As we age, our nutrition needs to change markedly. We tend to gradually lose the important nutrients necessary for optimal health. This is why paying close attention to our nutritional needs via our diet will help us to not only optimize our health, but our brain health as well so we can thrive.
Eating foods that are nutrient-rich is a key factor as well as getting necessary supplements. Remember that a variety of foods is key as they will confer a plethora of antioxidants and fiber types for gut health. The more diverse your food choices, the bigger the health benefit.
Gut health is critical to aging well with vitality; so, don’t be shy about adding cultured foods such as yogurt. Olives and vegetables and fruits like onions, asparagus or berries have fibers to feed healthy gut flora.
Here is a list of 8 foods that contain the most important nutrients necessary for optimal aging. They have the potential to enhance your health from head to toe:
Not only delicious, but also high-fiber blueberries provide many benefits for seniors such as helping to improve cognitive skills, heart health and skin health. Research also shows this tiny berry may prevent neural and motor skill declines.
The health benefits of broccoli are numerous thanks to a compound called sulphoraphane. When consumed regularly, broccoli (and other cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, arugula, cauliflower) can prevent or slow down the breakdown of collagen leading to arthritis. Broccoli may also confer obesity and cancer prevention and promoting heart health. Broccoli also boosts immune health.
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale or collard greens are powerful vegetables that have been shown to be linked to a lower level of cognitive decline as well as an abundance of calcium that helps promote strong bones.
Inflammation plays a key role in aging and to help powerfully reduce inflammation, the essential omega 3 fat is a necessity. All seafood contains anti-inflammatory omega 3 fat, but salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish are very high in omega 3. Plant-based omega 3, ALA does not convert well to EPA/DHA necessary for our health. Vitamin D is another crucial nutrient that is necessary. As we get older, we don’t make as much vitamin D from the sun due to thinning of the skin. But the good news is that salmon is very rich in it. Eating seafood such as salmon 3-4 times per week will be highly beneficial.
Avocados are known as ‘The Artery Angel’ due to its protective effect on heart health. This fruit can help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and are also a potent source of the nutrient folate which can help reduce homocysteine and inflammation. Despite its high fat content, it is a much needed healthy monounsaturated fat that is necessary for good health.
Yogurt is loaded with protein to help maintain muscle mass that we naturally lose as we age. Yogurt also boasts a powerful dose of probiotics, those healthy gut bugs that help promote a healthier immune system, brain health and mental well-being. Yogurt also adds to the mix B-12 that diminishes as we age. Ensure the yogurt you are eating does not have added sugar.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts including peanuts, help protect our health in many ways. Heart health is an important one. Research shows a higher consumption of nuts is linked to lower heart disease and cancer. Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, healthy fats, fibers, vitamins and minerals.
Portion control is key as they can easily be over-consumed.
Dark chocolate boasts a plethora of health benefits. Delicious chocolate helps prevent heart disease, may help Alzheimer’s disease, boosts mood and helps prevent skin cancer. All of these benefits are due to the nutrient compounds that are very high in dark chocolate such as flavanols.
Focusing on senior nutrition I've looked into Regency Park Senior Living and how they tack the special dietary needs of their residents at their living communities. Their kitchen focuses on nutritious cuisine that fits everyone's palette and special needs, by offering a variety of freshly made meals. When their residents with special dietary restrictions move in, they meet with the chef to work out a diet plan. Specialized attention is needed in planning these meals so they can utilize ingredients that an aging body needs more of in order to support a healthy balanced lifestyle.