I believe there is so much non-verbal communication that happens in touch. Over the years my sense has continued to increase much the way a wine sommelier can identify the different fruits in a wine. That sensitivity allows me to notice the levels of soreness or hypertension in the soft tissues of the body in a gentle compassionate way.
The food we put into our bodies is information, not just nutrition says Lisa Caldwell, private chef and nutritionist at Tufts Medical Center. During a recent "Delicious Demo" at 660 Washington Street she shared her secrets as chef and athlete. Lisa interest is sports nutrition began out of her own self-interest to perform better at the gym or when out climbing with her friends.
The challenge of the evening event was all about using 6 ingredients to in different ways as possible. The black beans from the tacos one nights could also be used to make bean burgers on another night of the week. We learned simple tips about how to bed handle knives and how long leftovers can be kept in the freezer.
If you’re looking to improve your athletic performance, then your nutrition is always a part of that equation.
“What’s the most important meal for an athlete?”
Whatever meal is happening right after your workout. When you work out your energy stores get depleted and the food immediately following is what fills the tank for the next workout. Lisa says that your next workout is only as good as your previous meal. So take the time to craft nutrient dense foods that will nourish and help your body thrive. Lisa recommends having a serving 6-8oz of animal protein after a workout over a protein shake. She says that science just can’t make a protein as well as mother nature.
“What dietary would recommend for an endurance athlete?”
You want to eat diet that’s high is plant material and avoid simple carbohydrates that are going to store energy for later. The more simple carbs we consume, then the more our body releases insulin. The more frequently we release insulin the more food is being converted into long term storage. As endurance athletes we are looking to utilize our energy storage relatively in short term cycles.
Be sure that your proteins sources are lean and animal based if possible. If you have access to wild fish and game then that would be preferable, these animals are naturally fast. As compared to feedlot beef and poultry that tend to be filled with hormones and fillers.
Here's a great recipe for athletes from Lisa's website, where you can find a huge selection of recipes.
Strawberry Chia Pudding
Note: Fantastic dessert or midday snack
• 4 oz Chia Seeds – Hydrated in 1.5 cups of lukewarm water for 20 minutes
• 3 cups Coconut Milk
• 1 cup Almond Milk
• 2 -4 Tbsp Honey
• 1-2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
• 1 lb. Strawberries, diced(substitute other fruits, mango, pineapple or raspberry)
• 1.5 cups Strawberry Puree(adjust to desired flavor profile)
1 Combine hydrated chia seeds with the milks, honey, vanilla extract and puree.
2 Allow to sit for 2 hours or overnight. Add diced fruit and puree, mix together.
Adjust to taste and to desired consistency with milk or water.
Often, nutrition fads and rules make their way around the internet and seem to quickly become like folklore. It is easy to get swept up into the latest “Here’s how you should be eating” trend. Take a look at these 4 nutrition trends that you shouldn’t just “buy into” and examine your diet for any possible areas of improvement:
Protein: While I know we would all agree that you need an ample amount of protein in your daily diet, you shouldn’t primarily get protein from powders, bars, and shakes. As a general rule of thumb, an active person weighing 150 pounds needs about 85 to 115 grams daily or up to twice the recommended daily amount for regular sedentary folks. However, as you’re working to train for the next big race, supplementing your diet with protein powders, bars, and shakes is acceptable.
Fats: Fats shouldn’t be avoided in your diet, you should actually view fats as your friend! But don’t forget to primarily include healthy fats such as fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil. Not only will healthy fats help to reduce inflammation in the body they will also absorb essential nutrients like vitamins D, E, A, and K.
Water Consumption: We’ve always heard that you need to consume 8 cups of water daily. How difficult is that?? Instead, you should drink water when you’re thirsty. Stay tuned in to your body, drink when you’re thirsty, and amp up your consumption slightly when you’re exercising or in the heat.
Carbs: We often believe that we should stay away from carbs just as much as fats, but the truth is quite the opposite. At a bare minimum, you need 130 grams of carbs—520 calories worth, or the amount in 1 cup of pasta, 1 cup of beans, and a potato— just to survive. Your brain alone will use up 60 percent of that, leaving very little left for your hard working muscles. Skimping on carbs is actually stressful on your body, which raises your cortisol levels and leaves you more likely to lose muscle and store fat.
