Having enough dietary protein is important for all of us, no matter your age.
For the youngsters, protein is essential to provide the nutrition for bones to grow to their full height, for muscles to develop, and for so many other body processes.
Even as adults we need to have protein to maintain our muscle mass, keep bones strong, and to support a good immune system.
Protein intake is still vital in older adults to maintain a strong skeletal muscle system.
A health problem of many older folks is sarcopenia – a loss of skeletal muscle. There is a 3-8% loss of skeletal muscle per decade after age 30. The loss of skeletal muscle accelerates as we age.
What are the health consequences of losing skeletal muscles or developing sarcopenia?
Health researchers recommend one or two servings of dietary protein at each meal to maintain strong skeletal muscles. Protein can come from two primary sources in the diet:
Animal protein sources – dairy (milk, cheeses, yogurt), eggs, fish, poultry, meats, game
Plant protein sources: legumes (dried beans and peas), quinoa, soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh, soy veggie crumbles), nuts and nut butters (peanuts, almonds, etc.)
With lengthening lifespans and active busy lives in the older years, it is important that we work on body maintenance as we age. We need the strength, muscle mass, and day-long energy to hike, bike, work part-time jobs, help care for grandkids, and volunteer. There are so many active things to do in the day, even when you hit your 70s and beyond. Stay strong with adequate dietary protein to prevent sarcopenia.
Ideas for boosting the protein at each and every meal: (The protein foods are in RED)
Oatmeal made with milk and topped with a handful of nuts and blueberries
Fried egg sandwich on whole grain bread, seasonal fruit and cup of cocoa made with milk
Vegetable beef soup with cheese and crackers
Tuna fish sandwich on oatmeal bread and tomato soup made with milk
Pork tenderloin, baked potato topped with shredded cheese and broccoli
Vegetable stir fry with tofu cubes, served over quinoa
Monday, October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day. It is observed to raise global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and bone disease. We have 206 bones in our body and so it is really important to have those lifestyle habits that help protect your bones.
Osteoporosis or porous bones puts you at risk for a fracture-the most common places for fractures are the hip, spine and wrist. And unfortunately about 44 million adults have osteoporosis. One in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Here are the Risk Factors for osteoporosis that we cannot alter or change:
Having a family history
Being over age 50
Being post menopause
Note: Men can develop osteoporosis but it usually is later in life.
Here are the Risk Factors for osteoporosis that we DO control:
The age differences:
By the late teens, 90% of bone mass has been developed. So the teen years are extremely important to get in bone-building nutrition and exercise.
Adults need to maintain those strong bones through good food choices and regular activity.
The key nutrients for healthy bones:
Calcium and vitamin D are the most important nutrients for healthy bones. Dairy products contain BOTH vitamin D and calcium (milk, yogurt and cheese). There are vegetables that contain calcium - collard and turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, and broccoli. Vitamin D is also found in sardines and salmon.
- Potassium, vitamin C and magnesium are also important for strong bones.
Magnesium food sources include greens, beet greens, tomato products, artichokes, white & sweet potatoes, and raisins.
Vitamin C is in oranges, peppers, and strawberries.
Potassium is in tomato products, melons, dried beans, potatoes, and bananas.
To protect bones, aim for an overall healthy diet with a variety of foods. And be sure to include three servings of dairy a day. For example:
1. Make oatmeal at breakfast with milk rather than water.
2. Add shredded cheese to your lunchtime salad.
3. Enjoy a yogurt for an afternoon snack.
It’s October, and that means Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We will be seeing pink ribbons out and about to remind us of this oft-times deadly cancer, but also as a reminder that it is a treatable-beatable cancer if detected in its earliest stages.
The stats: there will be 233,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer this year, and 62,500 new cases of carcinoma situ which is the non-invasive and earliest form of breast cancer. (www.cancer.org)
The non-controllable risk factors for Breast Cancer:
The controllable risk factors for Breast Cancer:
There are lifestyle choices and habits that may reduce your risk for developing Breast Cancer:
Be physically activity each and every day
Limit grilled, charred and fried meats
Get lean and stay lean as you age
It is estimated that 38% or 1 in 3 cases could be prevented by being at a healthy weight, being physically active, breastfeeding and avoiding alcohol.
The American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org provides more guidance on healthy lifestyle habits. In the food department they suggest watching food intake to manage weight – that means the types of foods as well as the amount eaten. In addition, whole grains, as well as at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day are suggested. These guidelines are really good for all of us, aren’t they?
Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s hard to believe that 600,000 people die from heart disease and 130,000 die from having a stroke each year.
Nutrition researchers feel that cardiovascular disease could be reduced by up to 40% simply….. by simply eating more fruit. That’s right – eating fruit! Many studies over the years have shown that both fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that seem to protect the vascular system. Now a large Chinese study offers more proof.
