Anti-Inflammatory diet

Fruit Stand Outside Taj Mahal_4461089531_oWhat you eat can affect your health in many ways. Now we are finding that our diet can fight against inflammation in the body. Inflammation can trigger chronic diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease. Being overweight also promotes inflammation, so losing weight can significantly improve health and reduce the risk of chronic illness.

The Mediterranean Diet is probably the best example of a diet that can reduce inflammation. This diet includes plenty of whole fruits and vegetables; good sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish or flax seed and nuts. It also includes few refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and white rice, and emphasizes whole grains such as brown rice, barley, oats and bulghur wheat as well as limited sugar, sweets and other processed foods.

Soy foods like tofu or edamame are great sources of protein that promote health. Yogurt and other probiotic foods provide additional benefits to an otherwise healthy diet. Foods high in antioxidants and phytochemicals (natural chemicals found in the plant foods) are also believed to help reduce inflammation. Green tea, red wine, dark chocolate (or natural cocoa) have high-quality antioxidants that may have beneficial benefits. Other tasty additions to a healthy diet that reduce inflammation include garlic, ginger, cinnamon and hot spicy seasonings.

Brain Health

BrainNutrition, exercise and general health is important to maintining a healthy brain and good memory. When people think about staying fit, they generally think from the neck down. But the health of your brain plays a critical role in almost everything you do: thinking, feeling, remembering, working, playing — and even sleeping. The good news is that emerging evidence suggests there are steps you can take to help keep your brain healthier as you age. These steps might also reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. More

Nutritional Guidelines for Older Adults

Friends Having Lunch Together At A RestaurantHealthy adults ages 70 and over should follow different nutritional guidelines than other people. In general, seniors usually need less energy and therefore usually eat less.

Guidelines for older adults emphasizes at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water each day. The emphasis on fluids is due to older adults’ reduced sense of thirst that can lead to drinking less fluid. This two-quart daily fluid intake can include juice, milk and non-caffeinated soft drinks and beverages, as well as water. However, alcohol and drinks containing caffeine can cause the body to lose fluids and become dehydrated. Dehydration can make kidney function and constipation worse.

Key dietary supplements calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12 are sometimes recommended because older adults eat less and do not absorb and process nutrients as efficiently as younger people.

Total calcium intake each day should be 1200-1400 milligrams, which is the equivalent of three servings of calcium-rich dairy products (such as milk, hard cheese or yogurt). Supplements, such as calcium citrate and calcium carbonate are available to make up the difference.

Daily vitamin D intake should be 600 international units (IUs), which is equivalent to three 8-ounce glasses of milk. Sunlight provides vitamin D, too, but many seniors often have limited exposure to it, thereby requiring a supplement if their milk intake is less than the three glasses.

Seniors do not easily absorb vitamin B-12. Fortified breakfast cereal can help as it contains vitamin B-12 in a form that the body will absorb. A total of 2.4 micrograms is recommended each day. Taking a multivitamin for seniors will ensure an adequate intake of both vitamin D and B-12.

Fiber comes from many sources, including whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber is very important because it helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis (inflammation of small pockets lining the intestines). It is also associated with lower cholesterol levels, and a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. A total of 20-30 grams of fiber is recommended each day for optimal health. Eating the recommended number of servings of foods that contain fiber will usually provide that intake. Look for the fiber content on the label when shopping. Read More…

Malnutrition in the Elderly

Malnutrition is a serious senior health issue. Know the warning signs and how to help an older loved one avoid poor nutrition.

Good nutrition is critical to senior health — yet many older adults are at risk of inadequate nutrition. Know the causes and signs of nutrition problems in older adults, as well as steps you can take to ensure a nutrient-rich diet for an older loved one.

Problems caused by malnutrition

Malnutrition in older adults can lead to various health problems, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weak immune system, which increases the risk of infections
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Muscle weakness, which can lead to falls and fractures
  • Digestive, lung and heart problems
  • Poor skin integrity

Good nutrition is especially important for older adults who are seriously ill and those who have dementia or have lost weight. These older adults are more likely to be admitted to a hospital or long term care facility and are vulnerable to post-surgical complications and other problems linked to poor nutrition.

How malnutrition begins

The causes of malnutrition may seem straightforward: too little food, a diet lacking in nutrients, digestion problems related to getting older. But malnutrition is often caused by a combination of physical, social and psychological issues. For example:

  • Health problems. Older adults often have health problems that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating, such as chronic illness, use of certain medications, trouble chewing due to dental issues, problems swallowing or difficulty absorbing nutrients. A recent hospitalization may be accompanied by loss of appetite or other nutrition problems. In other cases, a diminished sense of taste and smell decreases appetite.
  • Limited income and reduced social contact. Some older adults may have trouble affording groceries, especially if they’re taking expensive medications. Those who eat alone may not enjoy meals, causing them to lose interest in cooking and eating.
  • Depression. Grief, loneliness, failing health, lack of mobility and other factors may contribute to depression — causing loss of appetite among older adults.
  • Alcoholism. Alcoholism is a leading contributor to malnutrition — decreasing appetite and vital nutrients and frequently serving as a substitute for meals.
  • Restricted diets. Older adults often have dietary restrictions, including limits on salt, fat, protein and sugar. Although such diets can help manage many medical conditions, they can also be bland and unappealing.

