Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN is a dietitian/nutritionist that has been practicing for decades. She has had a private practice for over 30 years and worked in numerous and varied settings as a clinical nutritionist and consultant. She has also taught nutrition at the college level for almost a decade. Her blogs cover nutrition for wellness and disease, as well as lifestyle. Her goal is to provide current nutrition content for educational and informational purposes that the public finds beneficial.
It’s been my experience as a practicing dietitian that most healthy people do not readily meet their dietary potassium requirements. Being able to eat a lot of food (calories) can help, since potassium is actually found in a wide range of foods. Obviously, the more food eaten, the greater likelihood of eating enough potassium. But, what about the individual that is always restricting calories for weight management? Or, what about the person who eats a lot of calories, but they are junk food calories? Theses scenarios will hinder meeting overall current potassium recommendations. While potassium plays a huge role in maintaining overall health, there is some emerging discussion that potassium plays a role in COVID-19 recovery (preliminary report, not yet peer reviewed). Therefore, knowing potassium food sources should be considered a basic nutrition education strategy for self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Current potassium recommendations
In 2019, potassium recommendations were adjusted. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) reset the recommendations for the population. Previously, the potassium requirements were 4700 mg for all adults, regardless of gender. Previous pediatric recommendations ranged from 3000 to 3800 mg. The updated requirements are more refined and are based on both gender and age.
Updated potassium requirements in mg are as follows:
1-3 years old 2000 mg for both genders
4-8 years old 2300 for both genders
9-13 years old 2500 for males and 2300 for females
14-18 years old 3000 for males and 2300 for females
19-50 years old 3400 for males and 2600 for females
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice has about 200 mg
1/2 cup cooked carrots has about 185 mg
For an understanding of how your favorite food stacks up regarding potassium, visit FoodData Central.
As you can see in the list above, there should be plenty of appealing foods to meet your potassium requirements. With that said, many individuals will wonder or think they can just pop a supplement. However, this is not the case! Most multi-vitamin and mineral supplements typically have less than 100 mg of potassium. And, potassium supplements sold as single entity supplements provide the same. Your best bet is really to focus on nutrient dense foods that you enjoy eating in order to both improve your diet and meet your potassium requirements. Most potassium rich foods are high in nutrients and fiber, both of which you need to stay well, boost immunity, and feed your gut bacteria.
Final thoughts on potassium food sources and COVID-19
While there is no guarantee that ramping up potassium food sources will protect you from COVID-19, there are plenty of solid science backed reasons to pay attention to this nutrient! Low intakes of potassium can put one at risk for various conditions such as high blood pressure. Research also suggests that diets low in potassium promote blood sugar problems, kidney stones, and increase calcium loss from bones. Calcium lost from bones can lead to osteoporosis. When needing to improve your self-care through diet, healthy individuals cannot go wrong by adding more good quality potassium rich foods to their diet. In such unsettling times, even some positive self-care can feel empowering. Be well.
I just returned from a lovely oceanfront vacation. When I left for my vacation, there were only a few cases of Covid-19. When I returned home, it was as if the world had literally changed within the week. Watching the stock market crash, I felt helpless. I was in disbelief that there was no hand sanitizer on store shelves. I began feeling like I was in the middle of a natural disaster or war. It’s daunting to think that a pathogen could literally turn the world upside down and be so threatening to our health care system. While so much of this is out of our control, as individuals, there is plenty you can do with self care and diet to boost your own immune system. It’s time to get on board by following distancing rules and taking care of your own well-being as much as possible!
Tips to boost immune system
1. Ramp up the quality of your diet
If there ever was a time to stop eating junky processed food, it’s now. A healthy diet skewed to plant based foods, healthy fats, and less fatty animal protein is key to a healthy immune system. This will give your body a better chance to fight off all viruses you are exposed to. If need be, back up your new healthy eating plan with a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. As the quality of your diet improves, it won’t be necessary to take a supplement every day. Speaking of supplements, there is no benefit to taking massive amounts of vitamin C. In fact, excessive vitamin C can aggravate gout, kidney disease, and give you a stomach ache. It can even affect certain prescription medications such as anti-clotting drugs. If you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables, you will be getting plenty of vitamin C.
2. Heed your vitamin D status
A vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. With that stated, I’m not telling you to run to a lab right now for a blood draw. But, I am telling you that if you know your vitamin D levels are typically low, then do something about it. As vitamin D is made by the sun shining on your skin, grab some rays outside on a sunny day. Even if you are in self quarantine or just doing distancing (as you should be), a sunny day can be a great tool for making vitamin D. Sit on your patio or take a walk. If it’s not possible to get some sunshine, then the multi-vitamin and mineral supplement suggested above will always have some vitamin D. In summary, if past testing has shown your blood values run low, then either get outside or take your supplement.
3. Boost your immune system with exercise
The immune system is very responsive to exercise. While your gym may be closed, you can still exercise. If you are lucky, you have equipment at home to use if the weather is bad. Otherwise, walking outside is perfect for our new world circumstances. Grab a sweater, skip the sunscreen (to make the vitamin D you need) and just get going. And, if you can’t go outside for some reason, then just get moving in the house. Any movement will put you in better shape than sitting around worrying. Charge that Fitbit and challenge yourself on a daily basis. This will help your physical and mental health.
4. Mind your gut to boost your immune system
The composition of bacteria in your gut are crucial to a healthy immune system. Eating a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is the perfect way to feed your gut bacteria properly. If you’ve been on certain medications like anti-inflammatories or antibiotics, chances are your gut bacteria are not working to capacity because many of the good bacteria will have been adversely affected (wiped out). At this point, consider adding probiotic rich foods to your diet such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, and yogurt. And, if you don’t care for these food sources of probiotics, then consider using a good quality probiotic supplement.
