Friday, July 6, 2012

Could This Be The Fountain Of Youth?

Paying attention to nutrition can make a huge difference in how you look and feel in the years to come. Are you going to be a young 60 or a REALLY old 60? It all starts with what you put in your mouth and how much you move your body.

It won’t come as a surprise to you that as the years add up, there tends to be a shift in weight and overall health. It takes more effort to ward off weight gain and chronic disease.
Let’s look at five of the top nutrition issues we can address to optimize our health and stay younger longer.

Get used to eating less:

As we age, we need fewer calories than we did in our 20s and 30s. Our metabolism changes and body composition favors fat over muscle. It’s not uncommon to gain weight despite maintaining similar eating and activity patterns that we’ve followed for years. We need to move more and eat smarter just to keep the scale from rising. Losing weight may become more challenging. Click HERE if you need help dropping a few pounds.
Food researchers report that we underestimate how much we eat by approximately 20 percent to 40 percent. If you pay close attention to quantity and in particular to shrinking your portions of high-calorie food, it may help you manage a healthy weight as you age. Today’s food environment makes it tempting to eat too much junk food and super-size our portions. Boosting our intake of fruits and vegetables adds volume to our diet that can help some of us resist unhealthy options.
Keep a journal of what you eat. Once you have a clear record, it is easier to make changes to reduce total calories. You’ll be surprised at how a bite here and a sip there add calories. There are free computer programs and smartphone apps to help you track calories. Working with a certified Health Coach can assist you in making substitutions and tailor a plan to suit your individual needs.

Tackle emotional eating:
We eat for many reasons, responding to true hunger and emotional hunger.
Signs of true hunger include stomach rumbles, fatigue, difficulty focusing and negative changes in mood. It is best to eat when physically hungry, combining complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats for every meal or snack.
We need to tune in to our emotional reasons for eating. These urges may be tied to specific cravings. When emotional eating negatively impacts our health, body image and relationship with food, we need alternative practices to comfort ourselves.

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Ask yourself, “Am I hungry, tired or stressed? Can I really comfort myself with food or will the issue remain the same even after I have indulged?”
Dig deep, be honest with yourself and explore the true answers to these questions. Then find activities you enjoy that contribute to your health and try these first: A few minutes of distraction or a big glass of water may help emotional eating urges disappear. For some, counseling helps to resolve the root of emotional eating.

Supplement wisely:

Vitamins are organic substances made by plants or animals, and minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water and are absorbed by plants. An array of well-researched evidence suggests that eating wholesome, healthy foods and adding nutritional supplements to augment what diet alone cannot provide is a reasonable plan for nutrition management – thus, total nutrition.
It may be hard to meet nutrient needs through diet alone. Dietary intakes of several nutrients – dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D – are low enough to be of public health concern in the U.S.
Those of us living in latitudes above Los Angeles usually need vitamin D supplementation. Check with your health care provider to determine your vitamin D level (a simple blood test). He or she will recommend the right dose to normalize your vitamin D, and then a maintenance dose. If it’s difficult to eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish, nuts and canola or olive oil, you might consider fish oil supplements. If your intake of calcium is low, talk with your health care provider about a calcium citrate supplement. Psyllium fiber supplement may be a good source of fiber in your diet. And a multivitamin “for seniors” might help fill in nutrient needs when your food intake is less than ideal.
Getting nutrients from food is the gold standard. Some supplements can interact with medications, so discuss them with your health care provider. Mega-doses of vitamins and minerals might cause toxicity in addition to wasting your money. Most people know by now, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Think your drink:

Beverage calories add up. Sodas, specialty coffees, sweetened teas and alcohol often add calories without contributing to your nutrient needs. A can of pop is about 150 calories, while a 16-ounce vanilla latte has about 230 calories. What about alcohol? 12 ounces of beer adds 150 calories, an ounce of hard liquor 100 calories, a 5-ounce serving of wine adds 120 to 220 calories depending on whether it is white, red or dessert. An extra 100 calories a day adds an extra 10 pounds per year.
Learn to drink coffee and tea either “black” or substitute cream with skim milk and sugar with a low-calorie sweetener or you could give them up all together. Could you sip on sparkling soda with a slice of citrus instead of calorie-dense alcoholic beverages? Choose to use nonfat or 1 percent milk and save hundreds of calories each week. Quench thirst with water.
Remember, dropping 100 calories a day results in an annual 10-pound weight loss.
Ward off lifestyle diseases:

Nearly one in two adults live with a chronic illness, accounting for more than 75 percent of health care costs. We know that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis risks increase with age. So boomers should take extra care to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent and treat these issues.
Getting enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans or legumes, lean protein sources and lower-fat dairy foods are steps in the right direction. You can also benefit from reducing your sodium intake, limiting high-sugar foods and not consuming alcohol.
Increasing omega-3 fats from foods such as fatty fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, and canola or olive oil is especially good for your heart health, immune system and mood. Consuming healthier fats from plants such as olives, nuts and seeds, and reducing animal fats is another way to improve your diet. Eliminate trans fats, often referred to as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils found in processed foods. Doing this requires careful label reading for items such as crackers, coffee creamers, prepackaged pastries, baking mixes, etc.
Move to a less processed diet. The more whole foods you consume, the fewer added sugars, sodium and unhealthy fats you will consume.
Here are a few ideas to get you started: Skip fast foods and pack your lunch several times per week. Add whole-grain breads and cereal. Choose skim or 1 percent for all dairy products. Enjoy local produce from the farmers market. And decrease portion sizes – it really is OK not to clean your plate. Leftovers are great!
Within a few short months of following these tips, you’ll have changed your lifestyle enough to look and feel your best. Nutrition is one area where being smart pays it forward.

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