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Curcumin―the active form of turmeric―has shown promise in the prevention and therapeutic management of Alzheimer’s Disease. While much research remains to be done for conclusive evidence, adding turmeric in food preparation may show some benefits. The appropriate amounts of curcumin supplements remain unclear. Without more definitive research, it is wise to avoid these supplements and rely on its use in foods.

While the use of curcumin supplements remains uncertain, a little turmeric added into your dishes can provide one more step toward healthy eating. I recall as a child my mother sprinkling this distinct flavored spice on coleslaw. Occasionally, I do the same. Curious as to how I could use this spice that has been advocated for several years as affecting memory, I sought new recipes. You can find a few online, but I stayed with the tried-and-true, a Green Tomato Relish. This recipe has been handed down in my family from generation to generation for about 100 years.tomatoes green

 

Green Tomato Relish

1 gallon ground green tomatoes

5 green sweet peppers

1 hot red pepper

6-8 small white onions

1 stalk celery

1 medium head cabbage

½ cup salt (not iodized)TURMERIC .jpg

4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon mustard seed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 quart vinegar (5 percent acidity)

juice of 4 lemons

Grind vegetables together. Add salt. Put into a cheesecloth bag and drip (several hours or overnight). Mix spices, sugar, lemon juice, and vinegar. Heat to dissolve sugar. Add vegetable mixture gradually, combining with vinegar mixture, and heat thoroughly. Pack into hot, sterile jars and seal. (I water bath for about 20 minutes to make sure no microbes remain). This can remain sealed and stored for several months.

Another choice is to use curry. How does curry compare to turmeric? Curry is a combination of spices; turmeric, chili powder, and cumin. Because it has turmeric in it, it has similar qualities and nutritive values but in smaller quantities. Include this spice as well not only to enhance flavor of favorite dishes, but as a bonus to a healthy diet. Below is another family favorite, Chicken Asparagus Casserole, that began with my generation.

Chicken Asparagus Casserole 

8-10 frozen chicken breasts stripsCURRY

¼  cup olive oil

1 can asparagus pieces (15 ounce)

1 can asparagus spears (15 ounce)

1 can (10 1/2 ounce) low-fat cream of chicken soup

½ cup calorie reduced salad dressing (Miracle Whip)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Defrost 8-10 chicken breast strips. Place in a microwavable dish, cover and cook until tender (or brown lightly on both sides in a skillet with cooking olive oil). Drain asparagus (or peas) and place in bottom of 9″ X 9″ X 2″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (I often use 2 (15 ounce) cans of Lesueur sweet peas instead of asparagus or one can of peas and one can of asparagus spears). Top with chicken strips. Mix together soup, salad dressing, lemon juice and curry powder. Pour over chicken and asparagus. Top with shredded cheese. Cover and bake at 375o F. for 30 minutes. Leftovers freeze well.

How do you use turmeric or curry? Please share some of your favorite healthy dishes. We all want new ways to keep our memories intact.

 

In March 2020 at the onset of Covid-19 within the US, 14 states reported that about 90 percent of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 had one or more underlying conditions. The most common health problem was hypertension (49.7%), while obesity (48.3%) ranked second. Obesity is a major risk factor for contracting Covid-19, but why?

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To comprehend the relationship between obesity and Covid-19, it’s important to understand the hormone leptin. Leptin, from the Greek word “leptoes” which means thin, is a hormone that regulates the appetite by reducing hunger and helps to regulate energy balance.

The relationship of obesity to leptin surfaced in the mid-1990s. Leptin signals the brain when we are full and to stop eating, and possibly at the same time, it increases energy expenditure. At first, it seemed a possible panacea for the treatment of obesity. Although a slight increase in leptin reduces the appetite and can be a major factor in weight loss, excessive leptin doesn’t have the same effect.

Most leptin is produced in fat cells, but some are also produced in lung tissues. In diet-induced obesity, fat cells produce leptin in large quantities. The more obese a person, the higher the levels of leptin. However, a quirk within the cells not completely understood, results in a detrimental effect from too much leptin and causes the obese to become “leptin resistant.” Therefore, they lose little if any weight. How does leptin-resistance impact the obese in this pandemic virus?

