5 Reasons to Try the Mediterranean Diet in the Senior Years

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Over the last few years, the Mediterranean diet has become very popular among health enthusiasts, and many experts believe it’s one of the best dietary options for aging adults. This diet emphasizes nutrient-dense foods while limiting the intake of processed foods and ingredients. Seniors who closely follow the Mediterranean diet could see major boosts in their physical and mental health within a matter of weeks. Here are just a few. 


1. Increase Life Expectancy

A team of researchers from the IRCCS Neuromed–Mediterranean Neurological Institute recently carried out a long-term study on the effects of the Mediterranean diet. The primary purpose of the study was to explore how this diet impacts mortality rates. After following thousands of seniors for nearly a decade, the research team revealed the Mediterranean diet is able to extend the average life span in the general population. This diet is one of the reasons many regions in the Mediterranean are now classified as Blue Zones, or areas where the population lives much longer than usual. 


2. Boost Heart Health

Even though heart disease is on the decline, cardiovascular issues are still frighteningly common among the aging population. Genetics plays a role in heart disease, but lifestyle habits are very important as well. Sticking to a diet filled with healthy fat reduces the risk of heart disease and many other cardiovascular issues. The Mediterranean diet seems to help with all the risk factors that have been linked to heart disease, including hypertension and high cholesterol. 

A professional caregiver with training in nutrition can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement as your loved one adopts new healthy habits, including eating more nutritious foods. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them attain this goal. Families can trust elderly home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living longer and healthier lives.


3. Prevent Cognitive Decline

While many people think of fats as being unhealthy, certain fats are actually vital to cognitive abilities. The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats that reduce general inflammation and nourish the brain. Those who are following this diet will eat plenty of olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. More research needs to be done on the subject, but a handful of studies have shown the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as well. 


4. Lower the Risk of Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious health condition on the rise in the senior population, and it can be extremely dangerous when left untreated. Luckily, most people can reverse type 2 diabetes by making some changes in their eating habits. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes nutritious foods that provide long-term energy, which limits blood sugar fluctuations. Seniors who are on this diet must also avoid all the processed foods that can increase the risk of diabetes, including sugary beverages, candy, and white bread. 

Family caregivers need to maintain a healthy lifestyle too, which involves self-care and making time to attend to their own wellbeing. In Cincinnati, respite care is a great help to many families. Caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times, which puts family caregivers at risk for burnout. However, an in-home caregiver can take over your loved one’s care, allowing you the time you need to focus on your own health, maintain a full-time job, or care for other members of your family.


5. Fight Depression

Many factors, including dietary habits, must be taken into consideration when discussing emotional health issues. Without a varied and nutritious diet, it’s difficult for the body to make and regulate important chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin. A 2013 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging found the Mediterranean diet can reduce a senior’s risk of depression by as much as 33 percent. 

Professional caregivers with training and expertise in nutrition can be a wonderful asset for seniors. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior care. Cincinnati families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. To learn about our high-quality in-home care plans, call us today.