Do you need to take a look at your diet and do some revamping? Just remember that a well balanced diet is primarily the key. Feel free to reach out if you’d like some additional guidance.
Source: “The New Rules of Nutrition”, Bicycling, written by Selene Yeager, December 23, 2016
Ugne Aleknaite NP makes her favorite pantry stock pics. @@ugne.aleknaite.5
Do you struggle with having the ‘right’ kind of foods stocked in your pantry so that you can easily create healthy meals? Trust me, this will help! Take a look at these go-to tips and get your pantry in tip-top shape:
1. Nuts and Seeds
Any plain raw nuts is a fair game. Buy organic if you can. Dare to explore and find new flavors: almond, walnut, pecan, macadamia, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
3 Reasons we like Nuts
- Rich in omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health
- Good source of protein
- Good source of fiber
3 Ways to use raw Nuts
- Breakfast: Add protein to your breakfast
- Snack: pack a couple handfuls in your purse or sports bag
- Lunch/dinner: Add substance to your salads
2. Frozen Berries
Fruit is super important to buy organic because of high pesticide exposure. Therefore frozen can be a more economical choice especially in the winter months.
3 Reasons why we like Berries
- High antioxidants and phytonutrient content to fight aging and speed recovery
- Low sugar
- Rich in phytonutrients and it is an easy why to add color to your diet
3 Ways to use Frozen Berries
- smoothie: frozen berries, banana, avocado, nut butter, water
- berry bowl: make extra thick smoothie and top it off with variety of nuts/seeds
- hot cereal and frozen berries
Sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes, carrots explore.. try some thing new
3 Reasons we like Root Vegetable
- Great choice of organic winter vegetables
- It can last a while
- You can use it in more than one way
6 Ways to use Roots
- Cutting in the different way will change the flavor
- Try roasting sweet potatoes cubed and whole
- Radish can be cubed for roasting or
- shredded for salads or
- sliced to use with dips like hummus or guacamole
- Carrots shredded will be great for a salad, cut longwise makes a great snack, and cut round for roasting.
In the ideal world like to buy dried beans, cook a bag full and freeze them or store in the fridge for later use. Canned beans are good choice in many occasions. My concerns with canned foods is: BPA and salt. Many manufacturers use BPA (bisphenol-A) to line the cans and canned foods are usually high in salt. Look for BPA free cans and salt free products.
3 Reasons we like Beans:
- High fiber and generally any type of bean you choose only 1 1/2 cup of beans will meet the minimum 30g of daily fiber requirement
- Breakfast: eggs, beans, beans, salsa, guacamole
- Lunch: mix it in with your sad
- Dinner side dish: make bean salad for a side dish, warm it up with sautéed onion and garlic…
3 Reasons we like Ginger
3 ways to use it
- Tea: chunk it up and poor hot water over it, let it steep or simmer
- Spice: cook together with vegetables to give it a little kick
- Sports drink: use cold ginger tea with a little honey and lemon to rehydrate after a work out
Now, take a look at what you have in your pantry, restock these items that you don’t keep on hand, and whip up a healthy, nutritious meal that is guaranteed to be satisfying! Still have questions or need extra tips? We can help, just reach out!
We all know that staying on track nutritionally can prove to be difficult even on the best days. However, if you’re a Fitbit fan this new integration may be just what you’re looking for! Fitbit is actually rolling out three additions in 2017, including a nutrition site and two fairly unique takes on the stationary bike. Excited yet?
Fitbit’s partnership with Habit will allow data gathered from your Fitbit devices to create food recommendations and nutritional plans through the personalized nutrition service. The service utilizes metrics like weight, body fat percentage and calories burned to create specially tailored meal plans.
Additionally, the partnership between Fitbit and Habit could also help you work towards achieving your ideal weight or even maintaining that weight. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, but your daily activity isn’t sufficient to meet this goal, Habit could decrease your daily calorie recommendation and modify the amounts and types of carbs, fat and protein you should eat to help you meet your goal. A similar modification could be made by Habit to help you maintain your ideal weight.
Source: “Fitbit announces integration with a nutrition service and a virtual reality bike”, Tech Crunch, written by Brian Heater, January 4, 2017.