Not only does leptin regulate energy balance within the body, interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems, and metabolism (chemical reactions within cells to maintain and sustain life), it is involved in regulating cells that fight infection—our immune system. Molecules of the hormone leptin are trapped in the fat cells. These highly ineffective leptin levels can result in chronic inflammation thereby increasing susceptibility to infections and autoimmunity including Covid-19. 

Individuals with obesity also are prone to hypoventilation (inadequate oxygen levels caused by breathing at an abnormally slow rate) which results in high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the blood and not enough oxygen. High leptin levels in the obese cause the body to produce more blood CO2 levels during the day that cannot be attributed to other factors or conditions.

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Covid-19 has proven once again that medical issues more frequently arise in those with diet-induced obesity. Statistics show that in the US, nonwhites have higher rates of obesity. While many consider this a societal problem, it is also an individual issue. With nearly seventy percent of Americans overweight and more than half of those obese, each of us is responsible for maintaining a healthy weight. Eating healthier foods helps deter obesity and is a win-win for everyone. Educating society, especially those with obesity, to consume fewer calories and make wise choices when eating may well be a good option to combat Covid-19.

         

Corona, Coronavirus, Virus, Blood

If we look back on eating patterns during the past five years, we recognize several changes in our food choices and lifestyles. Until Covid-19 came along, we ate out more and adapted to more cultural and ethnic varieties of dishes. Even prior to the pandemic, we witnessed changes in health issues related to food consumption. Research continues to confirm the relationship between health and mortality. People who consume diets with fewer animal products have lower mortality risks. Seafood is a healthy protein choice as are the plant sources of whole grains and legumes.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, tasked with updating the guidelines, found strong evidence of reduced risks of all-cause mortality (all deaths that occur in a population) when individuals consumed a dietary pattern higher in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean meats and seafood, appropriate dairy foods, and unsaturated vegetable oils and consumed fewer red and processed meats, saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, and beverages and foods with added sugar.

All you need for the Summer 2020 Healthy Diet Plan - BBC Good Food

Many consumers have come to believe plant-based diets are healthier, and that is true when compared to diets higher in food components that increase mortality rates. Sales of plant-based foods increased 11.4 percent in 2019. Plant-based meat sales increased 18 percent, and 45 percent of consumers felt plant-based meat was healthier than that coming from an animal. For the first half of 2020, the sale of plant-based meat increased 148 percent compared to 2019.

The meat industry has countered by pointing out the extensive processing and addition of ingredients, such as salt, may make plant-based meats less healthy.

Guidelines for added sugar have also changed. Whereas the 2015-2020 guidelines suggested consuming no more than 10 percent of all calories from added sugars, the new guidelines lower that recommendation to no more than 6 percent. Some studies indicate that consumers prefer to cut back on consumption of added sugars rather than switch to other sweeteners.

Alcohol has little health value, and the committee notes that drinking less results in better long-term health. Millennials tend to lead the way with changes in consumption. With a decline in beer volume sales, bottled low- and no-alcohol beverages in the US are projected to increase by 32 percent by 2022. Breweries have latched on to this trend of producing nonalcoholic beverages.

Health, Disease, Stethoscope, Heart, Frequency, Rhythm

Health Impact

With the many modifications and projected changes, what are the anticipated effects on health? Chronic health conditions are more prevalent among the older population, certain racial and ethnic groups, and those with lower income levels.

Statistics for overweight and obesity continue to climb in all stages of life. On average, 42 percent of adults are obese with slightly higher levels for men than women. Independently, obesity can result in several serious health issues. Directly or indirectly, it increases the risks of obesity-related complications such as coronary heart disease, end-stage renal disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease, some types of cancer, and other conditions. More recent research finds that obesity impacts our immune system, thus putting the obese at greater risks of infections such as influenza and Covid-19. For influenza, obesity makes adult vaccinations more difficult and possibly less effective.

The overall highest incidence of cancer is female breast cancer followed by prostate cancer. Lung and bronchus cancer cause the highest mortality rate of any cancer. For those who drink alcohol, smaller amounts result in a lower risk of this disease and all-cause mortality compared to those who consume higher amounts. Dietary patterns recommended by the committee were generally associated with decreased risks of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

Based on reports of wellness and diet, we as a nation do not fare well. With so much evidence to support the ill-effects of unwise diet patterns, why do we continue to make risky choices? While the dietary guidelines provide suggestions based on scientific evidence, the choice is ours. Do we want good health, or do we prefer to choose a pattern of unhealthy eating? If the latter, then whether or not intended, we place the burden of escalating healthcare costs on others as well as ourselves.  

