Articles and Information from GA Foods

Meal Delivery Service for At-Risk Patients

Posted by John Siegel on Feb 10, 2016 10:03:20 AM

John Siegel is the VP of Business Development for GA Foods.  He has extensive experiencworking with health care organizations to optimize benefits provided to their members. Contact John at 954-732-6886 or to learn how your organization may benefit by providing these well-received services.

Food Insecurity in At-risk Populations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in 2014 a total of three million households with seniors (age 65 and older), and over one million seniors living alone, were food insecure. In other words, they don’t have reliable access to an adequate amount of food to meet their daily nutrition requirements.

food_or_medicine_LR.pngAt-risk patients (elderly and chronically ill) with food insecurity may have to choose between paying for their food or for their medication. Inadequate nutrition and/or medication non-compliance leads to increased health care utilization, such as more frequent hospitalizations and readmissions. Compounding the issue, after a hospitalization, patients experience symptoms such as decreased energy, pain, weakness, poor appetite and health-related dietary restrictions. These symptoms make preparing and eating nutritious meals difficult. Weight loss and poor nutrient intake can delay the healing and recovery process, resulting in longer, more challenging recoveries, creating a cycle of relapse and readmission.

The Role of Nutrition Care

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals (HDM) after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximizes patient outcomes while reducing health care costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Reduces hospital readmissions
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic disease

Perhaps more important than these significant outcomes is that an overwhelming majority (92%) of HDM recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes, improving their quality of life. By decreasing their need for shopping and cooking, a meal delivery service provides a regular source of nutritious food for those that need it for their recovery process.

Access to Food

Providing access to food for at-risk patients also reduces health care expenditures paid by Medicare and/or Medicaid and health plans. One study with significant results was from MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that cooks and delivers medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to individuals that are chronically ill. Researchers evaluated health care costs of two sample groups, MANNA clients and a comparison group, matched for gender, age, race, and ethnicity, for a 12-month period. Here are the results from their study:

  • The total average monthly health care costs were $28,000 for MANNA clients and $41,000 for the comparison group.
  • The average cost of a hospitalization was $132,000 for MANNA clients and $220,000 for the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients had 50% less hospitalizations than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients’ length of stay was 37% shorter than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients were 20% more likely to be discharged from the hospital to their home rather than to long-term care.

Given the proven benefits for all involved, its no surprise that hundreds of U.S. hospitals, many large health systems and a growing number of health insurance plans are implementing and/or approving post-discharge home-delivered meals as part of their transition care services.

Is your transition care model missing a key component? Click here to download our newest white paper.

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: Chronic Disease Management, MCO ROI, Healthcare Cost Reduction

Tips for Preventing Malnutrition in Seniors

Posted by John Siegel on Jan 27, 2016 10:48:43 AM


John Siegel is the VP of Business Development for GA Foods.  He has extensive experiencworking with healthcare organizations to optimize benefits provided to their members. Contact John at 954-732-6886 or to learn how your organization may benefit by providing these well-received services.

It may seem unbelievable, considering the abundance of food in the U.S., but malnutrition is a very real problem among the elderly. It’s estimated that as many as one out of every four senior citizens suffers from poor nutrition. This can have a serious negative impact on health, from lowered immunity to slower wound healing and exacerbation of existing diseases. It can lead to loss of weight and muscle strength, making daily activities more difficult and increasing the likelihood of falls.

Seniors with poor nutrition make more visits to doctors, hospitals, and even emergency rooms, and their stays are almost twice as long as those of well-nourished patients. Healthcare professionals and other caregivers should be aware of the warning signs for sub-optimal nutrition as they are in an ideal position to coordinate solutions with family and other caregivers before patient discharge.

Warning signs of poor nutrition

Poor nutrition can be a result of many things, from difficulty chewing or swallowing to lack of money for buying food. Being aware of the situations that can lead to malnutrition, and the warning signs that a patient or family member is suffering from poor nutrition is an important part of senior care. If your patient or family member is experiencing any of the following issues, they may be at risk:

Decreased appetite – Reduced appetite is often part of the aging process itself. The ability to taste also declines with age, making food less palatable. Decreased appetite may be a side effect of certain medications, or a symptom of depression.

Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a loss of muscle, not fat. This may be as obvious as the numbers on the scale when the person is being weighed, or you may simply notice that clothes are too loose.

Difficulty swallowing or chewing – Loss of teeth, poorly fitting dentures, or mouth pain can all cause difficulty when eating. This may also be a symptom of cognitive issues.

Chronic illness – Those on special diets for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc. may need help with managing their diet. Special diets such as these may also exclude foods the patient prefers to eat and they may need help adapting their eating patterns.

Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is a common aftereffect of illness or injury. While still in recovery mode, the patient may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Fatigue or limited physical function – For some, going shopping for groceries is too tiring. Going to the store, picking out foods, and bringing them home may require more energy than they have to give. Likewise, cooking a meal may be too exhausting for some. Age-related loss of muscle may limit their functional capabilities, putting both these activities beyond their reach.

Minimizing malnutrition among the elderlySeniors.png

It may be difficult for those who are lacking food and most at-risk for malnutrition to ask for help, even when they have supportive friends and family; for those with no support system, the problem is even worse. They may feel that they have no options, or be ashamed of their situation. Opening a discussion and talking about the subject in a non-judgmental and unpatronizing way can be very beneficial. You can then suggest strategies for dealing with some of the more common food-related issues listed above, such as:

Eating several smaller meals per day, including snacks, and increasing activity to stimulate the appetite

Including favorite foods in meals

Using spices to flavor foods—particularly helpful for those with decreased sense of taste, or people who are restricting their salt or sugar intake

Asking family or friends to help with shopping or/and meal preparation—this may be a particular problem for those with limited support, and in some cases home health services may be available

Inviting family or friends over to eat once or twice per week—not only does this provide the opportunity to check in and keep tabs on the patient’s well-being, it also provides social interaction and helps stave off depression

Looking into home-delivered meal service—some health plans cover this type of service, and many home meal delivery services are free or charge on a sliding scale. You can use to help locate services in your area. For information on how to receive home-delivered meals, click here. Providers offer varying levels of service, from one meal per day to several, and at different costs. GA Foods offers nutritionally sound “heat-and-eat” or shelf-stable senior meal options.

Caring for the elderly is a community effort. Those in caregiving professions play an important role, not just in healthcare, but in making sure that the day-to-day needs of one of our most vulnerable populations are met—and adequate nutrition is high on the list of day-to-day needs.

 If you are a health plan or other health care organization
and want more information, click below:

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health, Food Insecurity, Food Security Impact

Low Sodium Cooking Tricks for Flavorful Food

Posted by Michael Thrash, CEC, CCA, PCII and Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Jan 13, 2016 10:00:00 AM


Low sodium meals don’t have to be flavorless! Thinking outside the salt shaker can yield some results that are both healthy and delicious. Here are a few little flavor boosters that are perfect for any low sodium diet, and for those looking to reduce their sodium intake. 

Sodium Substitutes

It’s hard to talk about low sodium diets without talking about table salt substitutes. This option almost seems like cheating - the flavor of salt, without the sodium? There are many “light salt” and sodium substitutes on the market, if you’re not quite ready to part with that salty flavor. Of course, these substitutes don’t work for everyone and may not be the best option for a cardiac diet, so be sure to talk to your doctor before piling this stuff on your food.

Another downside of sodium substitutes is that while they might leave your food with a hint of saltiness, they don’t add any flavor. For full flavor in your meals without added salt, you might want to ditch the sodium substitute and look to the tips below.

Start with Aromatics

You may have noticed that many dishes start with a base of vegetables like onions, carrots, celery and peppers. These aromatics bring excellent flavor to dishes without adding any sodium at all. Garlic, ginger and lemongrass make a rich and flavorful base for a stir-fry, and sliced scallions and peppers will really make your salads sing! There are so many different flavor combinations to try, that you’ll never get bored. 

For a simple way to get started using aromatics in your cooking, try covering meat or fish with a layer of sliced onions before roasting or grilling. This will bring loads of extra flavor without adding any salt.