5. Sleep to boost your immune system
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep plays a critical role in overall health. While getting enough sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, it may very well affect your immune system. Without enough sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines which are a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation. These cytokines are produced and released while we sleep. The Sleep Foundation also suggests that if sleeping 7-8 hours nightly isn’t happening, you can take 30 minute naps during the day. This will offset stress and the negative effects on the immune system when a full night of sleep is lacking. And, according to a Mayo Clinic physician, a lack of sleep will also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
6. Limit exposures when possible
Clearly, we are in unchartered territory. First and foremost, hand washing needs to be kept up. Covid-19 or not, this is just a good policy to stay well. Steering clear of anyone we don’t need to be around is also key. Sorry, even the grand kids.
As I headed home from my vacation, I had time to think a great deal about limiting exposure to Covid-19. If you have your bacterial wipes, think about doing the following:
Hold the disinfectant wipe in your hand while pumping gas. Or, use another physical barrier such as a paper towel. Pitch immediately.
Remember to wipe off as much of your grocery cart as possible if you are out buying food.
If you are headed into a store, many have handicapped buttons you can push so as to avoid touching the door. If flexible, use your foot or your elbow to hit these buttons!
Use the drive through options even for picking up prescriptions. Today, I needed to pick up a prescription and I put cash in an envelope so as to avoid another point of contact in the transaction.
If food is being delivered, consider wiping down parts of your delivery such as plastic containers.
And, don’t handle money without then washing hands afterwards. There is recent research that the Covid-19 lives on copper for 4 hours. Pennies are made primarily of copper plated zinc; silver colored coins are made using copper and nickel combinations. I know first hand at least one progressive Chicago area hospital is banning the use of all currency due to thinking it may be a means of spreading the virus. For additional information on various surfaces and Covid-19 survival, click here.
We all need to do our part here. As is often the case, we are solely responsible for certain diet and lifestyle actions we take. As we fight this as a country, you can do much to help boost your individual immune system. In addition to hand washing and sanitizing surfaces, implement self care as a means to boost your immune system. Eat properly as much as possible. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Make sure you add probiotics to your diet. Don’t be tempted to turn drive through eating into poor eating! Take a walk to increase your vitamin D levels. Move your body in order to boost your immune system. Try and rest as much as possible. The current health care system is quickly being overwhelmed. If you take care of yourself, our health care system will be better prepared to take care of others.
Feeling a bit too gassy, smelly, and embarrassed? Gas complaints are a pretty common occurrence. We all have gas production which is a very normal bodily function. For some, however, gas production can seem excessive and uncomfortable, not to mention embarrassing. Some people are so bothered by excessive gas that they seek a doctor’s appointment just for getting rid of the gas and it’s side effects.
While it’s very important to rule out diseases, often the gas symptoms result from how and what one eats! In fact, once a gastroenterologist referred a healthy patient to me simply to help the patient minimize gas, or flatulence, with specific eating strategies. Consider implementing the below simple strategies for help in getting rid of gas.
First steps for getting rid of gas
1.Time your eating. Don’t go long periods without eating. It is very common to have more gas discomfort if you skip food all day and then gorge on a large meal at the end of the day.
2. Pace your eating. Don’t wolf down your meals. Eating too rapidly will introduce extra air into your digestive tract. After all, what goes in must come out!
3. Pace your drinking. The same goes for drinking beverages too quickly. Using a straw may lessen the amount of air swallowed.
4.Avoid bubbly drinks. Steer clear of carbonated beverages, particularly without eating.
5. Avoid gum. Stop chewing gum as this may also be a source of swallowed air.
Getting rid of gas by careful food selection
6.Decrease lactose. Try decreasing or eliminating lactose in your diet. Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. As we age, we start making less of the enzyme necessary to break down the lactose. Lactose-free dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and cheese are readily available at most grocery stores.
7. Avoid gas producing vegetables. Certain vegetables are known culprits for causing gas. Vegetables such as cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage all contain a natural sugar which some people have trouble digesting without an over-the-counter enzyme supplement such as Beano. Beano provides the necessary amounts of enzymes to break down the natural sugar from these vegetables. Or, simply consider eating smaller amounts of these foods!
8. Avoid certain fruits. Certain fruits such as apples, pears, prunes, and bananas may also be problematic due to the natural sugars fructose and sorbitol. No need to cut these fruits out of your diet, just try to pinpoint with food tracking which fruits seem to be your particular gas culprits. It’s likely that not all these fruits are problematic for you.
9. Avoid certain dietetic foods. Be sure to check the labels of any lower calorie foods you eat, as “diet” foods often contain added sorbitol.
10. Limit certain high fiber foods if necessary. High fiber grains can also be gas culprits due to the soluble fiber. Fiber is important for over-all health, so if you are having trouble with fiber rich grains, just increase these foods gradually back into your diet after a short elimination. Most people can eventually adapt to a higher fiber intake within a few weeks by switching up types of fiber rich foods. Remember, in addition to whole grains, fiber is available from all fruits and vegetables as well.
Try tracking your food and symptoms
The best way to determine your dietary gas culprits is to track your food and your symptoms. As everyone is different, some food eliminations work for some and not for others. Being aware of how you respond to your dietary adjustments is key to less gas discomfort. If symptoms persist and your physician has ruled out any medical conditions, seeing adietitian can help you sort through the best eating strategies in order to both minimize gas and keep you healthy!
Eat and drink slowly as easy first steps for getting rid of embarrassing gas. This helps avoid swallowing unnecessary air. Along the lines of limiting swallowed air, also consider limiting chewing gum and carbonated beverages. Take stock of the foods you are opting to eat, as many foods contain hidden lactose. And, as certain vegetables are known to be gas producing for most individuals, take steps to evaluate your response to those vegetables. Because everyone is different, some foods such as fruit may also be problematic for some individuals. Finally, certain lower calorie dietetic foods containing ingredients such as sorbitol can cause gas. Since everyone responds to foods differently, it’s always best to be your own detective in order to sort out your particular dietary culprits.