Every five years since 1980, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conjunction with the Health and Human Services (HHS) revises the recommended dietary guidelines for Americans. The new committee, made up of physicians, dietitians, scientists, and other medical professionals, has pored through current research in nutrition to develop undated guidelines. What changes can we expect from those previously published?

According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, more than half the people in the US have one or more a preventable chronic disease. Many of these conditions relate to unhealthy dietary practices. Therefore, a major goal of the committee is to summarize and synthesize scientific evidence to reduce risks “of chronic disease while meeting nutrient requirement and promoting health for all Americans.”

ExRx.net : Dietary Guidelines

The committee amplified or expanded the five principles from the 2015-2020 guidelines with more emphasis on pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. Below are the current guidelines with a few suggested changes.

1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.

The committed suggests revised guidelines include dietary patterns for each life stage by incorporating, following, and modifying the pattern for different life stages for specific nutritional needs.

The committee recognizes three acceptable dietary patterns that share core components but allow for key differences to tailor for individual preferences: Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern, and Healthy Vegetarian. These three patterns all 1) obtain most of needed energy from plant-based foods, 2) provide protein and fats from nutrient-rich food sources, and 3) limit intakes of added sugars, solid fats, and sodium. All use the 2,000-kcal level as a reference for serving size and nutrient content.

The USDA Food Pattern includes five major food groups, and in some cases, subgroups.

MyPlate Graphic Resources | ChooseMyPlate
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables: Dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other
  • Dairy, including calcium-fortified soy beverages
  • Grains: Whole grains and refined grains
  • Protein Foods: Meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; nuts, seeds, and soy products
Mediterranean Cuisine Mediterranean Diet Health PNG, Clipart, Baked Goods,  Birthday Cake, Cake, Cake Decorating, Carbohydrate Free

The Mediterranean diet includes more fruits and protein foods than the Healthy U. S.-Style Pattern. It also includes more omega-3 fatty acids because of emphasis on seafood and contains less sodium. However, the Mediterranean diet is lower in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A primarily because it includes two cup-equivalents of dairy instead of the three cup-equivalents in the U. S.-Style Pattern.

2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.

 The proposed guidelines focus on breastfeeding and human milk for optimal nutrition for infants. For all ages, the authors reiterate variety, portion size, and frequency of eating based on nutritional quality of food choices,

3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.

The committee recommends limiting foods and beverages that are sources of added sugars, saturated fats, salt, and alcohol to reduce excessive calories and replace those food components with more healthful choices. For alcoholic beverages, they state “current evidence indicates that lower intakes are better than higher intakes and some groups should not drink alcoholic beverages.”

4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

The consumer’s take-home message from the guidelines is that it is never too late to start improving their dietary pattern. That begins with recognizing which foods and beverages to modify or exchange. Changes should include a shift in the dietary pattern to foods and beverages with higher nutrient-to-energy ratios.

5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

The committee advocates food accessibility for all Americans while considering cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic factors that influence food preferences and support healthful eating patterns for all ages.

Although the information included in this blog is core to the revisions, the committee, in 835 pages, expounds on the many issues considered in adapting the 2020-2025 guidelines for healthier Americans. These recommendations were open for public response and can be accessed online. While many will choose to ignore suggestions, the prudent will take note to make needed changes in their diets to live a healthier— and thereby— longer life.

Nutrition In The Go | Healthy living, Free clip art, Clip art

What is milk? The answer seems a no-brainer until we consider all the products on the market today labeled milk. In the past decade or so, the definition seems to have blurred. With plant beverages emulating traditional dairy products, identity has become confusing.

