Are the foods on your plate helping you stay healthy through the years? We know what foods are ‘good’ for us, but did you know that what’s on your plate today could affect the way you age?
A recent study, by DSM and Groningen University, looked at why some populations age healthier than others. The researchers found evidence that a lack of nutrients can have long-term health effects. The results of the study support what we already know about the importance of a balanced diet throughout our lives.
It’s not always easy to ensure we’re getting proper nutrition, particularly as we age and need fewer calories and our bodies may absorb less nutrients. To help you stay healthy, try following these five rules: Continue reading “5 tips to help you age healthier”
In our last article, we talked about the difficulties of meeting recommended guidelines for essential nutrients. “Even if you follow a healthy diet, a busy lifestyle can make it difficult to obtain the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, a leading registered dietitian and author of several books, including “The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.”
So, how else can we get the nutrition we need? One easy way to maintain good nutrition is to enhance your diet with supplements. The problem for many is that the frequency of new studies combined with the staggering number of supplements available makes it increasingly confusing to know what is right.
To help you put nutrition news in context, Somer is debunking a few of the common misconceptions about dietary supplements:
Continue reading “Common Misconceptions about Supplements”
As we enter 2016, many of us are thinking about our health and nutrition. After the indulgences of the holiday season, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s on our plate. When it comes to getting essential nutrients through food, it’s not enough to add the right foods to your menu, you also need to look at how often and how much of those foods you are eating.
Do you regularly eat a whole cup of sautéed spinach or get three weekly servings of salmon or other fatty fish? Research shows that Americans aren’t making the nutritional grade and, therefore, can lack important vitamins and minerals like folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin K and even vitamin C.
Data on dietary intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index to compare what people say they eat to recommended dietary guidelines, found that children and adults scored 56 points out of a possible 100 (equivalent to an “F” grade), while seniors fared only slightly better at 65 points (equivalent to a “D” grade). The American Heart Association agreed with those findings in its 2013 report on heart disease and stroke, concluding that poor diet and lack of exercise are two of the main factors contributing to the high prevalence of heart disease in the U.S.
While many of us are falling short on meeting recommended dietary guidelines, it’s clear from the sheer amount of healthy lifestyle articles, diets, methods and tips out there that we are striving to be healthier.
Here are a few easy to ways to add extra nutrition to your meals:
- Add a cup of spinach or other leafy greens to your next smoothie. You won’t taste the spinach at all and your drink will be a pretty shade of green.
- Add finely chopped veggies to your pasta sauce, soups and casseroles.
- Swap out white pasta and bread and cereals for whole grain (aim for low-sugar and high-fiber options too).
Do you aim to meet the recommended dietary guidelines? How do you get your get your essential nutrients?
What’s the most important thing we can do to maintain brain health as we age? According to a new study, it’s not one thing but a combination of several things that may help slow cognitive decline in older adults.
A recent study was done over three years with nearly 1,700 older adults who had mildmemory complaints, slow walking speed, and other daily living limitations. The study participants were randomized into four groups, each with a different regimen to follow. The group who were assigned nutritional counselling, exercise, social and cognitive stimulation along with DHA supplements showed positive results. Even the participants in this group who had a low baseline DHA showed significant results.
The study results reinforce what we already know. The Four Dimensions of Brain Health – a healthy diet, mental engagement, physical activity and social engagement are essential to maintaining our brain health. “The MAPT study shows us that we have some influence in helping to maintain brain health,” says Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author. “Lifestyle changes, like making sure you’re eating the right foods and being active for thirty minutes daily, can have a big impact on brain health.”
DHA is an essential nutrient for brain health but most of us don’t get nearly enough through diet, says Somer. “97% of the omega-3s in the brain are DHA, so it’s no wonder the study found that DHA supplementation can support a healthy brain,” she says. “Aim for a supplement that has at least 200mg DHA.”
How do you take care of your brain health?
As the temperatures cool down (goodbye summer, see you next year!), the sun may be shining a little less brightly, but that doesn’t mean you should pack your shades away. Maintaining healthy eyes and vision is a year-round job.
5 ways to keep your eyes healthy throughout the year:
- Wear sunglasses: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to vision issues, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Look for sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. If you do winter sports or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, consider polarized lenses which offer additional protection from the sun’s glare.
- Hydrate: Keep dry eyes at bay by drinking lots of water. If you’re going to be losing water (i.e. sweating), add in additional water to replenish your body. Keep a refillable bottle of water nearby throughout the day to remind you to drink up.