With the brand new year comes new and improved goals, a new sense of commitment, and a renewed sense of determination. Even though you have all that clearly defined, do you sometimes still struggle to stay on track nutritionally? We all do! And let’s face it - there’s so many different nutrition plans and so many lifestyle changes being promoted by one person or another.
In part 2 of our series, I’m sharing some key tips from Ironman legend Dave Scott. Scott religiously adheres to a ketogenic diet, which is high in healthy fats, and low in simple carbohydrates. Essentially, about 60 percent of what he eats consists of omega-rich, good fats (seeds, nuts, olives, coconut oil, cold-water fish), then 20–25 percent is protein, and the remainder consists of fiber-rich carbohydrates.
Here are a few key takeaways that may interest you if you’ve considered a ketogenic diet - or even if you currently follow a similar diet plan:
Fiber content is really important. Particularly the fiber content of your carbs. Scott recommends nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich carb sources like kale, broccoli, asparagus and dark berries (blueberries, acai, blackberries).
Grains should be minimal, along with processed snacks and refined sugar drinks should be eliminated altogether.
A glass of red wine has a number of healthy compounds, including resveratrol, which is good for your heart. In moderation, wine is known to elevate HDL, the good kind of cholesterol.
Snacking should be managed closely, too. Scott finds that an afternoon shake works well for him and keeps him full. For his shake he uses a couple tablespoons of coconut oil, almonds and/or walnuts, coconut milk, plain organic whole yogurt, 30–35 grams of EAS whey protein, and frozen berries (mostly blueberries). Eggs, over easy, will also fit the bill as a good snack. If he’s on the go, hardboiled eggs are the second choice.
Scott’s ketogenic diet contains a lot of fish, predominantly salmon, mackerel and halibut. He also recommends grass-fed beef to his meat-eating athletes, as well as cage-free chicken.
Source: “Ironman Legend Dave Scott Shares His Nutrition Tips”, Triathlete, written by Julia Polloreno, October 24, 2016
We all know the Boston Marathon is just around the corner and training, nutrition, and focus are crucial as you gear up for the big day! In this series I will be sharing a few key diet plans that well recognized athletes follow, with takeaways for each. You can implement one of these diet plans in your training regimen or simply use the tips and takeaways to amp up what you’re currently doing.
Pro triathlete Tim Nichols believes in a gluten free diet for long course fueling and ultimate performance. A little backstory that you may not know: Nichols, a former Marine, had become sedentary and was weighing almost 300 pounds before his 30th birthday. He made some healthier choices and lifestyle changes, but something still didn’t feel just right. Shortly after he was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led to him completely revamping his nutrition -- and a gluten free lifestyle.
Since we all know gluten is everywhere and this particular diet plan isn’t always easy to follow, here are a few takeaways from Nichols that you may find helpful:
He primarily eats whole foods or foods made from scratch.
Gluten free Quest bars are great for a snack and will satisfy that sugar craving. And we all know how those can be!
His go-to favorite meal after a good workout: steak and egg whites with spinach, tomatoes and peppers.
His go-to pre-race meal: two cups of coffee and his protein powder pancakes, which can be made with just about any vanilla protein, gluten-free steel-cut oats, egg whites, cinnamon and a dash of baking powder. He likes to add almond butter instead of regular butter in between each piece, topped with raspberries and drizzled with agave.
On hard workout days: he has plenty of healthy, natural carbs—gluten-free stone rolled oats, sweet potatoes, tons of berries and lots of veggies.
On single workout days or recovery days: a pretty high protein regimen and he incorporates spinach salads with a lean protein like bison or chicken, and berries.
Be sure to follow our blogs so you don’t miss part 2 of this series!
Source: “How I Fuel Long-Course Nutrition the Gluten-Free Way”, Triathlete, Bethany Mavis, December 7, 2016.
Source: Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Health Letter, Originally published: January 2016
We know how difficult it can be to eat healthy when you are on the go. The daily grind can drag down even the best-laid plans for attending to your health. And have you ever noticed how nutrition takes a back seat when you are hungry and unprepared?
Here are a few tips with help from the experts at Harvard Medical School to create healthier meals on the go:
Ingredients list: If you have to eat convenience foods, start with the ingredients list. The fewer ingredients, the better and make sure real foods are on the list. Watch out for added sugar, it will be one of the last ingredients on the list.