Black and white cow eating green meadow grass | Premium Photo

The standard government identity of milk from animal sources has become embroiled in controversy. Younger generations express concern over cow milk’s carbon footprints on the environment, and thus the push for more plant-based foods in the diet. Heavy advertising and support from organizations like the Plant Based Food Organization (PBFO) have changed the landscape for consumption of cow’s milk. However, the PBFO identifies the Certified Plant Based seal this way. “The most important thing to understand is that for PBFA, “plant-based” means 100% free from animal ingredients. We make no exceptions to this rule.” Evidently, they don’t feel the same toward animal milk.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Standard of Identity protects most products on the market. The FDA defines “milk” as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” According to this standard, “milk” must come from animal origin. Why have standards for cow’s milk become compromised by using the term “milk” to describe plant-based alternatives? “Plant-based products that resemble dairy foods, such as milk, cultured milk, yogurt, and cheese do not have standards of identity.” These products, therefore, are non-standardized foods.

Animal milk sales have plummeted because of mistaken assumptions that plants are healthier. By 2018, sales of cow’s milk dropped six percent while plant-based sales increased nine percent. Many professionals in the field of nutrition are alarmed as households choose more expensive plant milks without understanding all the nuances behind its popularity and its missing health properties. How different are animal milks and plant-based alternatives?

Market research in 2018 showed that consumers believed animal and plant milks were comparable in nutrients. Seventy-seven percent of respondents thought plant sources had the same or more protein. Cow’s milk typically has about nine grams of protein per cup compared to one gram in eight ounces of almond milk. All forms of cow’s milk contain comparable major nutrients but vary in fat content.

Milk is a significant source of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A and D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and others. All cow’s milk must be fortified with 400 I. U. per quart for vitamin D and 2,000 I. U. per quart for vitamin A. Even whole milk with some natural vitamins A and D must be fortified to these standards.

As consumers see more and more non-dairy milk alternatives on the market such as almond, coconut, oat, pea, hemp, and other plant “milks,” how can they become more informed about nutritional content? Here is how the top three plant-based milks fare.

Soy Milk, Spilt Milk? FDA's Next Free Speech Conundrum - Food and ...
  • Soy milk is closer in nutritional content than most plant-based sources. It originated thousands of years ago in Asia. On the US market since the early 1900s, it is a viable alternative to those with allergies or sensitivities to cow’s milk. Made with ground soybeans and water, it is often fortified with B-vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. Soy milk is a good source of protein, but not the quality protein found in cow’s milk.
  • Almond milk contains few almonds, sometimes no more than the equivalent of three to four whole almonds. The nuts are ground and added to water. Drinks may contain some vitamin E and are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Whereas cow’s milk never has sugar added, this drink often does plus possibly other additives. In 2014, before the recent alternative milk craze, Tom Philpott in “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters” wrote “The almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds.” He continued by comparing the typical one-ounce serving of almonds with an eight-ounce serving of one brand of almond milk. Whereas the almond serving contained six grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, an eight-ounce serving of almond milk had one gram each of protein and fiber and five grams of fat. Maybe we would be better off to eat a handful of almonds and drink a glass of water. It’s much less expensive.
Got Milk Decision Fatigue? The Pain and Politics of Soy, Almond ...
  • Coconut milk on the dairy aisle is not the same as coconut milk found in cans. The drink is watered down to match the consistency of dairy milk. Protein content is negligible, but added nutrients may include calcium and vitamin D, and some may have B12.

While legislation is pending on Capitol Hill and the FDA investigates the issue, the Federal Register lists several questions regarding the identity of cow’s milk and plant-based products. Below are samplings of questions.

  • What do consumers understand about the basic nature and characteristics of plant-based products? Do they perceive them as comparable in meeting Dietary Guidelines for Americans? 1
  • Are consumers more prone to purchase plant-based products that use the term “milk” than if they are referred to as beverages or drinks? Do consumers assume that products placed in the dairy section alongside dairy products are comparable?
  • Why do consumers without cow’s milk sensitivity buy plant-based milks? Do they perceive plant-based products as healthier? Do consumers believe they are more nutritious, or equal to dairy counterparts?
  • Do consumers believe properties of plant-based “milks” perform in the same manner as dairy when used in food preparation?
  • Do consumers understand or know the many added ingredients in plant-based “milks” such as added emulsifiers, nutrients, sweeteners, and thickeners? Are they aware that contents vary according to the different plant source? Non-dairy milks have no federal standards and may contain as much as ten different added ingredients including salt and sugar plus stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, lecithin, and other gums.