The Chinese study details: 450,000 adults without high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease were followed for seven years. After seven years, 19,300 had developed heart disease and 19,700 had experienced a stroke.
The study results showed that the more fruit eaten the better:
- 15 % lower heart disease risk
25-40% lower stroke risk
The more fruit a person ate, the lower the vascular risk.
32% lower risk of all causes of death in those who ate fruit daily.
What might be the health benefit from fruits?
- Fruit fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestines.
Potassium can help keep blood pressure in control – ex. melons, banana, oranges and grapefruit.
Colorful fruits (berries, mango, cherries, kiwi, etc.) have antioxidants to help keep the lining of the arteries smooth – less chance for plaque build-up
Incorporate fruits into meals and snacks each and every day.
- Add berries to breakfast cereal.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and it warrants a discussion because almost 22,000 women with be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer this year alone. If it is diagnosed at the earliest stages, there is a 5-year survival rate of 93%. Unfortunately, most are diagnosed at Stage 3. Half of the cases are in women over the age of 63. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women.
Symptoms for Ovarian Cancer are somewhat benign and unfortunately similar to irritable bowel syndrome: bloating, nausea, gas; abdominal pain; indigestion and constipation; and/or extreme fatigue.
There are a few Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer:
having a family history
over age 50
Researchers looked back over the past 40 years into the diets of 180,000 women and found that eating foods and drinking beverages high in flavonoids provided protection from Ovarian Cancer. The main sources of flavonoids in this study were oranges and orange juice, black tea, onions and apples.
It is good to know that dietary protection from Ovarian Cancer might come from dietary flavonoids. Good sources of flavonoids include
Apple, berries, grapes and oranges
Kale, broccoli, legumes, and yellow onions
Here is a jam-packed reduce-your-cancer-risk menu:
Breakfast: oatmeal with blackberries + cup of black tea
Lunch: white bean-kale-onion soup
Snack: red grapes
Dinner: grilled salmon, baked sweet potato + oven-roasted broccoli florets
Snack: cup of black tea + apple slices
Your kids are probably settled back into their school routine. Lots more reading, homework, and after school activities – the entire day really ramps up during the school year. And children of all ages need the daily energy to handle all of the goings on, as well as the essential nutrients to meet their growth needs. If you are packing up their lunch for the day, here are a few nutrition and safety reminders.
The lunch basics to include when packing up:
1) Protein: fish, poultry, cheese, peanut butter, etc.
2) Whole-grain: bread, tortilla, crackers, etc.
3) Vegetables and/or fruits
4) Beverage (milk is best)
Tips for packing healthy and interesting lunches:
1) Include colorful foods: yellow mini bell peppers and bananas, green broccoli florets and kiwi, red cherry tomatoes and cherries, purple grapes, etc.
2) Child-size portions if you have young children: half a sandwich, for example
3) Kids of all ages like finger foods such as string cheese, pretzel sticks, bran chex cereal & nut trail mix, etc.
4) Try out some non-traditional lunch ideas – some work best if there is a microwave for reheating available in the school cafeteria:
baked potato with toppers such as shredded cheese, salsa, green onions or chili
pasta salad packed with whole-grain pasta and fresh veggies
wraps made with hummus, spinach leaves, and grated carrots
homemade vegetable soup with apple muffin
any hearty leftovers such as chili, casseroles, etc.
Be sure to keep brown bag lunches safe:
1) Use insulated lunch bags and frozen-solid cold packs.
2) Wash out the lunch boxes or bags at the end of the day with hot sudsy water so there is plenty of drying time before you repack.
Saturday, September 13 is Celiac Disease Awareness Day. It’s in recognition of Dr. Samuel Gee, a British physician and pediatrician who first described the clinical picture of celiac disease. He is credited with being the first to link celiac disease to diet. Dr. Gee noted: “if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” Eliminating all forms of gluten is the only treatment for celiac disease. That means no wheat, barley or rye in any way, shape or form.
Approximately 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease, and therefore avoiding gluten. But there are other reasons that people reduce gluten in the diet. Some folks have gluten sensitivity if they eat too much gluten, so they are replacing breads, cereals and pasta with gluten-free options. And in an effort to lose weight, others cut out the calories that come with gluten-containing foods. However, replacing gluten-containing foods with gluten-free does not necessarily mean that there will be calories saved.
What foods are naturally gluten-free?
fruits and vegetables
legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, split peas, etc.
rice, quinoa, corn and cornmeal, and buckwheat
fresh protein such as eggs, fish, poultry red meats and game
nuts and seeds
milk, most yogurts and cheeses (labels need to be checked)
oils such as olive, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower and peanut
Preparing foods at home will give the best opportunity to leave gluten out of the diet. But fortunately some restaurants are offering gluten-free menu items. Wendy’s is an example with their baked potato, salads and chili – all gluten-free. But the kicker will be what goes on in the kitchen of the restaurant because there can be cross contamination if there is no separate gluten-free work space, utensils and cooking surfaces. So a gluten-free chicken breast may be grilled on a grilling surface where hamburger buns were toasted – cross contamination. Talk to the manager and wait staff to ask important questions about the preparation of their gluten-free dishes.
