Overview of an Anti-inflammatory Diet for Seniors
According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic inflammation can seriously affect seniors. As a result, if a senior is afflicted with chronic inflammation, he or she should consider consulting with a doctor about the possibility of following an anti-inflammation diet. Through this article, we provide seniors, their caregivers, and other family members and loved ones with an overview of an anti-inflammatory diet for seniors.
Broad Benefits of Adopting an Anti-inflammatory Diet for Seniors
According to Harvard Medical School, several significant benefits are associated with an anti-inflammatory diet that extends beyond addressing unhealthy inflammation. You are well served understanding how an anti-inflammatory can benefit senior family members or you personally as a woman or man in his or her Golden Years.
We present five broad key benefits of adopting an anti-inflammatory diet for a senior parent (or for ourselves when we reach the latter years of our lives):
- An anti-inflammatory diet is quickly gaining popularity among health and nutrition experts as a way to promote overall well-being and improve the body’s functioning concept that certain foods can reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet means eating various nutrient-dense foods full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- One major benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet is that it can reduce your risk for chronic disease by reducing inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is one of the most dangerous responses to illness or injury because it can permanently damage cells and tissues if not treated properly. Eating various nutrient-dense foods can help keep inflammation levels low by providing essential nutrients and antioxidants that help protect cells from damage.
- Another benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet is that it can improve your energy levels due to its abundance of vitamins and minerals. When you have plenty of energy throughout the day, you’re able to think more clearly and focus better on the tasks at hand – a great way to stay productive -. An anti-inflammatory diet consists mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins such as fish or poultry, nuts and seeds, healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil, and herbs and spices, which all provide essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal energy production.
- An anti-inflammatory diet may also benefit your mental health by improving moods thanks to its rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils which help boost serotonin levels in our brains, leading to improved moods and better memory formation. In addition to improving moods, studies show omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for decreasing symptoms associated with depression.
- Finally, an anti-inflammatory diet may help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping your hunger hormones balanced due to its abundance of protein sources, like fish or poultry. Protein helps keep us full longer due to its ability to slow down digestion which helps us stay satiated until our next meal.
Seasonal Foods That Prevent Unhealthy Inflammation
In building an anti-inflammatory diet, one area in which a senior should focus is seasonal produce upon which such a nutritional regimen can be built.
Winter Anti-inflammatory Selections
In the cold winter months, a senior should think green. Many green leafy vegetables are nutritional stars during this wintertime. These include:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
In addition, root vegetables like beets, turnips, and sweet potatoes are other solid wintertime options for seniors who desire an anti-inflammatory diet. A range of fruits is also a wonderful wintertime selection for seniors interested in an anti-inflammatory diet that include:
- Kiwi fruit
Spring Anti-inflammatory Selections
When spring is upon us, many products work well in an anti-inflammatory diet for aging women or men. These produce items include:
Beginning in the springtime, seniors should also take full advantage of fresh herbs.
Summer Anti-inflammatory Superstars
Summertime is prime time for many types of produce. Berries are great selections when it comes to creating an anti-inflammatory diet. These include:
Other summertime products to include in anti-inflammatory diets for seniors include:
- Green beans
- Honeydew melon
Fall Anti-inflammatory Selections
Nothing says autumn like a crisp, crunchy apple. But there are many other anti-inflammatory foods to try, such as cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, winter squash, parsnips, peas, ginger, and all types of lettuce.
When choosing an anti-inflammatory food, try substituting it for a less healthy option. For example, trade a muffin for a fresh-berry fruit salad or a plate of French fries for a baked sweet potato. Making small trades in your diet can add to big health benefits.
Signs of Unhealthy Inflammation for Seniors and Their Caregivers
When considering an anti-inflammatory diet for a senior parent, other senior loved one, or yourself, you need to be generally aware of some of the most commonplace signs and symptoms of this potentially serious health issue. The five most commonplace signs and symptoms of unhealthy inflammation in the senior population in the United States include:
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Digestive issues
- Weight loss or gain
- Depression and anxiety
Joint Pain and Stiffness
When inflammation persists in the body over time, it can cause pain and joint stiffness. This often includes stiffness in the hands and feet and chronic back pain. Seniors who experience any pain or joint stiffness lasting longer than a few days should consult their doctor so that any underlying issues can be addressed early on before they worsen.
Inflammation increases fatigue by causing muscles to tire more quickly, making it difficult for seniors to stay active throughout the day. If seniors experience fatigue that does not improve with rest or adequate sleep, they should contact their doctor for further evaluation.
Unhealthy inflammation can disrupt digestion, leading to symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. If these digestive problems persist without apparent cause, seniors should speak with their doctor about getting tested for an inflammatory condition.
Weight Loss or Gain
Changes in appetite due to unhealthy inflammation may lead to weight gain or loss depending on how much food is consumed daily. Seniors who notice sudden changes in appetite ought to consult their physician immediately so that any medical conditions causing these changes can be addressed promptly and effectively.
Depression and Anxiety
Prolonged periods of systemic inflammation have been linked to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety in seniors and others. Although the exact mechanism remains unknown, these mental health issues are believed to be linked to changes in brain chemistry. Specifically, it is believed that increased levels of inflammatory molecules like cytokines that circulate throughout our bodies during an inflammatory response can result in depression and anxiety.
In conclusion, we consider the words of registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD., regarding an anti-inflammatory diet for seniors:
Just like inflammation happens after an injury, that same process can happen within your body. Certain foods and health conditions can cause inflammation. But the food we eat and don’t eat can soothe and even prevent that inflammation.