Low_Sodium_Meals.jpgAdd Some Herbs and Spices

After you’ve got your aromatic base going, the next step to adding flavor to your meals without adding salt is to give the old spice rack a whirl. Herbs and spices can add so much flavor to a dish, without extra sodium. Add spices to the dish at the beginning of cooking, so that the flavors all mix in together. Dried herbs can be added towards the end of cooking, and fresh herbs can be chopped up and used to garnish a cooked dish.

Fresh spices will add a lot more flavor to a dish, so check the expiration date! Once opened, spices should be used within six months of purchase for maximum flavor. With so many spice mixes available on the market, it’s easy to recreate any style of cooking in your home kitchen! Just be sure to read the label, as many commercial spice mixes will contain some sodium.

A Little Acidity Goes a Long Way

If you’re looking to add a lot of flavor to vegetables, seafood or poultry, citrus is the key! Squeezing a wedge of lemon over a completed dish enhances the flavors and adds a nice zing, and you can add even more flavor by slicing up citrus wedges and arranging them on top of the dish before placing it in the oven.

Citrus zest (the colorful part of the rind) is another flavor booster. Simply sprinkle zest over cooked meats and vegetables for a simple and delicious meal upgrade. Citrus zest is also a great addition to homemade salad dressings, and can brighten up desserts as well.

Sometimes all a dish needs to round out the flavors, is a bit of acidity, but not every dish works perfectly with citrus. When lemon juice won’t work, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a dash of wine or a bit of vinegar can really enhance flavors without adding sodium or too much sugar.

Healthy Home Delivered Meals

If constantly cooking nutritionally balanced, low sodium meals seems daunting, the simplest way to enjoy flavorful food on a low sodium diet is to have your meals delivered! You can have low sodium meals delivered to your doorstep that work perfectly with a low salt diet, and taste delicious. Plus, say goodbye to all of that meal prep, and cleanup is a breeze! Having low sodium meals delivered is a sure way to meet your nutritional needs, as the meals are created specifically with a low sodium diet and cardiac diet in mind. Full flavor and a perfect nutritional profile are just one simple step away!

If you'd like more information about low sodium diets, read this article.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider


Read More

Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Cardiac Diet, Heart Disease, Sodium

New Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Eating

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jan 7, 2016 1:57:06 PM


DGA_Link.jpgThe 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released today. The updated nutritional guidelines encourage Americans to adopt a series of science-based recommendations to improve how they eat to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

“Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives. By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell.

The newly released 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects advancements in scientific understanding about healthy eating choices and health outcomes over a lifetime. This edition recognizes the importance of focusing not on individual nutrients or foods in isolation, but on the variety of what people eat and drink—healthy eating patterns as a whole—to bring about lasting improvements in individual and population health.

DGA_Graphic1_tn-1.jpgKey Recommendations 

The overarching recommendations are:
  • - Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. 
  • - Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount.
    • - Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats,      and reduce sodium intake.
  • - Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  • - Support healthy eating patterns for all.

A Healthy Eating Pattern

Healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight and can help prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout periods of growth, development, and aging as well as during pregnancy.  The guidelines recommend Americans eat:

- A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruits
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are also naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados

The guidelines also recommend limiting saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars and sodium. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation.

A New Paradigm

The Dietary Guidelines recognizes the need to create a new paradigm in which healthy lifestyle choices at home, school, work, and in the community are easy, accessible, affordable, and normative. The guidelines include strategies to help professionals in leading disease-prevention efforts within their organizations and communities to make healthy eating and regular physical activity an organizational and societal norm.

For more information and resources, click here.

Read More

Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management

The Dangers of Dehydration in Seniors

Posted by Joann Pierre, MS, RD, LDN on Jul 16, 2015 2:20:08 PM


Dehydration in Seniors

Dehydration_Home_Delivered_MealsDehydration is a common reason for hospitalization in seniors. One reason seniors tend to become dehydrated is the ability to sense thirst declines with age. Drinking enough fluids is necessary to regulate body temperature, help kidneys transport waste, and maintain normal bowel function.

Seniors within home health care services or eldercare services are frequently reminded by caregivers to drink fluids. Home delivered meals that include juice and milk are another good way to ensure seniors receive adequate fluids.

