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What Foods Should the Elderly Avoid?

What Foods Should the Elderly Avoid?

There are certain types of food everyone should avoid to stay healthy. For example, processed food loaded with sugars and empty calories is something you should stay away from regardless of your age. However, the elderly can be particularly vulnerable due to their changing bodies, declining health, and changed physical needs. Therefore, they should not eat the following:

  • Processed Meats

To prevent heart-related problems, seniors should avoid processed meats as much as possible. Prosciutto, salami, hot dogs, and other processed meats can contain parasites because they are often aged without cooking (cooking kills the microbes in the meats). They are also full of sodium and additives.

In addition, avoid raw poultry and undercooked meats as such foods can contain Salmonella and other illness-causing bacteria.

Low temperatures can also kill microbes. So, if you don’t want to give up on deli meats, make sure to freeze them for at least four to five days before eating.

  • Raw Fish

Seafood is good for our health because it contains omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals. However, seniors should avoid fresh mussels, shrimp, and sushi because they can also have harmful parasites and microbes.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up on fish and seafood. Just make sure to consume thoroughly cooked fish and shellfish.

  • Raw or Undercooked Eggs

If prepared appropriately, eggs are a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. But raw or undercooked eggs are often the breeding ground for Salmonella. So, avoid salad dressings that use raw eggs, such as hollandaise sauce or Caesar dressing. Also, stay away from soft-boiled eggs and stick to hard-boiled ones instead. Scrambled or baked eggs are a safe choice too.

  • Soft Cheese

Soft, unpasteurized cheese like Brie, Camembert, or Blue cheese has a high moisture content, mold, and less acid than other cheeses. For this reason, they can contain listeria and other bacteria. So, you might want to opt for Swiss varieties of cheddar instead.

  • Unpasteurized Milk or Juice

Although raw (unpasteurized) milk or juice is commonly considered healthier (pasteurization process eliminates the nutrients), it can also contain E. coli, Salmonella, and other illness-provoking bacteria.

  • Other Processed Foods

Baked goods or frozen meals are typically loaded with chemical preservatives, fats, sugar, and salt. The high content of fats may lead to obesity and other health issues. At the same time, foods loaded with carbohydrates can cause inflammation that aggravates chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease or insulin resistance.

Inflammation has also been associated with cognitive impairment in seniors, so avoiding processed foods can prevent or delay cognitive decline linked to dementia.