Healthy eating is important at any age. Most people are familiar with the food pyramid, and the recommendation to eat a varied diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eating healthy can look a little different for everyone, depending on their unique needs, and their values or cultural beliefs around food. Regardless of what guides your dietary choices, healthy eating is known to bring many benefits, such as living a longer and fuller life. Learn more about the benefits of eating healthy:
1. Weight Management
Many people naturally associate healthy eating with weight management. This is not just about losing weight. Fluctuations in weight, whether an increase or a decrease, can have an impact on general health. Weight changes can specifically affect the status of health conditions, such as diabetes. Weight fluctuations can also affect medication management, such as leading to a necessary change in dosing.
In general, aging adults may be even more inclined to manage their weight than ever before in order to manage their physical functioning. For example, weight management plays a key role in preventing or reducing the joint pain related to arthritis. Weight management also makes it easier to stay active.
2. Health Management
One of the main benefits of eating healthy is health management. As noted, healthy eating plays a big role in managing various health conditions and maintaining physical health. For example, eating more healthy options and reducing your consumption of less healthy options can help reduce cholesterol.
Certain foods are recommended to address specific conditions, and in some cases specific foods are known to support the health of various organs and body systems. For example, aging adults with heart conditions may want to get more leafy greens and whole grains in their diet. These foods are known to support heart health. A consultation with a dietician can lead to specific diet plans for your health needs.
3. Cognitive Management
Aging adults may notice some changes or declines in their cognitive functioning. Most seniors experience some slowing in processing speed and mild memory loss. Others may face greater symptoms of dementia that may be the result of genetics and environmental factors. Although, medical care is necessary to address the symptoms of dementia, healthy eating can be part of any memory care plan.
To reap the benefits of eating health for cognitive management, you want to select foods known to support brain health. Such foods include those that have healthy fats and oils. This includes fish and nuts. Both are healthy and delicious options. For example, fish provide valuable omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Mood Management
Although the physical health benefits of food are widely known, many people are less familiar with the benefits of eating healthy for your mood. Indeed, your diet can have a big effect on your mood and state of mind. People who are inclined towards anxiety or depression will find that eating the right foods can help to reduce their symptoms. Of course, anyone may find it helpful to eat mood supporting foods.
Foods that help to support a positive mood include many of those that support heart and brain health. Research has also shown that fermented foods seem to support gut health and that in turn effects mood. Finally, good news for chocolate lovers—dark chocolate and hot cocoa are truly mood boosters!
Before you make any major dietary changes, it is always a good idea to consult with your medical providers for their recommendations. Some medical conditions and medications require certain dietary needs be met. For example, grapefruit can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications. You can also ask your provider for a recommendation and referral to a dietician. Finally, many aging adults elect to move into senior living communities, where professional chefs will plan their healthy meals.