So, how do you define “milk?” Should plant-based alternatives use the term milk in their products? What is your response to other questions posed in the Federal Register?

Today’s, consumers don’t always know what they are eating. Food labels help, but remember as you make food selections, they don’t always tell us everything. Choose reliable sources for your nutrition information. For starters, try those listed on my website http://www.cindryn.com. Keep dairy products in your diet for healthier eating.

         

All Milk Is Antibiotic Free! - The Farmer's Daughter USA

June is National Dairy Month. After a campaign by grocers in 1937 to promote use of milk during summer months, June became the official “dairy month.” The Dairy Alliance, a nonprofit organization in the Southeast, works with dairy farmers and community and public groups to promote their industry, especially during the month of June. The dairy alliance points out that:

  • The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reinforces the importance of dairy products in the diet.
  • Dairy foods contain nine essential nutrients, including three of the four nutrients typically lacking in the American diet: calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
  • Nutrients in dairy products provide combinations of nutrients, key in reducing risks of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  • Cow’s milk has more potassium and almost twice as much protein as found in alternative milks. Whether skim, reduced fat, whole, organic, or inorganic, dairy contains the same amount of protein, about 1 gram per ounce (or 8 grams in 8-ounce servings). Coconut and rice milks have the lowest amount of protein among plant beverages with 0 grams, while almond has 1 gram and soy 7 grams.
  •  Most beverages made from alternative plant sources cost more and have about half the nutrients of cow’s milk.
  • Lactose is a sugar found only in milk. Lactose-reduced and lactose-free milks are available for the lactose intolerant.

The amount of fat in cow’s milk depends on whether it is skim (with minimal fat), whole (full-fat content), or somewhere in between. Coconut milk, with 4.5 grams per serving of mostly saturated fat, has the highest fat content, and soy milk contains about 4 grams per serving. Cow’s milk with one percent fat, or 2.5 grams per 8-ounce serving, has about the same amount of fat as almond and rice beverages. Research confirms that saturated fat is less healthy than unsaturated fats whether from animal or plant sources.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) belabors the issue of how to label and what to call plant-based alternative milks, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) believes consumers know what they are drinking. In a 2018 survey, at least 75 percent of consumers recognized whole milk, chocolate milk, non-fat, and skim milk (90%, 85%, 78%, 74% respectively) contain cow’s milk. But less than one-half understood that lactose-free milk is also from cow’s milk.

Nearly three-quarters of participants understood that plant-based “milks” do not contain any cow’s milk. Of those who bought milk, sixty-two percent purchased only diary milk while thirty-eight percent chose to purchase non-dairy milk. Consumers more likely to purchase plant alternatives lived in the western US (45%), were under forty-five years of age (43%), were people of color (48%), and were college educated (44%).

Controversy continues over naming these non-dairy products and whether they are as wholesome in the diet as cow’s milk. The FDA extended the time for consumer’s responses to these issues. Check part 2 of this topic for greater insight into what choices are best for you and your family.

Recipes to Celebrate National Dairy Month | Atkins

Among the apprehensions of aging comes challenges and fears about warding off dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a severe form of dementia, affects approximately 5.8 million Americans. Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops AD. Are there ways we can prevent or slow the ravages of this and lesser brain diseases? Research continues to find ways to combat cognitive concerns and their debilitating consequences. The following five guidelines may help keep memory intact longer.

  • Go nuts

Nuts may prevent or slow cognitive issues. Research substantiates benefits of walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and almonds. They are high in healthy nutrients that help brain functions. Nuts contain polyphenols, tocopherols, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can protect against the effects of aging including improved cognitive function. In addition to healthy fats, nuts are high in protein and fiber and provide excellent sources of vitamins E and B6. They also contain good amounts of magnesium and folate. Those who follow a healthy diet which includes nuts may improve memory and delay onset or progression of AD. Nuts will not replace other healthy foods and lifestyles, but they are a good substitute for less nutritious choices. Adding an ounce of nuts several times weekly can improve cognitive health.

