Tag: healthy aging

Let Your Age Shine with These 4 Nutrients

by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.

The belief that aging is inevitable is in many cases a myth. It is not age per se, but years of abuse that wear down our bodies. (1) Many aspects of aging can be slowed or avoided – from wrinkles and age-related health conditions to middle-age spread and even to the frailty and loss of independence that many of us fear – by making a few changes in what we eat and how much we move. There is every reason to expect we can live robustly, passionately and vitally into our 90s and beyond.

Aging starts much earlier than you think, as early as your 20s. (2) It’s only after the accumulation of damage has progressed that you notice the overt signs of aging. That means, the sooner you start taking charge of your aging process, the longer you will remain youthful and vital. However, it’s never to late. Start today. Vow to make a few simple changes in your diet (and exercise) to ensure you get enough of the following 4 nutrients.

DHA Omega-3

The so-called “bad” fats — such as saturated fats in red meat and cheese, or trans fats in processed foods — are major players in heart disease. (3,4) In contrast, some of the “good” fats, such as the omega 3s, actually support your heart.

There are three types of omega-3s, and the one most important to overall health is DHA. Heart tissue concentrates DHA to a greater extent than any other omega-3. (5,6) Research points to the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3s, including DHA, in supporting the overall health of the heart. (7-10)

Fatty fish, such as salmon, is a great source of DHA. However, if you are vegetarian, choose foods fortified with or supplements containing an algal- or vegetarian-based DHA. Aim for two servings of fatty fish a week or take a supplement that contains ample amounts of the omega-3 DHA.

Vitamin E

Little oxygen fragments, called free radicals or oxidants, damage cell membranes throughout the body, contributing to inflammation throughout the body. (11) Maintain a well-stocked arsenal of anti-free radicals or antioxidants, and you side-step this damage and help keep your tissues healthy.

Vitamin E, being a fat-soluble antioxidant, is a primary protector of cell membranes throughout the body. (12,13)

Even the skin benefits from vitamin E. Vitamin E helps slow skin cell ageing by reducing the production of an enzyme called collagenase that otherwise breaks down collagen, causing the skin to sag and wrinkle. (14,15) The best dietary sources of this potent antioxidant are nuts and oils, such as wheat germ oil.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in abundance in red wine and in lower amounts in red grapes, peanuts, pomegranates and berries. It is a potent antioxidant. Studies show that resveratrol alters gene expression, turning on the cells’ production of anti-aging substances. It also speeds cell repair and strengthens blood vessels. As if that wasn’t enough, it even shows promise in extending the lifespan. (16-23)

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 supports memory and nervous system function, yet people are less efficient at absorbing vitamin B12 as they age. Several studies suggest that low vitamin B12 status might be associated with memory function. (24-29) Also, this vitamin is only found in meats, eggs, and milk, so are prone to deficiency unless they supplement or include several servings a day of foods fortified with vitamin B12. People taking acid-inhibiting medications for stomach conditions, such as gastric reflux, also could be low in the vitamin, since B12 requires stomach acid for absorption. (30,31)

The best dietary sources are clams, tuna, tempeh, yogurt, eggs, miso, chicken and fish. Also make sure your multi-vitamin supplement contains ample amounts of vitamin B12.

Get Started!

Imagine if someone said they had a pill that would help slow aging while helping you feel and look younger for the rest of your life. That pill had no side effects other than improved mood, energy level, and self image. Would you take it? You’d be crazy not to! Well, it may not be a pill, but eating well, exercising daily and supplementing responsibly will stack the deck in favor of you living a long and healthy life.