How to spot malnutrition

The signs of malnutrition in older adults may be hard to spot, especially in people who don’t seem at risk. To uncover problems before they become more serious:

  • Observe your loved one’s eating habits. Spend time with an older loved one during meals at home, not just on special occasions. If your loved one lives alone, find out who buys his or her food. If your loved one is in a hospital or long term care facility, visit during mealtimes.
  • Look for physical problems. Red flags for malnutrition might include poor wound healing, easy bruising, dental difficulties and weight loss. Watch for signs of weight loss, such as changes in how clothing fits.
  • Know your loved one’s medications. Many drugs affect appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption.

What you can do about malnutrition

Even small dietary changes can make a big difference in an older person’s health and well-being. For example:

  • Encourage your loved one to eat foods packed with nutrients. Spread peanut or other nut butters on toast and crackers, fresh fruits and raw vegetables. Sprinkle finely chopped nuts or wheat germ on yogurt, fruit and cereal. Add extra egg whites to scrambled eggs and omelets. Add cheese to sandwiches, vegetables, soups, rice and noodles.
  • Restore life to bland food. Make a restricted diet more appealing by using lemon juice, herbs and spices. If loss of taste and smell is a problem, experiment with seasonings and recipes. A dietitian also can help.
  • Plan between-meal snacks. This can be helpful for older adults who get full quickly. A piece of fruit or cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter and even a milkshake can provide nutrients and calories.
  • Make meals social events. Drop by during mealtime or invite your loved one to your home for occasional meals. Encourage your loved one to join programs where he or she can eat with others.
  • Encourage regular physical activity. Daily exercise — even if it’s light — can stimulate appetite and strengthen bones and muscles.
  • Provide food savings tips. If your loved one shops for groceries, encourage him or her to take a shopping list to the grocery store, check store fliers for sales and choose less expensive generic brands. Suggest splitting the cost of bulk goods or meals with a friend or neighbor, or frequenting restaurants that offer senior discounts.
  • Engage doctors. Talk to your loved one’s doctors about changing medications that affect appetite or the need for a restricted diet. Request screenings for nutrition problems during routine office visits. Ask about nutritional supplements, including drinks and pudding. Inform doctors if you notice weight loss or suspect depression. Consult a dentist about oral pain or chewing problems.
  • Consider outside help. If necessary, hire a home health aide to shop for groceries or prepare meals. Also consider Meals On Wheels and other community services, including home visits from registered dietitians.

Remember, identifying and treating nutrition problems early can promote good health, independence and increased longevity. Take steps now to ensure your loved one’s nutrition.

Nutrition Facts Label

Nutrition can sometimes seem complicated. But the good news is that the Food and Drug Administration has a simple tool to help you know exactly what you’re eating.

It’s called the (pdf) Nutrition Facts Label. You will find it on all packaged foods and beverages. It serves as your guide for making choices that can affect your long-term health. This will give you the information you need to start using the Nutrition Facts Label today!

California Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)

The California Department of Aging contracts with and provides leadership and direction to Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)that coordinate a wide array of services to seniors and adults with disabilities at the community level and serve as the focal point for local aging concerns.

You can locate a AAA in your area by calling 1-800-510-2020 or find your county phone number below.


Find a AAA in your area

Elderly Nutrition Program Description

CDA administers the Older Americans Act Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) services through the area agencies on aging and their service providers. The ENP helps older adults remain independent and in their communities. Meals must meet nutritional standards by incorporating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and providing a minimum of one-third of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). Meals must also meet the Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP) requirements.


The Congregate Nutrition Program (Title IIIC-1) addresses dietary inadequacy and social isolation among individuals aged 60 and older. The Program provides nutrition education, nutrition risk screening and, in some Planning and Service Areas, nutrition counseling. The program targets older individuals with the greatest economic or social need, with particular attention given to low-income minority older individuals and older individuals living in rural areas. The program encourages the use of volunteers and gives all participants the opportunity to contribute to the meal cost.


The Home-Delivered Nutrition Program (Title IIIC-2) provides nutritious meals, nutrition education, and nutrition risk screening to individuals 60 years of age or over who are homebound by reason of illness or disability, or who are otherwise isolated. Program goals are targeted to the reduction of social isolation and the promotion of better health through nutrition. Many home-delivered meal programs provide their clients with a hot meal five days a week delivered by staff or volunteer drivers. Others deliver up to seven lunch/dinner meals plus seven breakfast meals featuring breakfast entrees as well as milk, fresh fruit, bread, and juice. The frozen meals can be micro-waved and enjoyed at the recipient’s convenience.


Nutrition Education is provided to both congregate and home-delivered participants and nutrition counseling may be available.