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How Dining in Senior Living Positively Affects Brain Health

senior couple eating together

Here’s some food for thought: The average person will spend over 32,000 hours eating and drinking in their lifetime. That’s a lot of time! And no wonder, when in today’s society, eating is about so much more than merely ingesting the right amount of nutrients our bodies need.

Is it any wonder dining is such an important factor when choosing a senior living community in San Diego? Not only should you go by what’s pleasing to your palate, but also what’s good for your brain. That’s right, your brain’s health is directly related to your diet.

Senior living dining options are designed for your brain health.

Nutrition and the brain are one key component nutritionists and chefs evaluate as they design the menus at senior living communities. Just think about how much goes into the planning for each meal. It’s amazing. You’d think that with such a focus on nutrition and health, taste might suffer. But with a little magic in the kitchen, you’ll never have to sacrifice taste for health.

What is a brain-healthy diet?

Like the heart, your brain needs the proper nutrients to function well. A brain-healthy diet is one that encourages blood flow to your brain, which carries with it the right balance of nutrients your brain needs.

Brain-healthy diets include foods high in fiber, low in fat and rich in antioxidants. These help ward off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cognitive impairment. Foods that help improve cognitive function include whole grains, leafy greens, dark-skinned fruits and vegetables, and olive oil. These all contain antioxidants. Freshwater fish like tuna, salmon and halibut are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, low-fat and antioxidant-rich. And nuts like walnuts, almonds and pecans offer vitamin E. All of which are important to your brain health.

You should limit your intake of red meat, cheese, and fried or processed foods. These are all high in unhealthy saturated fats, carbohydrates and additives.

Three reasons to pay attention to your diet as you age.


1. Brain-healthy foods are both nutritious and delicious.
Your dietary needs evolve as you age, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on flavor. A balanced diet can be both healthy and tasty. Many independent living communities are embracing chefs trained in culinary arts, not just nutrition. Some Michelin Star chefs have transitioned to senior living because they believe everyone who pays for a meal should walk away satisfied — in terms of health and satisfaction. These are the maestros of the kitchen who believe fresh ingredients are always best and scoff at canned and boxed foods.

Even those on special diets shouldn’t feel like they’re sacrificing taste for health. In the right hands, a sodium-free meal can come alive with flavor. And substituting healthy oils in place of butter or margarine might even enhance the dining experience in ways you’d never imagine.

2. Communal dining options encourage social connections.
The benefits of social interactions are well documented. Dining together isn’t just about eating next to someone. Food is a relationship starter. Mealtimes are opportunities to interact with others, to break free from loneliness and isolation. In fact, people who live and eat alone tend to have poorer diets and make worse food choices than those who are socially active over a meal.
This is why senior living communities put such an emphasis on their dining options. Aside from offering formal restaurant-style dining rooms and set mealtimes, you can also find cafes, pubs, casual restaurants, and even grab-and-go options. All prepared with the same attention to detail and nutritional focus.

3. You can eat well no matter your lifestyle.
Some people believe they don’t have time for a healthier diet. They think that the time it takes to shop for and prepare fresh meals isn’t worth the benefits. That’s another reason to look into senior living communities. After all, who wouldn’t want a private chef thoughtfully preparing their every meal? Some independent living residents opt not to cook at all, and instead enjoy the many dining options and unique, healthy creations of their community’s chef and kitchen staff.

The dining program at Casa de las Campanas is focused on brain health.

Remember those 32,000 hours we each spend eating? Well, our community is adjacent to the 170-acre Rancho Bernardo Nature Preserve and spends just as much time designing, testing and perfecting every meal. From unique flavor profiles using local, fresh and seasonal ingredients to the health benefits of everything on the plate. We believe that a brain-healthy diet combined with social interactions, and mental and physical activity, can have lasting and positive effects on your health.

We’d love to invite you to a meal at one of our multiple dining venues. Get in touch with us today to schedule your visit. Until then, cheers to your health!