A careful look at the food people eat in long-term care homes shows that we need to make their diets healthier. The study found that eating more whole grains, plant-based proteins, and simple fruits and vegetables would help people living in these homes follow government advice and lower their risk of inflammation.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo used new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to study information on food and drinks eaten by over 600 residents in 32 long-term care homes for three days.
They compared the results to the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide and expert knowledge on foods that may cause inflammation, which can lead to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and dementia.
Dr. Kaylen Pfisterer, a professor at Waterloo, said that these food studies can help plan menus in long-term care homes and give useful information to improve residents’ health and happiness.
However, the researchers recognized that there are challenges in changing food in long-term care homes.
One challenge is that older residents must like the food and drinks they have, as it affects their happiness. Another challenge is that many long-term care home residents are at risk of not getting enough nutrients, so just making sure they get enough calories can be hard. Money limits and the changing availability of some foods can also be problems.
The new AI tool the researchers made speeds up a process that used to be slow and prone to mistakes.
Dr. Alexander Wong, a professor at Waterloo, said that the AI technology let them get a much better understanding of the foods people in long-term care homes eat and their impact on inflammation.
Other researchers, Dr. Heather Keller and Dr. Robert Amelard, also took part in the study.
Key Takeaways in a Nutshell – Health Newstrack
– Eating more whole grains, plant-based proteins, and simple fruits and vegetables can help lower inflammation risks.
– Challenges in changing diets in long-term care homes include resident preferences, risk of malnutrition, budgetary constraints, and seasonal food availability.
– The new AI tool speeds up the process of analyzing food data and helps researchers gain deeper insights.