4 super foods that battle arthritis pain

“You are what you eat,” has been a motto from an early age. Now that you’ve aged, it’s time to put those words into action. According toEveryday Health, about 46 million adults in the United States, about one in five Americans, have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. This number continues to rise and is expected to jump dramatically in the coming years. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are certain measures you can take, namely preventive foods, to help combat the chronic sickness. Take a look at the list below, and see what you need to add to your diet to help ease some of arthritic pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids

There are so many ways to introduce these essential fatty acids into your system that will help combat arthritis and alleviate some inflammation. Charles Serhan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Harvard Medical School, found that omega-3s convert into compounds that aid in bringing the inflammatory response in the human body to an end.

There is no certainty to how much omega-3 is required, but if you’re not keen on adding some fish to your diet, be sure to get some omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Broccoli

It’s time to go a little greener. Several lab studies have found that sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, may block enzymes linked to joint destruction and inhibit inflammation. Be adventurous with this vegetable. Make it a fun kitchen project to find the most delicious ways to cook this green giant of a vegetable.

Spice it up

Seasonings go beyond that extra little flavoring. It’s been shown that ginger and turmeric possess anti-inflammatory properties. Experiment a little. You can make turmeric tea as part of your nightly routine.

Strawberries

To round off a few foods to help ease arthritis pain, here is one for that sweet tooth. Not only is this delicious fruit perfect for a summer day, it can help lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a signal of inflammation in the body, which is helpful for arthritis pain.

So the next time you find yourself at the grocery store or out to dinner, consider the long-term effects of the foods you consume. Fill your plate or basket with things that can help you overcome chronic pains, like arthritis, that are also delicious. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know how much it could help you.

7 healthiest foods for seniors — and the rest of us

According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy diets are among the leading causes of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. As you age, eating can become more of a chore than a fun part of your day. Whether you face difficulty chewing, upset stomach, low energy or dry mouth, there are ways you and your family can bring light back into the kitchen. Focusing on increasing the intake of specific nutrients and proteins is the best way to supplement the supplements you may be taking. Here is a list of the seven best foods to keep in your diet as you age.

1. Eggs

Eggs pack a powerful protein punch and are high in B12, which increases energy. They are soft if you or your loved one has difficulty chewing, and they have enough natural moisture to aid those with dry mouth. If cholesterol is a concern, try eating one regular egg and supplementing with egg whites.

2. Lean Beef

Beef is another great way to add protein to your diet, and it is also considered to be a “brain” food. To ensure nutrients are at their optimum, choose grass-fed beef, which has higher amounts of fatty acids and B complexes. Beef also contains choline, which promotes memory and immune system health. Looking for other options instead of steak? Try a beef minestrone soup, or a lean burger, instead.

3. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is rich in calcium with half the sugar and sodium content found in regular plain non-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt is another great source of protein, especially for vegetarians. Yogurt wets the pallet and goes down easy for those with dry mouth. Not loving the plain flavor? Try adding agave nectar and berries for an organic option packed with antioxidants.

4. Dark Greens

Spinach and kale are among Mother Nature’s heavy lifters when it comes to natural sources of essential vitamins. Spinach is high in iron, magnesium and potassium, which are great for carrying oxygen to the lungs, fighting chronic fatigue and keeping blood sugars low. Kale promotes bone growth with high amounts of calcium and increased immune system strength as a great source of vitamin A. More importantly, kale offers tons of vitamin K which is helpful for blood clotting. Try sauteed spinach or adding kale to a fruit smoothie. Here are some great recipes for massaged kale salads, which help the dense vegetable soak up more flavors for eating.

5. Quinoa, Brown Rice and Flax Seed

Healthy grains are a great way to add dietary fiber to your eating plan. Not only is fiber important for a healthy digestive system, but these alternatives to wheat also contain natural sources of Vitamin B-1, Manganese, and essential fatty acids. Quinoa and brown rice are great sides to a complete lunch or dinner mixed into a salad or standing alone. Flaxseed can be added to almost any recipe or blended in a smoothie.

6. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants. Fruits that are rich in color can aid in lowering blood pressure, enhance fiber intake, and promote health for those with diabetes. Berries are great added to a salad, over yogurt or steel-cut oats or blended into a smoothie.

