As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” While that shouldn’t always be taken literally, it can be a great guidepost for how to consider nutritional needs for adults. After all, food can be a contributing factor to many health problems, from heart issues to diabetes to obesity, or trigger flare ups in conditions like Crohn’s or Lupus. Combining a balanced, nutritious diet with over-the-counter and prescription medications can help seniors feel their best and get the most out of their golden years.
The American Heart Association notes that developing a healthy eating plan comes down to three factors:
1. Timing of your meals
2. How much to eat
3. What foods to choose
The first two have everything to do with your changing metabolism. As our bodies change and our activity levels shift, our metabolisms can slow down as we age. That might mean a decline in appetite, which makes it essential to ensure that what we do eat is as nutritious as possible. That’s where we get to the third item on the list, which is a matter of making every item on the plate count.
The AHA recommends emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains over sweets, starchy vegetables, and red meat. There’s no denying that a chocolate chip cookie is delicious, or that sweet tea is refreshing on a hot day, but such treats should be enjoyed in moderation, rather than as mainstays of your regular diet. Instead, fill 50% of your plate with vegetables or fruits, such as cauliflower, broccoli, or collards. The rest can be filled with whole grain carbohydrates, like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta, and protein like chicken, fish, lean pork, or beans. Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, or nuts can give your dishes plenty of flavor without loading up on salt or hydrogenated oils.
Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that some medications might react negatively with certain foods, so you’ll want to talk to your doctor to make sure that the vegetables and fruits you’re choosing work with your prescription regimen. People taking blood thinners like Coumadin, for example, should limit their intake of Vitamin K, which can be found in dark leafy greens like spinach, brussels sprouts, parsley, collards, mustard greens, chard, and even green tea. Similarly, grapefruit juice can interfere with cholesterol-lowering statins. Digoxin, a medication used to treat heart failure, can interact badly with excess amounts of black licorice. So double check with your doctor to make sure that your attempts to eat healthy won’t be derailed by a drug interaction.
At Regency, we believe that food is a matter of equal parts health, flavor, and coming together. Our chefs not only prepare healthy meals, we enable residents to dine together, as well as with their loved ones, and also arrange special outings to nearby restaurants for the occasional treat. After years of bringing home the bacon and frying it up, it’s our turn to serve you, and help you make your golden years some of the healthiest and most enjoyable.
Written by: Meghan O’Dea