As you get older, you might find yourself worrying less about what you eat. Changing your eatings habits after so many years can feel like an unnecessary burden, and you might also believe it’s too late to affect your health in any major way. But with our aging bodies at higher risk for certain illnesses and and infections, it may actually be even more important to watch what you eat as you get older. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are four types of foods people 65 and older should not be eating at all. Read on to find out what foods you may want to avoid.
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People 65 and older have a higher risk of severe food poisoning.
Anyone can get food poisoning, especially if they come in contact with the four major foodborne germs: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and E. coli. But according to the CDC, people 65 and older are more likely to get sick with food poisoning and have a more serious illness. “Older adults have a higher risk because as people age, their immune systems and organs don’t recognize and get rid of harmful germs as well as they once did,” the CDC explains.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), older adults have gastrointestinal tracts that hold onto food for a longer period of time, allowing bacteria to grow; livers and kidneys that have a harder time properly getting rid of foreign bacteria; and stomachs that may not produce enough acid to reduce the amount of bacteria in their intestinal tracts.
There are four types of risky foods that people over 65 should avoid.
If you are more likely to get severe illness from food poisoning, the CDC says there are certain foods you should not eat. People 65 and older should avoid eating undercooked or raw food from animals, like beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, or seafood, as well as raw or lightly cooked sprouts. They should also not eat or drink unpasteurized milk products and juices, or eat soft cheeses, like queso fresco, unless there is a label stating that it has been made with pasteurized milk. The CDC notes that children younger than 5, immunocompromised individuals, and pregnant people should also avoid these foods, as they, too, have a higher risk of severe food poisoning.
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You should contact your doctor if you have signs of severe food poisoning.
Normal symptoms of food poisoning typically include diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, or nausea. But if you fall into one of the more at-risk groups, you should be on the lookout for signs of severe food poisoning. According to the CDC, this includes diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, diarrhea that lasts for more than three days and is not improving, bloody diarrhea, extreme vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down, and dehydration. The agency says you should immediately contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of these issues.
Thousands of people die every year because of foodborne illness.
Every year, 48 million people in the U.S. get sick with a foodborne illness, according to the CDC. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die as a result. Older adults are more at risk for these serious outcomes. According to the CDC, nearly half of people 65 and older who get food poisoning from one of the four major foodborne germs end up being hospitalized. One of the main germs putting older adults at risk is Listeria, which is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning in the U.S. The CDC says more than half of all Listeria infections occur in people 65 and older, with the bacteria often contaminating foods like deli meats, cheese, and sprouts.
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