While many factors can contribute to age-related and in some cases unavoidable ailments, a simple thing like eating right could help to delay or prevent the onset of such conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
From antioxidants to omega-3 fatty acids, the foods discussed here are believed to contain the nutrients that could make the difference between a senior and a super senior.
Eating Healthy: Benefits From Your Head…
According to the latest information from the Alzheimer's Association, more than five million Americans had Alzheimer's in 2014, and it is estimated that this number will more than triple by 2050. The association also states that 1 in 3 seniors have Alzheimer's or dementia at the time of their death.
But can seniors eat their way to a healthier brain? According to some studies, yes.
Research has shown that blueberries, for instance, have powerful antioxidants that fight the inflammation and free radicals believed to play major roles in the development of brain cell damage that can lead to Alzheimer's and dementia.
Acai, most commonly consumed as juice, has much the same effect on free radicals and inflammation. Acai is believed to improve memory and concentration.
Small but powerful chia seeds have even more antioxidants than blueberries and can be a real boost to the brain!
Fish is long believed to be a brain food, and recent studies support this belief. One recent study shows that fish consumption actually leads to larger areas of the brain, most particularly the part that controls memory. Fish with high omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, is thought to be best, and has added heart benefits.
Avocados, walnuts, red and black beans, kale and spinach all to a lesser but still high degree contain vitamins and antioxidants that can also support brain health.
...To Your Toes
In the case of some of these foods, "where the head goes the body will follow" applies.
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon can help to fight heart disease, while those found in kale can have a positive effect on autoimmune disorders. Walnuts, too, can reduce cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of heart disease.
High cholesterol is a common condition for the elderly, but in addition to walnuts there are other "superfoods" like eggs, pomegranates and flaxseed that can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol.
Fortunately for seniors, the list of superfoods and their benefits is long. Organizations like AARP have acknowledged the health benefits of so-called superfoods. There's food to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels (apples, steel cut oats, butternut squash), fight heart disease (pumpkin, avocados, sweet potatoes) and strengthen the immune system (spinach, oats, tea).
Want a healthy digestive system? Try Greek yogurt. Stronger bones? Olive oil. Lower blood pressure? Cocoa. This is not to say that these foods alone are cure-alls, but all have been shown to impact age-related conditions in a positive way.
So, the secret to being healthy and feeling super when you're older may not necessarily be found at the pharmacy or your doctor's office, but at your local grocery store.
Journalist & Health Enthusiast