Tag: health

The One Vitamin You Are Low In

 

By: Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.

Unless you’re supplementing daily with vitamin D, it’s likely you are deficient and don’t even know it. Up to three in every four people tested are low in this vitamin. What’s the risk?

Until recently, vitamin D’s sole job was to support calcium absorption and deposition into bone, thus lowering osteoporosis risk. This role is now considered the tip of the nutritional iceberg.

Every cell in your body has receptors for vitamin D, which means every cell, tissue, organ, and system, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, needs the vitamin. It’s no wonder research shows that vitamin D might aid the body in muscle weakness, gum disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, hearing and vision loss, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and depression, among other health conditions. It also supports pregnancy outcome and reduces the incidence of falls by up to 60 percent in seniors, while a deficiency can mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia. Preliminary studies also show a possible link between low vitamin D intake and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and more.

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Common Misconceptions about Supplements

In our last article, we talked about the difficulties of meeting recommended guidelines for essential nutrients. iStock_000011975542_sm“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”

Making the nutritional grade

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?

Four Lifestyle Factors that Affect Brain Health

Senior Couple Jogging In Park

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?

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Eat Right: Spicy Thai ‘em Up Sweet Potato Soup

This warming, spicy soup,from Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer, features nutritional powerhouse sweet potatoes, which contain vitamins B6, C and D and iron, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids.

  • UntitledIngredients:
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup chopped yellow onion
    10 cups sweet potato (peeled and cubed, approximately 3 1 /2 to 4 pounds of whole potato)
    2 minced garlic clove
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
    1/3 cup spicy mango chutney
    3 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
    2 tablespoons red curry paste
    1/3 cup vermouth
    6 cups chicken broth
    1 8-ounce baker potato, peeled and cubed
    ½ cup lite coconut milk
    ½ cup fat-free evaporated milk
    1 tablespoon honey
    juice and zest from one lime
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.Add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.
  2. Add sweet potato, turn up heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, chutney, peanut butter, and curry paste, and stir to thoroughly coat sweet potatoes.
  4. Add vermouth, stir, and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth and potato, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until potatoes begin to break apart, approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Add lime juice and zest
  7. Transfer soup to food processor or blender and puree.
  8. Return to saucepan; add coconut milk, evaporated milk, and honey.
  9. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with peanuts and cilantro.

Makes 6 servings (approximately 2 cups each)

Nutrition Analysis: 464 Calories, 20 % fat (10 g, 2.6 g saturated), 67 % carbs (77. g), 13 % protein (15.1 g), 9 g fiber, 863 mg sodium.

 

Brain Quiz: Myth vs. Truth

Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of these common brain myths and truths.

1. Can adult brains grow or change?

A. Yes

B. No

 

2. Is memory loss a sure sign of Alzheimer’s disease decades later?

A. Yes

B. No

 

3. Does physical exercise benefit the brain and make it grow larger?

A. Yes

B. No

 

4. Could severe stress and major depression shrink the part of the brain associated with memory?

A. Yes

B. No

 

5. Could your brain grow larger if you learn a new language?

A. Yes

B. No

 

6. Can your waist size influence the size of your brain?

A. Yes

B. No

 

7. Can lack of sleep impact normal brain function?

A. Yes

B. No

 

8. Can a poor diet be linked to:

A. Poor brain function

B. Accelerated brain aging

C. Mood disorders

D. Neurological problems

E. All of the above

 

Answers: 1A, 2B, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A, 7A, 8E

Tips to Help Improve Your Memory

Are you great with faces but bad with names? Do you have to write everything down or risk forgetting what errands need to be run today? You’re in the right spot.

Nelson Dellis, a professional memory consultant, was an everyday guy who became interested in techniques to improve his memory. He is now the two-time USA Memory Champion. He beat mental athletes from around the country in timed events for memorizing numbers, a deck of cards, a list of 99 names and faces and an unpublished poem.

Here are three of Nelson’s techniques for memorizing complex information:

Nelson Dellis, two-time USA Memory Champion

How To Remember Where You Put Your Keys

We often forget where we put our keys or glasses (or sanity) because we do these things so mindlessly. Take a moment to activate your brain and say something out loud. Moving in a memorable way, like stomping your foot, and adding a bizarre auditory component (“yee-haw!”) will create multiple associations in your brain that will be hard to forget.

How To Remember Where You Parked Your Car

Convert a piece of information into an image in your mind. Take a mental snapshot of the stationary objects around the vehicle. Then, convert the location number into a familiar image. If it’s parked on Gold Ramp, Level 4, visualize the Fab Four wearing gold suits and performing on the hood of your car. When you’re ready to find the car, it will be much easier to remember the mental picture than an abstract phrase.

How To Remember Names And Faces

Make an effort. When you meet someone new, confirm that you have heard and can pronounce the name correctly. Then ask how it’s spelled and if it means something or has a cultural history. To really cement it in your brain try to use it, either by introducing the person by name to someone else or by using the name to direct a question to them. Nathan, do you live in the area?