References

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/200000-heart-disease-stroke-deaths-a-year-are-preventable-201309046648
  2. National Institutes onAging: What is aging? https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/aging-under-microscope/what-aging
  3. Williams C, Salter A: Saturated fatty acids and coronary heart disease risk. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 2016;19:97-102.   (Saturated fat)
  4. Ginter E, Simko V: New data on harmful effects of trans-fatty acids. Bratisl. Lek. Listy. 2016;117(5):251-253.
  5. http://www.today.com/news/5-heart-healthy-nutrients-women-wbna29039017
  6. http://www.dhaomega3.org/Cardiovascular-Health/Higher-DHA-Omega-3-Levels-Found-in-Heart-Tissue-of-Cadavers-with-Low-Cardiac-Mortality
  7. Defilippis A, Blaha M, Jacobson T: Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease prevention. Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine 2010;12:365-380.25.
  8. Sakabe M, Shiroshita-Takeshita A, Maguy A, et al: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids prevent atrial fibrillation associated with heart failure but not atrial tachycardia remodeling. Circulation 2007;116:2101-2109. (Heart rate )
  9. Clark C, Monahan K, Drew R: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation attenuates blood pressure increase at onset of isometric handgrip exercise in healthy young and older humans. Physiological Reports 2016; July;4(14). (Blood pressure)
  10. Spigoni V, Lombardi C, Cito M, et al: N-3 PUFA increase bioavailability and function of endothelial progenitor cells. Food & Function 2014; 5:1881-1890. (Endothelial function and blood flow)
  11. Ellulu M, Patimah I, Khaza’ai H, et al: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: A review of initiators and protective factors. Inflammopharmacology 2016;24:1-10.
  12. Ambrogini P, Betti M, Galati C, et al: Alpha tocopherol and hippocampal neural plasticity in physiological and pathological conditions. International Journal of Molecular Science 2016;17(12).
  13. Georgousopoulou E, Panagiotakos D, Mellor D, et al: Tocotrienols, health and aging: A systematic review. Maturitas 2017;95:55-60.
  14. Ricciarelli R, Zingg J, Azzi A: The 80th anniversary of vitamin E: Beyond its antioxidant properties. Biological Chemistry 2002;383:457-465.
  15. Azzi A, Stocker A: Vitamin E: Non-antioxidant roles. Progress in Lipid Research 2000;39:231-255.
  16. Barger J, Kayo T, Vann J, et al: A low dose of dietary resveratrol partially mimics caloric restriction and retards aging parameters in mice. PloS ONE 2008;308:e2264.
  17. Majumdar A, Banerjee S, Nautiyal J, et al: Curcumin synergizes with resveratrol to inhibit colon cancer. Nutrition & Cancer 2009;61:544-553.
  18. Kroon P, Iyer A, Chunduri P, et al: The cardiovascular nutrapharmacology of resveratrol. Current Medicinal Chemistry 2010;17:2442-2455.
  19. Mercader J, Palou A, Bonet M: Resveratrol enhances fatty acid oxidation capacity and reduces resistin and retinol-binding protein 4 expression in white adipocytes. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2010;November 24th.
  20. Smith D, Nagy T, Allison D: Calorie restriction: What recent results suggest for the future of ageing research. European Journal of Clinical Investigation 2010;40:440-450.
  21. Anekonda T: Resveratrol: A boon for treating Alzheimer’s disease? Brain Research Review 2006;52:316-326.
  22. Roth G, Lane M, Ingram D: Caloric restriction mimetics. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2005;1057:365-371.
  23. Mukherjee S, Dudley J, Das D: Dose-dependency of resveratrol in providing health benefits. Dose Response 2010;8(4):478-500.
  24. Osimani A, Berger A, Friedman J, et al: Neuropsychology of vitamin B12 deficiency in elderly dementia patients and control subjects. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 2005;18:33-38.
  25. Durand C, Mary S, Brazo P, et al: Psychiatric manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency. Encephale 2003;29:560-565.
  26. Hin H, Clarke R, Sherliker P, et al: Clinical relevance of low serum vitamin B12 concentrations in older people. Age and Ageing 2006;35:416-422.
  27. Barghouti F, Younes N, Halaseh L, et al: High frequency of low serum levels of vitamin B12 among patients attending Jordan University Hospital. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 2009;15:853-860.
  28. Smith A, Refsum H: Vitamin B12 and cognition in the elderly. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009;89:707S-711S.
  29. Behrens M, Diaz V, Vasquez C, et al: Dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. Revista Medica de Chile 2003;131:915-919.
  30. Smith A: Hippocampus as a mediator of the role of vitamin B12 in memory. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2016;103:959-960.
  31. Kobe T, Witte A, Schnelle A, et al: Vitamin B12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2016;103:1045-1054.

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.

Continue reading “The One Vitamin You Are Low In”

5 tips to help you age healthier

HappyMother's DayAre 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”

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?

5 reasons that older adults need to exercise

A recent study published in the New York Times found that exercise might increase the brain’s flexibility.  Yet another reason in a long list supporting the health benefits of physical activity as we age. Not convinced? Here are our top 5 reasons why you need to prioritize exercise.

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  • Get out of your comfort zone: Trying something new, like a community Zumba class, or developing a new skillset, like boxing or rock-climbing, helps keep your brain stimulated. As you exercise your body, you’ll also be exercising your mind.
  • Manage your weight: Another added benefit of exercise? Dropping excess pounds. Staying within a healthy weight range can help stave off a myriad of health conditions – like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Maintain your healthy brain: Grow your brain along with your muscles – regular exercise can encourage the growth of new brain cells and connections. Overall physical health is closely linked to brain health, so a healthy body is key to a healthy brain.
  • Keep your social life buzzing: Physical activity often goes hand in hand with group activities – aerobics class at the gym, dance lessons, weekly tai chi sessions in the part. Even walking dates with friends are a great way to stay active and stay connected.
  • Show what you can do: When you started, you could barely jog to the mailbox. Now you can make it around the block without taking a break. Exercise shows us what we’re capable of – often beyond our own expectations. Setting, and reaching, new goals is a great way to stay motivated.

What’s your favorite benefit of exercising?

 

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?

the four elements of

 

 

Challenge yourself: 5 ways to bring more art into your life

There are benefits to doing art for people of all ages. For those of us in the second half of life, art can be a compelling option for engaging your mind, one of the four dimensions of brain health (http://www.beautiful-minds.com/four-dimensions-of-brain-health/the-mentally-engaged-mind) Whether you are a dedicated knitter, an experienced painter or a total newbie who has no idea where to start, there are some many ways to bring more art into your life.

2014 Beautiful Minds finalist Carol Siegel
2014 Beautiful Minds finalist Carol Siegel

Here are a few ideas to get your started or to expand your repertoire:

  • Make a memory book: A book, or a box, filled with memories can be an incredibly satisfying project to take on. The look, layout and what memories you choose to preserve are entirely up to you. An added bonus will be the great feelings evoked by looking back on important times in your life.
  • Give the gift of art: Receiving handmade gifts is such a thrill, why not return the favor for a loved one? Think of useful, pretty, or fun items – like jewelry, candles or puppets (grandkids would love this one!). Seek out an online tutorial or classes held in your community.
  • Collage your feelings: A popular art therapy technique, making a collage is a great way to articulate your feelings. Maybe you have a goal you want to achieve this year, are celebrating a family milestone or grappling with a stressful situation – grab the scissors and start cutting and gluing images that fit your feelings. Finally, something to do with your stack of old magazines.
  • Get messy: art doesn’t always have to be sophisticated or refined, or even particularly skilled. You may not be able to paint a photo-realistic seascape, but you can definitely bring (finger) paint to paper. Why leave the fun, messy stuff to the pre-school set? Put down a tablecloth, throw on some old clothes and have fun!

We want to hear from you: how do you bring art into your life?