans fats or hydrogenated fats are found in stick butter and processed foods such as crackers and cookies. These fats are not beneficial to the body.
Polyunsaturated fats such as liquid corn oil or soybean oil, and monounsaturated fats that are found in olive oil, avocado oil, and nuts, are healthier fat alternatives.

Water
Sufficient daily amounts of water decrease the body’s fat deposits, and keep the kidneys functioning properly. If the kidneys don’t work to capacity, some of the toxins from the kidneys end up in the liver, decreasing the efficiency of the liver. Drinking sufficient water decreases fluid retention because the body relaxes and does not store water in feet, legs, and hands, which happens when the body feels that its survival is threatened.

How your diet changes with age:
With aging comes a decrease in energy and with it, a decrease in calorie intake. Your doctor or a dietician can help you to determine your ideal caloric intake.
Hormone changes can move your body from less muscle to more body fat, especially around the middle section. Increasing your activity, building your muscle, and limiting saturated fats can counteract some of these changes.

Your bones lose mineral content more rapidly as you age, especially for postmenopausal women because of estrogen loss. By increasing calcium and vitamin D, you can prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) can occur naturally inside both the heart and the brain. Heart healthy foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can have a positive effect on cholesterol and high blood pressure, and can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
As you age, make your food work for you and keep your body as healthy and strong as possible through the process!

The above article was written and published by Barbara McVicker


Lifelong Learning: Good for Seniors’ Minds & Bodies

Summertime means graduation season and there is a recent and growing trend among college graduates that is garnering a lot of attention. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2020, 43 percent of college students are expected to be age 25 and older. And among these older grads are more and more seniors. Click above to learn more about how lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors’ minds and bodies.



Active Aging Redefines Health and Wellness

What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.

But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.

It’s called active aging, a philosophy that attempts to move the mindset of what is considered health and well-being into an entire spectrum of categories that encompass components such as emotional and spiritual wellness, as well as the traditional physical aspects of health.

The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) defines active aging as promoting the vision of all individuals — regardless of age, socioeconomic status or health — fully engaging in life within seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual/cognitive, physical, professional/vocational, social and spiritual.

By expanding what we consider to be “healthy” and incorporating each dimension into our lives, we can cultivate a more well-rounded view of what constitutes a healthy and happy life.

Let’s take a closer look at each active aging dimension of wellness and how each might point to steps we can take to improve our own quality of life and that of those around us.

Emotional

Mental and emotional health is one of the pillars of happiness. Focusing on life’s positives (even embracing nostalgia), spending quality time with friends and family, and taking time for self-expression are ways to strengthen this dimension. Try eating meals with companions to give yourself the opportunity to talk about your day, tell stories and, of course, laugh.

Environmental

Your environment isn’t just the four walls around you, but the world that you and your loved ones inhabit. Allow sufficient time to wander in nature, explore its beauty and taste everything life has to offer.

Intellectual/Cognitive

A sharp mind is a happy mind. Engaging in creative pursuits is a proven method for keeping the mind alert. Read, write, journal, solve crosswords and puzzles, or even pick up a new pursuit like drawing or painting.

Physical

Physical well-being is about taking care of your body and making positive lifestyle choices. That means physical activity and exercise, as well as smart and healthy eating habits. Choose nutritious, delicious foods (MemoryMeals® makes that an easy call), make sure you get adequate sleep, and eliminate unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Professional/Vocational

Participating in work (paid or unpaid) not only contributes a service to society, but can boost one’s sense of self-worth by helping others and increasing social interaction. Older adults and seniors still have a lot to contribute as mentors, teachers and volunteers.

Social

Sometimes we all get tired of the rest of the world. But social isolation is ultimately unhealthy. So carve out sufficient time with friends and family for valuable emotional support. Social well-being can also be found through joining clubs and partaking in group activities.

Spiritual

There is evidence that religious belief is associated with longer life and better physical and mental health. This could be due to higher rates of social and emotional engagement among people of faith, but the fact remains that a spiritual component — the search for purpose and meaning — is an important dimension of active aging. That can take the form of organized religion or less dogmatic spiritual pursuits, such as yoga, meditation or simply communing with nature.

Putting It All Together

By broadening the definition of health and wellness, the active aging concept presents interesting new paths in the ways we will build full lives for a growing population of older Americans. Since food can be an important component in a number of the lifestyle areas identified in active aging, MemoryMeals® promises to play a major part in helping to enhance the lives of seniors at meal time and beyond.

Source: MemoryMeals.com

 


Parkinson’s Disease & Nutrition

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
  • Swallowing dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)

Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.

When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?

  • Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
  • Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
  • Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.




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Wesley Glen is absolutely wonderful. Mom has been there since May and she's in independent plus. It has everything from independent, independent plus, assisted living to memory care. They have lots of services, hairdressers and nail salons right at the facility. The food is good and mom absolutely loves it. The independent plus works great.

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