Depression affects around 1%-5% of older adults rising to 13.5% for those requiring home health care. In addition to psychotherapy and medication, good nutrition and exercise play a key role in improving the symptoms of depression. Specifically, the Mediterranean diet provides active adults with the necessary nutrients that they need to live a better quality of life as well as stay active and healthy.
What Older Adults Should Eat
Some of the challenges to eating healthy among seniors are the cost and time involved in meal preparation. Fortunately, the Mediterranean diet does not involve a complicated preparation process nor cost a lot of money. The diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes which are good sources of fiber. A high-fiber diet lowers the risk of colorectal cancer and controls glucose levels among those with diabetes.
Fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil are also highly recommended as they are packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Research supports that this type of diet lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases reducing overall mortality.
Red meat consumption is limited to a few times a month and high-fat dairy products are switched for skimmed or fat-free ones. Both food groups are important sources of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium. Older adults should also use herbs and spices in place of salt to flavor dishes. Limiting sodium content can lower high blood pressure which in turn reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Plenty of Exercise
In addition to healthy diets, older adults must exercise enough to improve their physical and mental condition. Exercise is great for weight control and the prevention of diseases.
Moreover, since aging brings with it loss of muscle mass and bone density, it is important for the elderly to stay active. Exercise helps control loss of muscle and bone density reducing the risk of injury and mobility issues that are vital in a better end of life quality.
Depression and Diets Are Linked
According to Australian research, healthier foods lower the inflammation of the body and protect the brain proteins. In the study, a third of those who received support from a clinical dietician and increased consumption of Mediterranean type of foods reported better mood and symptoms. Only 8% of participants that just got social support went into remission.
Another study by the University College London analyzed the connection between diet and depression risk. The findings of researchers indicated that people who followed a Mediterranean type of diet had a 33% lower risk of depression.
Older adults face many challenges including the natural effects of aging, presence of chronic diseases, and mental health conditions. Keeping fit and eating healthy meals such as those found in the Mediterranean diet to support an active life, helps reduce the symptoms of depression improving the quality of life significantly.