Which dried fruits have the most calories? | Calorific dried fruit

  • Nix trans fats

Individuals who eat trans fats may increase their risk of AD by 50 percent to 75 percent. Trans fats occur when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to cause them to solidify. They are inexpensive to produce, give longevity to food, and provide a great taste and texture. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned use of trans fats in 2015 with some products receiving extensions. However, according to the FDA, labels can list zero when the amount of trans fats is under 0.5 grams. Even small servings add up. To help prevent dementia worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eliminating trans fats in foods by 2023. The FDA identifies the following foods likely to have trans fats but unlikely to show on the label since they contain less than 0.5 grams: Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods; snack foods (such as microwave popcorn); frozen pizza; fast-foods; vegetable shortenings and some stick margarines; coffee creamer; and refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls).

Fat Word Stock Illustrations – 3,375 Fat Word Stock Illustrations ...

 

  • Watch the waistline            

The body mass index (BMI), a long-rated standard for weight management especially obesity, can predict risks for numerous illnesses. However, BMI doesn’t discern between body fat and muscle content. Now researchers have found a link between waist circumference and health conditions including cognitive function. In a study of nearly 900,000 participants, aged 65 and over, those with a waist circumference equal to or greater than 35 inches for men and about 34 inches for women were more susceptible to dementia. Results of the study showed that both men and women were at increased risk, and individuals of normal weight with large waistlines are as susceptible to dementia as those with obesity.

How to debug your team

  • Jog your brain

Any exercise routine is better than none. It helps the body in several ways including changes in the brain that preserve brain structure and protect memory and thinking skills. Exercise increases the size of part of the brain (hippocampus) that protects verbal memory and learning. One study found that those who moved faster and farther on a two-minute walking test could think better than those who were less fit. Exercise also decreases inflammation which benefits brain cells. It promotes better nerve-fiber insulation and greater growth, and it improves vascular health. However, the caveat is, those who exercise may already have better lifestyles than couch-potatoes. Regardless, exercise is a win-win when it comes to positive brain health and activity.

Sports Athlete Workout - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

  • Berries, a berry good choice

Blueberries plus other fruits and vegetables help maintain function and retain memory in the aging brain. Therefore, eating more fruits and vegetables reduces risks of developing dementia. Blueberries, sometimes called “brain food,” have one of the highest antioxidant levels in the form of flavonoids. The anthocyanins in the flavonoid group seem the most responsible for beneficial health effects on aging neurons. Consumption of blueberries and strawberries may delay mental aging by as much as 2 ½ years. What’s not to like about this choice?

1,000+ Free Blueberry & Blueberries Images - Pixabay

Genetics, nutrition, level of physical activity, and exposure to health risks impact longevity. Whatever our lifespan, we want our brains to remain functional. These few guidelines may slow progression of memory loss and in some cases, may improve mental performance. The longer we retain brain functions, the greater our quality of life.

March 2020 has been a unique month. Questions about the coronavirus remain. While those with preexisting conditions seem more susceptible, why are younger, seemingly healthy people dying? I don’t know the reason, but like all Americans, I remain hopeful scientists will soon have that answer.

In his article, “Americans Unfit to Fight a Pandemic,” Dr. Rami Bailony wrote in Medpage Today, “While the public health focus has been on isolation and sanitation to slow the spread of the [COVID-19] virus, one thing we are not talking about is how our baseline health as a country makes us more susceptible to not only getting the virus but also succumbing to it.” Why does he feel that way (and I agree)?

After viewing a picture sent to him from a Costco store, Dr. Bailony made several observations about what many Americans deemed as needed foods to keep them sequestered at home. Not only did standing in long lines exacerbate the contagion problem, but he was shocked by what filled people’s carts. “From cart to cart I saw boxes of soda, chips, candy bars, and a whole lot of frozen chicken wings.” He called it a bandage-based approach to health and disease. Below I have summarized the five foundational cracks he believes make the coronavirus more deadly.