- Wear protective eyewear: Don’t underestimate the potential for eye injury in everyday activities. Sharp tools, flying dust, harsh chemicals – all can be hazardous to your eye health. If you’re doing basic home repairs or intensive cleaning, don a pair of safety goggles. You can pick them up at many eyewear and sporting goods stores.
- Eat well: We shared Vitamins in Motion’s infographic on nutrition for eye health in our last post. In a nutshell, look for nutrient-packed fruits and veggies and healthy fats to keep your eyes bright, shiny, and healthy. Lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids are eye-health superstars.
- Limit screen time: Today, screens are everywhere, not just on our desktop computer. Tapping out an email on your smartphone, watching a movie on your tablet – too much time in front of a screen can cause eyestrain. To prevent this, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. If you can, take a quick walk during this time.
How do you keep your eyes healthy?
If you’ve made a resolution to live a healthier life in 2014, congratulations! We all know how important exercise and healthy diets are, but it can be difficult to stick with them.
A lifestyle change is often more effective than any single action. Why not use the four dimensions of brain health as your basis to make lifestyle changes that will lead to a healthier, happier you? The four key areas to help support your brain health and function throughout life are: diet, physical health, social well-being and mental engagement.
Check out these tips on how to incorporate lifestyle changes into your daily routine.
Your brain plays a critical role in every area of your life, from learning, working and playing to personality, aptitude and memory. A healthy diet can help to support cognitive function.
Tips to try:
- Switch out saturated and trans fats for healthier fats like the ones found in olive oil and fatty fish.
- Maximize your intake of DHA, which can be found in salmon and trout, along with algal DHA fortified foods like Horizon Organic Milk plus DHA Omega-3, Mission Life Balance Tortillas. It’s also easy to add an algal DHA supplement to your daily routine.
Exercise significantly improves your health in many ways — from helping to maintain a healthy weight and keeping cholesterol levels in check, to maintaining good blood flow to the body and encouraging growth of new brain cells and connections.
Tips to try:
- Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. Walk, play sports, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or do something you enjoy outdoors.
- Sleep soundly — try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Friends and family are central to happiness — and they just might be the key to brain health as well. Research shows that regular social interaction has a significant effect on long-term brain health and function. Getting the emotional and social support you need to help you manage stress and feel happy makes life meaningful and fun, and it stimulates and protects your brain.
Tips to try:
- Volunteer for a cause that is meaningful to you.
- Join a new club this year.
The “use it or lose it” idea is especially true when it comes to your brain. Strive to keep your mind active by engaging in brain-boosting activities.
Tips to try:
- Commit to lifelong learning. Intellectual curiosity, pursuit of education, reading, learning new activities and skills, and even playing games are fun and easy ways to exercise your mind.
- Find a brain-stimulating activity you enjoy such as reading, crosswords, learning a new language — and engage in it regularly.
What New Year’s resolutions do you have planned for yourself and how do you plan to stick to them?
Being happy is almost a universal goal for everyone. Why not start 2014 off on the right note – with a big smile?
Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD and author of Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance has nine brain health tips to help you be happy:
- Get a check up. Getting any long-standing health conditions under control can help increase your brain’s ability to bounce back from negativity.
- Check your medications. Often times, medications can have side affects that negatively affect your mood by giving you brain fog or mood changes. It is a good idea to review your medication list with your doctor to ensure they are not interfering with your brain function or health.
- Sleep. It is well known how a good night’s rest can truly help you feel more alert and ready to face a day with a smile. Give yourself the opportunity to get in a good night’s sleep every day to feel happier during your waking hours.
- Get moving. Exercise pumps oxygen to your brain, which can help improve your mood. Start small if you haven’t exercised before by walking for five minutes a day for four days, then add two minutes every other day until you’re walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Get connected. Social isolation can lead to depression, so surround yourself with positive people and activities to help increase happiness. Even a phone call or video chat with loved ones can bring a smile to your face.
- Eat well and take DHA. Add DHA omega-3 into your diet. It is found in fatty fish and supplements like BrainStrong and has been shown to improve brain function (MIDAS study).
- De-stress. Easier said than done, but try to reduce your daily stress with my 7-7-7 breathing exercise: close your eyes and breathe in while counting to seven, hold your breath and count to seven, then breathe out while counting to seven. And repeat.
- Get thinking. Use your brain in interesting ways by performing complex mental tasks. Start small with something as simple as memorizing your grocery list instead of brining a piece of paper to the store. Build up to something big like learning the names of all the U.S. presidents in order.
What are you going to do to put a smile on your face everyday?