By Diane Alavie, Pharmacist
Helping my parents navigate aging and its challenges opened my eyes to the importance of healthy eating and staying active, especially later in life. Many health issues in older adults — such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease — have been linked to the high consumption of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Eating a variety of fresh foods from each food group and using herbs and lemon juice to flavour your food instead of salt are healthier choices.
I also noticed that my parents seemed to shrink before my eyes and struggled to do all the things they love. Eating enough protein daily is important to maintaining muscle mass as you age. Protein is found not only in meats which may be difficult for seniors to chew and digest, but also in seafood, dairy, beans, peas, lentils, and fortified soy products.
Another essential food group is fruits and vegetables. While mom and dad enjoyed eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, they found it much easier to eat cut varieties than to do it themselves. Adding a Vitamin B12 supplement or Vitamin B12 fortified foods is important for older adults.
Finally drinking enough water is essential to stay hydrated and to aid digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Helping mom and dad plan meals and snacks in advance, make grocery lists of budget-friendly fresh foods, and consider preparation time and calories when choosing foods has not only helped them stay healthy and independent, but it also brought us closer together.