Nutrition Labels: Check nutrition fact labels, it is recommended to choose serving sizes that provide 600 or fewer calories; 5 or more grams of fiber; 500 or fewer milligrams of sodium; zero grams of trans fat; 5 or fewer grams of saturated fat; and zero grams of sugar.
Dry foods: Look for whole-grain cereals, shredded wheat or rolled oats
Frozen and canned: Vegetables, without added salt, canned tuna or salmon; some frozen fish or shrimp and some frozen entrees that use organic ingredients
Make your own fast food: Batch cooking, make meals in a large quantity that you can freeze in small portions. Vegetarian or turkey chili, lentil or bean soup with plenty of vegetables all work well. Try making a marinara sauce to freeze, then thaw and add some turkey meatballs or whole-wheat pasta.
Keep a list of grab and go foods: Be prepared with your list of nutritious and healthy go-to foods to replenish each week. Ideas include low-fat, no added sugar yogurt, whole fruit, hummus, nuts, whole-wheat crackers, chopped vegetables. Prep these items in grab and go portions to keep on hand when you are out.
We all know that everyone needs a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, plus enough vitamins and minerals for optimal health. But did you know that some of these categories are better than others when it comes to an ideal diet plan?
In order to avoid setting the stage for some life threatening illnesses (think heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some cancers) scientists say you should keep these foods to a minimum:
Processed and high fat meats
Remember, the occasional splurge if you have a craving to satisfy is totally ok, but you’ll want to keep the big picture in mind!
Source: “Which foods don't belong in a healthy diet?”, Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, November 2016
Do you struggle to maintain your healthy eating regimen during the holiday party season? If so, the good news is that it’s halfway over! Don’t let all of the gatherings you attend put a damper on what you consume. Here’s how you can stay strong and step into 2017 nutritionally strong!
According to Roger Fielding, PhD, Director of the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory, Tufts University, these guidelines are key:
Adequate intake of Vitamin D
Adequate intake of protein daily, which helps provide a solid foundation for your muscles to build and grow. A good daily goal? Approximately 10-35% of your calorie intake, depending on your height and weight.
Portion size and healthy food choices are just as important as the amount of exercise you build into your day.
Approximately half of your daily calorie intake should come from whole grain carbs.
While we all know you can get calcium from dairy products, there are also other ways to incorporate that into your diet, such as collard greens.
Vitamin B6 is something you also want to be sure to include, since this helps with your immune function.
Of course, salt should be limited and you should try to stay away from refined sugar.
Do you have high cholesterol? Looking for some ways to lower your cholesterol without taking another medication? Here are four steps for using your diet to lower your cholesterol.
- Stick with unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Most vegetable fats (oils) are made up of unsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart. Foods that contain healthy fats include oily fish, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. At the same time, limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat, which is found in many meat and dairy products, and stay away from trans fats. These include any foods made with "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils."
- Get more soluble fiber. Eat more soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal and fruits. This type of fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy-fat diet.
- Include plant sterols and stanols in your diet. These naturally occurring plant compounds are similar in structure to cholesterol. When you eat them, they help limit the amount of cholesterol your body can absorb. Plant sterols and stanols are found in an increasing number of food products such as spreads, juices, and yogurts.
- Find a diet that works for you. When a friend or relative tells you how much his or her cholesterol level dropped after trying a particular diet, you may be tempted to try it yourself. If you do, and after a few months you discover that you're not getting the same benefits, you may need to chalk it up to genetic and physiological differences. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for cholesterol control. You may need to try several approaches to find one that works for you
Although diet can be a simple and powerful way to improve cholesterol levels, it plays a bigger role for some people than for others.
Don't be discouraged if you have followed a diet but not reached your goal blood level. Keep it up. Even if you do end up needing medication to keep your cholesterol in check, you likely will need less than if you didn't make any dietary changes.
Source: Harvard Medical School, Healthbeat, http://www.health.harvard.edu
Probiotics can curb insulin resistance.
Probiotics are the good kind of bacteria found in our gut and have a clear role in our health of our metabolism. Although there are many types of these little bacteria in our gut, there is growing evidence that Lactobacillus acidophilus curb insulin resistance after a few weeks of use.
Insulin resistance is like a pre-diabetic state, where the pancreas begins to poorly regulate our sugar intake with insulin. In essence, the poor pancreas has had so much sugar dumped on it that it begins to overreact every time sugar comes into our systems.
