At first glance, some foods like vegetable sprouts, fish and eggs may seem healthy. However, depending on how they are prepared, these foods may contain germs that can easily make elderly people sick, causing food-borne illness, sometimes called food poisoning.
Ruth Frechman, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, told AgingCare.com that seniors should avoid some foods that appear healthy, especially raw foods, because of the germs they harbor. "As we age, it is harder for our bodies to fight off germs, making it easier to get sick," she says.
A prime example: Sprouts. "Consuming sprouts – broccoli, alfalfa, bean sprouts and so on – is like eating a little plant, which provides a great deal of nutritional, digestive, and enzymatic benefits, " Ms. Frechman says. "However, the warm, humid conditions needed for growing sprouts from seeds are ideal for bacteria to flourish. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria can grow to high levels. The seed sprouts, and the bacteria get trapped inside. When we eat the sprout, we ingest the bacteria, which can make us very sick."
Ms. Frechman says elders should also avoid the following foods:
- Raw eggs
- Soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and blue-veined varieties. "Soft cheeses can be a breeding ground for bacteria," Ms. Frechman says.
- Raw fish, oysters, clams and mussels. "Eating these foods is like playing Russian roulette – you never know when you're going to get a bad one," she says.
- Unpasteurized milk
- Unpasteurized juice
- Raw or rare hamburger, carpaccio (thin shavings of raw beef fillet) and steak tartare
- Sushi and sashimi
- Foods that contain undercooked eggs (unpasteurized eggnog, Monte Cristo sandwiches, French toast, homemade Caesar salad dressing, Hollandaise sauce, tiramisu and raw cookie dough or cake batter).