7. Fish

Fatty fishes, including salmon, are a rich source of Omega 3s. Omega 3s contain myriad health benefits that are essential for a healthy senior diet. In addition to enhancing heart health, Omegas are known to aid in decreasing effects of rheumatoid arthritis, increasing bone density to avoid osteoporosis, and preventing the risk of memory loss with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Baked or grilled salmon is easy to make and goes great with a variety of sides, salads, and grains to make it suitable for all seasons.

While aging can bring complications with some of our favorite past-times, getting older does not have to put a damper on the way we eat. Eating a well-planned and balanced diet may reduce the risk of bone loss, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Ensuring our meal selections are rich in vitamins and come from natural and organic sources will not only appease the pallet but will also add nutrients that are essential for promoting increased energy and aiding longevity.

Demystifying menopause: Change in life doesn’t have to be life-changing

It doesn’t take many cobra poses or pickup games of basketball with your kids to realize that, as we age, we can’t do the things we were once accustomed to doing.

As a woman at the threshold of 40, it takes a little longer to catch my breath, to bend down to pick up a ball, or to recover from a particularly physical game. This week, I played a casual game of soccer with my family and was sore for three days. Even my 3-year-old was in better shape than I was.

One of the main concerns I have as I age is menopause. I have had friends enter this stage as early as 40 and as late as 55, and I have noticed many physical and emotional changes that accompany this very real condition. So, I sat down with Dr. David Young, an OBGYN and menopause specialist, to help demystify this part of the aging process.

What is menopause?

Menopause, very simply, is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation stops and she is no longer able to become pregnant. During this time our estrogen levels decrease.

“Ovaries tend to stop producing estrogen,” explained Dr. Young. “As the production of estrogen begins to decrease, it can affect our cardiovascular health and the way we feel. All of the hormones in our bodies are interrelated, so if one hormone has an issue the other hormones can be affected negatively.”

Although the average age for this gradual change is around 50 to 52 years of age, many women in their early 40s experience symptoms of peri-menopause and early signs of the menopause.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Experts say that technically, menopause is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year. However, the symptoms and signs of menopause generally appear long before the one-year period ends. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, feminine dryness, weight gain and irritability, among others.

How can I manage the effects of menopause?

This is a natural process in the life of every woman. However, there are ways to control the lingering effects of menopause. Dr. Young is a big supporter of preventative care, particularly in preparing a woman for this often uncomfortable and discombobulating physical transformation.

He advocates regular checkups with your healthcare provider. “Seek regular mammograms starting at 40 or sooner if you have a history of breast cancer or other diseases in your family,” said Young. Incorporating regular exercise in your daily routine is also important.

Young suggests considering taking a supplement, as well. “When we are in our modern-day, fast-paced life, we don’t eat as well, we don’t eat healthy, and we eat out a lot. So supplementing with a brand that contains good vitamins and minerals is very important.”

Although few women openly discuss the onset of menopause with their peers, it is important to track the changes in your body. “Taking care of things before they become a problem is important. If you have something that you are concerned about, have it evaluated and don’t ignore it,” said Young.

In sum

By being proactive in eating right, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking and other harmful habits, and considering supplements, the process of menopause need not be the dreaded phase Grandma warned you about. Instead, it can be a transformative time where women say hello to a new life filled with newly defined freedoms and opportunities just waiting to be discovered.

How to Find the Best Home Health Care

You’ve spent your life knowing your parents and loved ones were there for you providing support, safety, and love. Now, as the roles reverse and the health of your loved one declines, you may be facing the reality of finding proper home care.

Mindy Hill, marketing director for iCare Home & Hospice understands this process and respects the importance of finding proper care for those who need it.

The key is knowing what you need. There is a difference between Home Care and Home Health.

 

“Home health is focused on the clinical needs of a patient,” explained Hill. “Nurses, certified nursing assistants, and occupational and physical therapists provide trained medical care. Home Care providers cater to everyday needs such as shopping, housekeeping, and general companionship services.”

Most people are not aware that Home Health services are even available. Yet, Hill explains where this type of service may need to be considered. If your current situation requires clinical care, Hill offers some suggestions in choosing the proper provider for you.