Everyone is talking about kale, right? But why? And what kind of kale recipes can actually use this green leafy vegetable? While often the butt of jokes, the nutrients packed into this little leafy vegetable are amazing for our health. Kale is a significant source of folate, zinc, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene, vitamin C and fiber. It’s also loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which protect our vision.
Buy organic for your kale recipes
Pesticide contamination is a problem with kale. For this reason, I advise buying the organic version. The Environmental Working Group, a health watchdog group, published its latest “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables, and kale was noted. Buying organic is the “work around” to the pesticide problem. Once you have your organic kale, you are ready to make some super nutritious kale recipes! Here are three nontraditional ways to add kale to your diet without a salad. But, if interested in kale salad, here’s a great recipe as well.
Superfood kale chip recipes
This concept is so easy there’s no need for an elaborate printed recipe. For some, maybe a bit scary too! In fact, I remember the first time I made this recipe for my family, they were scared to eat it! Then, before I knew it, my 5 year old grandson had eaten the whole recipe!
Speaking of recipes, there is not much to this at all! Basically, start out with a bunch of organic leaf kale. Wash it up. Cut leaves away from the stem. Next, put the leaves into a bowl and coat with a little oil of your choice. Then lay the oil coated leaves out on a wax or parchment paper lined baking pan. Want to skip the oil? It’s not a problem. Just lay the washed leaves on the wax paper and bake sans oil. Tastes about the same and now you have one less dirty pan to clean!
Bake the leaves for about 10-15 minutes in a 350 º. Be sure not to burn the leaves! After they are baked, lightly salt. Then, enjoy those nutritious chips. Maybe next round, you’ll start with two bunches of kale because it does not go very far!
Potato and kale soup recipe
Move over pea soup, there’s another green soup around. In fact, this soup almost reminds me of pea soup. I can see adding a bit of ham or even diced chicken to this recipe in the future. If made as is, it’s both gluten and dairy free. If you prefer a vegan kale soup, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
Saute onion in 1 Tbsp oil in the pressure cooker or instant pot.
Peel and cut potatoes into one inch pieces. Layer on top ot the sauteed onions.
Chop a peeled carrot and add to the pot.
Layer about 7 leaves (including the stems) on top of the other ingredients.
Add the Italian seasonings and the broth. The broth will not be covering all of the kale leaves.
Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. After cooking, use a quick release.
Let the soup cool before the next step which is putting through a blender or a food processor.
After cooking, all the ingredients should be blending together to have the consistency of a thick soup (will look like pea soup). Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
I recommend using only organic kale to avoid pesticides. It's not a problem to use the whole kale leaf with the stem for this recipe, since the pressure cooker will tenderize even that part of the leaf.Nutrition Information per 1 cup serving:70 calories, 2 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 640 mg sodium, 280 mg of potassiumwww.mydietmatters.com~ Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN
Kale smoothie recipes
This one everyone knows about, but often has trouble visualizing. You can take any fruit smoothie recipe, and just toss in the washed kale. I think the trick here is not to use too much kale. I’ve done this in the past, and it was overpowering to the smoothie. My suggestion would be to add only 1 cup loosely packed kale. This amount of kale won’t overpower the fruit taste. As you can see from the photo above, my kale recipe wasn’t green! When opting for lighter colored fruits such as mangoes or pineapple, your kale smoothie will end up being green. The above smoothie was made with darker mixed berries.
Here’s how to toss your first smoothie together! And, I recommend drinking with a straw as it’s a little thick, just like a milkshake. This recipe is loaded with potassium which most people don’t really get enough of. In addition to all that potassium, it’s also loaded with fiber. If you’d like to make it a bit sweeter, add your favorite sweetener to the recipe. I frequently use a bit of Stevia. In the posted photo below, I used kefir milk in order to get a dose of probiotics.
Put your frozen fruit (any type) into your blender or food processor. I usually let it thaw for a few minutes.
Add the banana, milk, and kale. Mix up in the blender/food processor until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Enjoy this healthy drink in a large glass with a straw.
Nutrition Information per recipe: 305 calories, 16 g protein, 1 g fat, 65 g carbohydrate,Additional nutrition notes: this recipe has 1450 mg of potassium and 10 g of fiber!www.mydietmatters.com~Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN
Adding kale to diet without kale recipes
If you have soup or sauce recipes calling for parsley or oregano, consider adding in some kale. Chopped up kale looks a lot like both parsley and oregano, especially when mixed into a recipe. In addition to soups and sauces, chopped kale is a perfect ingredient to mix into a stir-fry recipe. Lastly, don’t forget to add kale to your favorite omelette or quiche recipe. This ingredient is nutrient packed. And, finally, with a little creativity, kale is a very versatile recipe ingredient.
Most people love chocolate. And, most people occasionally have chocolate cravings and need a chocolate fix. According to one research publication, almost 50% of American women crave chocolate specifically around the time of their menstrual period. While the shift to craving chocolate may often be hormone driven, clearly many people enjoy the sweet taste that often goes with chocolaty foods. And, they may even enjoy the slight stimulant kick from the chocolate. Whatever the reasons for seeking chocolate, it’s good to have some ideas on how to fix chocolate cravings without overdoing it from a calorie standpoint. While there is certainly nothing wrong with just eating some great tasting chocolate on an occasional basis, many Americans cannot consume high calorie chocolate treats too often. With that in mind, here are some favorite chocolate fix suggestions to take care of both your sweet tooth and chocolate cravings without ruining your waistline.
8 treats to get your chocolate fix
1. Blue Bunny brand mini ice cream cones
These mini ice cream cones have only 140 calories and are perfectly portion controlled. They are chocolate ice cream covered in chocolate and plopped in a mini sugar ice cream cone. You can also get them with vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate if you do not need such a heavy chocolate fix. If you are reading this, though, you’d probably prefer the chocolate ice cream with chocolate topping! For those who are diabetic or on a weight management exchange list food plan, this cone has 17 grams total carbohydrate and 7 grams of fat (or 1 carbohydrate exchange plus 1.5 fat exchanges).
