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Eating Right and Aging

As you age, food choices become important daily decisions that may affect the quality of the rest of your life. Seniors need fewer calories, and everything you eat should be based on weight gain and the nutrients that can maintain or boost your immune system and keep you healthy. Too much added weight and not enough vitamins and minerals can cause untold health problems.

Choose your foods to make sure you’re getting enough of the following vitamins and minerals:

· B-Vitamins – Seniors need to be sure they eat lots of foods with B-vitamins. Vitamin-B12 isn’t found in plants, but you can get it in your diet if you eat fortified breakfast cereals. Tuna, lean beef, chicken and eggs also provide vitamin-B12, but if you don’t eat enough of these foods, be sure to take a supplement.

Vitamin-B6 is also an important vitamin for seniors. B6 vitamins can be found in foods that provide protein such as pork, fish and chicken. Again, fortified cereals can be a great source of vitamin B-6. Bananas, spinach, wheat germ and bran are among other sources for vitamin B6.

· Vitamin-A – Cantaloupe, carrots, Brussels sprouts, peppers and most colorful plant products are rich in beta-carotene, which provides vitamin-A. Fish liver oil, eggs and fortified milk are also abundant in vitamin-A. If you don’t think you’re getting enough vitamin-A in your diet, talk to your doctor before taking a supplement as it can form toxic levels in your body.

· Folic Acid – A synthetic form of folate, folic acid can be found in foods such as fortified cereal, enriched breads and some grains. Foods containing folate are bananas, asparagus, turnip greens, spinach wheat germ and orange juice.

· Riboflavin – Milk, yogurt, eggs and whole grains are rich in riboflavin. Milk should be purchased in cardboard cartons rather than glass or plastic containers because it loses much of the vitamin from exposure to light. Other food sources high in riboflavin are asparagus, turkey, almonds and chicken thighs.

Some other vitamins that should be included in the foods seniors should be eating are vitamins C, D and E and choline. Eating a diet that’s balanced with these vitamins and minerals is best, but if it’s difficult for you to eat a balanced diet on a regular basis, talk to your doctor about supplements.

As you age, it’s important to fill up with foods that contain vitamins and minerals that will help us to maintain a healthy immune system and provide you with the best caloric intake rather than foods rich in sugar, fat and not much else. Eating right can help us age gracefully and live longer.

Customize Your Own Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating and devastating illness, but you can do some things to reduce the pain and fatigue, including developing a proper diet plan. For example, fatty foods can exacerbate the effects of rheumatoid arthritis as can foods that promote weight gain – sugars and breads.

Trial and error might be in order to pinpoint some foods that might be causing flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis. Then, you can eliminate them as needed. Here are some types of foods to avoid and some to include in a diet that may ease pain, stiffness and tiredness:

· Avoid fatty foods – Saturated fats found in some foods such as butter, bacon and various dairy products might increase inflammation. Chemicals called prostaglandins are found in these foods and have been identified as culprits in arthritic joint destruction. Meats contain arachidonic acid, which can convert to prostaglandins after it’s ingested.

· A vegetarian diet can help – Some people find that eliminating meat and adopting a completely vegetarian diet helps relieve the pain and stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Others find no advantage to eating a meat-free diet.

· Eliminate alcohol – It’s best to entirely eliminate alcohol from your diet if you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. On the other hand, research shows that alcohol may protect against developing the disease. If you’re taking arthritis medication, be sure to talk to your health care provider about harmful side-effects.

· Take vitamins – Certain vitamins and minerals should be included in any diet to prevent symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – especially if you take certain prescriptions such as methotrexate. A diet high in folic acid (a B vitamin) can help to alleviate side-effects of methotrexate and also helps manufacture important red blood cells. Selenium, found in tuna, is also a good way to prevent damage to tissue. Vitamin D can prevent bone loss.

· Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids – Foods such as nuts, some fish, flax seed and soybean products are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that can effectively reduce inflammation. As an added benefit, these fatty acids also help prevent heart disease, which is more likely in those who have rheumatoid arthritis.

· Consider a Mediterranean diet – Research has shown that cases of rheumatoid arthritis are rare in Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece – or less severe if diagnosed. A Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables and foods rich in vitamin C. Olive oil and legumes also figure in to this healthy and disease-fighting diet.

Although there is no specific “arthritis diet,” customizing your diet by identifying certain trigger foods may be a way to improve your own diet and get rid of some of the debilitating and painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Coping with Osteoarthritis

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you may be feeling isolated and frustrated. Osteoarthritis can drastically upturn your lifestyle by making you feel like the disease is running you and that you’ve lost control. There are ways to manage the pain and restrictions that come with this debilitating ailment – and the first step is attitude.

Educating yourself about osteoarthritis and what you can do to maintain a positive attitude and develop a plan to keep it from interfering too much with your lifestyle can greatly reduce the impact that this diagnosis has in your life. Besides talking with your health care provider about medications to control the pain and restrictions, talk to her about a plan for your everyday life. When you take charge of the situation, your attitude and outlook should improve.

Some great coping mechanisms that work well in controlling osteoarthritis besides keeping a positive attitude are:

· Relaxation and meditation – If you feel tired during the day – rest. Take a short nap, if possible, and just relax your muscles and joints. Other techniques such as deep breathing should also help. Don’t overdo and become fatigued or experience pain from over tasking your body.

· Gentle exercise – Yoga is a great and gentle exercise for those who have osteoarthritis. You can join a club that offers yoga classes or purchase CDs and DVDs that offer step-by-step lessons. Online information can also be found about yoga exercises. Swimming and water exercises is gentle on the joints as is walking. Just keep it low key and operate at a slow pace.

· Tools that help – You’ll be able to find tools that assist you in everyday tasks – such as a walking cane, grippers and extenders that can help you reach for items stored in top shelves in cabinets or closets. Check out catalogs and supply stores and be sure to ask your doctor what she might recommend.

· Lost weight – Weight increases trauma to bones and joints, so if you’re overweight, attempt to lose some unwanted pounds. It can serve to relieve some of the pressure and the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

· Hot and cold packs and pain creams – Hot and cold packs can help you to manage the pain suffered with osteoarthritis. Heat packs (warm) should be applied to the affected joint for about 20 minutes at a time and several times a day, if needed. Ice packs are also helpful if your joints are inflamed. A word of caution – don’t use cold packs if you experience poor circulation.

Above all, when coping with pain and restrictions caused by osteoarthritis, don’t give up and become sedentary. Take charge of your life and the pain by taking medications regularly, exercising and giving yourself some slack if you need to back off of commitments or plans that you simply don’t feel up to.

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