  • Failure to address the obesity epidemic. With obesity approaching fifty percent of the population, we have opened the door to greater risks for infection. As Bailony points out, obesity increases risks for respiratory infections and unfortunately, the severity of those infections. During the H1N1 epidemic, sixty-one percent of individuals who died from that condition were categorized as obese (BMI ≥30). Bailony cited other studies which showed that “people who struggle with obesity have cellular defects in certain immune cells that contributed to higher mortality.”
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Only fifteen percent of us over age sixty-five are physically active. Moderate-intensity exercise improves immune function and has the potential to reduce the severity of respiratory viral infections.
  • Lack of enough whole fruits and vegetables. More and more scientists prove that Mom was right, “Eat your vegetables.” These foods enhance our immune response. Less than ten percent of our population eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables. Why? Like the many foods we eat that aren’t as healthy, much of it is a matter of habit. It’s also a matter of acquired taste. If you don’t like a vegetable prepared one way, try another. I have been surprised when vegetables I didn’t especially like became tasty delights when I prepared a different way.
  • Defeated by psychological stress. Some surveys indicate that on any given day, more than fifty percent of Americans suffer acute or chronic stress. Bailony states that “in 2018, a third of Americans visited a doctor for stress-related conditions.” Stress is a known risk factor for obesity. Also, it has been associated with decreased antibody response to influenza vaccine.
  • Preparing for the next epidemic. Check the news on any day since the outbreak of the coronavirus in America. Someone (or many) blame lack of preparedness from the government and the healthcare system. Meanwhile, way too many disregard guidelines given early on. Abuse and disregard of orders to stay home, practice social distancing, and wash hands has moved our nation into perilous times. We don’t listen, and sadly, many don’t care. Unfortunately, some of those same individuals have succumbed to the illness not to mention the many they may have infected that caused multiple deaths.

So, before we blame government and the healthcare system for unpreparedness, perhaps we should look in the mirror and determine if we are part of the problem based on weight, eating patterns, and lifestyle. Let’s stay safe and do our part in overcoming this pandemic.

Note. Readers may be unable to open the link without subscription to Medpage Today.

 

 

 

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, we have our own special day. Celebrate with us. Click here to learn more about the role of a dietitian nutritionist.

The theme for National Nutrition Month 2020 is “EAT RIGHT BITE BY BITE.” That’s all it takes to become a healthier you. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends actions for each week in the month of March. Check it out and give them a try.

  • Eat a variety of tasty nutritious foods.
  • Plan weekly menus.
  • Learn needed skills for preparing healthy and safe meals.
  • Check with a registered dietitian nutritionist for meals to meet your unique personal and health needs.

Make this the year when you choose more nutritious foods as you “EAT RIGHT BITE BY BITE.”

 

Here we are nearly one month into 2020. Varied surveys rank weight loss or healthy eating near the top of new year’s resolutions. If you resolved one more time to lose weight or eat healthier, how is it going? Regardless, don’t despair. The fact that you recognized the need is a step forward. Keep going.Image result for New Years resolutions free clip art

While calories do count, some individuals may jeopardize weight loss because they eat too few calories. That’s right. Extreme limiting of calories may cause weight gain. Metabolism slows to compensate for less food energy. Too few calories may increase output of cortisol, a hormone related to psychological and physical stress. Increased cortisol levels may result in several side effect, among them, depression, tiredness, muscle weakness, and weight gain.

Most of us have a problem with eating too much. After a few weeks of starving ourselves to lose weight or eating foods we don’t like instead of those hearty meals we’re used to, we give up. Deal with the problem as though you are the manager or boss. After all, you are. No one else can control what you eat. Here are a few suggestions to take control of yourself and your eating pattern.

  • Decide where the actual problem lies. Analyze why you eat too much or why you eat unhealthy foods. We tend to rationalize or blame something or someone else. But it is our choice. Be honest with yourself.
  • Make a plan. Once you identify the real problem, decide how you will tackle it. Consider if you get enough rest and sleep. Getting a good night of sleep can do wonders. Food isn’t always the problem, but for most of us, it probably is. Maybe it’s those late-night snacks. If so, find an alternative. Plan how you will adjust to improve. Sometimes it’s a matter of not gaining more weight, and that too, is a win-win.
  • Prepare meals at home. Ordering in pizza doesn’t count. With today’s modern conveniences and the multiple pre-prepared foods on the market already chopped, sliced, or seasoned, cooking at home has become quicker and easier. Also take a lunch to work. Just make healthy choices and include fruit for dessert. These steps can save money and calories. For incentive, take money from your pocket, and put it into a special container. I know, we use credit cards, but seeing cash may have a greater impact. Set a time, maybe once monthly or every three months, and check your savings. Now spend those savings on something you will enjoy other than food, maybe entertainment, a hobby, or a new outfit.

