When it comes to nutrition, Medicare only covers specific treatments, supplies, and equipment. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is covered by Medicare Part B when the services are provided by a dietitian or nutritionist that meets requirements under Medicare. This includes an initial assessment, individual counseling with an approved nutritionist, and follow-up visits. Those who have diabetes or kidney disease, as well as those who received a kidney transplant within the last three years, are eligible for Medicare coverage.
In addition, enteral nutrition therapy (ENT) and supplies are covered under Medicare Part B’s prosthetic device benefit. Although you are responsible for 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, you may be affected by Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans may cover various treatment and medical devices for nutrition and should be contacted for more information. Still, in order to avoid paying out-of-pocket costs that may relate to a poor diet and malnutrition, it’s important for seniors to remain mindful of the foods they put in their bodies.
According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, recent studies have shown that one out of four seniors suffers from poor nutrition. Seniors with varying degrees of malnutrition are found throughout their community — in their own homes, in long-term care facilities, and in hospitals. There are an estimated one million home-bound elders that may be malnourished. Between 35 and 50 percent of the senior residents of long-term care facilities are malnourished. As many as 65 percent of the seniors in hospitals may be malnourished. As seniors age, their bodies require fewer calories but require more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients that they often don’t get. Examine these 20 superfoods for healthy aging and learn about important nutrients they provide to aging brains and bodies.
- Blueberries: Blueberries are high in dietary fiber and have more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. Antioxidants are known to combat heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also help to boost brainpower. Blueberries are full of nutrients that can help improve seniors’ cognitive skills, skin health, and cardiovascular strength. One study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that this fruit may be able to stave off age-related declines in neural and motor skills. Other studies have linked the fruit to fewer wrinkles and heightened memory.
- Beans: Beans are full of protein, vitamins, calcium, and fiber. Kidney, pinto, black and red beans are all good sources of antioxidants. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without making you feel deprived. Beans are hearty and are a good alternative to high-fat protein sources like red meat.
- Salmon: Salmon is known to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Strive for two servings of salmon a week to reap maximum benefits. Salmon has long been known as a ‘brain food’, and that is because it is so high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Steel Cut Oats: Steel-cut oats have a high fiber content that helps improve blood sugar levels in diabetics. Steel-cut oats retain more fiber and protein when processed, unlike rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are an excellent source of protein, (soluble and insoluble fiber) and select vitamins and minerals.
- Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is full of probiotics that keep your digestive health in top shape. Use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream, or eat it with fruit and honey for a healthy snack. As you age, you need more protein to keep your skin healthy and to fight off illness. Greek yogurt is a great way to boost your protein levels while avoiding heavy foods like meats. “Without a healthy balance of good bacteria from probiotics, too much bad bacteria can build up and cause damage to our immune systems,” says Shane Griffin, a certified nutritional practitioner and founder of Whole Life Balance.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil contains healthy fats that help balance weight. It can be used in baked goods, smoothies, and in place of butter. The regular consumption of coconut oil helps feed your brain healthy fats and increases good cholesterol for the reduction of Alzheimer’s disease risk. Consider cooking and using coconut oil regularly to help increase the efficiency of sugar in your blood to prevent diabetes.
- Kale: Kale is among the most nutrient-dense foods on the plane. Kale has more iron than beef and more vitamin C than an orange. This leafy vegetable also has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that fight arthritis and autoimmune disorders. Kale can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Cocoa: Cocoa can help lower your blood pressure. It releases endorphins, causing you to feel happy and excited, which is always a plus. Cocoa provides significant benefits in terms of preventing age-related memory loss in seniors. Medical News Today reported that cocoa is possibly instrumental in preventing stroke, as a separate study found that chocolate-eaters were 22 percent less likely to suffer from a stroke than those who didn’t regularly eat chocolate.
- Eggs: Eggs provide nutrients to the eyes and can help prevent degeneration. The cholesterol in eggs is actually very good for seniors. Eggs also contain small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral required by the human body… including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, Vitamin E, folate, and many more.
- Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants and fiber. Sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch. They have got over 40 percent of your daily needs for vitamin A in one medium spud, as well as loads of fiber and potassium. They have more grams of natural sugars than regular potatoes but more overall nutrients with fewer calories.
- Olive Oil: A bottle of olive oil lasts about one year. After that, the health benefits decrease. However, it can improve bone mineralization, preventing and alleviating osteoporosis. An article in the journal Pharmacological Research states that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).
- Avocado: Eating avocados helps the body absorb other important nutrients. They are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. They contain more potassium than bananas and are loaded with fiber. They can also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds provide energy and enhance cognitive performance to keep your body and mind active. One tablespoon has more calcium than a glass of milk, more omega-3s than salmon, and more antioxidants than blueberries. Because of their size and subdued favor, Chia seed can be incorporated into the daily diet in a variety of ways. Below are some of the common ways to consume Chia seeds:
- Mix Chia seeds into oatmeal, soup, yogurt, or other liquid food.
- Sprinkle Chia seeds over food like salad and rice.
- Blend Chia seed as part of the ingredients for making your favorite cake, waffle, or other pastry.
- Add Chia seed to smoothies, juice, tea, or coffee.
- Pomegranate: Drink pomegranate juice to get heart disease-fighting benefits. Pomegranates contain powerful medicinal properties. Pomegranates decrease bad cholesterol and cholesterol plaque build-up. Pomegranate extract has been shown to inhibit the reproduction of breast cancer cells, and may even kill some of them.
- Tea: Drinking 20 ounces of tea every day for two weeks can double the output of the immune system. Tea helps fight against free radicals that can damage DNA.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkins are high in potassium, which is essential for your heart and muscles. Pumpkin seeds are just as good for you and can boost your mood and help your heart.
- Flaxseed: In order to reap the benefits, flaxseed must be ground prior to consumption. Very high in fiber, flaxseed can help lower cholesterol and stabilize your blood sugar.
- Acai Juice: Acai juice is a natural mental stimulant that improves concentration and memory. Make sure you don’t buy any juice with added sugar. Get real acai juice!
- Walnuts: Walnuts help prevent heart disease and can lower your cholesterol. Seven walnuts a day is key to reaping the maximum benefits.
- Spinach: Just one cup of spinach strengthens the immune system and helps fight infection. Spinach is healthiest when juiced, then when cooked, and lastly, when eaten raw.
Want more health news and Medicare tips exclusively for seniors? Simply click SUBSCRIBE below to be added to our email newsletter.