Are You Ready to Take Great Care of Your Health?
Green foods are healthy because they contain compounds that have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects and may protect the brain, heart and vasculature, liver, and skin. One of the unique attributes of some green foods is that because they help the liver to work better, they can also assist with keeping hormones in balance.
Ways to get more green foods:
- Have an avocado in your salad or on top of a grilled chicken breast.
- Make a stir-fry with bok choy, broccolini, and carrots. Serve on top of brown rice.
- Have a cup of decaffeinated green tea instead of coffee.
- Use extra virgin olive oil instead of refined vegetable oils like corn and soybean oils.
- Add more green-colored herbs and spices to meat and vegetable dishes like rosemary, oregano, dill, and thyme.
- Toss some greens into your morning smoothie.
- Make grilled Brussel sprouts and drizzle with olive oil.
- Add green olives, green peas, cucumber, and celery to a salad.
- Squeeze fresh lime into your water.
- Make soup with bitter melon, celery, and beet greens.
Enjoy a delicious salad idea this fall!
Balsamic Grape Tomato & Seeds Salad
- Marinate grape tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and store them in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
- Just add to the salad before eating: Pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds; pine nuts and hazelnuts are great source of crunch and flavor.
- A scoop of hummus is an easy way to add fiber and protein.
- Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley or basil gives a happy surprise in every bite.
Join us in healthier living and wellness.
Staying hydrated is a daily necessity. How much water should you drink? According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, most people need about four to six cups of water each day, however, water needs vary.
Water is the source that keeps every system in the body functioning properly. The Harvard Special Health Report 6-Week Plan for Health Eating notes that water has many important jobs, such as:
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells
- Flushing bacteria from your bladder
- Aiding digestion
- Preventing constipation
- Normalizing blood pressure
- Stabilizing the heartbeat
- Cushioning joints
- Protecting organs and tissues
- Regulating body temperature
- Maintaining electrolyte (sodium) balance.
- Giving your body enough fluids to carry out those tasks means that you're staying hydrated
Tips for staying hydrated
- All beverages containing water contribute toward your daily needs, but remember, water is always the better choice. Try to cut out caffeinated and sugary drinks leading to weight gain and inflammation
- Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for women, and 1-2 drinks per day for men
- Ward off dehydration, drink fluids gradually, throughout the day
- Water-rich foods provide fluids, such as salads, fruit, and applesauce
Why is important to incorporate Probiotics as a daily part of your diet? Probiotics can curb Insulin resistance.
Probiotics are the good kind of bacteria found in our gut and have a clear role in the health of our metabolism. Although there are many types of these little bacteria in our gut, there is growing evidence that Lactobacillus acidophilus curb insulin resistance after a few weeks of use. Insulin resistance is like a pre-diabetic state, where the pancreas begins to poorly regulate our sugar intake with insulin. In essence, the poor pancreas has had so much sugar dumped on it that it begins to overreact every time sugar comes into our systems.
How do we purify our body of unwanted toxins? We need a healthy ability to eliminate.
20-35 grams of fiber daily
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is plant material that is normally left undigested after passing through the body's digestive system. Plant foods usually contain a combination of both types of fiber in varying degrees, according to the plant's characteristics. At least 20-35 gm of fiber is suggested each day by the ADA (American Dietetic Association). Start with mostly soluble fiber if insoluble fiber is too challenging.
Top 10 Sources of Fiber:
- Beans. Think three-bean salad, bean burritos, chili, soup.
- Whole grains. That means whole-wheat bread, pasta, etc.
- Brown rice. White rice doesn't offer much fiber.
- Popcorn. It's a great source of fiber.
- Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts.
- Baked potato with skin. It's the skin that's important here.
- Berries. All those seeds, plus the skin, give great fiber to any berry.
- Bran cereal. Actually, any cereal that has 5 grams of fiber or more in a serving counts as high fiber.
- Oatmeal. Whether its microwaved or stove-cooked, oatmeal is good fiber.
- Vegetables. The crunchier, the better. Enjoy raw vegetables, be sure to eat a variety of colors and types.
The biggest myth is that protein only comes only from meat. However, broccoli has almost as many grams of protein per calorie as steak.
The best source of animal protein is organic or with equivalent standards.
What are the best recommendations to follow?
