Many family caregivers look for a magic bullet to alter the behavior or change the course of a chronic medical condition of their senior loved ones.
Some caregivers hang their hopes on what are known as superfoods.
Is this a good thing? Can eating specific foods really change anything today or tomorrow to make your caregiving journey easier?
That is highly doubtful, based on the science, but many still hold out hope.
It seems each month we hear about another great superfood promising longevity or freedom from what ails us.
Have you heard the latest? Can you even find it? Would your senior even eat it?
Latest Superfood Claims
Non-science media sources often share their superfood claims with consumers in the hopes of increasing readership, whether or not the effectiveness of those superfoods has been validated.
Here are some of the latest claims about which you may have read.
- Black currants – will taking supplemental forms of this antioxidant containing fruit make a medical difference? Can adding a few black currants to your recipes help? How much antioxidant will you really get eating a few? We have heard for some time that the deeper the color of our produce, the more nutritionally rich the food is. It’s true black currants are deep purple and full of nutrients, but so are grapes and other items that might be easier to eat regularly. Keeping berries and other antioxidant rich foods in the diet is fairly straightforward for most caregivers, but it could be any variety your senior enjoys, not just black currants.
- Watermelon seeds – which must be sprouted, shelled and dried for best benefit. Would your senior eat this or can you find them? Most of us grew up being told not to eat watermelon seeds for fear a vine would grow in our belly. Seriously though, this wouldn’t be most seniors’ first choice as a snack. These seeds purportedly have nutrients, including protein similar to nuts.
- Mushrooms – edible mushrooms may have compounds that reduce inflammation that could lead to neurological changes. Eating “plenty” of mushrooms could be considered a functional food but how much is plenty?
- Beetroot juice, turmeric, ginkgo and green tea – all have some property being reported to fight disease and reduce the risk of dementia but more research is needed to determine how much, how often, what type and if there is any identifiable benefit. If your senior likes these foods, enjoy!
Proceed With Caution
It is important for family caregivers to be able to distinguish what is helpful health advice from what is just hype.
Experts found that, between 2011 and 2015, there was a 202% increase in the number of new food and drink products launched containing the terms “superfood,” “superfruit,” or “supergrain.”
If the food is something your senior loved one enjoys eating, can be easily incorporated into their meals, and won’t break the bank, certainly add away.
Be sure it won’t interfere with any medication they currently take or potentially cause GI upset for them. If you’re not sure, ask their doctor.
Be cautious if the superfood is not well accepted and might cause your senior to refuse a meal, as avoiding it might be the best course of action.
It isn’t super if the food isn’t consumed in the quantity that might actually create a positive physical impact.
Here are a few other articles that you might find helpful to get your senior loved one the nutrition they need for health.