Recipes for vegetarian and diabetic diets have much in common

Recipes for Vegetarians with Diabetes

This blog was originally written for SplendaLiving.com. You can read that post here.

Maybe you’ve been a vegetarian for as long as you can remember, and then developed type 2 diabetes as an adult. Or maybe you received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes as a child and decided during your teen years to become a vegetarian. Either way, if this describes you or someone you know, you may be wondering if it is possible to combine a vegetarian diet with one to manage diabetes.

The simple answer is yes, vegetarian meal plans and diabetes diets are compatible and both can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

The goal for any diet is to meet your personal nutritional requirements, but there are endless ways to do that based on what is available, affordable and acceptable to you. Vegetarians who only eat pizza and French fries are not making the best choices possible to meet their needs. People with diabetes who never eat fruit or whole grains aren’t either.

 Vegetarian Meal Plans and Diabetes

The first step to combining a vegetarian diet with a diabetes diet is to make a list of the foods from each food group that you like and will eat and that you can easily purchase and prepare. The biggest difference for a vegetarian (compared to someone who is not a vegetarian) will be in the Protein Foods Group. A vegetarian’s list will include plant-based protein sources such as beans, peas, lentils, soy-based meat substitutes, nuts, nut butters and seeds instead of beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish. Eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt may be additional sources of protein for vegetarians who choose to include those foods.

Choices from each of the other food groups – Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Dairy and Oils – are the same for vegetarians, “meat eaters” and people with diabetes. The focus for all of them should be getting the best quality and variety of foods in the diet as possible and eating them in the right frequency and serving size. That may mean having two canned peach halves packed in natural juices when fresh peaches are not in season, mixing a cup of spiralized zucchini squash with a cup of spaghetti to reduce the carbohydrate content of a meal, or adding a bag of frozen edamame (soybeans) to a can of vegetable soup to boost the protein in each serving.

If you’re wondering how much honey, molasses and other added sugars a vegetarian diet for diabetes can contain, the answer is the same as for any other healthy person – less than 12 teaspoons a day for a 2000 calorie diet. That recommendation is based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans which state added sugars should be less than 10% of total calories whether you eat meat or not!

Reducing added sugars in the diet is important for everyone since many of the foods and drinks added sugars are found in can displace other foods that provide essential nutrients. The calories from those sugars can also contribute to weight gain. This is just as true for people who don’t have diabetes as those who do. Using low-calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products, can help reduce added sugars in the diet without giving up the sweet taste that makes so many foods and beverages more enjoyable.

To show you some options possible when combining a diabetic diet with a vegetarian diet, I have put together some meal plan ideas below using “Diabetes Friendly” recipes found in the SPLENDA® Brand recipe files. Of course, it is not necessary to only use recipes specifically designed for diabetes, or, for that matter, only those developed for vegetarians. Just about any recipe can be tweaked to make it work for both purposes. Please note if you have diabetes, it is important to check with your healthcare provider to determine your personal meal plan and adjust these recipes, meal combinations and portion sizes accordingly.

*For the purposes here the vegetarian dishes here may include dairy, eggs and fish.

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Snacks

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Dieary patterns are more important to health than fad diets

The Hottest New Diet Isn’t a Diet at All

Meet the dietary pattern, a style of eating with a proven record of success.

This post was originally written as a guest blog for Health.USNews.com

Diets are out; dietary patterns are in – at least, that’s what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans seems to say.

That’s big news for those of us who like to incorporate the report’s nutrition advice into our personal eating habits when it comes out every five years. This time, the government suggests we abandon diets that glorify or shun single foods and nutrients (think butter, eggs, fat and fiber – past years’ targets) and shift our attention to overall eating patterns, or the sum total of what, how often and how much we eat, as well as what we eat it with.

Why the move away from “good food/bad food” diets? For one, nutrition science is continually evolving and we are learning from our mistakes. Back in the 1980s, for instance, the guidelines told us to cut back on “bad fats” to lower our risk of heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. But people who followed that recommendation filled the void on their plates with simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, bagels and fat-free cookies. In time, we learned those foods weren’t any better for our hearts (or waistlines) than the high-fat fare they replaced.

So in 2000, we tried again. The guidelines issued that year redeemed fats – as long as they were “good fats.” This recommendation was based on newer research linking populations that regularly ate olive oil, avocados and almonds with a lower incidence of heart disease. We followed suit, dipping our bread in olive oil, adding sliced avocado to our burgers and making almonds our go-to snack. But so far, the only thing that has improved is sales of those foods. Our single-minded pursuit of the perfect food (or fat) to fight heart disease has kept us from seeing everything else that contributes to its lower rates in people with different dietary patterns.