Consume, in moderation, grass-fed beef. Feedlot beef has 600% the amount of saturated fat as grass-fed beef. Other benefits include:
- Improved levels of essential fats
- Increased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids
- Decreased pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids
- Lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and inflammatory disease
Saturated fat in conventional farm-raised animals is filled with the growth hormones (so they get bigger faster), and antibiotics (so the farm can grow more animals in a smaller area). Those hormones and antibiotics then end up in your fat tissue too, which slows your metabolism.
Place more value on plant-based proteins sources! Beans and legumes help you reach your daily fiber requirements and provide valuable phyto-nutrients. Most of the world is basically vegetarian and generally has little trouble meeting their protein requirements.
14 Great Sources of Protein:
- Almonds are a strong anti-inflammatory and good source for healthy fats, fiber and protein.
- Spirulina is one of the great superfoods. It is approximately 65-71 percent complete protein in its natural state, higher than virtually any other unprocessed food
- Wild Fish contains desirable omega-3, be sure to find fresh wild fish if you consume on a regular basis.
- Quinoa is a “complete protein” pseudo-grain, easy to cook and tastes great!
- Cage Free Eggs are a rich source of thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acids, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin D, vitamin E and phosphorus. Buy whole organic eggs.
- Hemp Seeds contain about 30% of protein and are hypoallergenic.
- Chia Seeds offer complete protein that are mildy inflammatory, easy to digest and easy to cook with. Chia seeds are also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese and dietary fiber.
- Whey powder is the second most abundant protein derived from milk. Whey contains all of the essential amino acids, high in leucine, isoleucine and valine, glutamine (immune boosting amino acid). Be sure it’s grass fed, organic and hormone free.
- Lentils are a great source of amino acids, healthy carbs and filing fiber.
- Organic Chicken contains all of the essential amino acids, be sure to choose chickens that were raised in humane conditions, fed a nutrient dense diet and cage-free when possible.
- Cottage Cheese and Greek Yogurt can be a good addition to a balanced diet, both low in sugar, contain a good amount of protein and healthy fats.
- Tempeh is made out of fermented soy and can be a great source of clean protein.
- Grass-fed beef is loaded with zinc, iron and all the amino acids as well.
- Pea and Rice Protein Powder is a powerful protein concentrate, that is hypoallergenic and easily digested.
Nutrients work together. The following is a list of nutrients that work in pairs, from the Harvard Medical School, Nutrition Focus Issue No. 4, “Nutrients that work together – and that you should eat together,” published in May 2016.
Vitamin D and calcium
Like most nutrients, calcium is mostly absorbed in the small intestine. Calcium is important because it strengthens bones, but the body often needs vitamin D's assistance to absorb the nutrient. Vitamin D also has many other benefits throughout the body.
There's debate these days about whether to raise the daily intake goal for vitamin D. Right now, the official nutrition guidelines recommend that adults get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. For older adults, the recommended daily allowance is a bit higher: 1,200 mg of calcium starting in your 50s, and 600 IU of vitamin D starting in your 70s.
To give you an idea of how much that is, an 8-ounce glass of milk contains 300 mg of calcium and, because of fortification, 100 IU of vitamin D.
Sodium and potassium
Sodium is one essential nutrient that most Americans consume more of each day than they need (mostly in the form of salt).
Excess sodium interferes with the natural ability of blood vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood pressure—and increasing the chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
But potassium encourages the kidneys to excrete sodium. Many studies have shown a connection between high potassium intake and lower, healthier blood pressure. According to the current guidelines, adults are supposed to get 4,700 mg of potassium and 1,200 mg to 1,500 mg of sodium daily.
To meet these criteria, you need to follow general healthy eating guidelines. To increase potassium intake, load up on fruits and vegetables. To decrease sodium intake, cut back on cookies, salty snacks, fast foods, and ready-made lunches and dinners.
Vitamin B12 and folate
Vitamin B12 and folate (also one of the eight B vitamins) form one of nutrition's best couples. B12 helps the body absorb folate, and the two work together to support cell division and replication, which allow the body to replace cells that die. This process is important during times of growth in childhood, and throughout the body of adults as well. Cells that line the stomach and the cells of the hair follicle, for example, divide and replicate often.
