According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy diets are among the leading causes of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. As you age, eating can become more of a chore than a fun part of your day. Whether you face difficulty chewing, upset stomach, low energy or dry mouth, there are ways you and your family can bring light back into the kitchen. Focusing on increasing the intake of specific nutrients and proteins is the best way to supplement the supplements you may be taking. Here is a list of the seven best foods to keep in your diet as you age.
Eggs pack a powerful protein punch and are high in B12, which increases energy. They are soft if you or your loved one has difficulty chewing, and they have enough natural moisture to aid those with dry mouth. If cholesterol is a concern, try eating one regular egg and supplementing with egg whites.
2. Lean Beef
Beef is another great way to add protein to your diet, and it is also considered to be a "brain" food. To ensure nutrients are at their optimum, choose grass-fed beef, which has higher amounts of fatty acids and B complexes. Beef also contains choline, which promotes memory and immune system health. Looking for other options instead of steak? Try a beef minestrone soup, or a lean burger, instead.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is rich in calcium with half the sugar and sodium content found in regular plain non-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt is another great source of protein, especially for vegetarians. Yogurt wets the pallet and goes down easy for those with dry mouth. Not loving the plain flavor? Try adding agave nectar and berries for an organic option packed with antioxidants.
4. Dark Greens
Spinach and kale are among Mother Nature's heavy lifters when it comes to natural sources of essential vitamins. Spinach is high in iron, magnesium and potassium, which are great for carrying oxygen to the lungs, fighting chronic fatigue and keeping blood sugars low. Kale promotes bone growth with high amounts of calcium and increased immune system strength as a great source of vitamin A. More importantly kale offers tons of vitamin K which is helpful for blood clotting. Try sauteed spinach or adding kale to a fruit smoothie. Here are some great recipesfor massaged kale salads, which help the dense vegetable soak up more flavors for eating.
5. Quinoa, Brown Rice and Flax Seed
Healthy grains are a great way to add dietary fiber to your eating plan. Not only is fiber important for a healthy digestive system, but these alternatives to wheat also contain natural sources of Vitamin B-1, Manganese and essential fatty acids. Quinoa and brown rice are great sides to a complete lunch or dinner mixed into a salad or standing alone. Flax seed can be added to almost any recipe or blended in a smoothie.
Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants. Fruits that are rich in color can aid in lowering blood pressure, enhance fiber intake, and promote health for those with diabetes. Berries are great added to a salad, over yogurt or steel-cut oats or blended into a smoothie.
Fatty fishes, including salmon, are a rich source of Omega 3s. Omega 3s contain myriad health benefits that are essential for a healthy senior diet. In addition to enhancing heart health, Omegas are known to aid in decreasing effects of rheumatoid arthritis, increasing bone density to avoid osteoporosis, and preventing the risk of memory loss with dementia and Alzheimer's. Baked or grilled salmon is easy to make and goes great with a variety of sides, salads and grains to make it suitable for all seasons.
While aging can bring complications with some of our favorite past-times, getting older does not have to put a damper on the way we eat. Eating a well-planned and balanced diet may reduce the risk of bone loss, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Ensuring our meal selections are rich in vitamins and come from natural and organic sources will not only appease the pallet but will also add nutrients that are essential for promoting increased energy and aiding longevity.