Now, after spending more than two decades rationing just three eggs into our weekly menus, we’re being told cholesterol isn’t as bad for us as we once thought. Does that mean it’s time to order the broiled lobster tail with drawn butter to celebrate?

Not so fast.

What it means is precisely what the latest Dietary Guidelines concluded: When it comes to diet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Put another way, when you eat foods together, their health benefits are greater than a single food could produce on its own. For example, eating eggs every day can lower your risk of heart disease if you are also eating plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, fish and olive oil. On the other hand, eating eggs every day along with regular servings of fatty meats, refined grains and excess sodium from highly-processed foods can increase that risk. That’s because the connection to heart disease isn’t just about the eggs – it’s also about everything else we consume with them.

Another advantage of adopting a healthy dietary pattern is that the benefits are cumulative, like compounded interest. So, people who have been eating a Mediterranean-style pattern all their lives, for instance, get an immediate return on investment by meeting their nutritional needs early in life to support optimal growth and development. Later, they receive a long-term dividend by preventing, or greatly reducing, their risk of suffering from the noncommunicable diseases of adulthood, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and the ubiquitous heart disease. But this payoff requires making consistent contributions to your healthy eating plan, just like building retirement wealth depends on making consistent contributions to your 401K. Both are more effective the sooner you get started.

Choosing a healthy dietary pattern over a diet also leaves more room for the occasional holiday food exemption. (Sorry, but weekends don’t count as “occasional.”) That approach is different from the can-eat-can’t-eat diet style, in which we’re open to every loophole that might give us a free pass. Have you ever rushed off to work without eating breakfast so you feel entitled to partake in the office pastries? How about arriving home from work too tired to chop vegetables, so you eat pizza (without a salad) for dinner? What about the Sunday you finally get the whole family together for brunch and end up eating eggs benedict and a Belgian waffle to celebrate? You get the picture: Food choices can change with the seasons, but a dietary pattern remains the same.

Convinced yet? If so, the highly regarded Mediterranean and DASH  plans are a great place  to start. Those patterns offer the best of what is known about the food-health connection when put together right, so you won’t have to upgrade to something new in another five years. You also won’t have to worry about getting caught up in the next fad diet that promises to solve all your health and weight issues because history has shown us they don’t work in the long term. Think gluten-free, low-glycemic index, high-protein, low-carb, antioxidant-rich, paleo and probiotic diets, to name a few. It’s time to move on something more sustainable.

You can start transitioning to a healthier pattern by following some of these simple tips. The goal is to make the right choice a habit so it becomes your default option.

  • Eat at least one piece of whole fruit daily.
  • Order “whole wheat” as your bread choice for sandwiches, toast and pizza crust.
  • Choose fish over meat or poultry for an entree at least once a week.
  • Drink one full glass of water with each meal.
  • Add a layer of fresh or grilled vegetables to every sandwich.
  • Use nuts or seeds instead of croutons on salad.
  • Make chili with more beans and less (or no) meat.
  • Have brown rice with all Chinese takeout.
  • Include some vegetables whenever you grill.
  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in cooking and baking.
  • Make your meat portions no larger than the palm of your hand.
  • Choose vegetables to top pizza, fill an omelet, stuff a potato or stretch a soup.
  • Keep hummus, salsa and sliced vegetables on hand as your go-to snack.
  • Be more inclusive of fruits and vegetables by including fresh, frozen, canned and dried varieties in your repertoire.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and cultural anthropologist who has spent her 30-plus year career counseling, teaching and writing about food, nutrition and health. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food choices possible in their everyday lives. You can read her blog at www.EverydayRD.com and follow her on Twitter at@EverydayRD.

Aspartame has been help part of healthy diets for 35 years

The Most Studied Low Calorie Sweetener Turns 35 This Year

This blog was originally written for Aspartame.org. You can read that  post here.

The global population is aging at a faster rate than ever before in human history. Right now the number of people throughout the world over the age of 65 makes up 8.5 percent of the total population, or 671 million people according to International Population Reports.  That number is projected to jump to 1,566 million people by the 2050, making 16.7 percent of the world’s population over 65 years of age!

If you’re wondering what this has to do with aspartame and other no- and low-calorie sweeteners, there is a connection. Knowing you may live well into your 80s or 90s can provide the motivation for living better now to extend the quality of your life as you get older. That’s where aspartame can help.

