As we age, the nutrients our bodies need start to change. This makes it very important for the elderly to be more mindful of what they eat to stay healthy and prevent the development of various diseases such as Alzheimer’s. As highlighted in a previous post, following specific diets such as the Mediterranean Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53%. Aside from promoting brain health, here are some more ways a Mediterranean diet can help boost the health of senior citizens:
One of the most common fruits found in Mediterranean dishes is avocado. This fruit is relatively popular across America as the perfect topping on toast and as a great source of heart-healthy fats. US News states that the oils derived from avocado are rich in monosaturated fats, which are associated with cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, and phytosterols, which help reduce the absorption of cholesterol. Elderly people usually suffer from nutrient deficiencies which Parsley Health explains can bring forth various symptoms such as depression, lethargy, and brittle hair and nails. Power-packed with vitamin E, vitamin K, B vitamins, folate, potassium, and vitamin C, avocados and avocado oils can help provide elderly people with the nutrients they need to stay healthy and address some of these symptoms.
As people age, the immune response of their gut becomes less effective. Medical News Today claims that this decline is often linked to the changes in the gut microbiome or the communities of bacteria and microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract. These changes are often associated with inflammation, increased frailty, and a predisposition to intestinal illnesses. Fortunately, it is possible to rejuvenate the gut's immune system. According to a study published in the Journal of the British Society of Gastroenterology, subscribing to a Mediterranean diet for a year can effectively alter the microbiome of elderly people in such a way that it improves brain function. The Mediterranean diet that follows the principle of eating lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and olive oil and little red meat, sugar, and saturated fats slows down the loss of bacterial diversity and the production of harmful inflammatory markers.
Aside from protecting people against certain types of cancer and cognitive decline, the Mediterranean diet in old age is also said to promote longevity. The Insider notes how the Mediterranean diet has been associated with the regions of the world where people tend to live the longest and healthiest. One of the easiest ways to incorporate this diet into your meals is by using liberal amounts of olive oil in your cooking. Olive oil is a fantastic source of powerful antioxidants that help protect the body against free radicals that cause cell damage and contribute to the development of diseases. Michael Simmons shared in an article on the Medium that olive oil can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and protect old people against strokes.
In summary, a Mediterranean diet not only provides a number of benefits that includes an improved immune system, longevity, and gut function, it is also easy to follow and should be a major consideration for the elderly across the world that will provide them with immeasurable benefits.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2020.