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Good nutrition is essential for people of all ages, and that's no less true for seniors. A healthy diet is one of the building blocks of good mental and physical health and overall well-being.

However, elderly individuals may face unique difficulties in maintaining a healthy diet compared to the general population. For example, it's natural for your appetite to decrease as you age, leading to overall lower food intake (and consequently, less opportunity to consume healthy foods). Additionally, seniors who no longer have access to transportation, or who struggle with mobility, may find grocery shopping or cooking difficult. As a result, many seniors opt to skip meals, or consume easy junk foods instead.

Disease Prevention

Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet keeps you physically healthy in a variety of ways. In addition to helping your body maintain an appropriate weight, keeping the digestive system healthy, and boosting immunity, a healthy diet for seniors can help prevent against the following serious diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer

Better Cognitive Function

Good nutrition doesn't just help your body—it can also have a positive impact on your mind. Studies suggest that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, or can slow their progress for individuals who have already been affected. Nutrition strategies for keeping your mind sharp include reducing sugar intake, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and consuming plenty of healthy fats, particularly omega-3s.

Maintain Mobility

Recent research has indicated that diet plays a significant role in preventing disability in seniors. In particular, antioxidant nutrients typically found in fruits and vegetables (such as vitamins, carotenoids, and selenium) are connected with lower rates of disability and functional limitations.

On top of that, experts agree that maintaining a diet with adequate amounts of calcium, protein, and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis and maintain musculoskeletal health. Seniors who have a healthy bone mass are at reduced risk for potentially dangerous fractures, and those who do experience fractures are more likely to have an easier recovery.

If you or someone you know is a senior who is struggling to maintain a healthy diet, it may be time to consider looking for help in the form of a senior meals program. Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Visit our website for more information or to help provide a meal for a low income senior.