 Benefits of Aspartame

Aspartame has been an approved food additive for over 35 years. Since its introduction into the food supply in the 1980s as an artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar a growing body of research has demonstrated its role in a healthy lifestyle. The benefits most frequently reported are that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can aid in:

  • Weight maintenance
  • Weight reduction
  • Reduction in the risks associated with obesity
  • Diet satisfaction with less added sugars and fewer calories
  • Eating a greater variety of healthy foods
  • Management of diabetes

Knowing low-calorie sweeteners can support weight management is significant because, along with getting older, the World Health Organization reports we are also getting heavier. In fact, obesity has more than doubled in the global population since 1980. Today overweight and obesity are the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers and are now linked to more deaths worldwide than being underweight.

If you want to prevent the chronic diseases that can strip away independence as you age, achieving a healthy body weight is one of the most important steps you can take. Using aspartame in place of sugar can help by providing a sweet taste to foods and beverages with few or no calories.  And it can be used by the entire family, not just those trying to lose weight, although any unintended weight loss should always be brought to the attention of your physician.

Aspartame is not a drug and, therefore, cannot produce weight loss without making other behavior changes, but it can be a valuable tool in maintaining a balanced and satisfying diet — and that can add more healthy and happy years to your life.

 Safety of Aspartame

The safety of aspartame has been rigorously monitored by food safety experts since it was first approved for use as a food additive more than three decades ago. New research from human and animal studies is regularly evaluated along with the existing body of evidence to determine any potential risk to the population at current levels of exposure or Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). The experts report aspartame does not cause damage to the genes or induce cancer, does not harm the brain or nervous system, and does not affect behavior or cognitive function in children or adults. They also have found no risk to the developing fetus from its use during pregnancy at the current ADI levels (except in women suffering from PKU).

Regulatory agencies representing more than 90 countries have conducted their own reviews of the scientific literature on aspartame and approved its use for their populations. This list includes the United States, Canada, the member countries of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), France, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. In 2013 the EFSA re-issued a Scientific Opinion on the safety of aspartame as a food additive and again concluded it was not a safety concern based on current exposure estimates and there was no reason to revise the ADI of 40mg/kg body weight per day.

It is reassuring to know there is a consensus among so many experts about the safety of aspartame, especially when conflicting reports from single studies hit the news. Living well into our nineties is a big enough challenge without having to worry about that!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

Celebrate Men’s Health with a these tips for a healthy prostate

What Every Man Wants: A Healthy Prostate

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

HELP THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE WITH THESE TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PROSTATE

Knowing how to maintain a healthy prostate is as important for women as it is for the men they love.  Men with an enlarged prostate gland take longer to urinate, so when out together, women have to wait twice as long at public restrooms. Once to get into the Women’s Room and again waiting for her man to come out of the Men’s Room.

 Focusing on the Prostate for Men’s Health Month

Enlarged prostate is medically known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Growth of the prostate gland is accelerated in men during adolescence and again around age 50. As the prostate gets larger it compresses the uretha (tube that carries urine from the bladder). As a result, the stream of urine gets slower and slower, and the waiting begins.

The good news is, BPH is not a sign of prostate cancer and does not increase a man’s chances of developing it. The test used to detect prostate cancer is the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level. While an enlarged prostate can raise the PSA a few points, that reading is not the best, or sole, indicator of prostate cancer. Other tests musts be done to confirm a diagnosis.

Diet for a Healthy Prostate

If you are following a diet to reduce your risk for heart disease, the number one cause of death in the U.S. for men and women alike, you are helping to lower the risk of BPH, too. Ads promising quick results to shrink the prostate are preying on the “impatience” of those dealing with the problem. Don’t be fooled. There are no foods or herbs that can instantly make trips to the urinal shorter.

What to Do:

Maintain a healthy body weight. A large waist measurement, or “beer belly,” is associated with higher risk of BPH.

Get regular physical activity. Even if weight is normal, exercise improves the circulation and muscle mass, both important in keeping the prostate healthy.

Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Vitamin C from vegetable sources, such as bell pepper, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, has been found to be especially beneficial.

Reduce fat intake. Choose lower fat milk and dairy products, light spreads, and lean cuts of meat and poultry for a lower fat diet.

Limit alcoholic beverages to 2 drinks a day. Studies have shown moderate drinking may inhibit risks of BPH while excess is questionable.

What to Doubt:

Saw Palmetto may or may not help due to variation in ingredients, purity and dosages. If you decide to take it be sure to tell your physician since it can affect other medications.

