Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in people over the age of 65. According to the Arthritis Association, one third of seniors who live with arthritis say it limits their daily life. And one quarter say it causes severe pain. Inflammation is often one of the culprits behind the pain and symptoms of the disease.
But inflammation affects more than just those who live with arthritis. People who have Lupus, heart disease, Crohn’s disease and even sinusitis all suffer when muscles and joints in the body become inflamed.
What can you do to reduce inflammation in the body? How can you help a senior loved one who is struggling with a chronic disease impacted by inflammation?
The old adage “you are what you eat” rings true when it comes to diet and inflammation.
Fighting Inflammation in Older Adults
Let’s get the bad news out of the way right up front. Those sugary treats we all love to indulge in, especially when we aren’t feeling the greatest, contribute to inflammation in the body. As do highly processed foods, red meat, sodas, fried foods and margarine. Overcoming the cravings for these types of comfort foods might not be easy, but it will pay off in the long run with improved quality of life.
Just as avoiding some foods can help lower inflammation in the body, so too can eating smart.
Results of a study published in the Arthritis journal in 2015 showed just how much a healthy diet can impact chronic disease. Researchers found that after six weeks of eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, people living with osteoarthritis reported considerably less pain and a drastic improvement in physical mobility.
Harvard Health has a list of foods they say may help seniors reduce inflammation:
- Fatty fish
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Tart cherries
- Green tea
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds)
- Leafy greens
The bottom line is that a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet or the DASH Diet, might help improve the quality of life for adults with chronic diseases.
Other Ways to Beat Inflammation
There are other steps you can take to reduce inflammation. Here are a few to discuss with your physician:
- Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming, Tai Chi or Chair Yoga
- Alternating between hot and cold therapies (i.e. rotating between a heating pad and an ice pack on painful joints)
- If you are overweight, losing even five pounds can help reduce inflammation
- Meditation is great for reducing stress which can lead to lower levels of inflammation in the body
- Massage therapy is another avenue to explore as it has been shown to help loosen and relax swollen muscles and joints
Eat Well at Sunrise Senior Living
At Sunrise Senior Living, we recognize the important role diet plays in aging well. We make it easy for residents and their loved ones to see firsthand just how healthy each meal is.
In our Nutrition Center, you can view every food served at every meal every day. From carb count to fiber and sodium, the nutritional break down for every meal is listed!