USC’s Professor of Gerontology, Dr. Ed Schneider, Debunks Nutrition Myths & Misconceptions for Successful Aging

Belmont Village Senior Living webinar explores supplements, diet, organic foods, weight and longevity, water, wine, and more

LOS ANGELES--()--Belmont Village Senior Living and Ed Schneider, M.D., Dean Emeritus and Professor of Gerontology at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, recently hosted a webinar addressing proper nutrition for aging adults. Dr. Schneider shares key insights on the latest findings in aging and debunks popular myths and misconceptions about supplements, multivitamins, organic foods, weight, longevity, water, wine, and more.

“It’s a new year, and the most frequently made and broken resolutions have to do with diet – what to eat and what not to eat, all with an eye for staying healthy as we age,” says Patricia Will, Founder and CEO of Belmont Village Senior Living. “For over 15 years, Belmont Village Senior Living has been working with Dr. Schneider and USC, mining the incredible knowledge of the largest and most prestigious gerontology faculty in the world. USC is the only school in the U.S. that awards advanced degrees in gerontology and nutrition, and Dr. Schneider’s work is in our DNA in millions of ways. We could not be more thrilled that he took the time to speak with us on a topic that’s on our mind more than ever right now.”

Dr. Schneider’s nutrition tips include:

  • Toss the multivitamin supplements: Huge numbers of seniors are taking multivitamins, but may not know if and why their ingredients are beneficial to their health. They generally contain iron, copper (which most people do not need), and vitamin A in the form of retinol when it should be consumed in the form of beta carotene. Multivitamins contain half or less of the amount needed of vitamin D. The bottom line: they’re not particularly effective and don’t contain the right mix.
  • Does supplemental calcium or vitamin D help prevent hip fractures? While calcium does increase bone mass, calcium has never been shown to reduce the risk of fractures. Vitamin D does assist calcium absorption, but supplemental calcium can increase the risk of heart disease in seniors. Vitamin D deficiency is the most common pervasive type of vitamin deficiency amongst Americans, but not everyone needs it as a supplement. However, seniors living above the 40th parallel in northern U.S. states and seniors who don’t go outside often may need to take a vitamin D supplement containing the recommended dose of 1000 milligrams.
  • Vitamins: Yes, or no? It’s been shown that vitamin D and C do not affect heart disease or improve one’s longevity. Numerous observational studies indicate that consumption of fatty fish is related to decreased cardiovascular risk, which can be achieved just by eating fish. Vitamins to avoid are B12, E, beta carotene, folic acid, and resveratrol. Supplemental antioxidants are generally not needed for the majority of population, and they are recommended solely for those who engage in intensive physical activities and exercise, such as long-distance runners, whose bodies must respond to the increased oxidation produced by exertion.
  • The egg: The jury is still out on eggs. The phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin can act as beneficial antioxidants which can protect the eyes. Eggs do contain cholesterol, but healthy people generally don’t have problems related to their daily egg intake. Overall, studies of eggs have not shown to cause harm or benefit to one’s health. However, eggs are often eaten with products like bacon, sausage, cheese, hash browns, and butter, which can be detrimental to health if consumed frequently.
  • Red wine: The skin of the red wine grape is full of healthy, protective antioxidants such as resveratrol, and flavonoids. Scientific studies have revealed that resveratrol increases the lifespan of yeast, worms, fruit flies, short-lived fish, and mice, but the dose of resveratrol required to achieve these results in mice is the equivalent of humans drinking 50 bottles of red wine a day to achieve the same effect. In a long-term observational study of over 300,000 participants, results found a decreased risk of death in light or moderate red wine drinkers, and a significantly increased risk in heavy drinkers in comparison to those who were abstainers. One glass of red wine with dinner is totally fine.
  • Caffeine, coffee & tea: Coffee comes from a bean that has many antioxidants. Coffee is known for containing caffeine, which can improve cognitive function and enhance long-term physical performance. However, most of these beverages' health benefits are unrelated to their caffeine content. Coffee lowers the risk for stroke, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, colon and prostate cancer, gallstones, cirrhosis, and, possibly, Alzheimer's disease. Conversely, coffee also increases the risk of having high blood pressure, blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, frequent trips to the bathroom, insomnia, teeth staining, jitteriness, and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. These problems are associated with caffeine, thus making decaffeinated coffee a great solution. It should be clarified that green tea and black tea are made from the same leaf – the difference being that black tea is just oxidized green tea, so they contain the same ingredients. They have almost the same types of antioxidants as well. Consuming tea reduces blood levels of LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, the risk of strokes, the risk of Parkinson's disease, and increases bone mass.
  • Eight glasses of fluid per day? Really? For years, people have been saying that the average individual living in a temperate climate should drink eight glasses of fluid per day. However, the Institute of Medicine Guideline (2004) for water intake does not recommend a specific amount of water to consume daily, but instead states that Americans already get enough fluids just by using thirst as their guide. Aging adults should hold off on drinking fluids before going to bed.
  • Chocoholics unite! Chocolate has been shown to help with cardiovascular health. Cocoa and chocolate contain the powerful antioxidant flavonoid epicatechin as well as nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attacks. Chocolate also improves insulin sensitivity, reduces the risk for diabetes, reduces blood pressure, and inhibits the aggregation of platelets (blood components that can accumulate to form clots), so chocolate prevents clot formation. Dr. Schneider recommends that all aging adults eat at least one cluster of dark chocolate-covered almonds daily, possibly two as nuts also contain unsaturated fats and lower LDL cholesterol.
  • BMI and aging: For those 55 and younger, keep your BMI below 25.0. For those 55 and older who do not have hypertension, diabetes, or significant heart disease, a BMI of 25.0 to 26.9 carries little risk and may increase longevity. A BMI of 27.0 and above carries significant risks at all ages.
  • Brain health and diet: Many wonder if anything in their diet is particularly beneficial or detrimental when it comes to brain health. There have been a lot of anecdotal evidence and observational studies revealing, in general, that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Among the main problems associated with brain health is arteriosclerosis, or strokes. Anything one can do to reduce their risk of arteriosclerosis would improve their brain health. Frequent exercise is the main thing, but staying away from saturated fats helps. Unsaturated fats, like those in olive oil, are much better for one’s overall health.
  • Is there a magic diet? Dr. Schneider has investigated all kinds of diets, such as Dr. Atkins's diet, the keto diet, and the Mediterranean diet. There's no scientific evidence whatsoever that any diet will significantly increase longevity or improve health. However, Dr. Schneider does recommend the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by lots of fiber, vegetables, fish, low intake of saturated fats like meat, and includes wine (in moderation) as a healthy and beneficial choice.
  • Quality of life: As seniors age, many of them are concerned about whether they can still eat foods that are generally deemed “unhealthy,” like fried chicken. Dr. Schneider says that it's important to keep in mind the quality of life for aging adults. If the senior knows the risk, their happiness is ultimately the most important. If that person is enjoying fried chicken and not going to enjoy a piece of chicken that's unsalted and unseasoned because it's healthier for them, then let them eat fried chicken.