Zinc supplements or eating more foods high in zinc, like oysters and pumpkin seeds have not been proven effective.

Lycopene supplements or extra servings of foods high in lycopene, such as tomatoes and watermelon cannot shrink an enlarged prostate.

Vitamin D supplements unless being taken to meet daily requirements for general good health.

Beta-sitosterol supplements did not shrink the prostate or increase urinary flow in 4 studies of its effectiveness

The role of diet in reducing the risk of enlarged prostate is just one more piece of evidence that the diet that good for the heart is good for the whole body.

Remove added sugar without giving up the sweet taste you love

How to Reduce Added Sugar Intake and Still Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Do you still have a can opener in your kitchen? It may soon become obsolete as more cans are being designed with pull-tops or replaced by microwavable tubs and pouches. I’m sure most of us will have no difficulty getting used to life without ever cranking a can opener again. Now imagine being told you have diabetes and must reduce the carbohydrate and added sugar in your diet. Not being able to dip into the sugar bowl as often as you want may be harder to accept, especially if you’re like me and enjoy a little something sweet every day.

Fortunately, there are ways to satisfy a sweet tooth while still following a healthy diet for diabetes.

Living With Less Added Sugar

As I wrote in a previous blog about artificial sweeteners and diabetes, people with diabetes have the same basic nutritional needs as the rest of us. We all need to eat a well-balanced diet to maintain good health. That means including plenty of fruits and vegetables every day; adding beans, nuts and seeds to weekly menus; regularly choosing whole grains over refined grains; and selecting lean meats, low-fat dairy products and plant-based oils for a healthy fat profile.

Another thing we all need to do, whether we follow a diet for diabetes or not, is reduce the amount of added sugar we consume. Our average sugar intake in the U.S. is around 20 teaspoons a day per person and most nutrition experts say it should be about half that amount.

How to Reduce Sugar Intake

A simple way to reduce your sugar intake is to replace some added sugar with low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener. Sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners) has been determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe for the entire population.

Think about all of the foods and drinks you now sweeten with sugar, honey or maple syrup to see where you can make some changes. If you have 3 cups of coffee every day and add 2 teaspoons of sugar to each, using a single packet of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener for each cup instead will provide the same sweet taste and eliminate 6 teaspoons of sugar a day! If you add a tablespoon of brown sugar to your morning bowl of oatmeal and switch to a half tablespoon of SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend you can enjoy that same sweet flavor with half as much sugar. The more swaps you make, the lower your added sugar intake will be without giving up the sweet taste you love.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet with less added sugar is not the only way to manage diabetes. Staying physically active, checking blood glucose levels and taking medications properly are all steps recommended for optimal diabetes management. Using the Diabetes Goal Tracker mobile app from the American Association of Diabetes Educators can help. It is based on 7 proven approaches to diabetes management (called the AADE7 Self-Care BehaviorsTM) and has valuable features such as reminders for when it’s time to “check in” and the option to share your completed goals with others as a source of motivation.

Living with diabetes and with consuming less added sugar may not be as difficult as you thought, so don’t be afraid if it’s time to say goodbye to your can-opener and to the sugar bowl on your kitchen table for good!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Moderation and good genes provide clues to longevity

Bacon, Soda, and Longevity – What’s the Connection?

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

Did you see the headlines earlier this summer proclaiming the world’s oldest person eats bacon every day? The story caught my attention since bacon is one of those “guilty pleasure” foods we all enjoy, and we now have evidence that a 116 year old woman has been eating it every day!

There are many other things that may have contributed to this woman’s long life, such as her genetic heritage (her grandmother lived to be 117!). She also naps regularly, eats three meals a day and has a loving family.

As with most things in a long life, it’s never that simple – Spoiler alert: bacon is not the key to longevity!

The same holds true for headlines that say drinking soda can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. What’s missing from those unfounded statements is any evidence from randomized clinical trials to demonstrate cause and effect.

Like longevity, the research on what does cause these illnesses reveals a strong genetic component. They are also influenced by numerous environmental factors and lifestyle behaviors. It’s just not a simple matter of sipping a sugar-sweetened beverage or not. In fact, our overall dietary patterns   matter much more than any single food we may eat.

I’m sure it will make many people happy to know they can still enjoy bacon and their favorite soft drink and live a long life. The lesson here is that it’s not the bacon that will guarantee you’ll reach your 100th birthday or the sweet drink that will keep you from getting there. Eating balanced meals and getting plenty of physical activity are habits that can add years to your life.

