Articles and Information from GA Foods

Age Well by Eating Well

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Sep 28, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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Proper nutrition is the key to aging well, and it has many health benefits. The vitamins and nutrients in food can help you fight diseases, boost your energy and help you sleep better.

For more tips on energy boosting nutrition click here.

Senior Nutrition

Many senior citizens don’t receive adequately balanced meals, which leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition among seniors is directly correlated to the increasing diagnoses of diseases in the senior population. It is very important to consume the recommended amounts of nutrients every day in order to help your body age well.

Good Nutrition Can Prevent Disease

Consuming natural, minimally-processed foods maximizes the body’s intake of vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are necessary in order for the body to age well and fight against sicknesses and diseases. Multiple health studies have proven that some foods reduce the risk of, and may even prevent, certain chronic conditions. 

We’ve composed a list of the most common diseases among seniors as well as the healthy foods to include in your diet to help prevent them.

  1. 1. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is the No. 1 killer of Americans. If you have heart disease, it is recommended to limit the amount of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium you eat each day. A few heart-healthy foods include salmon, nuts, tomatoes and dark chocolate (made up of at least 60 – 70 percent cocoa).
  1. 2. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often referred to as the silent killer. Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Foods that are high in potassium can help reduce your risk of hypertension. Some examples are bananas, potatoes and leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens and kale.
  1. 3. Diabetes comes in two forms, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin. With the help of insulin therapy and a healthy diet, type 1 diabetes can be managed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is a problem with your body that causes your blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle. Diabetic meals should be low in sugar and carbohydrates. Eating cherries, avocados and cinnamon are great because they are linked to reducing blood sugar levels. 

Benefit From a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consists of a balance between fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, meat and healthy fats. Every meal you eat has the potential to help your body perform successfully. Aside from reducing the risk of diseases, the nutritious meals you eat can also boost your metabolism, improve your mood and help you sleep better at night. Eating an adequate amount of micronutrients including iron, omega-3 fatty acid and folic acid will ensure a positive food-mood relationship.

Make Small Changes

You don’t have to adjust your diet all at once. Start with small changes like switching from a sugary breakfast cereal to a whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Or, snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods like crackers and chips.

In addition to making small changes, set small, realistic goals to help you acheive your end result. If your end goal is to have as much energy at the end of the day as you do in the morning by three months from now, setting small goals such as getting seven hours of sleep every night, buying more fruits and vegetables when grocery shopping and drinking eight glasses of water daily are great starting points. Achieving these small goals will keep you motivated on your end result, and they'll improve your overall health.

Eating Well on a Budget

Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive. We’ve created some helpful tips for eating right on a budget. One way to stick to your grocery budget is to create a grocery list. Creating a grocery list ensures you won’t forget any items you need for the week, and it makes you less likely to purchase junk foods, as they are not on the list.

Eating healthy takes some planning. For more information on food swaps you can make to your diet to give you an energy boost, download our energy boosting nutrition tips sheet. 
Download Energy Boosting Nutrition Tips

 

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Topics: Nutrition, Malnutrition in Elderly, Senior Health, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition Care, Advice from Dietitians, Affordable, Healthy Foods, Healthy Meals for Seniors

The Causes of Malnutrition in Older Adults

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Apr 27, 2016 11:00:00 AM

While we often hear about children in our society not having access to a proper diet and measures being taken to try to improve their condition, we do not hear as much about the issues facing our older adult population. The fact is, as many as 50-percent of seniors are at risk for shortcomings in their daily food nutrient requirements. Evidence-based research has produced some startling facts that build a case for working to overcome malnutrition in seniors.

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The Staggering Costs of Undernourished Older Adults

You are likely aware that malnutrition in seniors will impact their health and well-being, however, it may surprise you to learn that in the United States alone, over 50 billion dollars is attributed to the cost of disease-associated undernourishment in the aging population annually. While chronic health conditions can cause a nutrient deficiency, malnutrition also leads to more health complications, falls and hospital admissions in older adults. It is a dangerous cycle that must be stopped. Some more statistics that may astonish you include:

  • One of every two seniors are at risk of malnutrition
  • A 300-percent increase in healthcare costs is linked to undernourishment in older adults
  • Up to 60-percent of seniors hospitalized suffer from the result of malnutrition 
  • Malnutrition can increase a hospital stay for a senior by as many as four to six days

Considering the relatively low cost of ensuring adequate nourishment, it is vital that we do what we can to prevent malnutrition in seniors.

Adequate Income not the Only Way to Defeat Malnutrition in Seniors

Malnutrition in seniors is not relegated only to those with low incomes. There are several underlying causes of undernourishment in the aging population.  Most can be categorized as physiological, sociological, psychological or pathological.

Physiological Causes

During the aging process, many changes occur in the body that contribute to decreased appetite and a lack of interest in food:

  • A decrease in both the senses of taste and smell lower the desire for meals
  • Diminishes in taste and smell may lead to increased salt and sugar intake and lower the desire for adequate variety of food choices
  • Slower gastric function and decreased acid production delays emptying the system
  • Lean body mass decreases, further slowing metabolism and hunger 

While these changes are a natural progression, being aware of them and watching for signs is critical in preventing malnutrition in seniors.

Sociological Causes

Aging is difficult for many to accept and can have a serious effect on the sociological factors involved in seniors' eating habits:

  • A reduced ability to shop for and prepare food
  • Fixed income and socioeconomic status may affect food choices
  • Impairment of life skills and activities
  • Being alone at mealtimes

Outwardly you may not realize these are all factors in undernourishment, but in this class there are attainable solutions.

Psychological Causes

Concerns in this category run deeper than the social aspect of decreased appetite and should be addressed with a medical professional as soon as they are suspected:

  • Depression and a general attitude that life is meaningless
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Grief over the loss of a spouse or friends
  • Life events that are emotionally stressful

Armed with understanding, combating undernourishment in seniors due to psychological concerns can be improved quickly through emotional support and proper medical attention.

Pathological Causes

The final category of causes is another that requires medical intervention and if symptoms are observed, should be addressed as early as possible:

  • Problems with the teeth and jaws
  • Alcoholism
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Underlying disease such as cancer, diabetes and thyroid issues
  • Dementia 
  • Medications that interfere with digestion or hunger

Again, these are all causes that should be addressed by a medical professional as early as possible to mitigate the effects of malnutrition in seniors. 

How We can Overcome Malnutrition in Seniors

While we we may not be able to eradicate undernourishment in all seniors, armed with this information, you can be sure your loved ones or older adults in your care are not at risk for malnutrition. Some tips include:

  • Regular nutritional assessments and follow-up on any prescribed treatments
  • Spend time together, particularly at mealtimes whenever possible
  • Consider a prepared meal service to combat apathy or poor food choices
  • Try to help your senior loved-one stay as active as possible, both socially and physically

One senior at a time, we can all help prevent malnutrition in our older adult population by focusing on those under our care and understanding the underlying causes. 

The more a senior has access to healthy foods and all of life’s necessities, the easier it will be to age-at-home. For more information on choosing a home-delivered meals provider, download our free ebook:

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

 

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Nutrition Care

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