Foods Seniors Should Avoid

Artical By :

Kajal Khaturia Setpal (Clinical & Sports Dietitian)

[Post-graduation in Dietetics & Hospital Food Service Sports nutrition certification from Sports Dietitians Australia, Melbourne]


In today’s times where elderly are at risk for Corona virus, they must also protect themselves from other bacteria and organisms to keep themselves healthy. Gut health & Bone health are equally important for Elderly.

The following food items are to be avoided to prevent any food borne illnesses in seniors who are having a compromised immune system and have digestive disorders.

  1. Raw Meat

Reason: Raw meat contains bacteria which has not been killed by heat and puts seniors who have digestive disorders or weak immune system at risk of falling ill.

2. Raw seafood like Mussels, Oysters etc

Reason: Raw seafood is filled with vitamins & minerals, but it also contains bacteria. Seniors can try cooked options such as grilled salmon, cooked fish.

3. Raw sprouts like sprouted pulses, alfalfa sprout, bean sprouts

Reason: Sprouts are the breeding ground for many types of bacteria, including Salmonella and E.coli

4. Raw Eggs 

Reason: Risk of raw eggs being contaminated with bacteria leading to Salmonella infection.

5. Unpasteurized milk

Reason: Unpasteurized milk is milk that has not been pasteurized, a process of heating liquid foods to decontaminate them for safe drinking. Unpasteurized milk breeds and harbours bacteria in higher levels than pasteurized milk.

6. Soft cheeses like Feta, Brie, Camembert.

Reason: Soft cheeses are made from unpasteurised milk which breeds and harbours bacteria in higher levels than pasteurized milk.

7. Unpasteurized Juices

Reason: Unpasteurized juices contain harmful bacteria which may harm seniors.

Other foods to be avoided are:

8. Sticky foods like toffees & caramel.

Reason: Dry mouth caused by hyposalivation known as Xerostomia. This is a common problem among the elderly. Elderly with Xerostomia have difficulty in chewing & swallowing. So they need to avoid crunchy, dry & sticky foods.

9. Alcohol

Reason:

  • Empty calories.
  • When alcohol is substituted for nutritious food for elderly, it may interfere with absorption of some nutrients especially folic acid.
  • Alcohol is also one of the contributing factors for osteoporosis.
  • If seniors live with chronic illness, such as diabetes, or if they take certain types of medications such as antihistamines, painkillers and medications for hypertension, alcohol should be avoided.

10. Large quantities of fats.

Reason: Fat digestion & absorption may be delayed in elderly people. Avoid large quantities of fat and emphasize on the quality of fat used. Avoid deep fried items.

11. Foods with empty calories such as fast foods, fried items, soft drinks, fruit flavoured sweet beverages, foods containing mostly added sugars including high-fructose corn syrup etc.

Reason: Many seniors become naturally less active as they get older, it becomes much more difficult to work off the extra calories. The prevalence of Diabetes and impaired fasting glucose increases with aging so foods which give empty calories should be avoided.

12. Soft drinks

Reason: Soft drinks are nothing more than sugar and carbonation filling up a can or plastic bottle. Phosphoric acid, a major component in most sodas can accelerate process of demineralization of teeth and bone, which is especially concerning for seniors already nearing the need of dentures and demineralization also increases risk of osteoporosis. Regular consumption of soft drinks also contributes to weight gain and other health issues which puts seniors at risk.

13. Diet soda’s

Reason: Seniors especially who are diabetics may go overboard with the consumption of Diet Soda’s thinking that it is limiting their sugar intake, but the presence of artificial sweeteners in these Diet soda’s is a matter of concern. Recent researches have associated diet soda consumption to dementia and stroke which puts seniors at risk

14. High sodium foods

Reason: Too much salt can be a problem for seniors, especially for those who have Hypertension.

So avoid wafers, chips, salted snacks, salted nuts, packed and processed foods which have high amounts of sodium. Avoid excess salt in food. To improve flavour of food, lime or dried mango powder (amchur powder) can be used as well as other herbs and spices.

Conclusion: By avoiding or cutting down the above mentioned foods it will help seniors reduce the risk of food borne illnesses and osteoporosis, obesity and other health issues and will help them lead a happy, healthy and fit life.