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Living a healthy lifestyle is central to maintaining wellness throughout your lifetime. In fact, healthy habits not only help you to feel good and manage illness today, they can also help prevent future disease. There are many behaviors that influence your health - what you eat, how you sleep, if you smoke, how active you are, how you manage stress - to name just a few. You can improve your quality of life by making simple, positive changes to your daily routine.
Where to start?
We've collected useful facts and tips to inform, motivate and support steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Remember, small changes are powerful. Start today!
As we get older and continue to evolve in wisdom and spirit, it is important that we consider subsequent changes in nutrient and fitness requirements. On May 31st, we celebrate National Senior Health & Fitness Day! Focus on lifestyle choices to build bone mass through eating well and regular exercise in every stage of life to help prevent osteoporosis.
Emphasize Calcium and Vitamin D to keep bones healthy.
Calcium is essential for building strong bone tissue, maintaining bone mass and preventing fractures. Calcium requirements are highest in youth - when bones are growing, after menopause - when women lose bone mass at a much faster rate, and individuals over the age of 70.
- Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, green vegetables like kale, bok choy, and broccoli, and protein sources such as tofu and salmon and sardines with bones. Calcium is also found in nuts, including almonds, and is fortified in our food supply. Look for calcium-fortified cereals, breads, fruit juices, and soy products when scouring the grocery store!
Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium, therefore also important for developing and maintaining healthy, strong bones. The general population often falls short of satisfying vitamin D requirements, especially in seniors. Though our bodies can synthesize Vitamin D from sun exposure, it is also found in a healthy diet.
- Excellent sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, liver, fish oils, and fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. This also includes fortified dairy products and fruit juices. As you may have noticed, great sources of calcium and vitamin D overlap – so focus on these sources! A vitamin D supplement may be considered upon consultation with your medical doctor.
Prioritize regular exercise, especially muscle strengthening activities. Weight bearing exercises force your muscles to move against gravity, and are ideal exercises to strengthen muscles and bones for osteoporosis prevention. Examples of weight bearing exercises include dancing, walking, running, yoga, weight lifting, resistance band training, and stair climbing.
It is never too early to get started! Prioritizing bone health at a young age will encourage optimal growth during the years of peak bone mass. At peak bone mass in your early 20s, bones reach maximum strength and size. This peak is essential throughout adulthood as it influences the likelihood of developing osteoporosis in the future.
Healthy eating is the foundation of our health at all ages! As we get older, it becomes even more essential to prioritize our well-being by focusing on mindful eating and physical activity habits. While working with your medical doctor and registered dietitian, focus on maintaining energy levels and a healthy body weight.
Prioritize foods high in nutrients to support a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Avoid empty calories like sodas and processed foods – loaded with added sugar, sodium and calories. Instead, focus on nutrient dense foods to get more bang for your buck! Incorporate natural foods high in fiber, a nutrient associated with promoting numerous health benefits. This includes preventing constipation, lowering cholesterol and better maintaining blood sugar to support complication-free health.
Savor the flavor and season your foods with your favorite spices! With age, you may notice a change in taste sensation. Rather than dumping on table salt that can make it more difficult to manage, or increase your risk of developing, chronic diseases incorporate healthy spices. Some potent spices include turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, chili powder, and bay leaf. With your own spices at hand, you will definitely not be sacrificing taste for flavor!
Convenience, convenience, convenience! When selecting pre-prepared foods like canned or frozen options, choose those low in sodium or with no salt added. Don’t worry about taste, using above techniques, compliment meals with your favorite spices. Look for pre-sliced fruits and veggies on sale for a convenient and inexpensive snack. Many pre-sliced fruits and veggies come with pre-portioned protein options, like hummus and nuts, making for the perfect snack!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, affects 10-15% of people in North America, according to some experts. Dietary treatment is highly individualized, but emerging research is focusing on a group of foods known by the acronym FODMAPs. That stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are all fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates. Still confused? Read on for the translation…
Fructose: foods high in this natural sugar may be poorly tolerated. Fructose, found mainly in fruit, is also found in high-fructose corn syrup, honey and agave. Berries, citrus fruit, pineapple, grapes and ripe bananas may be better tolerated. Pure sugar and maple syrup are good choices for sweeteners.
Lactose: intolerance to this carbohydrate, which is found in dairy products, is well known. Use lactose-free milk and ice cream. Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses may be better tolerated. Lactaid pills can assist in digesting dairy products.
Fructans: this little-known carbohydrate is contained in wheat, and can cause gas, bloating and pain. It is also found in two fiber additives: inulin and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides). Check food labels for their presence in foods.
Galactans: another carbohydrate that is poorly absorbed by humans. Dietary sources include lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, broccoli and soy-based products.
Polyols: otherwise known as sugar alcohols. These are contained in some fruits and vegetables, but often found in “sugar-free” products, such as gum, hard candies, cough drops and mints.
You can work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for a more complete list of FODMAPs and to create a meal plan for you. Keep in mind that the goal is not to eliminate these foods completely but to eat them in quantities that you can tolerate. Keeping a food diary will be helpful in pin-pointing foods and eating behaviors that cause discomfort.
What will the dietitian and I talk about during a nutrition assessment?
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)?
- CC -From the Bronx
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