Through all stages of life, the concept of maintaining a “healthy diet” is one we are constantly reminded of. Across the board, many regular diets are to include nutrient-rich foods in a variety of categories such as fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, dairy, meat, fish, and poultry.
However, as we grow, our unique health needs vary and many times, diets require adjustments with increases in certain food groups, and decreases in others. Especially for older adults, it’s important to understand the role diet plays in active aging, and how to determine the type of diet that is best for you and your health needs.
A few diets that have been well-received by dieticians and nutritionists specifically for seniors include the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and the MIND Diet.
The Mediterranean Diet – This diet has long been popular due to the abundance of health benefits and ease with which it can be incorporated into daily life. Based on foods eaten in the Mediterranean, it is rich in fish, beans, olive oil, nuts, and fruit and relatively low in meat, dairy and processed foods. It has been linked to lowering the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, hearing loss and blindness, and can increase cognitive functioning and a longer life.
The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) – This diet is focused specifically on preventing and lowering high blood pressure. It promotes increased servings of plant foods and eating generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. While this diet has been shown to lower high blood pressure, it also contributes to decreases in strokes or heart attacks and can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
The MIND Diet (Mediterranean – DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet) – This diet is a mix of both the Mediterranean and the DASH diets but also focuses on incorporating foods that promote brain health. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, berries, fish, beans, olive oil and poultry are included in the diet and foods such as butter, red meat, fried foods, and cheese are limited. The MIND Diet has been linked to decreases in developing cognitive impairment and increases in clearer thinking and better memory.
While all three of these diets have aspects to them that benefit many, it is always best to consult with a doctor, dietician or nutritionist for what is best for you. At The Wesley Communities, we have Registered Dieticians that oversee our daily meal options and who meet one-on-one with our residents to create tailored and beneficial nutrition plans. Our dining services team works hard to develop science-backed menus with delicious offerings that promote health and active aging.