Seniors need to be aware of the signs of dehydration.  If they begin experiencing any symptoms, they need to increase their fluid intake.  If the symptoms persist, they need to seek medical attention.

Water is the best choice to drink to keep the body hydrated. However, other beverages like juice, decaf tea, decaf coffee, and milk will also help. In addition, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fluids. Tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, celery, oranges and spinach contain 85-95% water.  

Adequate Fluid Intake

To determine the amount of fluids someone should drink each day, divide their body weight in half. That is the number of ounces you need. For example, if the senior weighs 150 pounds, he or she should drink 75 ounces of fluids per day. Their body may need more if they live in a hot climate, are physically active, or have diarrhea, vomiting or a fever.


Seniors should not wait until they are thirsty to drink fluids. Encourage them to drink fluids with every meal and snack. They should also drink water before, during, and after being out in the sun or engaging in physical activity. Make sure they keep a bottle or glass of water within reach and drink it throughout the day.  Medications should be taken with an 8 ounce glass of water.

Download a free copy of our Nutrition Education for seniors on this topic by clicking on the image below!


Read More

Topics: Nutrition, Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Chronic Disease Management

The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Jun 16, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Levinia Clark is the Manager of Nutrition Services at GA Foods.  This is the fourth and final post in a series of articles about managing chronic diseases with medical nutrition therapy. 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of illness and death in the United States. The American Heart Association reports that a jaw-dropping 81.1 million American adults have at least one type of cardiovascular disease.

A diet high in saturated fat is a major risk factor for heart disease. Consuming a lot of saturated fat will elevate the body's cholesterol levels, cause cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries, and increases the chance of becoming obese due to the high caloric intake. While many people choose to follow a vegetarian diet due to cultural and religious beliefs, some choose a vegetarian diet to help restrict their intakes of saturated fats and cholesterol.


What are the advantages of a vegetarian diet?

Vegetarians have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and have a lower body mass index and lower risk of obesity. Vegetarian diets have been associated with improved health outcomes. In fact, several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure. On average, vegetarians consume more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C than non-vegetarians do. 

What does a balanced vegetarian diet look like?

A vegetarian does not eat any meat, fish, or poultry. A lacto-ovo vegetarian will include dairy prodcuts and eggs in his diet. Like all vegetarian's diets, the lacto-ovo diet includes an abundance of plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, which provide an array of health-protective nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. 

A balanced lacto-ovo vegetarian diet should include six to eleven servings of whole grains, three to five servings of vegetables, two to four servings of fruit, three servings of dairy, and two to three servings of beans, nuts, and eggs. To make sure that you are meeting all of your nutrient needs, include a variety of foods from each group. 


GA Foods’ vegetarian meals will appeal to vegetarians and meat-lovers looking for meatless alternatives that don’t sacrifice flavor.  All meals are DRI-compliant and low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar, making them suitable for individuals needing modified diets for cardiac disease and diabetes. For more information, click here

Frozen Home Delivered  Meals & Nutrition Information  
The above information is intended for an education aid only. It is not intended as medical/nutritional advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor before following any regimen to see if it safe and effective for you.

Read More

Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Vegetarian Meals, Cardiac Diet, Heart Disease

The Cold, Hard Truth About Heart Disease

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Jun 2, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Levinia Clark is the Manager of Nutrition Services at GA Foods.  This is the third of a series of articles about managing chronic diseases with medical nutrition therapy. 

According to the American Heart Association, or AHA, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of illness and death in the United States. In fact, the AHA reports that an astounding 81.1 million American adults have at least one type of cardiovascular disease, which includes people with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and congenital heart defects.

What are the causes of heart disease?

The United States National Institutes of Health ( warns that a diet high in saturated fat is a major risk factor for heart disease. Consuming a lot of saturated fat will elevate the body's cholesterol levels, cause cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries, and increases the chance of becoming obese due to the high caloric intake.

Improving diet and lifestyle is an essential part of the strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population. 

EKG Patient


Proper diet reduces risk of heart disease

Since high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure increase the risk for heart disease, reducing your daily intake of cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium can help prevent serious heart complications. Following these dietary restrictions reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, and other serious heart conditions. