Wednesday, July 30, 2008

For the technology challenged... (that would be me)

Dear sweet James over at velocityunlimited called to tell me that the upload picture icon was right there on the toolbar. Well, duh. I would have found it eventually, I hope. No matter, because here is a picture of a little girl who already loves her daddy who loves her right back. Precious. The word is that big brother Sean seems quite pleased as well.

The Circle of Life

I spent all of yesterday at the hospital awaiting the birth of my granddaughter Aubree Lynn. She is gorgeous and if I can figure out how to upload a picture I'll do that. That makes 11 great-grands for Mama!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

DASH for a healthy diet

I found this great site called Health and Age for older adults that included this article saying that you need to do more than avoid salt to avoid hypertension and other age-related conditions. Nutrition plans like the DASH diet are low in sodium and fat but are also high in potassium and calcium and other nutrients deliver the health benefits older adults need. This means lots of low-fat dairy foods and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. So get thee to the farmer's market and stock up, you'll feel better for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is Sea Salt the Answer?

Is sea salt the answer to a low-sodium diet that tastes good? Depends on who you ask. I've been surfing around the Internet (so you don't have to!) in search of the answer to this question. Not surprisingly, the folks who are selling sea salt say yes, that it's lower in sodium and has all manner of trace minerals and nutrients that regular table salt doesn't have. Those who are marketing salt substitutes say that sea salt and table salt are both equally harmful. I was totally confused after a while so I headed to a trusted authority, the Mayo Clinic. Here is what I found on their website's Ask a Food & Nutrition Specialist section:

"Sea salt and table salt have the same nutritional value. The real differences between sea salt and table salt are in their taste and texture."

Read the whole article, it goes on to explain the different methods of mining (table salt) and evaporating sea water (sea salt), how they're both refined and some more interesting tidbits. Sea salt seems more "exotic" to me but I'll just continue keeping an eye on the total sodium milligrams from all sources in Mama's diet unless a reputable study in the future finds otherwise. I'm finding that fresh "real" food is plenty flavorful without so much added salt anyhow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unintended Consequences

It happens all too often. Science and results from studies will lead to big campaigns against the latest lifestyle or health-related "crisis" and the public obediently follows directions and changes their diets and habits accordingly. But the consequences that follow are often not the ones that were expected. A case in point is Vitamin D. A lack of Vitamin D has been found to result in quite a few unwanted conditions. It's not just about avoiding rickets any more. Low levels of this fat-soluble nutrient have been associated with osteoporosis, bone fractures, some cancers and autoimmune diseases and a strong link has been found between Vitamin D deficiency and significant levels of depression, especially in the older adult demographic. It has been suggested that by diligently avoiding exposure to sunlight in order to prevent skin cancer, we have ended up with a widespread population who are vitamin D deficient.

I'm not suggesting that we toss all of our sunscreen in the trash. Skin cancer is a very real problem and we should take appropriate measures to avoid it. But as little as 15 minutes exposure to unprotected skin on your face, arms and/or legs 3 times a week can boost your body's ability to convert that sunshine into much-needed Vitamin D. That, in addition to a diet that includes foods fortified with that nutrient can provide enough to ward off the previously mentioned conditions and diseases. For those who take calcium supplements to keep their bones strong and healthy, it's important to take Vitamin D supplements to facilitate absorption of the calcium by the bones. You have to be careful, though, with supplements not to overdo the Vitamin D. There is a risk of Vitamin D toxicity which can result in nausea, confusion and weight loss among other things but the only risk of reaching dangerous levels that would lead to toxicity is through overconsumption of supplements. A few short exposure to sunlight a week, a diet that includes Omega-3 fats found in some fish and foods that have been fortified with the vitamin such as milk, some cereals and breads and a trusted supplement that combines calcium and vitamin D in proper balance like this one can ensure that you're getting the optimal amount that will help you stay healthy both physically and mentally.

One expert
says that in addition to a good diet, “Many people may need to consider supplements, especially in winter. And one thing we would say is, don’t be afraid of getting at least a little sunshine. It’s good for you.”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Quick and tasty

I made one of our favorite dishes for Mama tonight. It's quick, low in fat and sodium and very, very tasty. Here's how it's done:

  • Marinate some peeled and de-veined shrimp for 10 minutes in Mrs. Dash's garlic-lime marinade.
  • Soak some rice sticks (noodles) in very hot water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Saute the shrimp in a skillet - add a little more marinade and a splash or two of Paul Newman's Light Lime Vinaigrette dressing.
  • Steam a package of Green Giant vegetable blend or any combination of veggies that you like. I prefer the one that has sugar snap peas, edamame, carrots and black beans.
  • Add the steamed vegetables to the shrimp and saute a few more minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Drain the rice noodles and put them in a serving bowl.
  • Pour the shrimp and vegetables over the noodles and chow down.
You're gonna love it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Splish Splash

I may not be officially old enough to qualify as a "senior" but when it comes to exercise I may as well be - arthritis and too much weight prevent me from doing a lot of what I would like to do and even walking is a chore at this point. My feet get very offended and shake their angry little fists at me when I try to get them to hit the road for a walk. Rebellious and uncooperative things they are. But last week I went with two friends to a local pool that offers classes in deep water aerobics 3 days a week. We LOVED it! My swim buddies are no spring chickens either, bless them, and we are all thrilled to have found this program. It seems that water is the great equalizer - I would not last 10 minutes doing calisthenics on dry land but an hour just flies by when we're working it in the pool. And we are getting quite a workout, every morning after I've had a class I feel pains in muscles I didn't even know were in there. We wear flotation belts to do the deep water exercises and use styrofoam dumbells in the shallow end for upper body work. Some of the experienced ladies in the class have some nifty little gloves with webbed fingers. They told us that they increase the resistance so their arms get a better workout. Got to get me some of those babies.

There's lots of literature on the benefits of water aerobics, especially for older folks and others who can't take having their joints pounded. Here's one good article I found. The Arthritis Foundation also promotes water exercise as one of the best forms of exercise for those with arthritis because it is so much easier on damaged and hurting joints. Check with your local chapter or a local YMCA. Most of them have classes or information on how to find one in your area. I know from past experience how much better I feel if I am getting regular exercise and I'm already feeling more energetic after just 3 classes. I am so happy that my swim buddies are just as excited about this program as I am. It's great motivation to have others expecting you to show up. They say that it's never too late and you're never too out of shape to do some kind of physical activity, you just have to find one that fits. As for me - I'll be in the pool if anyone wants to know.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nutrition Helps

I just found a link on the Publix web site that has some very helpful things for folks with dietary issues. There are several shopping lists targeted to specific needs. Of course, I went right for the low-sodium list and it's a 20-page pdf file listing every grocery item Publix carries that is 140 mgs of sodium or less. I don't know about you but I can get in a real rut sometimes, cooking the same things over and over. A list like this one helps inspire me to change things up a bit. More fun for me and I think Mama appreciates the variety. There are also lists for low fat foods, foods that are 4 grams or lower in sugar, gluten-free foods and foods that are 100 calories or less per serving. That's a whole lot of ingredients for some culinary inspiration!