Go Vegetarian!

Are you starting to cut meat out of your diet? Lots of people I know are now exploring a plant-based diet. For Baby Boomers and older adults, this is an important shift in lifestyle. A healthy vegetarian diet includes foods that are high in nutrient density, while minimizing processed foods, fats and animal products. These diets have been shown to be beneficial for:

• weight loss
• decreasing the risk of diabetes
• decreasing incidence and death from heart disease
• lowering blood pressure

And in areas of the world with the greatest concentration of centenarians, meat is consumed only about once a week.

Abstaining from meat, poultry and fish can be tricky and require a bit of creativity. A strict vegan diet contains no meat or dairy products; everything is plant-based. A lacto-ovo vegetarian avoids meats but includes dairy and egg products; this is a great place to start when beginning to think plant-based.

So here are some ideas to get you started–10 protein snacks for lacto-ovo vegetarians (approximately 10 grams of protein per serving):

Eggs are a great protein snack for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

1) 1 hard-boiled egg + 1 serving whole-grain crackers

2) 1/2 cup hummus + celery and carrot sticks

3) 1/2 low-fat cottage cheese + 1 sliced banana

4) 2 Tb. peanut butter + 1 whole-grain English muffin

5) 1 stick of string cheese + 1 handful of grapes

6) 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt + 1 sliced apple with cinnamon

7) 1 smoothie (1 scoop protein powder + 8 oz water + 1 cup spinach + 1 ripe banana + 1/4 cup blueberries + ice)

8) 2 Tb. almond butter + 1 slice whole-wheat toast

9) 1 oz. almonds + 1 Tb. raisins

10) cheese quesadilla (1 whole-grain small tortilla + 1 Tb. shredded cheese + salsa)

Don’t be afraid to experiment with a plant-based diet. Lots of ideas and recipes are available online. Start by replacing one meal (Meatless Mondays) and then expand from there!

For more ideas on healthy eating and lifestyles, give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

I’ve Become My Own Client

As many of you know, I’ve been “dealing” recently with a progressively painful case of osteoarthritis in my left hip. I understand now why Baby Boomers and seniors with this disease don’t want to exercise much–it hurts! But as a fitness professional, I also know the critical role exercise plays in continuing to strengthen joints and keep other chronic diseases at bay.

Don’t let arthritis pain keep you down.

So I’ve had to get creative with myself to find acceptable physical activity I can put back into my day (my go-to exercise fix for many years has been walking; but now, unfortunately, more than 5 minutes at a time is out for me).

So I get 20 – 30 minutes of bicycling twice a week at my gym, attend a yoga class weekly, and stand and walk around the house as much as I can. And starting this week, I’ll visit our community pool before dinner at least twice a week to get in some needed laps.

A CRIPPLING DISEASE

Here’s some information about arthritis, and recommendations for self-care.

• According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in four adults, or nearly 54 million people, have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
• Arthritis includes more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissue.
• The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Its main symptoms are joint pain, swelling and stiffness; these usually grow worse with age.
• The second most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It’s an autoimmune disease with painful inflammation at various joints.
• Scientists don’t know exactly what causes or how to prevent arthritis, and it’s generally considered incurable.
• Being female and having a family history of the disorder increase your risk of developing arthritis.

FOOD
For arthritis, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds put additional loads on joints, and limit mobility.

Much has been written about foods to eat or avoid for arthritis care, but the consensus seems to be a Mediterranean-type diet: fish, 3 – 4 oz twice a week, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables (berries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli), olive oil and whole grains. These foods are filling, full of beneficial phytochemicals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Some people with arthritis avoid nightshades vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and red bell peppers). Although there’s no scientific evidence this practice helps relieve arthritis pain, if you believe they’re affecting your condition, try eliminating all nightshade veggies for a few weeks.

Others find glucosamine helpful, but according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies have produced conflicting evidence as to whether the supplement reduces joint pain. Check with your doctor before trying glucosamine, as it can interfere with the blood thinner Coumadin and may affect your body’s ability to handle blood sugar.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
As I said earlier, movement is imperative; my physical therapist likes to say “motion is the lotion!” Exercise encourages the circulation of synovial fluid that lubricates joints; it increases blood flow to pump oxygen and nutrients to affected areas and helps remove wastes.

Work with your healthcare providers to design an individualized program for your specific arthritis needs.

