Why Good Nutrition Is Important to Black Seniors

Written by Ifeanyi Paschal

Human bodies are like finely tuned engines that need fuel (in this case, good food) to keep running and producing optimal results. So, this Nutrition Awareness Month, it is important for Black seniors to prioritize good nutrition. All over the world, Black seniors often have similar health challenges. These common medical issues include cancer, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and lung diseases. Consequently, those health conditions are the leading causes of death among them in Black communities. Several reports indicate that Black seniors are more likely to die from those ailments than other races in the United States and beyond.

Each of the aforementioned health issues has different degrees of impact. For instance, one-third of Black people in the US suffer from high blood pressure. Similarly, heart diseases and cancers are the first and second common killers of Black people respectively. What’s more, stroke and diabetes also lead to complications that culminate in deaths among Blacks. Generally, health experts attribute the prevalence of those health conditions to genetic, sociopolitical, and environmental factors. Irrespective of the root causes of those ailments, as a Black senior, I will show you the right foods you should eat for healthy living.

The Role of Good Nutrition in Healthy Living  

Because healthy living among Black seniors matters to us at Elevate Black Health, we strongly believe you should know those common health issues and how to use good nutrition to improve your wellbeing. As a Black senior, good nutrition helps to boost your energy, control your weight, and strengthen your immune system against diseases. Health experts are of the view that good nutrition may prevent some diseases such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases. But then, as you age, your immune system grows weaker. However, you must stay healthy by reducing the amounts of calories you consume but increasing your consumption of food nutrients. While good nutrients are largely the same, nutritional requirements vary based on age and gender. As a result, you must adjust your food choices so your body can get exactly what it needs. In summary, good nutrition benefits you physically, mentally, and socially.

What Should Black Seniors Eat for Healthy Living?

According to studies, about 10% of older people living in their homes don’t eat well and one-third of 65+ people eat too much. As a result, more than half of the 65+ people in hospitals or nursing homes have malnutrition. For improved wellbeing, you should go for the following:

  1. Eat food based on medical needs: Nutritionists recommend certain classes of food for elderly people due to their rich nutritional value. However, it is crucial you eat based on your peculiar medical needs. For instance, if you are a diabetic patient, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends eating non-starchy veggies (broccoli and spinach) and fewer refined grains (white bread and rice). If you have a high blood pressure, stick to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal timetable. If you have a stroke, the American Health Association (AHA) advises that you eat whole grains (brown rice and oats), oily fish, fruits, and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils).
  • Avoid certain foods: Plus, cut down on certain food choices. Avoid fried foods because they increase the calories you consume and frying with certain types of oils may result in health issues. Same goes for soul food as it contains large amounts of meat, fat, and sugar; all this leads to heart diseases, obesity, and stroke. Processed meats (bacon, deli meat and hot dogs) are preserved over smoking or salting, thus increasing your cancer risk. One CDC report shows that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with numerous health problems, including heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
  • Add supplements to your dietary plan: If you haven’t been using food supplements before now, this is the right time to give them a shot. Nonetheless, you should use them based on a tailored nutrition plan. For example, if you are iron-deficient, take iron-rich supplements. Also, if you are diabetic, there are supplements that help lower blood sugar, including cinnamon and aloe vera. Those who have a stroke should go for supplements rich in Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Plus, if you have cancer, ground flax seed, garlic, and ginger are perfectly fine for you. Please note that those supplements don’t treat or cure the health conditions, but they can help prevent them or assist your recovery. Still, use them according to your nutritionist’s guideline.
  • Moderate your food consumption: Generally, men have more energy needs per day than women. That’s because men tend to have a higher proportion of muscles. As you age, you lose muscle mass and your activity level drops. While all this happens, it doesn’t mean you should reduce your nutritional needs. Therefore, your need for more calcium for strong bones and teeth should increase; go for low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also consider kale, spinach, and sesame seeds for rich calcium sources.  
  • Plan well: If you are 65 years and older, chances are you are no longer working. As a result, you are probably on a budget. According to various studies, in 2022 1 in 5 Black people experienced food insecurity. Since you cannot afford to spend money extravagantly, you must plan yourself, use what is readily available, and buy the things you need. If you still prepare your food yourself, great! Afterward, store it safely to avoid food-borne illness. In the twilight of your life, plan yourself and always apply caution at home because making certain health-related mistakes could lead to weighty consequences.

Furthermore, join online or in-person support groups that connect elders and help them make informed health choices. Because variety is the spice of life, you can opt for those that focus on chronic diseases, caregiving, lifestyle changes, food, and grief support. Some support networks also help you discover new sources of affordable and healthy foods as inflation reaches record highs. Examples of support networks for seniors are Caring for Elderly Parents, Elder Locator, Mental Health America, etc. While at it, don’t forget to consult your nutritionist or health care professional for personalized nutritional advice and dietary plan.  

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About the author

Ifeanyi Paschal

Ifeanyi Paschal is an experienced researcher and versatile writer. With nearly a decade of experience in the writing industry, Paschal has coordinated and participated in several research studies and written for companies in a wide spectrum of industries, including health and wellness, tech, HRM, and business development.

As a writer with Elevate Black Health, Paschal goes the extra mile to do extensive research and craft health and wellness articles that help the global Black community deepen its understanding of relevant health challenges, find effective solutions to them, and maximize healthy living.

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