Articles and Information from GA Foods

What are the Nutrition Strategies for Baby Boomers and Wellness?

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Aug 30, 2017 11:00:00 AM

This is the fourth article in a 4-part series on the role that nutrition plays in the health of Baby Boomers. Click here to read more articles about Baby Boomers.

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Often, the terms "health" and "wellness" are used interchangeably. Do these terms mean different things? As a matter of fact, they do. Whereas most of us have a pretty good grasp of what it means to be healthy or fit, wellness is a bit more elusive and hard to pin down. How do you know you've achieved it? 

The Difference Between Health and Wellness 

To start from the beginning, the term "health" means that your body is free from chronic diseases like diabetes or arthritis.

The term "wellness," however, sets a much higher bar. Wellness means that you've found balance between your physical, emotional, and social needs. Some experts also include occupational or lifestyle balance and spiritual fulfillment under the umbrella of wellness.

Select Functional Foods that Help in Multiple Ways 

Baby boomers face a unique set of challenges when it comes to optimizing their health. Having good health is a baseline for creating a foundation of wellness or well-being throughout the different areas of your life.

Fortunately, many of the health issues that baby boomers might face - like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, and joint pain - can be improved with the right nutrition and fitness regimen. Functional foods can be one of your main allies in promoting a lifetime of health and wellness. For example, the antioxidant known as lycopene in tomatoes may reduce the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

In learning more information about functional foods, you'll quickly see that one food can have multiple health benefits to different parts of the body. For instance, fatty fish like salmon have the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which help to reduce your triglyceride levels, lower your chance of coronary heart disease, improve your mood, and help sharpen your memory. 

Oatmeal and Fiber for Better Cholesterol 

Oats and oatmeal are beneficial foods for reducing your total cholesterol numbers, and particularly lowering your LDL, or "bad" cholesterol levels. Eating oatmeal a few times a month could also help lower your blood pressure. Considering the fact that the CDC says one in three adults has high blood pressure, adding oatmeal to your diet may reduce your risk. 

Getting your blood pressure under control is very important for seniors because doing so takes stress off the heart and blood vessels, and improves circulation. Lower blood pressure levels could also translate into improved circulation, allowing for more nutrients from these wonderful foods to be delivered to your brain. The soluble fiber in oatmeal known as beta glucan, though, directly benefits your cholesterol and overall heart health. 

You can get these same benefits from other oat products, including: granola bars, whole oat bread, and oat flour that you can put in various foods. Oats may have special benefits for baby boomers since research shows oats could help older individuals fight infection, control their blood sugar levels, and provide significant heart benefits to postmenopausal women. 

Leafy Green Vegetables Boost Your Immune System 

Your doctor was right. Healthy foods like leafy green vegetables - especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower - boost your immune system and aid your cells in the fight against cancer. That might sound like an impressive claim, but the carotenoids in carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and dark leafy green vegetables also block carcinogens and keep them from harming your body's healthy cells. 

Wellness-promoting antioxidants known as lutein and zeaxanthin in kale, spinach and eggs, work to promote healthy vision as you age.

Foods That Could Improve Your Mobility 

The fact that nearly half of seniors (49.7%) have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to the CDC, should be a wake-up call for anyone wanting to attain optimal wellness as they age.

Arthritis is characterized by a breakdown of your body's own cartilage tissue, which can create or worsen joint pain and pose serious barriers to mobility and quality of life. Since arthritis generally is caused by inflammation, eating vegetables rich in antioxidants and fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids to fight the body's inflammation, may help.

Eat well to live well. For more information on nutrients that help keep baby boomers healthy, download our free eBook:

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Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management, Aging Well, Senior Nutrition, Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers and Functional Foods - Myth vs. Facts

Posted by Elizabeth Keegan MS, RD, LDN on Aug 23, 2017 11:00:00 AM

This is the third article of a 4-part series on the role that nutrition plays in the health of Baby Boomers. Click here to read part one and here to read part two.

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Functional foods, sometimes called nutraceutical foods, are foods that offer health benefits that go beyond providing basic nutrition. They contain health-boosting nutrients or additives that have in many cases been shown to possess medical benefits.

