More than 25 million people in the United States live with diabetes, a disorder that can damage the cardiovascular system and cause premature aging. Food choices can have a major impact on overall health, and the following foods greatly increase the risk of developing diabetes in the senior years.
1. Sweet Foods
Since diabetes affects the amount of insulin needed to control blood sugar, a steady diet of sugary sweet foods is not in the best interest of seniors. Sweetened beverages are devoid of necessary nutrients and fiber. Similarly, sweet snacks, baked goods, and dehydrated fruits also pose potential blood sugar risks. Sweetened foods cause hyperglycemia, promote insulin resistance, lead to vascular inflammation and unwanted weight gain, and contribute to the development of diabetes.
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2. Processed Grains
White bread, pasta, and rice are low in fiber, and they raise blood glucose levels. Diets rich in refined carbohydrates can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes by 2.5 times. Consuming processed white rice on a daily basis raises the risk of developing diabetes by 11 times. Whole grains keep the gastrointestinal system functioning properly while providing nutrients. Unwanted weight gain is another downfall of consuming diets high in processed grains.
3. Fried Foods
Fried foods and snacks rank high on the glycemic index chart and offer little nutrition. These unhealthy foods also provide an abundance of calories.
4. Processed and Red Meats
Some seniors alter their diets to include more animal-based protein and reduce the amount of processed carbohydrates. However, consuming a large amount of processed and red meats increases the likelihood of developing diabetes by anywhere from 17 to 41 percent. Researchers theorize that the iron content in red meat can damage the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Bacon, sausages, luncheon meats, and similar processed foods contain high levels of sodium, which has the potential for causing hypertension and fluid retention.
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5. Trans Fat Foods
Foods containing trans fats include fast foods, margarine, and processed baked goods. Trans fats contribute to cardiovascular disease processes while decreasing insulin sensitivity, which causes elevated blood sugar levels and a higher risk of developing diabetes.
6. Starchy Vegetables
The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables have the potential for reducing the risk of diabetes. However, starchy foods increase the risk. A steady diet of starchy vegetables causes a spike in blood sugar levels and contributes to abnormal weight gain. While having a serving of corn or potatoes is not unhealthy, combining them both in the same meal is not recommended. Ideally, meals should consist of half non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth protein, and one-fourth starches.
Avoiding unhealthy foods is just one of the many ways older adults can maintain a high quality of life. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elderly care. Fort Worth, TX, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your aging loved one, give us a call at (817) 720-5556 today.