2. Chocolate rice cakes for a chocolate fix
Rice cakes have come a long way, baby. Gone are the days of cardboard tasting rice cakes. These chocolate rice cakes are not always easy to find, but Walmart seems to stock them pretty consistently. I’ve also seen them occasionally at Target and Jewel in the Chicago area. Each rice cake has 60 calories and almost no fat along with 12 grams of carbohydrate. For the diabetics or those using exchange lists for weight management, each rice cake is equal to one starch exchange.
3. Chocolate candy Nips
I find these readily available at Walgreens. I am not sure why they never seem to be in the grocery store, however. Each nip candy has 30 calories and almost no fat. Be sure to slowly suck on them as opposed to chewing, as they are sticky enough to pull your tooth fillings out. As long as you suck on them and only have a few, they can quell your chocolate cravings. Your dentist might like you to brush well after this treat.
4. Greek yogurt mixed with cocoa
You don’t really need a recipe for this one. Toss about 1/2 cup of fat free Greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp. peanut butter powder, 1 Tbsp. cocoa, and 1/2 packet of stevia (or sweetener of choice) in a bowl and mix it up. You can use a hand mixer or just mix with a spoon. Consider topping with some aerosol whipped cream. Not only can this take care of your chocolate cravings, it’s loaded with protein, calcium, and probiotics. After this snack, you might be full for awhile!
5. Chocolate chips for a chocolate fix
Have a tablespoon and end up eating only 70 calories. Make it dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate-whatever suits your craving. Take your one tablespoon serving and reseal the bag for a future treat time! If you want to get really “fancy”, you can also stuff these chocolate chips into the center of raspberries. This would be a great treat for the kids as well. In addition to the chocolate fix, the raspberries would be providing plenty of great dietary fiber.
6. Hot cocoa for a chocolate fix
You can make this any way you please. Use any milk you enjoy and use either a hot cocoa recipe or just add a little Hershey chocolate syrup. In addition to a chocolate fix, you’ll be consuming a good source of protein and calcium. Using skim milk products and low calorie chocolate flavoring will keep this under 100 calories per serving. Here are a few more tips on how to make this chocolate fix versatile and healthy.
7. Chocolate covered raisins
You may need some willpower for this one if it’s hard to implement portion control. If it’s not hard for you, then go ahead and portion out 2 Tbsp or 24 pieces and you’ve got a chocolate fix for about 95 calories. Along with your chocolate fix, you’ll get a small amount of fiber and iron. Each 2 Tbsp. serving also yields 15 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fat. For diabetics or those following weight management exchange list food plans, this is one fruit exchange plus one fat exchange.
8. Chocolate frozen yogurt bars on a stick
Ahold ® frozen chocolate Greek yogurt bars give great chocolate taste for only 90 calories. This is one of many brands in your frozen food section. Many of these low fat frozen yogurt bars are only about 100 calories and offer up some protein as well. To boot, you get some live active cultures along with fixing your chocolate cravings. If you are diabetic or on an exchange type weight loss food plan, each yogurt bar typically yields only 15-17 grams of carbohydrate, along with some protein and fat, depending on the brand chosen.
Chocolate cravings are part of life! There’s nothing wrong with indulging in some good quality Godiva, for sure. However, if you cannot afford too many extra calories as you confront your chocolate cravings, it’s nice to have some options to fall back on that will fit into most eating plans. I hope you enjoy my suggestions. And, I’d love to hear from readers on how you tackle your chocolate cravings. Please take a minute to share.
Magnesium has widespread implications for our health. It can relieve some types of pain, improve blood pressure, and improve heart health. Hundreds of chemical reactions in the body rely on magnesium. Magnesium is needed for the release and use of energy from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Along with calcium, magnesium assists in muscle function. While calcium assists in muscle contraction, magnesium assists in muscle relaxation. Magnesium also affects the metabolism of nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
Magnesium requirements for health
Many medical references state only a small number of people in the US fall short of meeting magnesium requirements. However, when my college nutrition students would check their diets with nutrition analysis software, they almostneverconsumed the required 300-400 mg. of magnesium. Therefore, that begs the question of what “nutritional” camp are you in? Do you try to eat a healthy diet by eating a variety of foods on a regular basis? Or, do you avoid whole grains, fruits, lentils, and green leafy vegetables? Or, perhaps you are trying to eat a healthy diet, but have decided to cut your carbs along the way. As you cut your carbs, you’ll automatically decrease your magnesium because most carbs are rich in magnesium. As magnesium rich diets offer health benefits, it’s time to take stock of how much you are eating.
Magnesium health benefits are diverse
Patients with fibromayalgia frequently have low magnesium levels. Consequently, there is a lot of interest in whether magnesium can help manage fibromyalgia symptoms. Aside from taking magnesium supplements to increase magnesium in the body, there are some emerging alternative magnesium treatments. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, there may be some benefit to magnesium sprayed directly on tender points of patients. A recent study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN looked at the pain control of fibromyalgia patients using this new magnesium skin spray. The study showed promise in that the participants experienced less pain after several weeks of using the spray version of magnesium.
And, there are always Epsom salt baths to try. Epsom salts are actually salts made up of both magnesium and sulfate. Apparently, even though Epsom salts are often recommended for sore muscles, there’s not much in the way of scientific research to back up the recommendation! A hot bath always seems to help soothe pained muscles, so using Epsom salts could be your own experiment! You get to be the judge on this one.
The verdict is not totally in on whether magnesium is helpful for menstrual pain. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, magnesium may be of value in treating painful menstrual cramps. However, there is not really enough research to say conclusively. Still, other health care providers regularly recommend magnesium for cramping, speculating that pain is eased as the magnesium relaxes the uterine muscles.