It’s the first of September, and that means Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This disease of the prostate, the gland in the male reproductive system, will account for 233,000 new prostate cases this year alone, and approximately 29,500 deaths. It’s the second most common cancer among men. It is typically a disease of older men – it’s somewhat unusual for prostate cancer to occur in a man who is under 50 years of age. But as men age, the risk increases, and 1 in 5 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The key is early detection.
Risk factors for developing prostate cancer that you cannot control:
- Having a family history of prostate cancer
- Being of African American descent
Controllable risk factors for prostate cancer:
- Taking vitamin E supplements
- Taking a calcium supplement
- Taking the vitamin folic acid in a dose of 1 milligram or more
- Having a high dairy intake
Let’s get protection from developing prostate cancer:
- Regular – almost daily – exercise
- Eating a variety of healthy foods
- Eating less animal protein, especially any meat that has been charred or cooked at a high temperature
And of course, go for your yearly prostate cancer screenings as recommended by your doctor. Early detection is the best strategy.
There is additional valuable resource information at the American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org.
How do you take your food? With salt or without? For the sake of your health, hopefully your use of the salt shaker is minimal.
A new study out of Japan reaffirms that limiting sodium intake (and sodium is part of salt) can be beneficial to the vascular system,
especially for those people who have diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that needs to be well-managed to have a minimal impact
of the heart and vascular system.
This 8-year Japanese study followed 1,588 adults between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age. And the results? Those with the highest
daily intake of sodium (5,900 mg or more than 2½ teaspoons of salt) had the highest risk for cardiovascular disease. Those with the lowest
intake (less than 2,888 mg of sodium) had the lowest cardiovascular disease risk.
Where does sodium lurk, besides in your salt shaker?
Process meats such as luncheon meats, hotdogs, bacon and sausage
Canned soups and stews
Frozen meals and frozen pizza
Convenience foods such as jars of spaghetti sauce, seasoned rice mixes, instant oatmeal
Salty snack foods such as chips, pretzels and snack crackers
You can easily check the Nutrition Facts label on the food package to see how much sodium it contains per one serving.
Select foods with less than 140 mg of sodium.
It can be challenging to reduce sodium intake if you do not make some dishes at home from scratch. The closer the food is
to its original form, the less sodium it will have. So fresh green beans have 0 mg sodium but a serving of canned green beans
contains 300 mg sodium. Plain rice cooked with your own added herbs and seasoning will have 0 mg sodium but a pre-seasoned
boxed rice mix contains 800 mg sodium per ½ cup serving.
Make dishes from scratch if you can to save loads of sodium. This seems to be especially important if you have diabetes -
it may just keep you from developing cardiovascular disease!
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Absolutely yes, especially for kids heading off to school. But researchers estimate that up to 35% of children and adolescents bypass breakfast, for various reasons…. getting up late, not hungry, busy with other morning tasks, and for some children, it is not even offered or prepared for them. It really helps so much if parents are not just providing breakfast but also eating breakfast with their children, if work schedules allow.
Why should kids eat breakfast?
To recharge their batteries after a night of sleep and no food.
They’ll be more alert, and have better concentration in school
Kids may even have better grades!
Kids who routinely eat breakfast have a better intake of nutrients to meet their needs for growth, energy, and brain-work.
Breakfast Skippers have a much lower daily intake of:
fruits and vegetables
vitamins A, B, E, C, and the minerals iron, calcium and potassium
Tips to make breakfast happen on a hectic school day:
Preset the table the night before.
Have everyone get up a few minutes earlier.
No TV, phones or other distractions.
What makes up a healthy get-up-and-go breakfast?
Protein - milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs and nut butters
Starch – whole-grain cereals, breads, and flour tortillas; potatoes
Fruits and/or Vegetables -fresh, frozen, light-packed canned and juices
Okay, there are the traditional breakfast ideas like
fried egg sandwich on whole-grain toast + fresh peach slices
oatmeal cooked with milk and diced apples
Cheerios with skim milk and frozen blueberries
peanut butter and banana slices on whole wheat English muffin
But your kids- and you - may prefer non-traditional foods in the morning like
grilled cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread + seasonal fruit cup
bowl of leftover beef stew with vegetables
whole-grain sub roll with leftover turkey-spinach meatballs
smoothie made with Greek yogurt, frozen fruit and milk
slice of veggie pizza
leftover chicken-vegetable stir-fry over wild rice
Use your imagination to develop interesting and healthy breakfast menus – and your kids will thank you for it!
Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She has worked in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for 35 years, working with patients and their family members to help guide healthy food choices.