According to an article posted on WebMD, some people rely on ultra-processed foods for up to 60 percent of their diet. While they tend to be convenient, ultra-processed foods are rarely healthy. They typically contained excess sugar, salt, and other ingredients that can have harmful effects on the body. Eating too many of them can lead to serious health problems, like obesity.
The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to avoid eating some processed foods. That’s true even for people who prepare all of their own food at home. However, some foods are more processed than others. For example, simply being cleaned and having the parts of a food that cannot be eaten removed, like the shell of a coffee bean, is processing. Other kinds of minimal processing include:
Minimally processing typically doesn’t affect how nutritious the food is, so there’s no need to avoid these kinds of foods.
The middle ground of processing are foods that have salt, sugar, or fat added to them to improve flavor. This means that canned foods and baked breads fall into the category of being moderately processed. When older adults pay attention to the nutrition labels, these foods can still be part of a healthy diet.
Ultra-processed foods are the ones that take many steps to produce. The ingredient labels often include things with difficult to pronounce names that aren’t recognizable as food items. In other words, they aren’t things you’d find growing in a garden or being produced on a farm. Processing adds things like preservatives and artificial colors and other things to change the look and texture of the food.
Studies link ultra-processed foods to some serious health conditions, such as:
Although researchers aren’t sure if the problems caused by ultra-processed foods are because of what’s in them or what is not – namely the nutrients people need. Think of it this way, if your aging relative is snacking on a bag of chips they aren’t eating fresh fruit or raw vegetables.
Senior care providers can help to eliminate some of the ultra-processed foods in your aging relative’s diet. A senior care provider can assist the older adult with planning healthy meals and grocery shopping for the ingredients. Since the senior care provider can also cook for your loved one, there is no need for them to rely on processed foods for convenience. The senior care provider can cook fresh meals daily or cook several meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer to be warmed up later.