Food Choices That Can Help Slow the Aging Process
Are there such things as anti-aging foods? Researchers say there just might be. The food choices you make may help you live a longer, healthier life. This is partly due to the natural physical changes we undergo as we age.
Digestion often slows as we get older, making high-fiber foods more important. Another challenge is that the body doesn’t absorb vitamins and minerals like it used to, increasing the risk for vitamin deficiencies and bone loss. Dental problems caused by aging, meanwhile, can make it more difficult to chew.
What foods should you or a senior loved one routinely incorporate into your diet to help manage natural aging issues?
Anti-Aging Food Choices
- Fatty fish: Tuna, mackerel, salmon, and sardines are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to promote heart health. Two servings a week can make a difference.
- Nuts: Another food rich in omega-3 fatty acids is nuts. They also contain fiber and protein. A handful of healthy nuts—almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or Brazil nuts—five times a week is a good place to start.
- Berries: Berries of all types are packed with cell-promoting antioxidants, but some research shows strawberries and blueberries might be especially beneficial. They contain high amounts of anthocyanin, a flavonoid believed to help lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function.
- Olive oil: This is a staple in the diets of people who live in the Blue Zones, those regions of the world where people live the longest. The healthy fats found in olive oil are thought to be linked to lower rates of cancer and dementia.
- Yogurt: High in calcium, zinc, potassium, and vitamin B, yogurt is another good food choice. Greek yogurt has twice the amount of protein, is high in probiotics, and is lower in lactose.
- Spinach: A leafy green vegetable, spinach is considered to be a superfood because it is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and iron. Experts believe it can help control blood glucose, lower cancer risk, and improve bone health.
- Kefir: This fermented, protein-rich drink packs a probiotic punch, making it a good food for maintaining healthy digestion. It also contains kefiran, a polysaccharide that some studies show might help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Green tea: While not technically a food, green tea offers many health benefits for those who incorporate it into their diet. Research shows it helps keep bad cholesterol down and good cholesterol up. Green tea contains the antioxidant polyphenol, which is linked to lower rates of many forms of cancer.
- Dark chocolate: This is a healthy food choice that many seniors will be happy to adopt. Experts say that dark chocolate’s antioxidants might help reduce stress while also lowering the risk for cancer and dementia. The key is to find a dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa and to avoid milk chocolate, which contains milk.
The second important part of your anti-aging diet is knowing which foods to avoid:
- Sugary drinks: They are linked to insulin resistance, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Vegetable oils: These oils contain too much omega-6 fatty acid, which is linked to higher rates of cancer. Opt for olive oil instead.
- Margarine: This pseudo-food is high in vegetable oil and trans fat. It’s an unhealthy combination. Grass-fed butter is a better choice.
- Processed meats: A growing amount of evidence shows processed meats—lunchmeat, bacon, sausage, and pepperoni—may contribute to colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Baked goods: High in refined sugar, fat, and refined wheat flour, baked goods and pastries contribute to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and more.
The USDA created the MyPlate program to make it easier for older adults and their families to create healthy meals at home. They have online tools to help with everything from menu planning to tried-and-true healthy recipes.
Dining at Sunrise Senior Living
The Sunrise Dining Program uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create nutritious menu options every day. We invite you to join us for a complimentary meal to learn more!