Eating the right food plays a key role in health, especially as you age. A proper diet can result in a long, active golden years versus ongoing medical issues. Best of all, the right diet doesn’t need to cost a fortune. With proper planning, you can eat healthily even on a tight budget.
Foods to avoid
Consuming sugary foods or drinks is a bad idea for seniors. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than one in four seniors age 65 years and older has diabetes. Avoiding foods high in carbohydrates is important, especially if you’re an older person who has already been diagnosed with prediabetes.
Additionally, if you have hypertension, the American Heart Association guidelines state that you should cut back significantly on salt consumption. For optimal heart health, they say to try to consume around 1,000 milligrams of sodium per day.
Seniors should also limit caffeine and alcohol intake as well. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep, while the negative effects of alcohol are more difficult for your body to counteract as you age. If you have issues with addiction and are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, there may be help available.
What to eat for your brain
The foods you eat can help you stave off mental decline. Omega-3 fatty acids are fantastic for brain health. You can add them to your diet without breaking your budget by eating canned sardines or even cod liver oil (there are also fish oil supplements available).
Many other reasonably priced foods can help protect your brain as you get older. Research has shown that berries can help keep your brain healthy as you age. Eating nuts can benefit your brain by improving memory and cognitive abilities. Vitamin K may help prevent Alzheimer’s, so look to eat spinach, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower.
What to eat for your body
With bone health in mind, it’s recommended that seniors up their intake of calcium and vitamin D. Budget-friendly foods high in calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, beans, and collard greens. As for vitamin D, the cheapest way to get it is via an adequate amount of sunlight.
Fiber is important for seniors to keep their digestive system working correctly. Select foods rich in fiber such as pears, bananas, carrots, and beets.
Also, inexpensive foods like tomatoes, apples, garlic and grapefruit can possibly prevent some forms of cancer.
Don’t overlook gut health
An often-overlooked aspect of your overall well-being when you age is your gut health. A healthy gut impacts virtually all aspects of your body, from your brain to your digestive system. It also helps in terms of weight management and has shown to improve mental health, as well. Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods that are cost effective such as beans, legumes, sauerkraut, and kefir.
Get your vitamins
A blood test can tell you if you have a vitamin deficiency. If it is found that you are deficient in a certain vitamin, your doctors will likely tell you to either alter your diet to include more of that vitamin or to take a supplement.
You can also discuss with your doctor if you should take a multivitamin specifically formulated for seniors. There are many options on the market, many of which you can easily fit into your budget.
Making it stick
Changing up your eating habits may be difficult at first, but rather than implementing numerous changes that aren’t sustainable, opt instead to start with one thing, and then build on your success once you achieve a goal. For example, let’s say you decide to have Meatless Mondays for a month. If you can sustain this, up the ante for the next month. So next, maybe you limit meat two or three days a week instead of just one. Baby steps make all the difference, and as ZenBusiness notes, over time, these small improvements can lead to larger results, making them easier to maintain.
While no diet can guarantee you perfect health as you age, you can improve your chances by eating the right foods. The food you eat can help protect your brain, body, and gut. And while these foods aren’t always the cheapest food items you’ll find in your local supermarket, if you choose wisely, you can create a budget-friendly diet that includes a wide variety of tasty foods.
If cooking daily meals and other activities of daily living become difficult, it’s time to consider moving to an Ascension Health community. We offer a safe place, help with ADLs, nutritious meals, beautiful grounds, a wealth of social opportunities and more. To schedule a tour or find out more, call us today!
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