Making sound nutritional decisions is important for good health and disease prevention, especially if you deal with chronic conditions.
“Poor nutrition can adversely affect the overall health of adults with chronic health conditions,” says Rosemary Falvey, nurse practitioner at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.
Falvey offers the following nutritional tips for some of the most common health conditions:
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure can often be kept under control with a low sodium diet. One tablespoon of salt has about a day’s worth of sodium (2,300 mg). Keep salt for cooking and seasoning to a minimum. Most products already contain added salt as a preservative. Salad dressings, canned soups and macaroni and cheese can be high in sodium. Check nutrition labels. Avoid such products or choose low-sodium alternatives.
Clogged Arteries (Coronary Heart Disease)
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides. It is important to eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to prevent further blockage of the arteries. Choose heart-healthy fats, such as olive, peanut and canola oils. Eating baked or broiled fish that is high in Omega-3s, including salmon, mackerel and tuna, is also beneficial.
Type 1 Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus or DM1)
Diabetics are advised to stay away from sugar and sweets. Medical research indicates that complex carbohydrates from starchy foods convert to sugar more quickly and can pose a bigger problem. Diabetics should cut down on starchy vegetables, including potatoes, corn, lima beans and peas. Choose healthy carbohydrates and eat small portions throughout the day. Diabetics should eat balanced meals and snacks with a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables and little fat. Do not skip meals, as fasting can cause sudden changes in blood sugar.
General Nutrition Tips
- Eat more whole grains.
- Choose lean meats and beans.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
- Choose low-fat milk products.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Pick foods that are lower in cholesterol and fat.
- Avoid "empty calories," such as chips, cookies, and soda.
For information and resources for seniors, visit Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's website at www.pcaCares.org or call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.