Magnesium for pregnancy health
Leg cramps in pregnancy are common. There is some thought that either dietary calcium or magnesium may be too low in those women who experience pregnancy leg cramps. Before taking supplements, focus on magnesium rich foods such as nuts, seeds, bran, and leafy vegetables (more details below). Also, make sure you are meeting your calcium requirements, since the calcium and magnesium work together for healthy muscle functioning.
Another second serious pregnancy problem is high blood pressure. In fact, high blood pressure in pregnancy can be life threatening. Magnesium administration in pregnancy seems to relax the blood vessels. That relaxation of the blood vessels helps restore normal blood pressure.
Heart disease and high blood pressure
Adequate magnesium is important for healthy heart contractions. It also plays a role in lowering blood pressure by once again, dilating the arteries. Research indicates that adults with adequate magnesium, calcium, and potassium consistently have better blood pressure control.
Magnesium for hearing health
When given to either prevent or treat hearing damage, magnesium seems to be effective in both animals and humans. In one large scale recent study conducted in China, higher whole blood levels of magnesium were associated with lower overall hearing thresholds as well as risk of hearing loss. While researchers may be unclear on the exact mechanism of how magnesium protects hearing, scientists know it’s important to auditory health.
In an often cited 1996 study, 81 people with reoccurring migraines were given either 600 mg of magnesium daily or placebo. By the last 3 weeks of the study, the treated group’s migraines had been reduced by 41.6%. The placebo group only had a 15.8% reduction in migraines.
Type 2 Diabetes
According to the publication Diabetes in Control, magnesium is a key factor in controlling blood sugar levels. The risk of patients developing diabetes may increase with inadequate magnesium. And, they note that patients who already have magnesium rich diets seem to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium for cognitive health
In one US 20 year term study, researchers found that 6473 elderly women who consumed about 250 to 300 mg of magnesium per day from foods and supplements had a 37% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment in comparison to those that ingested less than 200 mg. It was noted by researchers that lower and higher end dosages of magnesium were not beneficial for cognition. In other words, exceeding the 300 mg was not of benefit with regard to cognition. As the requirement for magnesium is 300-400 mg, bear in mind that up to 400 mg is still appropriate for overall wellness.
When taking magnesium supplements, keep some guidelines in mind. It’s important that the product actually contains the labeled amount of magnesium. Additionally, the supplement should be free of contaminants. And, it should break down when digested. And lastly, cost per pill may be an issue. Many supplements are expensive! While you can easily figure out the cost per pill, the rest of the list is a bit harder to sift through. As the vitamin industry is self-regulating, consider going with a well-known brand that has a good reputation. And, take note if the USP logo is on the label. This logo means the nutrients will actually be absorbed, rather than passing though your body undigested. Here are a few more points to keep in mind when buying supplements.
Additionally, keep these points in mind:
MAGNESIUM OXIDE is cheaper, but harder to absorb. And, it may cause diarrhea in certain individuals.
MAGNESIUM CITRATE AND MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE may be formulas that are better absorbed. And, there may be fewer side effects if taken in larger amounts.
Lastly, remember these supplements are meant to supplement the magnesium you are getting through food. If you are not clear on the amount of supplement you might need, then consult a qualified dietitian. A dietitian can assess how much magnesium you consume through food. Then, the dietitian can figure out the best dosage of supplemental magnesium for your health and well-being.
Magnesium has varied and diverse roles in human health. At the biochemical level, it participates in hundreds of biological chemical reactions. It’s necessary for the release and use of energy from protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Magnesium works together with other nutrients such as calcium and potassium for muscle relaxation. As a natural pain killer, it may reduce fibromyalgia, menstrual, and migraine headache pain. It aids in blood pressure control and hearing health! Finally, it helps regulate vitamin D and blood sugar levels. Clearly, this is one nutrient that you want to be sure to get enough of in your daily diet.
Are you meeting your magnesium requirements? What foods do you eat to be sure you consume enough magnesium?
The new year is here. Maybe a new you? As is often the case with every new year, there’s a “to do list” which may include getting rid of your paunch and boosting your energy level with a healthy eating plan. So, you start thinking about healthy eating, and as usual, it’s very confusing. If only you could come up with some easy steps for healthier eating in 2020 that might even help you lose weight!
And, if you come up with a plan, will your best intentions actually last long enough to get your goals and weight loss accomplished? If your efforts were like most Americans last year, your good intentions may fizzle out around February. Sometimes it’s just too hard to sustain those steps you came up with. They are not realistic for your busy life!
Initial realistic healthy eating steps
For 2020, consider beginning with small painless changes. These tiny changes can make a monumental dent in your bad health, waistline, and poor energy levels. The first suggestions revolve around how you plate your food of all things! How you portion your food and the color of your plates and tablecloths can all make a difference!
Portions and plate size. Focus on smaller portions of all foods placed on smaller plates. It may sound ridiculous, but smaller portions always yield less of all nutrients. That includes both fat and calories, both of which are important in achieving weight loss.
Contrast your plate and food color. Research has suggested that contrasting plate color and food color may aid in prompting smaller food portion sizes. For instance, pasta covered with red sauce served on a white plate would tend to cause less to be eaten. A serving of pasta covered in red sauce served on a red/orange plate would potentially trigger the consumption of a heftier portion! I think because we should be eating a rainbow of colored foods, white plates are often the best color for plates.
But don’t contrast your your plate and tablecloth color! The same researchers also found that food portion sizes could be reduced by limiting contrast between the dinner plate and the tablecloth. So a white plate on a cream tablecloth would be more effective in cutting food portions than a white plate placed on a black tablecloth.
More steps to accomplish healthy eating
Eat more plant based foods every day. Plant based foods yield fiber which fills you up and offers endless health benefits. These plant based foods are rich sources of phytochemicals which help ward off disease. These disease fighting compounds are not found in vitamin pills. They are, however, readily available in whole grains as well as fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables!
