The Elderly Should Avoid These Consumables
As we get older, our bodies face inevitable wear and tear. Thus, we need to be that much more careful when it comes to our diets. We'll be exploring the worst foods and drinks for seniors.
Worst Drinks for Seniors
- Sugary sodas and soft drinks: These beverages are high in added sugars and offer little to no nutritional value. Drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi can contribute to weight gain, dental issues and increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Energy drinks: Energy drinks often contain high levels of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants. These can negatively affect seniors' cardiovascular health and may lead to dehydration and sleep disturbances.
- Fruit punches and sweetened fruit juices: Many fruit punches and packaged fruit juices contain added sugars and lack the fiber and nutrients found in whole fruits. Excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels.
- Alcohol in excess: While moderate alcohol consumption may be acceptable for some seniors, excessive alcohol intake (from beers, wine, coolers, etc.) can lead to increased health risks, including liver problems, impaired cognition and interactions with medications.
- High-calorie coffee drinks: Specialty coffee drinks loaded with syrups, whipped cream and high-fat milk can be high in calories, unhealthy fats and added sugars. These beverages can contribute to weight gain and other health issues.
- Sports drinks: Sports drinks are designed for athletes engaging in intense physical activity to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates. For less active seniors, these drinks can be unnecessary and high in sugar and sodium.
- Artificially sweetened beverages: While they may be sugar-free, artificially sweetened beverages (like diet sodas) often contain artificial additives and sweeteners that may have adverse effects on health. It's best to opt for water or unsweetened drinks instead.
- High-sodium vegetable juices: Some vegetable juices, particularly pre-packaged or canned varieties, can be high in sodium. Excessive sodium intake can contribute to hypertension and other cardiovascular issues.
- Full-fat milkshakes and creamy beverages: These drinks are often high in saturated fats and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels. It's important to consume them in moderation.
- Unfiltered tap water: Depending on the quality of the tap water in a specific area, unfiltered water may contain contaminants that could pose health risks, especially for seniors with weakened immune systems. It's advisable to use filtered or purified water.
Worst Foods for Seniors
1. Raw Eggs
Eggs are a wonderful food, jam-packed with many essential nutrients. However, undercooked or raw eggs may have salmonella. To reduce this risk, thoroughly cook your eggs, such as having them boiled, fried or made into an omelet. It means making sure the yolk is firm and not running!
2. Raw Fish & Sushi
While you don’t necessarily need to avoid raw fish and sushi entirely, it’s important to note that these raw foods are much more likely to be contaminated, meaning you could get harmful parasites if you’re not careful. The safest route is to thoroughly cook all raw seafood before eating it. It is often recommended for children and pregnant women as well.
While sushi can be high in vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, it can be high in salt and fat, which isn’t always “heart healthy.” Research shows higher salt consumption is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
3. Processed Deli Meats
The downside of aging is that our organs don’t work as well as they once did, meaning they can be easily overburdened. Processed foods, like deli meat, may give your liver and kidneys a run for their money (and not in a good way).
On top of this, deli meats are also often high in sodium, making them potentially harmful to your heart health, and they contain some chemicals which may increase your risk of cancer.
4. Unpasteurized Milk & Cheese
As we age, inflammation tends to increase within the body. Simply put, our immune systems don’t function as well as they once did. This can be problematic when eating certain foods, such as those that aren’t pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that helps sterilize many of the foods we eat. Yet, unpasteurized milk and cheese may contain harmful bacteria, like salmonella or E. coli.
If we become ill due to these bacteria, an older body may have a harder time recovering. Dehydration after food poisoning can also be a serious problem for the elderly and young.
Soda or high-sugary beverages should be taken out of your regular rotation. While the occasional drink won’t harm you, having these regularly may up your caloric intake and potentially lead to weight gain and other issues that come with it. Instead, opt for water, tea or juice.
6. Raw Sprouts
Sprouts contain plenty of wonderful nutrients. Yet, they also have a higher likelihood of bacterial contamination. If you enjoy sprouts, try having them cooked instead.
7. Unpasteurized Juice
Again, unpasteurized food items leave you susceptible to bacteria. While juice is often more nutritious when unpasteurized, for some, especially the elderly, their immune system may not be able to handle the bacteria it could contain. Instead, stick to pasteurized juice; It still has some nutrients and won’t increase your risk of health issues.
8. Multigrain Bread
Multigrain bread is often talked about for its great health benefits and is said to be superior to other bread. Yet, the truth is it’s often far more processed than other types of bread, making it the less healthy option. For this, the main tip is to check the label to ensure there aren’t added sweeteners or additives. Some multigrain bread can be good, but some not so much.
As previously mentioned, our liver function often slows down as we age; this means alcohol can have an even bigger and more negative impact on liver function. The liver must work hard to detoxify the body, which may lead to it becoming overburdened and impacting its other necessary functions.
Avoiding alcohol entirely is best. However, life is meant to be enjoyed! Try to stick to alcoholic drinks only on special occasions, and stick to only a drink or two. Alternatively, you can still enjoy special events without alcohol; It may all depend on your perspective and personal preference.
Surprisingly, grapefruit can increase your risk of kidney stones by up to 44%. Unfortunately, grapefruits might not be the best choice if you’re prone to kidney stones or other issues. Opting for other fruits, like blueberries or oranges, is better.
What Foods Should Seniors Eat?
Healthy eating is essential to extend our longevity and continue to maintain a high quality of life, even in later years. Always make sure you have enough fruit and vegetables, lean meats and healthy grains. Kiwis are especially good for older adults to include in their diets, as they're full of antioxidants, potassium and fibre. Zespri kiwis can be found in local grocery stores if you want to add some to your diet.
Generally, for any healthy diet, it’s all about limiting processed foods and turning to more whole foods. For seniors, there may be some special considerations, as mentioned above. At the same time, eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult.
You can plan and make meals in big batches so you have plenty when you’re not up for cooking. You can also consider meal prep services, like HelloFresh, that bring the ingredients right to your door. All you need to do is follow the instructions and get cooking! No measuring is necessary.
For most people, their diet is unique to them and their health. If you’re a senior concerned about your dietary choices, talking to your doctor or a nutritionist is best to determine what would work for you and your health.