The Mayo Clinic reports that incorporating functional foods into your diet could promote health, boost recovery, and reduce the chances of becoming ill. The example that the Mayo Clinic gives for a functional food is oatmeal:

Oatmeal is an example of a functional food that contains a health-boosting ingredient (in this case, soluble fiber) that may have medical benefits to you and your health (in this case, lowering your "bad" cholesterol levels).

Because our understanding of nutrition and disease is always changing, and because different people have different ideas about which functional foods and functional food regimens are best, there are a few myths out there. Below you'll find a breakdown of the most prevalent, and hopefully get a better understanding of the real facts behind functional foods, your health, and optimal nutrition.

Myth: Your body and its needs don't really change as you age

Fact: Your body's needs actually change dramatically as you age. Over time, some nutrients become harder for your body to produce on its own. The changing needs of baby boomers in general can make certain vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids more essential than they would be for a younger person.

As an example, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are important for cognitive function and heart health. In other words, staying sharp might mean consuming foods with added omega-3 fatty acids (many eggs have added omega-3) or perhaps supplementing with fish oil - after consulting with your general physician.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain and heart functioning, and they're also important for keeping your joints in good shape. Joint health is one of those things that's taken for granted when we're younger, but joint health can be a big health concern for baby boomers. Calcium and magnesium also address the needs of baby boomers by boosting bone health; foods containing vitamin D would also be good to take since your body needs vitamin D to actually use calcium to strengthen your bones.

Myth: Functional foods are hard to find and expensive!

Fact: The truth is that functional foods with ingredients shown to improve your overall health can often be found in your local grocery store. That's because some of the real heavy hitters when it comes to functional foods are everyday fruits and vegetables.

Let's just focus on two nutrients for now that can be found in kale and tomatoes. Kale contains a nutrient called lutein - which can help support your eye health as you age. What's even better is that you can combine kale, spinach and eggs together (all three foods contain lutein) to get a functional food medley that really supports your vision throughout your golden years! Younger people benefit too.

The other functional food nutrient that's easy to find in your local grocery store is lycopene. This is a nutrient found in tomatoes and it's especially important for older men to have enough of. Why's that? Because lycopene has been shown to protect against prostate cancer and improve the overall health of the prostate as men age.

Another thing: for seniors looking to improve their digestive health, you don't need to look much further than the bread and cereal aisle at the grocery store. You can find insoluble fiber to improve your digestion in foods like wheat bran. Yogurts that contain probiotics can also work wonders for digestion, too.

Myth: The functional food trend is an unscientific fad

Fact: The surge in popularity of functional foods like fortified cereals and everyday vegetables like spinach is only going to get stronger.

The science shows that taking a calcium and magnesium supplement, for instance, could give seniors better bone and muscle health. Calcium and magnesium have even been shown to improve heart health for baby boomers. Magnesium is important for keeping a stable heart rhythm and getting your blood pressure in the ideal range.

This goes to show that the functional food movement is based on sound science. It also shows that you can add or emphasize certain nutrients to fit your particular risk factors, although most baby boomers should be getting things like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids because they're so important.

It was the ancient doctor Hippocrates who said: "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

To learn more, download this Superfoods Infographic!

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Topics: Nutrition, Senior Nutrition, Baby Boomers

What are the Nutrition Strategies for Baby Boomers Managing Chronic Disease?

Posted by Joann Pierre, MS, RD, LDN on Aug 16, 2017 11:00:00 AM

This is the second article of a 4-part series on the role that nutrition plays in the health of Baby Boomers. Click here to read part one.

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A chronic disease is one that lingers for a while, such as diabetes and hypertension. The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics defines chronic disease as one that lasts at least three months. What many baby boomers might find surprising is the fact that they might have a chronic disease. Nearly 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease, and many may have more than one.

A lack of physical activity and poor eating habits might be partly to blame for that high number. Physical activity spread throughout the day and consuming nutrient dense foods have both shown to lower your chances of developing a chronic disease like hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis.

Antioxidants Reduce Your Risk of Developing Chronic Diseases

Doctors are finding out that cellular damage caused by free radicals could be at the heart of many chronic diseases, including cancer. Antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, protect the body against free radicals. Foods that are rich in antioxidants such as spinach, broccoli and raspberries, might reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease.

