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?
Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer has some great tips to eat healthy without breaking the bank on groceries. Her advice recently appeared on MainStreet.com and we’ve shared some highlights below:
- Blueberries: Blueberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C and are readily available frozen, making them an easy addition to a smoothie.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are chock full of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which can be converted to omega-3s DHA and EPA in the body. DHA and EPA are beneficial for brain, heart and eye health and can be consumed directly by eating fatty fish or through fortified foods, beverages or supplements. Look for Organic Valley Omega-3 milk or Ovega-3 vegetarian DHA+EPA supplement.
- Black Beans: Black beans are extremely versatile. You can put black beans in salsa or make veggie burgers with them. They also keep for a long time and have tons of protein and fiber to spare.
- 100 Percent Whole Grain Cereal: Get yourself a 100 percent whole grain cereal, fresh fruit and some low-fat milk and you have a healthy breakfast on the table in less than five minutes. If you’re sending the kids on the bus with their breakfast, try Super Squeezies with omega-3 DHA.
- Peanut Butter: Not only is it delicious, inexpensive and readily available, it’s also loaded with the right kind of vitamins (like vitamin E), fat and protein. It helps to thicken up smoothies, and put it on whole wheat bread for a nostalgically delicious sandwich. Try Jif peanut butter with Omega-3 DHA & EPA.
- Chicken Breast: Want meat without the fat and cholesterol that comes along with steak and hamburger? Get yourself some lean chicken breast. It grills up quickly and with just a bit of seasoning, you have a delicious, healthy centerpiece for your dinner.
- Sweet Potatoes: These are the healthier alternative to potatoes. They’ve got less carbs in them and have been touted as one of the world’s healthiest foods.
What foods do you enjoy on a budget?
September is Healthy Aging Month – a great time for people of all ages to re-evaluate how they are taking care of their bodies and minds. As we age, it’s natural to become more concerned about our health. The good news is there are several steps we can all take to maintain better health, such as properly nourishing our bodies, exercising, staying socially active and trying new things.
So what are some easy ways to stay vibrant? Dr. David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition has a few tips to help us:
1) Take 800 – 1,000mg of DHA every day. According to recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington, omega-3 fatty acids may increase lifespan. The study found those with the highest blood levels of omega-3s lived an average of 2.2 years longer than other study participants.
2) Get 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, uninterrupted, at least 6 times a week. Research now shows exercise could increase levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which translates to increased growth of new cells in the brain’s memory center, helping to support memory function.
3) Find out if you are gluten sensitive. As many as 30 percent of Americans may be gluten sensitive. A study recently showed being sensitive and consuming gluten represents a potential risk for dementia.
What are you doing this month to support healthy aging?
Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans, according to the Center for Disease Control?
It is important to maintain good cardiovascular health. Check out these tips:
- Get a pet. A recent study from the American Heart Association found owning a pet, particularly a dog, may reduce your risk for heart disease
- Support healthy blood flow. Taking a supplement like the newly available OptiFlow with Fruitflow may support blood flow by helping to maintain healthy platelet function
- Cut back on sodium and saturated fat. Limit your salt and saturated fat intake as part of an overall healthy diet
- Consume more omega-3s. Research from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto found omega-3s, when used as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle may help reduce risk for heart disease
- Eat a diet rich in good-for-you foods. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber
- Exercise. Plan to be active every day and ask a friend to join your activities to make them more fun and engaging