Everyone needs to be thinking about a healthy diet, not as a way to lose weight or cure health problems, but as a way to be healthy all the time. Not every condition responds merely to dietary choices, but in the lives of seniors, an anti-inflammatory diet could prevent or reduce symptoms of chronic joint pain like arthritis.
Foods to Avoid for Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet should cause one to avoid certain foods most of the time. These include:
- Greasy, fatty, and fried foods (onion rings, French fries)
- Processed foods (chips, granola bars, crackers)
- Sugar and refined starches that quickly turn into sugar and then fat
- Salt and preservatives
- Corn oil
These are just some of the recommendations being made. Why would you want to avoid these things? Firstly, a lot of them cause problems across the board, whether you are 20 or 70. Obesity is just one of them. If you do not notice problems in your hands, feet, or hips, you might have connected stomach discomfort, fatigue, poor memory, and other symptoms with consumption or over-consumption of these items. Constant illness could be attributed to their effects on immunity.
Processed foods frequently contain dairy, fat, and refined starches; possibly salt, preservatives, and maybe corn oil (usually GMO). Foods like heavy breads, cakes, donuts, cookies, and even some so-called “healthy” bars and cereals can be deceptively full of them.
Dairy is not a problem for everyone. Moreover, you have to consume some calcium and live bacterial culture in your regular diet. An anti-inflammatory diet would remove two sources of these, but these can be replaced with supplements or other foods (or both) under advisement from a nutritionist specializing in the needs of senior citizens.
Foods to Eat for Anti-Inflammatory Diet
In place of foods you should not be consuming, there is an even longer list of items you are welcome to eat all the time. They are:
- Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, bulgar wheat)
- Garlic and onions
- Leafy green vegetables (kale, broccoli, dark leaf lettuce)
- Fatty fish
- Soy (tofu, meat replacement)
Be aware that there are other problems people face when they eat soy. For instance, a senior could experience intolerance which causes bloating and headaches. You know your body best, so be aware.
As for leafy greens, garlic, tomatoes: it is no secret these are good for you. Berries are considered super foods and are constantly being added to shakes and supplements to promote detoxification, energy, and so on.
Fatty fish might seem a contradiction to the “low fat” rule, but there are always exceptions. The kind of fat you find in some fish (salmon, for instance) is excellent for your brain and for adding to the good cholesterol in your bloodstream. As always, be sure to balance these things out. It is possible to eat more of anything than is good for you.
For seniors living at home alone, there is the option to hire a professional caregiver who can help to prepare grocery lists and healthy meals.
Having Fun with Food
While “bad” food is not good for your digestive system or inflammatory diseases, there is always a time and a place to add those to your life. Avoiding them all the time makes life boring and ultra-restrictive. If you love cake, eat it, just not every day. Put some on your plate at Sunday lunch. Give your anti-inflammatory diet a break.
Clues to Good Food
If all the above lists and ideas are confusing, consider the cultures where seniors seem to be healthier than those living in North America. They have anti-inflammatory diets as a rule. Cultures with particularly healthy menus include Thailand, China, and Japan. Their diets contain a lot of fermented foods, no dairy, tons of leafy vegetables, and whole foods. Fish is regularly added to their diets, and it is not usually fried.
For More Information
To learn more about what foods to eat and avoid for an anti-inflammatory diet, check out the sources below.
- Nutrition and Arthritis
- Arthritis Foundation guide to anti-inflammatory diet
- Canadian Living: anti-inflammatory diet