Eat less animal protein. You will help your waistline and the planet at the same time. Each 1-oz. serving of animal protein may actually hide as much as a pat of butter in the muscle. By slashing your intake of animal protein, you are also cutting down on saturated fat. Saturated fat is considered to be the type of fat with the least benefit to overall health. For the planet, cutting down on animal protein consumption cuts down on energy usage and pollution.
Drink more water. Sometimes you think you’re hungry, but you are really thirsty! Drink a glass of water automatically before each meal. Include more lighter soups in your diet. The fluid will also fill you up as well as alleviate your thirst. If you don’t like plain water, add more calorie free teas like green tea to your diet. Wondering if you drink enough fluid? Check your urine. If it’s clear to pale yellow then you are hydrating enough.
Get into the habit of planning your eating
Planning does take some practice. It doesn’t matter what is being planned. With that stated, I think it is easier to plan something like a vacation than eating. Because eating happens every day, it is often unplanned. Unfortunately, that lack of planning can often lead to poor choices in food. Starting this food planning process does not need to be difficult.
Make a menu. This doesn’t need to be elaborate. It can be as simple as a sheet of paper posted to your refrigerator. Most people have the toughest time at dinner. Start with planning out a business week of dinner meals and post it where you can easily see it. This will allow you to pull foods from the freezer, use up leftovers, and gather what you need to make your dinners. Once those dinners are planned, you can embrace the process and move on to lunch and breakfast! For fast and nutritious breakfasts, here are some options.
Start out easy by paying attention to how you present food to yourself. Portions of food always matter, so use smaller plates so your portions seem larger than they are. Consider using light colored plates to contrast with colored food in order to eat smaller food portions. Go a step further by making your plate and tablecloth colors similar to aid in smaller food portions.
Moving on to actual eating, choose more plant based foods. By increasing plant based foods and decreasing meat, you are easily improving the quality of your diet. Drink plenty of calorie free liquids to fill you up. Consider planning out your most difficult meals, such as dinner. Get your kitchen organized and make a menu to begin improving your diet each and every day. A little thought and organization is monumental in straightening out a poor quality diet quickly. Remember, small but consistent changes in eating behavior can affect your health for the rest of your life!
Do you worry about your weight in the winter? As frigid temps keep us bundled up, many of us keep eating. And, it’s so easy to keep eating because it’s easy to hide under loose sweaters and big coats. Weight gain in winter happens so easily. We may not have gotten out of the December holiday spirit as far as eating goes. Or, perhaps we are eating just because we are feeling “blue.” Winter can be depressing for many, so it might be time to figure out how to keep your weight in winter under control, to make for a more pleasant spring!
Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD
I have heard repeatedly from clients that all they want to do is keep eating because they feel so “blue” this winter. Occasionally, the clients suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This form of depression is related to seasonal changes. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects up to 5% of the population and can last almost half the year. It strikes both men and women, but more women are affected. Younger adults are more prone to SAD than older adults.
But, sometimes clients are just feeling down in the dumps because the winter is so long in the Midwest. So, barring a tropical vacation or moving, here are a few steps that can be taken to raise spirits and lessen weight gain this winter. Hopefully you can stop inappropriate eating and stop winter weight gain at the same time. Get healthy and manage your weight this winter for a joyous spring-sounds great, right?
1. Sunshine can halt weight gain in winter
Even the gloomiest areas in the Midwest will occasionally be sunny. Therefore, be sure to capitalize on it even if you need to bundle up to do so. Take a walk outside in those rays of sunshine. This will elevate your mood because the exercise and sunshine will affect your balance of key brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, melatonin, and endorphins. Serotonin helps regulate both your mood and appetite. Melatonin is necessary for regulating healthy sleep cycles-and we all know how important sleep is to our thought processes and overall well being. Endorphins are chemicals that lessen pain and can make us feel less hungry.
2. Light therapy instead of sun
Along the lines of catching natural light rays, researchers are aware that certain light spectrums, such as blue light, seem to help alleviate SAD. Many free-standing blue light lamps are available for easy purchase online. If purchasing a light therapy lamp, keep in mind that are many types available and there are a lot of factors to consider in terms of safety and efficacy. Eye safety is one factor to consider. Those with certain conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetes should always check with their doctors before purchasing a light box.
3. Weight in winter and vitamin D
Many Americans have inadequate blood vitamin D levels. It’s an ongoing challenge for many to get enough vitamin D for various reasons. Research supports that getting your blood vitamin D levels in the right range is ammunition in fighting seasonal affective disorder. Bleak days and lots of warm bulky clothes limit the body’s ability to make the so-called “sunshine” vitamin. This is because vitamin D is produced by the body when sun shines on a compound on our skin. If that skin is covered, you are not going to be making it. If we cannot make it, we are able to supplement our diet with vitamin D. During winter months, dosages in the 1000-1200 IU range are probably safe for most people who have limited sun exposure. With that said, your blood levels are easily checked. Once checked, seek advise from a trusted medical professional on dosing for supplements.
4. Control your eating environment
While waiting for spring weather and freedom from the winter doldrums, don’t undo previous successful weight loss with binge eating just because of SAD or depression. Control your eating environment at home by ridding it of high temptation and high calorie foods. Setting yourself up for temptation with favorite treats staring you down will never work for weight loss or control as willpower is typically a short-term strategy.
5. Stock your kitchen appropriately
A well stocked kitchen goes a long way to both nourish and “comfort” you. There are plenty of healthier low sodium soups to stock up on. Consider some batch cooking of homemade soups and meals to grab when you want homemade comfort food. Increase your consumption of fruits, veggies, and lentils to increase your anti-oxidants and fiber. In addition to a myriad of health benefits, fiber fills you up which helps with preventing weight gain. Don’t be afraid of opting for frozen fruits and veggies at this time of year. They are just as nutritious as the fresh varieties which are harder to buy in the winter. When the warm weather comes, you will be happy that you did not pile on the weight due to winter blues.
