You probably don’t think soup is an unhealthy food, especially since it’s so easy to pop open a can for lunch or dinner. However, canned stuff tends to contain tons of sodium, and research has shown that older people aren’t able to filter out excess sodium as well as younger people.
High levels of sodium in the diet can lead to higher blood pressure, and can also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Furthermore, as we age, we’re also more susceptible to water retention, so reducing our sodium intake can help to reduce unwanted bloating. Therefore, you should make your own soups and freeze them in individual portions for easy defrosting, or at least start selecting low-sodium canned options.
2. Hot Dogs
It’s time to say goodbye to those Ball Park sausages – as well as other highly processed meats like bacon and salami. Processed meats are high in sodium, saturated fats, and nitrates, all of which can have a negative impact on your health. Furthermore, a high intake of processed meats has been linked to a greater chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stomach cancer – and we already have an increased risk of those disease as we age.
If you do decide to eat processed meats, choose ones made without nitrates and choose lower fat, lower sodium varieties when possible.
Cooking meats at high temperatures can increase the levels of HCAs in the protein, which can be carcinogenic. A number of studies have linked high consumption of fried or barbecued meat to pancreatic, colorectal, and prostate cancer. Even though research is still ongoing, it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to increasing your risk of the cancers that tend to strike the older generation.
You should consider limiting yourself to one serving per week, and marinate your meat before grilling to help to reduce the production of these compounds.
We all feel like a little treat at the end of the day, but unfortunately, settling down with a box of cookies is not really a very good idea. Sugar causes multiple changes, from our cellular membranes and arteries to our hormones, immune system, gut health, and even our microbiome.
In addition to spiking insulin and inflammation, too much sugar can cause our skin to age faster through the process of glycation. This is the biochemical term for the bonding of sugar molecules to fats, proteins, and amino acids, which is a prominent feature of aging. Researchers have linked glycation end products to tangled nerves, wrinkles, hardened arteries, and multiple disease processes.
You might think that avoiding dairy may benefit your health, but for older women, the calcium in dairy products helps strengthen bones to prevent osteoporosis, as approaching menopause cause a decrease in bone mass.
Drinking a replacement milk might rob you of that protection. Therefore, if you do choose to drink an alternative, make sure to choose a variety that contains fortified calcium and vitamin D to promote healthy bones. Also, avoid the large amounts of added sugars in flavored almond milk, which can attribute to excess calories as well as boost inflammation.
6. Sugar-Free Snacks
If you shouldn’t have sugar, you should try snacks labeled as sugar-free instead, right? Well, not exactly. These healthy snacks often replace sugars with artificial ingredients or added fats.
Therefore, you should be on the lookout for foods that add large amounts of saturated or trans fat, excess sodium, or additional refined flours to replace added sugars, as these additives can have an equally negative impact on health.
According to the National Institute on Aging, you should start laying off the spicy food as you start entering menopause. If you suffer from gastrointestinal reflux or hot flashes, adding spicy foods such as hot sauce to your diet is not recommended.
Hot sauce can be high in Sodium, which can have a negative effect on blood pressure and bone health. If you must eat something spicy, go for hot peppers as they are rich in capsaicin, a nutrient that can lower blood pressure and raise metabolism.
Swapping butter for margarine isn’t the healthy switch that you think it might be. Some brands of marge contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are trans fats. Since just one or two grams of trans fat per day can have a negative impact on cholesterol and heart health, it’s best to avoid them. You should choose plant-based oils instead and read labels carefully.
Fresh avocados are a great substitution for margarine in baking and cooking, and may help to decrease your intake of calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
Refined and processed carbs such as pasta, bagels, pretzels, and cereals have a high glycemic level. This means that their high carb load rapidly spikes blood sugar, and can be a contributing factor to weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.
High-GI foods also cause the release of a hormone called insulin-like hormone growth factor 1 (IGF-1). If you have too much of this, it can work against you by fueling the biological cascades that ramp up inflammations and lead to certain diseases such as cancer.
10. Coffee Ice Cream
This is a triple-whammy when it comes down to the health effects for older people – it has saturated fat, caffeine, and sugar. Coffee, when consumed in the shape of an after-dinner dessert, can keep you up at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, older people tend to have a harder time falling and staying asleep. For women, this can be partly due to their hormonal changes as menopause approaches, and if that’s the case, it’s best to stay away from caffeine hits late in the day.