Eating right doesn't have to be complicated — simply begin to shift to healthier food and beverage choices. These recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can help get you started.
- Emphasize fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
- Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
- Make sure your diet is low in saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium) and added sugars.
Make Your Calories Count
Think nutrient-rich rather than "good" or "bad" foods. The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, and lower in calories. Making smart food choices can help you stay healthy, manage your weight and be physically active.
Focus on Variety
Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups to get the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. Eat more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens and broccoli and orange vegetables including carrots and sweet potatoes. Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.
Know Your Fats
Look for foods low in saturated fats and trans fats to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for total fat and saturated fat.
For more information, view the Academy infographic on the Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating.
You've probably heard the warnings not to drink grapefruit juice with cholesterol medication. However, that isn't the only combination of food and drugs to avoid. Grapefruit juice can interact with numerous other medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. And many other foods commonly interact with drugs, too.
Steve Plogsted, BS, PharmD, BCNSP, CNSC, clinical pharmacist with Nutrition Support Service of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, fills us in on five foods that most commonly interact with medications.
"Grapefruit juice has the ability to interact with medications in various ways," says Plogsted. One way is by increasing the absorption of certain drugs — as is the case with some, but not all, cholesterol-lowering statins. MedinePlus recommends avoiding grapefruit juice if you are taking statins.
Grapefruit juice can also cause the body to metabolize drugs abnormally, resulting in lower or higher than normal blood levels of the drug. Many medications are affected in this way, including antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, thyroid replacement drugs, birth control, stomach acid-blocking drugs, and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. It's best to avoid or significantly reduce intake of grapefruit juice when taking these medications.
But why is grapefruit juice of concern and not other citrus juices? According to Plogsted, grapefruit juice contains a class of compounds called furanocoumarins, which act in the body to alter the characteristics of these medications. Orange juice and other citrus juices do not contain these compounds. There is some concern for Seville oranges and the pummelo, which are relatives of the grapefruit.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin® (warfarin) interfere with vitamin K-dependent clotting factors. Eating too much green leafy vegetables, which are high in vitamin K, can decrease the ability of blood-thinners to prevent clotting. But you don't have to give up greens altogether. Problems arise from significantly and suddenly increasing or decreasing intake, as it can alter the effectiveness of the medicine. So eat your greens in consistent amounts.
Natural Black Licorice (Glycyrrhiza)
According to Plogsted, glycyrrhiza — a natural ingredient used to make black licorice — can deplete the body of potassium while causing an increased retention of sodium. When the body is depleted of potassium, the activity of digoxin, a medication used to treat heart failure, can be greatly enhanced, resulting in the heart not beating properly.
Glycyrrhiza can also decrease the effectiveness of high blood pressure medicines. And people taking Coumadin® (warfarin) should beware that glycyrrhiza can break down the drug, resulting in an increase in the body's clotting mechanism.
Excessive amounts of natural licorice should be avoided when taking all of these medications. However, Plogsted notes that artificially-flavored black licorice doesn't contain glycyrrhiza and is not of concern.
Consumers taking digoxin for heart failure or ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure should be careful with salt substitutes, which most often replace sodium with potassium. With an increased consumption of potassium, the effectiveness of digoxin can be decreased, resulting in heart failure. And those taking ACE inhibitors might see a significant increase in blood potassium levels, as these drugs are known to increase potassium.
"There is no real need to avoid salt substitutes, although care should be taken when using the product," say Plogsted. "If the consumer has decreased kidney function they should discuss the use of salt substitutes with their doctor."
High blood levels of the amino acid tyramine can cause an increase in blood pressure. Several medications interfere with the breakdown of tyramine, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) which treat depression, and drugs used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Plogsted advises those taking these drugs to steer clear of tyramine-rich foods. The list is lengthy and includes, but is not limited to: chocolate, aged and mature cheeses, smoked and aged/fermented meats, hot dogs, some processed lunch meats, fermented soy products and draft beers (canned and bottled beers are OK).
When receiving a prescription for a new medication or taking a new over-the-counter drug, Plogsted advises consumers to always read drug warning labels and ask their physician and/or pharmacist about which foods or other drugs they should avoid or be concerned about taking.
Courtesy: Rachel Begun, MS, RDN www.eatright.org
The Difference Diet Can Make
Healthy eating can keep your body and mind sharp and extend quality of life. Older men need:
- Calcium and Vitamin D
Older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to help maintain strong and healthy bones. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat and fat-free dairy like milk and yogurt, fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones. Older adults need three servings of calcium and vitamin D every day. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, be sure to choose one that contains vitamin D.
Fiber helps keep bowel functions normal and is good for your heart. If you need to lose weight, fiber keeps you full longer so you do not feel hungry as often. Men older than 50 need 30 grams of fiber a day; good sources are whole grains, fruits and vegetables. For products with a label, choose those with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Increasing potassium intake along with decreasing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Choose low-sodium foods and replace salt with other herbs and spices to reduce your sodium intake.
- Healthy Fats
For weight control and overall health, limit fat calories to 20 percent to 35 percent of your diet. Most of the fats you consume should come from heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Try extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds and avocadoes. Healthy older men without heart disease should limit your saturated fat, which comes from meat, full-fat dairy and fried foods, to 10 percent of your total fat calories. Men with high cholesterol need to cut more saturated fat from your diet; limit it to 7 percent of total fat calories.
Make Calories Count
Older men cannot eat the way you did in your 20s and keep weight off. As men age, you are typically less active and lose muscle and gain fat; these things combined cause metabolism to slow down. More work is needed to keep metabolism up.
How many calories you need each day depends on age, gender and activity level. For men over the age of 50, your daily calorie needs are:
- Not active: 2,000
- Moderately active: 2,200 to 2,400
- Active: 2,400 to 2,800.
Balance your calorie intake by getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Exercise helps older men rev up metabolism, build and strengthen muscles and increase energy levels. Exercise also helps to lift your spirits.
National Nutrition Month® began in 1973 and is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for 2016 is "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right," which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.
Almost 10% of the senior population in the United States is malnourished because of issues including medication complications, lack of appetite, depression, illness and more. Over thirty percent of seniors suffer from chronic dehydration and most seniors need more calcium, vitamins D and B-12 than adults under the age of 60. As the elderly age, they require fewer calories, however require more protein, calcium vitamins and other nutrients. It is more important than ever caregivers are educated on the importance of nutrition and dietary needs of senior citizens . We at Visiting Angels provide our caregivers hands on culinary and nutrition training so they can prepare meals accordingly for the elderly. This allows us to be a key contributor in the well being and longevity of our elderly clients.
It’s important to get a variety of foods so your body can received the nutrients it needs as you age. Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is your best recipe for health and fitness.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Eat more dark green vegetables like leafy greens or broccoli, and
orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas.
- Eat at least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.
- Have three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese) that are fortified with vitamin D to help keep your bones healthy.
- Make the fats you eat healthy ones (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.