Reducing Arthritis (and Inflammation) with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in fish and in fish oil supplements have been shown to improve joint mobility and reduce the chances of your developing arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory - meaning they reduce inflammation in the body - so eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids could help baby boomers fight arthritis and other chronic diseases.

Arthritis is currently the number one cause of disability in the United States. Arthritis is generally thought to afflict about 45 million Americans, but other estimates put the number at over 50 million Americans, or about 1 in 5 adults.

The good news is baby boomers that pick the right foods and get moderate exercise can significantly reduce their risk of developing arthritis, or having their arthritis worsen. Getting enough exercise can alleviate joint pain and strengthen the muscles around the joints; this helps increase mobility for those living with arthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for your cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, and improving your heart health. Seafood, walnuts and spinach all have high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Calcium and Magnesium Strengthen Bones and Muscles and Improve Heart Health

Calcium and magnesium help to build strong bones and muscles as well as improve your cardiovascular (heart) health. Eating leafy greens high in calcium and magnesium could actually reduce your arthritis symptoms by strengthening the muscles around your joints and improve heart health too.

More Foods to Improve Cardiovascular (Heart) Health

There are a number of additional foods that you can conveniently find in your local grocery store that have been shown to lower your risk of developing cardiovascular issues.

Oatmeal, Oats and Beta Glucan 

Something as simple as incorporating oatmeal into your breakfast provides a dietary fiber known as beta glucan, which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease. The beta glucan in oats has also been found to reduce the "bad" kind of LDL cholesterol.

That's important because high levels of LDL cholesterol have been linked to a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease, a chronic condition that too many baby boomers today are at high risk of developing, or already have developed.

Oatmeal and oats can help improve your cholesterol numbers and lower your heart disease risk, but what are some other foods you might want to check out? Other high fiber foods like whole grains, dried beans and peas, and fruit can also improve your heart health.

Olive Oil and Monounsaturated Fats 

Another great food to consider incorporating into your diet is olive oil. For years, scientists in the United States were puzzled by what they called the Mediterranean diet paradox: Many people in Greece, Italy and France consumed high levels of fat, but had lower rates of heart disease. It turned out that the monounsaturated fatty acids found in the olive oil that people in Greece and Italy drizzle on their salads had heart-protective benefits. Nuts like almonds, pecans, and cashews are also high in monounsaturated fats.

For more information on nutrients that help keep baby boomers healthy, download our free eBook:

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Topics: Nutrition, Senior Nutrition, Baby Boomers

Why Should Baby Boomers Care About Nutrition?

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Aug 9, 2017 2:03:54 PM

This is the first article of a 4-part series on the role that nutrition plays in the health of Baby Boomers. 

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Diet has a direct effect on health no matter how young or old you are. However, if you were born between the mid 1940’s and 1960’s, the quality of your diet can have a greater, far-reaching impact than you might realize. Here are some important reasons why baby boomers should make nutrition a priority.

Rising Healthcare Costs

The baby boomer generation is one of the largest, with an estimated 74 million or more people. As this generation ages and moves forward together through retirement and the senior years, healthcare resources are becoming increasingly strained. The risk of cardiovascular disease and other diseases increases with age, and this means medical staff and healthcare systems must cope with a greater number of patients.

This rise also leads to Medicare challenges as baby boomers become eligible for the program and flood the system. Medicare has been a safety net for seniors to offset medical costs by supplementing their existing insurance or, in many cases, acting as their primary medical insurance. The influx of boomers puts an unprecedented toll on Medicare funds.

For boomers, this could mean an increase in out-of-pocket healthcare costs. To cope with these rising costs, it is smart to control what you can through a good diet. Nutrition is a building block to better health. Educating yourself about nutrition’s relationship to disease management and prevention can cut your medical costs by keeping your body healthier and out of the hospital.

Diet and Disease Prevention

Nutrition education is a key to better eating. In the case of eating healthy, what you do not know can hurt you. For example, with age comes changes in nutrient requirements. You need to keep your bones healthy by getting more vitamin D and calcium, and your body might not absorb certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, as readily as when you were younger.

Aging adults can’t rely on a standard multivitamin to provide all the vitamins and nutrients they need. Malnutrition in seniors often goes undiagnosed, and senior adults need more calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, niacin, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin E than younger adults.

To prevent or manage serious diseases common to baby boomers, such as diabetes and heart disease, the right nutrition is vital. Examples include adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet for preventing strokes, and limiting carbs to those low on the glycemic index for preventing or managing diabetes. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that the same dietary strategies that benefit cardiovascular health also benefit brain health. For the sake of your mind and body, you have to pay attention to your nutrition.

In short, what you eat has a direct and lasting impact on your health. The question becomes not if you can afford to eat healthy, but whether you can afford not to eat healthy. The answer is that good nutrition will save you both in terms of health costs and quality of life through your senior years.

Good Nutrition and Aging-in-Place

By staying well-nourished and preventing debilitating diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia you can maintain your independence longer and age-in-place at home. Those on a fixed income might be tempted to reach for the cheapest, easiest meals and pay less regard to nutritional content. Beware of boxed, highly-processed foods, which may seem like good deals, but are full of sodium, preservatives, and sugar, yet are low in nutrient value. While it takes some effort to learn healthy meal planning, the health benefits make it worthwhile.

If you lack the time, energy, or ability to fix wholesome meals, remember that help is available. Consulting with nutritionists for advice and receiving healthy home-delivered meals, for example, are two ways to ensure you are getting some vital nutrients every day. No matter how you incorporate better nutrition into your life now and in the immediate future, you can be assured that you will be healthier and be able to enjoy a richer life.

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Topics: Senior Health, Advice from Dietitians, Senior Nutrition, Baby Boomers

How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Plan Menus

Posted by Chef Michael Thrash, CEC, CCA, WCEC, PCII on Apr 20, 2017 11:20:21 AM

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Meatloaf with Sofrito Sauce

Boomers and Food
Baby boomers grew up eating meat and potatoes. Their families ate dinner together at the table. Frequently, dessert was served. When they started their own families, they shifted to fast, convenient meals, often consumed on-the-go, leading to the popularity of fast food chains, drive-thrus, and eating in cars. Their diets contained too much fat, sugar, and salt.

Now baby boomers have become more focused on eating healthy meals. They still want convenience, but want more portion-controlled and ready-to-eat meals. They are interested in foods that are low carb, trans fat-free, sugar-free, and non-GMO. Planning menus for baby boomers can be a challenge. Here are some strategies used by GA Foods for planning menus for our boomer clients that may be helpful for your program.

Bold Flavors
Baby boomers want “real cuisine” with more pronounced, bold flavors. Plan menus that utilize the tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami. As one ages, the sweet and salt taste buds tend to be the most reliable, so meals should showcase sour, bitter, and umami. If you aren’t familiar with umami, it is a savory taste. Umami has a pleasurable effect on the overall satisfaction and enjoyment of a meal. Evidence shows that umami not only stimulates appetite, but may also contribute to satiety. Foods rich in umami components are meat, fish, tomatoes, soy sauce, mushrooms, cheeses, and fermented products. Include items like steak with mushroom gravy or cheesy potatoes on your menus.

International Flair
Baby Boomers are more well-travelled than previous generations.  They are also more aware and educated when it comes to foods and ingredients. Baby boomers want more pronounced flavors, but they are not necessarily adventurous diners. The challenge is to transform an “exotic” menu item into something approachable and recognizable. In other words, when planning menus for baby boomers, provide them with an interesting dining experience using foods that are familiar. Several meals offered by GA Foods follow this strategy:

  • Meatloaf with Sofrito Sauce
  • Chicken with Thai Ginger Red Sauce
  • Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken Chorizo

Savory Infusion
While boomers are traditional meat-and-potato lovers, they do not want to eat monotonous meals. Spice up menus with a variety of savory herbs and bold seasonings. For example, GA Foods includes side items like Rosemary Potato Wedges, Cheesy Spinach, and Green Beans with Almonds in their meals to round out the flavor profile.

To learn more about meals from GA Foods or to see our menus, click here.

For more information about baby boomers and the services they want when they retire, download our free white paper, Baby Boomers - How to Meet Their Demands.

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Aging Well, Senior Nutrition, Baby Boomers, Menu Planning

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