Good food sources of vitamin B12 include:
Natural sources of folate include:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Other legumes
Nutrition guidelines recommend 2.4 micrograms of B12 and 400 micrograms of folate daily. This can usually be achieved easily by eating a reasonably well-balanced diet.
However, vegans—people who don't eat meat and other animal-based products—may have B12deficiencies. And people who eat poorly or drink too much alcohol may have folate deficiencies.
Folate deficiencies can be corrected with multivitamins or folic acid pills. For a B12 deficiency, you can get injections every few months or take a pill daily. Deficiency in either or both vitamins may cause a form of anemia called macrocytic anemia. B12 deficiencies can also cause mild tingling sensations and memory loss.
Zinc and copper
Copper and zinc don't work together—they actually compete for places to be absorbed in the small intestine. If there's a lot of zinc around, copper tends to lose out and a copper deficiency may develop.
Niacin and tryptophan
Niacin is one of the B vitamins, although it rarely goes by its B-vitamin moniker, B3. The daily niacin requirement is 16 mg for men and 14 mg for women. Niacin deficiency causes pellagra, a disease that causes a bad rash, diarrhea, and dementia. Tryptophan, an amino acid, is a source of niacin. So one way to avoid niacin shortfalls is to eat foods that contain a lot of tryptophan, including chicken and turkey.
Tips to add fruits and vegetables to your diet, from the Harvard Medical School, http://www.health.harvard.edu, originally published May 2016.
Eating fruits and vegetables helps to keep blood pressure under control, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, keep arteries flexible, protect your bones and keep your eyes, brain and digestive system healthy.
Tips to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet:
Know your needs: The guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables a day. More is better. To calculate your fruit and vegetable needs, go to www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.
Set a goal: If fruits and vegetables are minor items in your menu, start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day. When you're used to that, add another, and keep going.
Be sneaky: Add finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce, meatloaf, chili, or a stew to get an extra serving of vegetables. Cookbooks like Deceptively Delicious or The Sneaky Chef offer ways to slip vegetables and fruits into all sorts of recipes.
Try something new: It's easy to get tired of apples, bananas, and grapes. Try a kiwi, mango, fresh pineapple, or some of the more exotic choices now found in many grocery stores.
Blend in: A fruit smoothie (recipe below) is a delicious way to start the day or tide you over until dinner.
Be a big dipper: Try dipping vegetables into hummus or another bean spread, some spiced yogurt, or a bit of ranch dressing. Or slather some peanut butter on a banana or slices of apple.
Spread it on: Try mashed avocado as a dip with diced tomatoes and onions. Puréed cooked spinach is also a delicious dip. Either can also be used as a sandwich spread.
Start off right: Ditch your morning donut for an omelet with onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Top it with some salsa to wake up your palate. Or boost your morning cereal or oatmeal with a handful of strawberries, blueberries, or dried fruit.
Drink up: Having a 6-ounce glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead of a soda gives you a full serving of vegetables and spares you 10 teaspoons or more of sugar.
Give them the heat treatment: Cut up onions, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, turnips — whatever you have on hand — coat with olive oil, add a dash of balsamic vinegar, and roast at 350° until done. Grilling is another way to bring out the taste of vegetables. Use roasted or grilled veggies as a side dish, put them on sandwiches, or add them to salads.
Let someone else do the work: Food companies and grocers offer an ever-expanding selection of prepared produce, from ready-made salads to frozen stir-fry mixes and take-along sliced apples and dip.
Improve on nature: Jazz up vegetables with spices, chopped nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or a specialty oil like walnut or sesame oil. Even a dash of grated Parmesan cheese can liven up the blandest green beans.
Chocolate: Try any type of fruit dipped in dark chocolate: what could be a tastier two-fer? In addition to a delectable dessert, you get plenty of heart-healthy antioxidants, some fiber, and a host of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients.
Enjoy this recipe for a simple fruit smoothie:
This is a great way to use bananas that are beginning to get too ripe. (You can always cut ripe bananas into thick slices, freeze in a plastic bag, and thaw when you're ready to make another smoothie.)
Makes 1 serving
¾ cup plain yogurt
½ cup berries (fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, or other berry of your choice)
½ ripe banana
½ cup pineapple juice
Optional: 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (for healthy omega-3 fats)
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend to combine. You can branch out by adding a dash of ground cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, some mint, or other flavoring.