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National Nutrition Month

March heralds the first stirrings of spring – the days become noticeably longer and the chill of winter is slowly starting to dissipate. Spring signals a new beginning for nature and for us – as we shake off the doldrums of winter we begin a new season of growth. During National Nutrition Month, we turn our focus to better eating habits and making lifestyle changes that include foods that are better for our overall health and wellness.

It's no secret that eating well affects all aspects of our life. Making positive choices in what we eat impacts how our bodies and brains perform throughout the day. We need to eat in order to live; the nutrients and calories we intake are converted to energy that we need to function. The challenge comes in being smart about what foods we eat and watching the number of calories we ingest every day.

The need for a healthy and balanced diet is especially important for seniors in their later years. Senior nutrition can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoporosis, among other conditions. As a person ages, their immune system becomes less efficient and the possibility of a chronic medical condition developing is increased. While we cannot control genetic risk factors or the fact that we age, eating a well-balanced diet will have a positive impact on our overall health for many years to come.

While seniors may not need as many calories as they did in their youth, they still need the nutrients and vitamins for their bodies to properly function. Eating right will also help them stay active and independent – enjoying hobbies and activities with friends and family. A diet that includes lean protein, fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy and whole grains will provide a senior with the nutrients they need to feel good and stay healthy.

Lean Proteins:

Think about seafood, eggs, beans over an all-beef hamburger. Beef definitely has a positive impact on a person's immune system, but it can be a high-fat food that can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure, so it should be eaten in moderation. Chicken is another option that is lower in fat and can be cooked a million different ways, mixed with vegetables or enjoyed in a salad.

Fruits & Vegetables:

The more, the better! Dark, leafy green vegetables boast high levels of multiple vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. Fruit can be a terrific way to satiate a sweet tooth instead of choosing cookies or other treats that are loaded with sugar. A dollop of low-fat whipped topping to accompany a bowl of strawberries or raspberries are a delicious alternative. Look for fruits and vegetables that are in season – they will be fresher and more flavorful.

Whole Grains

It's pretty easy these days to find whole grain alternatives over grains that have been processed with added sugars. Whether it is bread, rice or pasta, choose the whole grain option whenever you can.Whole grains contain a lot of fiber and also help with digestion and can help lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Low-Fat Dairy

Saturated fats come from animal proteins, so choosing a low-fat dairy option has many positive benefits for heart health and cholesterol. Low-fat milks, yogurt and other dairy items will provide calcium and Vitamin D (another vitamin especially important as we age) without the added fats. If you drink coffee, try to use skim milk or a non-dairy creamer.

Drink Water

A final way to watch your calorie intake and keep your body on a healthy path is to pay attention to the liquids you ingest. Calories can add up fast if you are enjoying multiple sodas or a large caramel macchiato every day. Be mindful of the calories and added sugars and fats that are in your beverages and choose water whenever you can. Water is by far the best thing you can drink, and can be livened up by adding lemon, lime or herbs to your water.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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