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Five foods that pose a health risk to retirees 

It was the father of medicine, the Greek Hippocrates, who famously said “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. For retirees, that’s advice well worth heeding.

One reality in retirement is that you need to be much more careful about your health and well-being. Some retirees lead highly active, healthy lifestyles, but many don’t. They continue to eat and drink as if still in their teens, failing to acknowledge that some foods are best avoided as they age.

The sad fact is research shows only one in 12 seniors meet their fruit and vegetable guidelines. What’s more, many of them are eating foods that put them at a higher health risk, unaware of the dangers they pose. In particular, five foods head the list where seniors need to exercise care.

Raw or undercooked meat and eggs: It’s common knowledge that raw chicken is never a good idea, but for senior citizens, it’s broader than that. Consuming raw or undercooked eggs, as well as any meats, poses an increased risk of food poisoning, meaning steak tartare should be off the menu. For younger people, a bout of food poisoning is usually just a bad couple of days, but for seniors it can be much more serious. With weakened immune systems, they run a much greater risk of sepsis and septic shock if they come down with food poisoning.

Grapefruit: This one surprises many people because it’s a nutritious fruit filled with antioxidants and actively helps to lower cholesterol. However, the strong acids in grapefruit can also pose a great risk to senior citizens as they can interact adversely with specific medications used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety or insomnia. This interaction has the potential to amplify the potency or danger of these medications, so you should always check with your doctor to clear grapefruit whenever starting a new course of medication.

Salt: It’s a seasoning that we all love, whether it’s with fish and chips or liberally added to your morning’s porridge. But senior citizens need to be careful before indulging too enthusiastically. Salt is not great for the heart because it can elevate blood pressure, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in seniors after cancer. So, just how much salt can you safely consume? Sadly, for those who are addicted to this flavour-adding seasoning, it’s not much. You should be aiming to limit your daily sodium intake to no more than 1.2 grams to maintain optimal cardiovascular health.

  • Coffee: This one will be painful to read because few want to go without their morning coffee. Sadly, for seniors, caffeine can have a more significant impact than for younger people. Too much caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns, exacerbate anxiety and even cause irregular heartbeats. If you’ve got any issues with your heart at all, you should be particularly careful before consuming anything with caffeine in it. Try a non-caffeinated tea (minus the cigarette, of course) for those morning pick-me-ups.

    Sugary drinks: Soft drink, pop, soda, or whatever else you might call it, is as refreshing to senior citizens as it is for younger people, but there are potential negative health outcomes from enjoying too much of it in retirement. The additional sugar in the diet increases the risk of developing diabetes and obesity, and that brings other associated health issues. You can try sugar-free alternatives, but for a quick lifehack, put a slice of lemon or lime in mineral water. It’s every bit as refreshing, and far less of a potential health hazard.

    Seniors don’t need to adopt diets where they deny themselves the joys of good food. By eating well as standard, and indulging rarely, it’s possible to maintain excellent health through a sensible diet. It’s just important to know about the food risks and, at the very least, consume them in moderation.

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