Tag: healthy aging

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?

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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?

 

 

 

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.