Engage in strength training twice a week to improve muscle strength around the affected area, resulting in less stress on the joint, reduced pain and joint stiffness and improved maintenance of functional abilities.

Strive for 150 minutes of cardio per week. Start slowly, noting which activities your body tolerates. Be sure to include plenty of time to warm up (heat relaxes muscles and increases circulation), then find aerobic exercises you enjoy that do not twist or pound your joints.

Excellent examples include walking, swimming and water-based exercises, stationery biking and yoga.

Applying ice after exercise can help decrease pain and inflammation.

Check with the Arthritis Foundation or your local YMCA for programs in your area.

And don’t forget flexibility and balance exercises.

For help with your arthritis, give me a call!
We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

Worth Repeating…

I’m researching this topic for Baby Boomers and seniors for an upcoming talk at California State University, San Marcos, and thought I’d re-post this interesting article.

What If You Could Treat Depression with Salmon?

Selecting proper foods may help fight depression.

Or nuts, or certain fruits and vegetables, or even whole grains? What if dietary interventions for mental illnesses could complement (or maybe even replace) medications–with none of the side effects and a lot less expense? Welcome to the new field of nutritional psychiatry!

If It’s Good For the Heart…
Think about it. The same blood that curses through your heart also flows through your brain. It only makes sense then that lifestyle interventions promoted for healthy hearts might also benefit the brain.

Now scientists are beginning to design studies to examine the specific effects of food on mental health, with the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research leading the way. These researchers claim that a healthy diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology.

Benefits
Although still preliminary, the research is starting to show that certain types of diets have significant benefits on mental problems. Connections between food and brain health include improvements in:
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Dementia
• ADHD in adults

From Belly to Brain
Studies show that certain dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet and traditional Japanese diet, seem to support a healthy brain. Though the exact mechanisms are not yet clearly defined, scientists believe part of the reason is the effect of diet on neurotransmitters, especially serotonin; a deficit in this naturally-occurring chemical leads to depression.

Now here’s the connection to diet: 90+% of our serotonin is produced in the gut, and a diet of poor quality will decrease the amount available for our brains. Specifically, a diet high in sugar can negatively impact the trillions of gut bacteria, leading to inflammation and a depletion of serotonin.

Another important factor is the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in diets of high quality. These fats, especially from seafood, are critical in fighting harmful oxidation and inflammation, and aid in maintaining brain structure and health.

A third factor relates to fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut. These foods may support the brain by creating a positive environment for friendly gut bacteria, cut inflammation, and boost brain chemicals and hormones.

What You Can Do
Taken altogether, researchers recommend the following healthful eating habits (emphasizing whole foods, not supplements) to support mental health:
• Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, especially anti-oxidant rich varieties such as tomatoes, berries, sweet potatoes, etc.
• Consume omega-3-rich seafood, including salmon, tuna and sardines
• Include healthy oils, such as olive oil, as well as fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut or kimbucha
• Enjoy nuts, legumes and whole grains
• Eat moderate amounts of lean meat
• Limit sugar and processed foods

To discover other ways to improve your mental and physical fitness, give me a call!
We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

Our Newest “Silent Killer”

This is something I’m running into more and more frequently now–unfortunately. It’s a condition called pre-diabetes, and it’s affecting millions of Baby Boomers and seniors.

Dried beans are an excellent protein source for folks with pre-diabetes.

Dried beans are an excellent protein source for folks with pre-diabetes.

In fact, 86 million Americans – more than one in three adults – have pre-diabetes, far more than the 27 million who have diabetes. And 15% – 30% of these folks will develop the full-blown disease within 5 years if nothing is done.

One quarter of folks age 65+ do go on to develop Type 2 diabetes, which doubles their overall risk for death. Complications include kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, amputations, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Pre-diabetes does not generally have any symptoms. It’s usually diagnosed as the result of a routine fasting blood sugar or hemoglobin A1-C test.

In pre-diabetes, the body begins to use insulin inefficiently (“insulin resistance”). Insulin is a hormone that’s released from the pancreas in response to eating; its purpose is to remove blood sugar (glucose) from blood and move it to cells to be used for energy. But with diabetes, although the pancreas tries to keep up with demand, eventually it is unable to make enough of the hormone to keep blood sugar levels normal.