  1. Check for state certification and accreditation. Every reputable Home Health company must be licensed with the state and accredited with both Medicare/Medicaid and possibly The Joint Commission. Many online sites, including www.medicare.gov provide current information and ratings on healthcare companies in your area.
  2. Check on the company’s history. These same sites may offer information on past write-ups or complaints filed against the company for care-related issues.
  3. Ask questions. When visiting a potential Home Health company, ask about the staff. How often are staff members trained on treatment procedures? For example, Hill explained that iCare has only been servicing the Utah Valley area for 3 years, but the combined experience of its staff exceeds 40 years. “We have a great team and we really care about the older population,” she added. iCare was recently recognized for excellence by the 2014 Daily Herald Best of Utah Valley Readers’ Choice Awards. Also, be sure the services are available 24 hours a day seven days per week and have the ability to place clients in reputable rehab facilities, when necessary.
  4. What is their focus? Hill pointed out many Home Health companies specialize in different things. “Different companies cater to different types of diagnoses. Getting that overall feeling that they really do have knowledge and expertise to help you in that area is important,” said Hill. For example, iCare specializes in vestibular rehabilitation, cardiac and post-stroke treatment. The staff also specializes in matters surrounding varying stages of dementia. “We are seeing an increased need for this diagnoses in the valley,” said Hill.

Addressing the reality of the declining health of a loved one certainly has its share of emotions. But by doing some research and asking important questions, the matter of finding the right Home Care for you can be a positive experience.

Greg and Amy’s Recommendations: Make a plan for (and ideally with) your loved one, balancing what is desired with what is realistic. With a plan in mind, contact your insurance company to find out what services will be covered under what circumstances, as well as what the out-of-pocket cost will be. If you or your loved ones do not have a living will, establish one now. Also, if you will be managing the healthcare decisions for someone else, get a healthcare power of attorney.

Best exercise for older adults

Maintaining a healthy exercise routine is a fundamental part of life for all ages. Each age group stands to benefit from the advantages regular exercise can bring to one’s overall health. This is especially true for older adults who are 50 years and older.

Regular exercise combats all forms of disease by strengthening muscles, including the heart. This improves circulation which reduces the occurrence of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Regular exercise along with a healthy diet reduces the risks of heart attack and stroke.

Yet not many 60 year olds can start a rigorous exercise routine without injury. Most need to practice an exercise routine that is challenging yet doesn’t provoke stress or cause injury.

The National Institute of Health points out that there are four general types of exercise that are necessary to maintain good health, particularly in older adults.

Strength training

By working with light weights or exercises that use one’s own weight to build muscle increases metabolism which keeps blood sugar in check.

Balance

According to NIH, 300,000 older adults are admitted to the hospital for broken hips each year. Oftentimes, medications can cause side effects such as dizziness or confusion that increase the likelihood of falls with older adults. Other older adults may be suffering from problems with the inner ear which can impede one’s depth perception. Also, impaired vision caused by poor lighting or other household hazards or diseases like cataracts makes it difficult for older adults to safely navigate around the house. Once you have cleared your exercise routine with your physician, you can experiment with various balancing exercises.

Doug Schrift of Eldergym.com describes this type of exercise as an opportunity to ignite your “internal spatial orientation.” For example, if you close your eyes and start raising your arm above your head, you should have a pretty good sense of the location of your arm because of your inner sense of feedback. Balancing exercises strengthen that sensation.

Those who play tennis on a regular basis improve their sense of balance. But sometimes all it takes is placing a strip of masking tape on the floor. With a chair close by for support, you simply practice walking on that line. Dancing, high knee marching, and high above-the-head reaching moves are all beneficial forms of balancing exercises.

Stretching

Encouraging and maintaining flexibility is an important part of good health. The Asian culture, particularly the Chinese community, have been practicing the art of Tai Chi for centuries. This series of movements are ideal in all aspects of exercise. It builds strength, trains on balance and encourages stretching while not creating a negative impact on the body.

Endurance

Strengthening the skeleton and muscles is important. So is strengthening the cardiovascular system. “The most underrated form of exercise out there is walking,” said Dr. Jeremy Osmond, Director of Rehabilitation at Orchard Park Post-Acute Rehab Center in Orem, Utah. “Everybody should be doing it. It’s the simplest form of exercise but it is so healthy and so good for you.”

Also, swimming, biking, low-impact hiking, even household chores increase the heart rate for an extended period of time. Start by exercising in five-minute intervals and build from that.

Exercise is something everybody needs to incorporate into their daily routine, and older adults are no exception. By investing a small amount of time every day for exercise, you can enjoy big rewards in maintaining good health.