Super foods. The name alone evokes images of capped heroes, swooping in to save the day. But are these foods really worthy of such superlative nomenclature? And are the health benefits to seniors all they are cracked up to be? For some of these foods, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But for others, recent studies have given mixed reviews.
What makes a food “super”?
The trademark of most of the super foods is that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, “good” fats, and/or lean protein. On top of that, many are loaded with antioxidants. Diets rich in antioxidants are frequently associated with the prevention of cancer, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disease–all issues of concern as we age. Click the link above to learn more about the types of super foods that can help boomers achieve better health.
We all want our parents to remain as active and independent as possible, and we want the same thing for ourselves! Regular exercise is pivotal for seniors. Seniors are at greater risk for disease, lost mobility, and falls than any other age group. Conversely, they often realize the positive effects of exercise more quickly than another age group. If your parent hasn’t been exercising, it can be difficult to get started.
Healthaging.net offers some tips to get over that initial hump. Click the link above to learn more.
At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.
We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes!
Summertime means graduation season and there is a recent and growing trend among college graduates that is garnering a lot of attention. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2020, 43 percent of college students are expected to be age 25 and older. And among these older grads are more and more seniors. Click above to learn more about how lifelong learning is beneficial for seniors’ minds and bodies.
What is your attitude about the aging process? Do you view it as a positive rite of passage or a negative phenomenon that must simply be endured? Learn more about changing your mindset about growing older by clicking the link above.
What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.
But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.
Click above to learn more about active aging.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
- Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
- Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination
Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:
- Unplanned weight loss
- Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
- Swallowing dysfunction
- Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)
Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.
When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?
- Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
- Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
- Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
- Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.
Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.
The Brain Fit Book Club at Wesley Glen really enjoyed reading (and discussing, over a course of several months) Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. The book explores how we as humans are originally hardwired for negativity, not positivity. Why? Dr. Hanson refers to “Paper Tiger Paranoia,” which looks at the special power of fear:
“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes: (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one. The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death. Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once,” Hanson explains.
So, we are genetically programmed for fear and anxiety. And anyone who has ever experienced the “hamster wheel of the mind” in the middle of the night can surely relate to that.
But we can, through a variety of ways, begin to hardwire our brains in a different way, in essence, change our brains for the better. The key, according to Dr. Hanson, is to become mindful of the thoughts you are thinking, step back and observe what you are thinking, then work with it to pull the negative thoughts from your own head like you would pull weeds from a garden, and then actively cultivate positive experiences and thoughts. Dr. Hanson calls it “Self-Directed Neuroplasticity,” which is cultivating good, positive thoughts in your head, including living and dwelling with good memories and thoughts, not bad ones.
The negativity bias, while good for survival in harsh conditions, is lousy for a good quality of life, fulfilling relationships, and long-term health. So, take a cue from Dr. Hanson, and regularly take in the good. Many people are a much better friend to others than they are to themselves. He recommends taking notice of the good, and try not to focus on the negatives that inevitably arise in everyone’s life. Your life-long happiness with be enhanced as a result.
Source: Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D
Inflammation works behind the scenes as the underlying cause of many health issues, including brain health. But eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — can help you fight inflammation and its many negative side effects.
Click above to learn more.