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These are starter suggestions. Pick those you know will work for you. While exercise is another important choice, if you know you aren’t going to follow through, why list it? Choose things you will do. Start eating healthier and get that weight where it belongs for a healthier you. You are worth it.

 

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This png image - 2020 Red PNG Clipart, is available for free download

On the cusp of a new year, how did 2019 meet our expectations? We may have celebrated special events along with experiencing problems and difficulties. Some choose this time of year to set goals or declare objectives to reach in the coming year. It’s a favored time to decide to take better care of our bodies whether making better food choices or paying attention to habits in our lives that prevent optimum health. Often topping our to-do list is losing weight.

Ted Kyle in his blog on ConsciencHealth identified ten major issues likely to expand in 2020. I have condensed his explanations and included my thoughts on the topics.

  • Tailored Dietary Guidelines

Toward the end of 2020, new Dietary Guidelines for Americans will replace the current ones. As with most years, the new guidelines are beset with conflict. However, recommendations for children under two and pregnant women, based on a 2014 Farm Bill with emphasis in these areas, will come as a welcomed addition.

  • Ketogenic and Low-Carb Diets

Keto Diets continue to make news. The still controversial diet has been referred to as “health story of the year,” and The American Diabetes Association now considers it a viable option for those with type 2 diabetes. However, do not read this as a sanction from all dietitians.

  • Intermittent Fasting

Another controversial subject, IF, will continue to dominate nutrition news. Selected research has noted benefits for certain conditions including obesity, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and others. Should we all jump to this type eating pattern? Again, not all dietitians are on-board with this premise and more research may reveal different results. One thing for sure, it is not an ideal diet for everyone. Use caution and discretion.

  • Serious Pediatric Obesity Care

Methods to curb the rising tide of obesity in children is shifting. Some professional groups now recommend bariatric surgery for adolescents with severe obesity. New centers focused on comprehensive care of youth and children will surface during 2020. Children’s hospitals and clinics are advised to get involved with this new wave of abating childhood obesity.

  • Better Anti-Obesity Meds

When will anti-obesity medications rival bariatric surgery for treatment? In past years, several drugs have surfaced and failed. The new year could bring progress toward that goal. One promising option is Semaglutide. Another targeted obesity drug, setmelanotide, is awaiting FDA approval. Bimagrumab also shows promise.

  • Body Positivity

Weight bias continues to exist. With nearly 40 percent of the US population obese, fat shaming is unacceptable. Acceptance of people of all sizes will continue to strengthen in 2020.

  • Plant-Based Nutrition

For Vegans and others on a mission to change all of us to vegetarians, it isn’t just about nutrition. Many of them tout eating plants to save the planet. Like any new concept, businesses have latched on to this trend by giving us typical meat products (think hamburger) made from vegetables. If you are old enough, you may remember the soy burgers of yesteryears. From my observation, this is a new wrinkle on an old story.

  • Clean Processed Food Labels

First, what is a “clean processed food label”? A clean label is a consumer driven movement to return food to simple and wholesome. It’s more about what is not in a product than what is. Consumers demand natural, simple ingredients they can recognize, understand, and pronounce. Primarily, products will be less processed, a proven plus when it comes to health. Labels will include disclosure on additives and sugar and become more allergen friendly such as gluten-free, MSG-free, etc.

  • SADI-S

Bariatric surgery has become more common, especially the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass. While duodenal switch is less common, it can be highly effective. A variation of this procedure known as SADI-S shows promise as a more effective and safer option. More news and research should appear this coming year.

  • More Inclusive Fitness

Inclusivity has become an “in” word the past few years. Now it is moving into the fitness realm.  Because physical activity profoundly affects long-term health outcomes, the public’s focus on fitness will remain strong. However, fitness in past years has focused on those categorized as young, slender, and white. That’s changing while body inclusivity gains momentum. The overused word diversity has entered the fray. Most important are the efforts of the fitness industry to meet needs of an increasingly elder population. Hopefully, this trend will continue.

Whatever our needs and desires for better health, may we reflect on and revise our habits to achieve better health in 2020.

Good Health and God Bless

 

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