Takeaway tips for winter weight control
Here’s to wrapping up winter. The sooner the better! Remember, an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Find you “light” to lift your mood, whether it is sunshine or blue light therapy. Check your vitamin D levels. Be smart with your kitchen by keeping it well stocked with nutrient dense lower temptation foods. By watching the quality of your diet this winter, you will be in a better position mentally and physically when springtime springs!
If you just can’t take another popular weight loss diet that causes “hangry” symptoms or constipation, here are some super easy steps to help you. These easy steps can help you lose weight without any sort of restrictive weight loss diet. These steps are simple actions that anyone can implement to promote weight loss effortlessly and without a structured meal plan. Part of the weight loss process is just finding the mindset to get focused on the process. By starting with these steps first, the weight loss will follow. You’ll get more and more motivated as you lose weight without a structured diet. Then, if more steps are necessary, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to implement them. Having had initial success will spur you on! Here’s how to easily lose weight with no diet required:
No diet weight loss begins by cleaning
Clean more than your kitchen floor! Clean out all your food storage areas as well. If you do not have a bunch of junk food in your house, that will decrease the availability of foods that trip up your weight loss attempts. I’m a firm believer in forgetting about willpower to lose weight.
Go through all food storage spaces: the cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator and eliminate the foods that are hindering a healthy diet and weight loss. Consider taking a few minutes to also evaluate your high temptation “trigger” type foods (salty foods, peanut butter, sweets, or whatever) to capitalize on this first step. Make sure those foods are not stocked in your cleaned up kitchen. By cleaning up your eating environment, you can basically avoid temptation, at least while at home. And, you probably spend at least 65% of your time at home.
Keep healthy staples to allow you to toss together a quick meal. Consider stocking:
Reduced fat or organic peanut butter or other favorite nut butters. As long as you can watch the serving size, this is fine to add to a healthy eating regimen.
Rice cakes and popcorn cakes (they have come along way, so consider keeping those in your cabinet as a crunchy snack). There are even chocolate rice cakes.
Healthy canned juice such as low sodium V-8, which is a great nonperishable vegetable serving and loaded with potassium.
A source of calcium “on standby” in the cabinet. Consider stocking boxes of almond, soy, rice, or oat milk that do not need refrigeration.
First go through your freezer and toss foods: that you don’t recognize, that you won’t ever eat, or that you know are just bad for you! After that step, you’ll have space to add the right foods to have on hand. Keep the following in your freezer:
A variety frozen fruits and vegetables that you enjoy eating. They keep for months and the nutritional content is on par with with fresh version. Use the frozen fruits for smoothies when you feel lazy about meal cooking. My smoothie recipe is considered an actual meal replacement.
Consider making batches of healthier muffins along with other breakfast items to store and pull out for a healthy and fast breakfast.
When you do cook, don’t forget to double up the recipe, portion the leftovers immediately, and freeze for a later date. Always label foods with name and date frozen to make it easier to pull out when needed.
Healthier frozen meals. The calories, fat, and sodium will be noted and you know exactly what’s going into your body. A good quality frozen dinner is much better for weight management than running to a fast food chain or ordering take out! The nutritional pitfalls of restaurant dining are numerous.
Do the same with the refrigerator, and toss foods that are bad for your health. Stock staples in your refrigerator on a regular basis. Suggestions include:
Eggs and egg substitutes
Milk (consider including probiotic rich Kefir products)
Protein rich cottage cheese and yogurt
A variety of fresh produce that you know you will eat (lettuce, carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers. berries)
Healthier cold cuts such as lower sodium chicken, turkey, roast beef
100% pure juices (I enjoy the freshly squeezed and bottled orange juice)
Ice tea you brewed yourself so it’s low in sugar and without preservatives
Lose weight, no diet required, just start PLANNING-Action Steps
It always strikes me how easy it would be to eat better with better planning. Winging each meal without thought is not the best way to manage a healthy eating plan to lose weight. How many times have you been out of food, been tired, or just had no idea as to what to eat? Probably more often than you’d like to admit. Although eating is instinctive, what is eaten is not. You must do some planning to make healthy eating happen. When more healthy eating than unhealthy eating occurs, weight loss and weight management are easier.
1. Planning starts before the grocery store
Get and idea of both your daily commitments, those of your family, and what kind of time constraints you’re up against for each day of the week. By thinking this through, you can plan simpler meals, faster meals (instant pot meals), or plug in the slower cooker in the morning. If you don’t have a plan, then the instant pot meal might not get thrown together and the crock pot won’t be plugged in on time. After you’ve mapped out your dinners (usually the most problematic meal), then start your shopping list. As you need to eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks you’ll obviously plan for those eating events as well.
2. Off to the grocery store (or computer)
Stick with the list. Shop the perimeter of the store if possible. Yep, don’t shop hungry. Add, don’t shop tired and pressed for time, if possible. Being hungry, tired, and pressed for time will usually result in impulse purchases. Limited time to shop? Consider using one of the easy grocery shopping alternatives. Peapod, Amazon Prime Now, Instacart, and Shipt come to mind. Consumer Reports did a recent online evaluation of the more popular grocery services along with offering some insightful guidance. From a dietitian’s perspective, I love that you can: skip the lines, check labels out before clicking, and if need be check if you have the item for a recipe while ordering. I love the efficiency and convenience of this. The time saved is enough to justify the few extra dollars.
3. Follow through on step 1
Use your dinner planning outline and personal calendar to implement a week at a time. Skip heavy or complicated dinners when running to evening commitments. Consider breakfast food for dinner? That’s always a great solution when pressed for time. Consider purchasing a precooked entree such as a rotisserie chicken and using for several days’ worth of meals (dinner as the entree, low fat chicken salad the next day for lunch).