Keep that in mind the next time you see an inflammatory headline providing a quick fix for all of your dietary woes.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

What you eat affects how you thinks and feel

Feeding the Aging Mind: What Foods Keep Your Mind Sharp?

YOUR DIET CAN SLOW THE PROCESSES OF AN AGING MIND AND HELP KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Do you fear living with an aging mind more than an aging body? I do, so I’m always ready to learn more about ways to keep my mind sharp right up until my body wears out. The good news is the right diet can help keep both shape.

What Happens to as Our Brain’s Age?

The brain’s billions of neurons “talk” to one another through neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters send signals along the pathways in our brain and central nervous system. Neurons that can’t get their messages through the pathways are like cell phones that can’t get their signals through to other cell phones.

This inability of neurons to communicate effectively is responsible for most of the loss of mental function as we age.

Although people naturally lose brain cells throughout their lives, the process does not necessarily accelerate with aging. Chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes do, however, accelerate it.

The big concern today is that we are living longer, so want those neurons to last longer. Some groundbreaking research offers hope. While it was long-believed that the central nervous system, which includes the brain, was not capable of regenerating itself, studies have found the brain is capable of making new neurons well into old age, but at a slower rate.

It’s More Than Antioxidants

The antioxidants in foods have been credited with helping to save our aging brains. I’m sure you’ve seen those lists of the latest and greatest “superfoods” ranked for their antioxidant capacity. But what those lists don’t reveal is that the brain doesn’t get charged up by just one or two antioxidants found in blueberries or kale, it wants whole foods.

That is why our total diet is so important. There are compounds in the foods we eat that nutrition scientists have not yet measured and named. But it is clear those compounds have benefits beyond what we get from the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been identified. So our best bet for optimal nutrition is to eat a wide variety of minimally processed foods.

Foods That Feed the Aging Mind

Fruits & Vegetables: The more the better when it comes to raising the antioxidant levels of the blood. Keep fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice on hand to make it easier to have some at every meal and snack.

Beans & Lentils: They can take the place of meat at any meal or be used as a side dish with it. The big assortment of canned beans offers a way to have a different bean every day for weeks.

Nuts: Whether you like walnuts, almonds, pistachios or a mixed assortment is fine. Try using them as a crunchy topping on hot and cold cereals, salads, yogurt, and vegetables.

Fish: Keep the cost down with canned tuna, salmon and sardines and the right servings size. Just two 3-ounce servings a week are recommended.

Brewed tea: Green, black, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant and are rich in powerful antioxidants. Brewing your own from teabags or leaves you get the most benefit.

The fewer teeth you have the higher your risk of obesity.

Missing Teeth Can Lead to Obesity

THE FEWER TEETH YOU HAVE THE HIGHER YOUR RISK OF OBESITY

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

There has always been a link between missing teeth and poor nutrition. After all, chewing is the first step in the digestive process. It breaks down food into smaller pieces and mixes it with saliva. Our ability to chew also determines the variety of foods we eat, which is important to getting a well-balanced diet.

Now there’s evidence that body weight is related to how good our chewing apparatus is.

Studies from Egypt and Canada suggest poor dentition may lead to obesity. In one study researchers reported that those with only 21 out of their original 32 teeth were 3 times more likely to become overweight. They concluded that part of the weight gain can be attributed to the inability to chew whole fruits, vegetables and other fiber-rich foods that are typically lower in calories.

Another way to look at it is that chewing takes time and slows down the rate at which we can consume calories. Softer foods are easy to eat and go down quickly.

The good news for the baby boomer generation is that we are the first to have benefited from water fluoridation and fluoride toothpastes since childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This means the majority of us can look forward to having our pearly whites for our entire lives.

Getting Ready for a Life Time of Eating

There really are no short cuts to the timeless advice to brush after meals and floss daily. Practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental exams is the best way to preserve your oral health.

Dentures and replacements are not the answer. They’re expensive, have their own maintenance problems, and may never provide the same chewing ability as your own choppers. Research has also shown that use of dentures is associated with declining nutritional status, loss of taste and digestive problems.

As a quick reminder of what you can do to enjoy a lifetime of healthy eating, here’s a review from the American Dental Association (ADA).

Best dental care products and practices from the ADA:

Manual Toothbrush – They come in a wide range of prices and styles, but the most important feature is the ADA label of approval. Most dentists recommend a soft bristle and replacement every three months.