Belmont Village Senior Living prioritizes senior health and wellness. All aspects of daily life are influenced by its proprietary, evidence-based approach to programming, health, and wellness. Residents can benefit from on-site physical, speech, and occupational therapy services, short-term respite and transitional stays, Whole Brain Fitness Lifestyle, Circle of Friends® memory support, Dedicated Memory Care Neighborhood to support cognitive strength, and the Diabetes Center of Excellence. In addition to personalized diet plans, Belmont Village communities also offer special care for residents’ diet, including a full-service restaurant (Josephine’s Kitchen with its 24+ daily, chef-prepared menu options) and a bistro for coffee, tea, and snacks. Across its communities, Belmont Village serves more than 360,000 meals a month to residents who have rated the dining service higher than average for the senior housing industry.

“I have visited more than 100 senior living communities across the country, and Belmont Village is at the top,” says Dr. Schneider. “Belmont Village is the highest quality assisted living community I have ever visited. So, if you are a Belmont Village resident, you're very fortunate. If you're a relative or friend of a resident, you should take solace knowing that your loved ones are in a very, very good place."

About Belmont Village Senior Living:

Founded in Houston in 1997, Belmont Village is an integrated developer, owner, and operator of 31 first-tier independent, assisted living, and award-winning memory care communities for older adults across eight states in the U.S. and Mexico. With more than 4,000 employees, Belmont Village communities are renowned for distinctive design, high standards of life, safety, quality of care, and leading-edge, award-winning programs. Belmont Village is certified as a Great Place to Work® and has been ranked since 2018 as one of FORTUNE Magazine’s 50 Best Workplaces for Aging Services. Learn more about Belmont Village at and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Dara Shlifka

Release Summary

Belmont Village Senior Living hosts University of Southern California’s Dr. Ed Schneider to debunk “good” nutrition and eating for successful aging.


Dara Shlifka