Many older adults living alone have difficulty cooking for themselves. Perhaps they don’t know how because a spouse has always cooked for them but has now passed away. Or, they may have physical or cognitive disabilities that make cooking hard. In some cases, seniors may just find it too much of a hassle to cook for one. All of these situations can make them reach for foods that are easy to make. While everyone appreciates convenience, when it comes to food it can mean eating highly processed foods, like frozen dinners. Although processed foods may be okay once in a while, a new study shows that a steady diet of frozen dinners and other pre-made foods isn’t a healthy way to eat.
Processed Food Study
Processed foods, like frozen meals and sugary drinks, are high in calories, salt, fat, and sugar, but low in fiber. In addition, they often contain artificial ingredients. Processed foods are believed to make up 57.9 percent of caloric intake in the United States. Past studies have shown that processed foods are associated with a higher instance of disease. However, this recent study sought to determine if there was a link between eating processed foods and death.
To find out, scientists followed 44,551 people for an average of 7.1 years. All participants were age 45 or older. Each of them responded to a web-based questionnaire about their lifestyle, such as how they ate, whether they exercised, etc. After adjusting for certain factors, the researchers determined that eating highly processed foods increased the risk of death. In fact, for every 10 percent more of processed foods a person ate, their mortality risk went up by 14 percent.
Health Problems Linked to Processed Foods
Eating processed foods on a regular basis has been associated with developing all kinds of health problems, including these:
- Obesity: The sugar and high calorie count of processed foods can lead to weight gain. In addition, those extra calories are often “empty calories” that don’t provide much in the way of nutrition.
- Cancer: Studies have indicated that eating 10 percent more processed foods increases the risk of developing cancer by 12 percent.
- Metabolic Syndrome: When a person has metabolic syndrome, they have at least three risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Eating processed foods contributes to these risk factors, which include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar levels.
If your aging relative is eating too much processed food, senior care can ensure they eat a healthier diet. Senior care providers can go grocery shopping with the older adult to help them make better food choices. Senior care providers can also prepare meals using whole foods and avoiding processed foods so that the older adult will not have to cook for themselves.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN HUNTERSVILLE, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF CHARLOTTE. (704) 246-5806.