Powered Toothbrush – This is a good option for those who have difficulty maneuvering a manual toothbrush properly. A rotary head motion that is passed over each tooth is better than cruising across the surface.

Tooth paste – It’s an abrasive, so can damage soft tissues if you brush too hard. Those with added fluoride help strengthen and repair small cracks in teeth where cavities develop.

Floss – It should glide easily between each tooth and not be used as a saw.

Mouth Wash – Those containing antimicrobial agents and fluoride can reduce bacterial count and tooth decay. Avoid those with alcohol since it can dry the mouth making it more susceptible to bacteria.

Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

Some Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

LOOK FOR THESE HEART HEALTHY FOODS THAT DON’T GET THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

When looking for foods that can improve your heart health, many of the ones most often recommended are either expensive, not easy to find, or are foods you don’t like. That doesn’t mean you have no chance of lowering your risk factors for heart disease through diet. The same attributes in those commonly named “heart-healthy” foods are found in many other more palatable options.

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Sardines – Salmon gets all the attention when it comes to fatty fish, but sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA you can get, and at a much lower price all year round. The oils in fatty fish help lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. A 3-ounce serving eaten twice a week is all you need.

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Black beans – Oatmeal is recognized as being good for your heart, but dry beans, like black beans, have the same benefits and are far more versatile in the diet. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed. They are also rich in phytonutrients, like flavonoids, that can inhibit the clumping of platelets in the blood. Eating ½ cup a day can make a difference.

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Raisins –Like blueberries, raisins are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and markers for inflammation. Unlike blueberries, raisins are convenient to have on hand no matter what the season. Enjoy ¼ cup as a fruit serving daily.

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Popcorn – Whole grains don’t just in the form of breads and cereals. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that improves heart health. It’s very budget friendly and a satisfying snack as long as it’s prepared without excess salt and oil.

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Milk– Most often associated with calcium, milk is also high in potassium which is maintain the fluid balance in the body and help the kidneys eliminate excess sodium. With as much potassium as a medium banana, every 8 ounce glass of fat free milk you drink is a great way to keep your heart strong.

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Plant Stanols and Sterols – These compounds are found in very small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They help block the absorption of cholesterol, but there is not enough of them in foods to get the 2 grams a day needed for cholesterol-lowering benefits. Daily use of foods fortified with stanols and sterols, such as Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange juice and Benecol spread, is an valuable way to supplement a heart-healthy diet.

Barley Can Help Control Type 2 Diabetes

A Secret Weapon to Help Control Diabetes: Barley

BARLEY PROVIDES MANY BENEFITS THAT CAN HELP CONTROL TYPE 2 DIABETES.

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

No one wants to learn they have diabetes, yet nearly one in four Americans over the age of 60 receives this news. Many others have pre-diabetes, a condition where their blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. If you fall into either category, an ancient grain can help you control your blood glucose and offer other protection against type 2 diabetes.

Barley, once known as a “food of the Gladiators,” has a unique profile of nutrients that makes it a great defender against diabetes and worth adding to your diet.

Of course, no single food can prevent or cure diabetes. But some foods do offer more protection than others, so it makes sense to include them in your meals as often as possible. And diabetes isn’t the only disease that barley offers protection against, so everyone who cares about their health can benefit by eating more barley.

Barley can help with your battle against diabetes in these ways:

High in Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber has the ability to form a gel when it mixes with liquids in the stomach. The presence of this gel slows down the emptying of the stomach, which prevents carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and raising blood glucose levels. One cup of cooked whole grain barley contains 14 grams (g) total fiber, with 3g soluble and 11g insoluble. A cup of cooked pearl barley contains 6g total fiber, 2g soluble and 4g insoluble.

Low Glycemic Index

People with diabetes experience fluctuations in their blood glucose level after eating carbohydrate-rich foods. Different amounts and types of carbohydrates have a different impact on blood glucose. A measurement known as the glycemic index (GI) ranks foods according to their ability to raise blood glucose. The lower the GI, the less impact it has on blood glucose levels. Barley has a GI of 25, compared to 58 for oatmeal, 55 for brown rice and 45 for pasta.

Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that acts as a co-factor in more than 300 enzymes in the body, including enzymes involved in the production and secretion of insulin and the use of glucose. Studies show magnesium levels are lower in people with diabetes than in the general population. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium for adults is 420 mg for men and 320 for women. One cup of cooked whole grain barley contains 122mg of magnesium while a cup of pearled barley provides 34mg.

Find more information here: Living Healthy with Diabetes Barley Foods Recipes

Are you ready to include more barley in your diet?