So blood sugar levels rise, and remain elevated.

Here are the most common risk factors for pre-diabetes and diabetes:

• Being overweight or obese
• Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
• Being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino heritage
• Having a prior history of gestational diabetes or birth of at least one baby weighing >9 lb
• Having high blood pressure measuring 140/90 or higher
• Having abnormal cholesterol with HDL (“good” cholesterol) 35 or lower, or triglyceride level 250 or higher
• Being physically inactive—exercising fewer than three times a week
• Polycystic ovary disease
• Obstructive sleep apnea

Changes in lifestyle can turn your numbers around so this doesn’t develop into Type 2 diabetes; here are some strategies you can use:
• Move! During exercise, muscle contractions cause an increase in the use of glucose for energy, lowering blood sugar levels for several hours. Both aerobic exercise and resistance training improve blood glucose control.
–The American Diabetes Association recommends breaking up sedentary time every 30 minutes.
– Experts further recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise all or most days of the week; this can be broken into 10- or 15-minute increments.
• Manage your weight. A loss of just 7% of body weight will help manage blood glucose levels and increase sensitivity to insulin.
• Increase your consumption of whole fruits and vegetables, and whole grain products. The fiber in these foods takes more time to digest, helps you feel full longer and controls spikes in blood sugar.
• Eat at regular intervals, ingesting 45 – 60 grams of healthy carbohydrates per meal.
• Decrease animal fats and red meat consumption. These foods are associated with a higher risk of heart disease—more prevalent in those with diabetes.

Looking for more help to turn back pre-diabetes?  Watch for my free webinar coming up in a couple of weeks!

You’ll Be Surprised by these Findings!

As a Baby Boomer, I’m excited when I see research announcing a specific dietary component that could be responsible for successful aging. We’re all looking for ways to age gracefully, keeping our independence and quality of life as long as possible.

Mom and dad need to eat foods in high nutrient density.

Fruits and vegetables provide valuable dietary fiber for successful aging!

So this 2016 study pointing to the benefits of a high-fiber diet published in the Journal of Gerontology caught my eye recently. The researchers were studying successful aging, defined as “absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases (eg, cancer and coronary artery disease).” They followed more than 1,600 adults, aged 49 and over, for 10 years.

Of all the variables they followed, researchers found a high-fiber diet led to the highest chance of “reaching old age disease free and fully functional.”

This paper seemed to support a previous report, published in 2014. These researchers conducted analyses of 17 studies and concluded that for every additional 10 grams of fiber consumed, the risk of death decreased by 10%.

A Quick Primer on Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber, also known as “roughage,” is the part of a plant we humans cannot completely digest and absorb. As a result, it passes through the GI tract relatively intact, and leaves the body.

Dietary fiber is only found in plant products, most notably whole grains, legumes and dried beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It is not found in meats of any kind.

There are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, found in oats, peas, beans, fruit and barley, dissolves in water. It binds with cholesterol and actually escorts the “bad” variety out of the body, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attacks. Soluble fiber also helps lower the risk of diabetes; because it isn’t absorbed, it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of food through your digestive system and adds bulk to the stool, helping relieve constipation. This type of fiber is found in whole wheat, wheat bran, nuts, seeds and some vegetables.

Many plant products contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

High-fiber foods are more filling than low-fiber ones, and aid in losing weight.

How Much Is Enough?
The Institutes of Medicine recommends that men consume 38 grams of dietary fiber per day; the amount for women is 25 grams. Most Americans consume about half that amount, 15 grams per day.

Here are a few guidelines to help you get to your fiber numbers:

• First, read labels. For grain products such as bread, cereal or crackers, you want the first ingredient to contain the word “whole.” So you’re looking for whole wheat or whole grain. Then check on the Nutrition Facts for “Carbohydrates,” and look further down for “Dietary Fiber.” For a food to be considered a good source of dietary fiber, it must contain at least 2.5 grams per serving.
• Second, dried beans and peas are excellent sources of dietary fiber, many containing 10+ grams per cup.
• Third, whole fruits and vegetables with skin are also great sources, especially berries, pears, apples, artichokes and broccoli.

Important note: Ease slowly into a high-fiber diet. Consuming too much of this dietary component too quickly can lead to GI distress such as cramping and gas.

To discover other ways to improve your chances for successful aging, give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.