Did you know that a healthy diet can slow the aging process? Research has shown that healthy eating and exercise can make changes at the genetic level – in the DNA that can slow and sometimes reverse signs of aging. Dietary changes are one of the easiest ways to improve health and seniors may benefit from these five dietary tips:
Consume More Whole Foods
A whole food diet is just what it sounds like – whole food. This is food that has gone through as little processing as possible. Limiting the amount of prepared, highly processed, or prepackaged foods can increase the nutritional value of the diet.
Enjoy Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Canned and frozen vegetable manufacturers claim that their fruits and vegetables are fresh and nutritious. While that may be true, canned and frozen fruits or vegetables are more likely to have added ingredients, salt, sauces, and sugars. When you eat fresh fruits and vegetables, you know exactly what you are eating and how it’s been prepared.
Additionally fresh fruits and vegetables may look and taste better – especially when purchased “in season” or even better, from the garden. No matter where you get your fruits and vegetables, you should be eating four to five servings a day.
Avoid “White” Grains
Whole grains are much healthier than refined grains. White flour, white rice, white bread are all highly refined and contain little of the nutritional content of their unrefined counterparts.
The refining process removes hulls, berry, and skin from the grains and often employs a bleaching process which can remove or destroy nutrients such as vitamins and fiber. Whole grains preserve this nutritional content. When choosing grains, go for whole wheat, oats, and “browner” products such as brown rice.
Minimize Bad Fats
Fat content of diets is still quite controversial but studies have indicated that the brain benefits and DNA repair occurs when no more than 10 percent of the calories are provided by fats. Other research indicates that vegetable-based fats are healthier than saturated animal fats. Healthy fat choices would include vegetable oils, particularly olive oil and omega 3 oils such as those from cold water fish.
Choose your Snacks Wisely
Snacks are an easy place to go awry on a diet plan. Many people, including seniors, are tempted to go for the easy, packaged food high in salt and fats or for sweets with high calorie content.
The Mediterranean diet has been studied by researchers at New York University. The results of their studies showed that substituting nuts such as almonds, peanuts and pecans for other snacks may help to maintain brain function. The Mediterranean diet also includes other foods like olive oil, fish, and vegetables which may contribute to brain and heart health as well.
Changing the diet can be hard, particularly if one is set in their ways but small changes can make a big difference!
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