There is much discussion these days on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. For the elderly, obtaining this important nutrient is paramount to supporting a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically, as aging progresses.
What are they?
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids. Essential refers to the fact that people must obtain these nutrients from their diet as they are not produced by the body. The human body uses these nutrients for several key functions including building healthy cells and maintaining brain and nerve health. The lack of this vital nutrient has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes as well as dementia.
The correct ratio of these fatty acids that the body needs to thrive is still being debated. Our ancestors maintained a ratio of approximately 1:1. Today’s ratio is closer to 16:1 with Omega-6 fatty acids being the predominant fatty acid in the Western diet.
Here is the problem: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. They help to build brain cell membranes and promote new brain cell formation. They reduce the risk of developing certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. They improve memory and can help protect against dementia.
Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and contribute to the diseases that Omega-3 aspires to protect against.
The Western diet has gotten so out of proportion with these two vital nutrients because of the strong reliance on vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower, corn and cottonseed. If you’re checking labels, you have undoubtedly seen these oils in the ingredients of most packaged and prepared foods.
Back into Balance
Eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and other cold water fish such as mackerel are excellent sources. Wild-caught salmon is preferred due to fewer contaminants and no antibiotics. Grass-fed beef or bison, pasture-raised lamb and free-range chicken are also good sources as well as wild-game meats. The reason for this is that animals cannot manufacture these fatty acids any more than humans can. They must get it from the food they eat.
Elder Care Provider
If your loved one needs help creating a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids, consider the services of an elder care provider. Not only can they help with the daily activities of living, they can do the grocery shopping and then return to prepare a meal rich in this nutrient. They can provide shared meals that promote good nutrition as well as communication and a sense of camaraderie.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Papillion, NE, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors® Greater Omaha at (402) 215-0308 today.