Sorry, at some point you need to be aware of what you are eating and drinking. Mindless eating, stress eating, boredom eating, and comfort eating all take their toll on your weight. Find an app you are comfortable using, and just start tracking your food. My favorite app to use with clients is Myfitnesspal. Most of my clients track their food with this app, and then I review their records at their appointment. I always tell them to be sure to document the bad days as well as the good. This helps with the self monitoring process between appointments. Even if you are not under a nutritionist’s care, you can track your food yourself to get an idea of what goes into your mouth and why!
Yes, this may mean hopping on a scale! Apparently, self-monitoring has not gone out of style as an effective weight loss tool. In one recent study, 74 adults were monitored during a 3-month Internet based weight loss program that focused on behavior. The participants were required to weigh daily with results transmitted to the researchers. They also were required to answer questions each week on mood and behaviors associated with weight. The results indicated that a greater self-monitoring frequency helped participants stay on task. They exhibited better mood, had less temptation to eat poor food choices, and were less bored with weight control efforts. While not everyone can be in a study, you can always seek the services of a health care provider such as a dietitian to assist with this monitoring. If you don’t have the resources for that, get a scale and monitor yourself consistently!
Key points for no diet weight loss strategies
Weight loss can be a struggle. Fad diets come and go. They are usually difficult to adhere to over the long haul. Sometimes, refocusing on issues not related to calories and deprivation can be the jump start to weight loss and even the key to ongoing sustained weight loss.
You must have your “tools” available to succeed-namely, foods that facilitate health and are personally satisfying to you. Clean out your food storage areas of junk and replenish them with healthful food options. After you’ve pitched the bad stuff and purchased better food choices, you need a game plan for eating. For most, healthy eating is not instinctive. Instead, it requires organized thought with a plan. Plan your “problem” mealtimes and snacks. Once you’ve come up with some structured food plan options that are realistic, make sure you follow-through on eating what you planned. Track your food. Check your diet to determine if you are following your planning! And, consider hopping on the scale to keep yourself honest.
Please share your own non-diet strategies and how you lose weight without a diet.
Do you play mind games that prevent you from winning at losing weight? Are you always having a conversation with yourself that manages to sabotage your newest Monday efforts to lose weight? If so, chances are pretty good that you have a dialogue in your head that needs to change. If you’re having the following self conversations, it’s best to change your dialogue. Changing your self talk is a great first step when you feel you absolutely can’t lose weight.
The clean plate game to lose weight
You know this game: eat it all up because some people are starving! If you eat up all the food when not hungry, you are not helping anyone that is starving! Or, you paid for it so you must eat it. At home, put less food on your plate. In a restaurant, ask for the people box prior to digging into the large plate of food. Acknowledge that while you still paid for it, you now have food for another meal so you doubled your value. This is a hard habit to break, but it can be done with practice. These portion control strategies are always going to help when one has trouble losing weight. The portion control automatically decreases your calorie consumption. It’s such a simple concept that is often overlooked.
Skipping breakfast may slow weight loss
You think you will eat less overall calories by limiting what you consume in the morning. Many studies indicate that when people do this, they manage to consume more total calories in a given day. In other words, this eating strategy can backfire for some people. Other studies show that when people consume substantial calories in the morning, they use those calories to meet energy requirements more efficiently, and store less of that energy in fat cells. Eating the bulk of your calories at the tail end of the day is, therefore, theoretically less efficient for your body weight and overall energy levels.
I will add, however, that some studies also suggest that whether someone eats breakfast or not has no impact on weight status. With that said, skipping breakfast and lighter daytime eating can put you at some degree of nutritional risk. It is very difficult to meet overall nutritional requirements with almost no daytime food and just dinner. And, if your blood sugar takes a nose dive during the day, you are at risk for an eating binge.
Use caution with foods prepared elsewhere
Do you really know what is happening in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant and take-out place? I would venture to guess that this food has much more fat, calories, and sodium than you would find in your own kitchen. Try to limit relying on outside sources for your meals unless you are able to confirm with nutrition labels that it is a healthy option. When you do dine out, at least try and check the nutrition information out ahead of time. There are so many websites and apps available to the consumer to do some pre-planning for healthier options. HealthyDiningFinder is a site where you input your zip code and nearby dining options are noted.
Review menus in advance
While not all restaurants can make their nutrition information available, you can at least take a peek at the menu online. That way you can begin thinking about the better meal options in advance of stepping foot into the restaurant. This helps you avoid quick impulse decisions on your selections. Once with friends socializing at the restaurant, your planning strategies to pick healthy choices may fizzle. Having thought about what to order in advance will keep defensive dining tactics in play.
It’s for “company” game
There are many variations to this one: there is also “It’s for the kids.” Do the M & Ms really need to be in a bowl for your grandchildren and shouting to you all the time? I have grandchildren too, but I would not have a candy bowl sitting out all the time. I certainly like the chocolate as well and I would not be able to stare it down. Get the treats for kids, grandchildren, and company, but keep a limited stock that is purchased just prior to their arrival. Or, hide it from yourself. Better yet, get a treat that does not pose a high temptation threat to you! The less you like that treat, the better you can resist it.
Willpower for weight loss
I don’t feel that most people successful at long-term weight loss can use the concept of willpower. Over the long haul, they should instead think “smart” on eating strategies: keep a clean kitchen free of high temptation foods, keep small amounts or portion controlled foods that you conceptualize as treats, or if food is just too tempting to avoid once in your kitchen, just don’t put it into your grocery cart in the first place. Willpower, in my opinion, is not a good long term weight loss strategy.
Reflection for weight loss
Taking a step back to evaluate how you think about eating may be just the solution for trouble losing weight! By managing your thoughts along with your eating environment, you can start down the weight management road without tripping up too much. While summer is over, the holidays are right around the corner. Thinking differently could be just the torture-free weight loss fix you need when you think you can’t lose weight. Anyone can lose weight with the proper tools. After you change your thinking, consider these next weight loss steps.
Care to share your strategies for helping to “win” at the weight loss game?