Senior Care Tip: Focus on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

senior care tip focus on an anti-inflammatory diet

Seniors face a long list of “health risks” as their bodies age. Some of the most common include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. For some, dementia, Alzheimer’s or other factors causing cognitive decline enter the picture. In every single case, observing an anti-inflammatory diet can do a world of good when it comes to reducing the effects – or even reversing – a spectrum of medical conditions and their symptoms.

Using an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Promotes Health &  Reduces the Effects of Most Medical Conditions

The more we learn about the body and its immune system, the more we realize the toll that inflammation takes. In its purest form, inflammation is a good thing. It’s the body’s “call to arms” so to speak, revving up the immune system response to fight an invader or heal a particular area that is damaged or diseased.

Sometimes, however, when the body is barraged by invaders, is inundated by inflammatory triggers, or is simply rundown – the inflammatory response runs amok, and it winds up compromising an individual’s general well-being. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet – one which decreases inflammation and eliminates food sources that cause inflammation – can have a notable effect on a seniors energy levels, positive mental outlook, pain reduction and overall health.

Some medical conditions are marked by chronic inflammation. These include:

Almost any medical condition is exacerbated by inflammation, because chronic inflammation suppresses the body’s immune system, wearing it down to a point that it can’t do its job, fighting diseases or repairing damaged tissues.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that focuses on healthy foods, and food sources that are known to reduce inflammation. It’s also used to mitigate or eliminate foods and ingredients that contribute to inflammation – namely processed sugars, processed white flour, foods high in saturated fats and so on.

It can take a good few weeks or more to adjust to the new diet, but for those who aren’t used to eating this way, the physical evidence of its positive effects can be downright shocking. Many seniors notice reduced swelling in their joints (if they have arthritis), which also reduces pain and achiness. Some may notice they are able to sleep better or that they have more energy by day. Increased energy means a greater ability to remain mobile and active, which continues the health benefits.

For a complete and detailed account of the ideal anti-inflammatory diet, we recommend reading more about Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet tips. Here are some of the highlights:

Focus on fresh rather than processed foods

Processed foods are typically higher in sugar, salts, fats, and additives that are not good for the body. The fresher food is, the better. Anti-inflammatory diets focus on snacks and meals comprised largely of fresh produce, lean meats, and whole-grains – the less packaged the better.

Eat the rainbow

You’ve probably heard this before, but a plate of food that is colorful – via a range of different vegetables and other food sources – is typically healthier than those that are a single color (namely white, processed foods and/or carbs).

Next time you and your senior loved one venture out to the grocery store, try picking up a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables – including ones you aren’t familiar with. The internet will have a wealth of new recipes for you to try – based on whatever new items you pick up.

Focus on percentages

Active seniors need about 2000 to 2200 calories per day; moderately active seniors require only 1800 calories per day and less-active seniors should consume no more than 1600 calories per day. Start counting calories and learning about portion control to make sure seniors are on target. This single step might result in notable weight loss.

Then, make sure you’re eating the right proportion of calories to food types:

  • 40% – 50% should be complex carbohydrates (potatoes, brown rice, whole grain pastas, cereals or breads, etc. – no white flour or sugar if possible).
  • 30% should be from fats (focusing on lean meats, olive, grape seed or coconut oil, nuts, avocados and other sources of healthy, unsaturated fat)
  • 20% to 30% should be protein (lean meats such as fish, skinless chicken, and turkey are best. Beef should be grass fed and pasture raised, legumes are an excellent source of protein as are eggs, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.)

Each of your meals should be balanced this way if possible.

Eat fiber-rich foods

Ideally, adults should consume at least 40 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is good for the body. It keeps you fuller longer, keeps the digestive tract regular and is good for heart health. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber (berries and beans, particularly). Whole-grain cereals are also a good source of fiber, assuming they aren’t too sugary and that they include at least 4 or 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Have a senior who’s particularly stubborn about eating healthy – let alone giving up the “good stuff?” Check out these 21 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes and start experimenting.

Need help with grocery shopping and meal prep to kick-start a new anti-inflammatory diet plan? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. Our licensed home care professionals are happy to make delicious and nutritious meals that adhere to your – or your senior loved one’s – dietary recommendations. We can prepare them and leave them in the fridge for easy eating or heating up, or we can provide meal companionship upon request. Our team is devoted to supporting and facilitating senior health and independence.

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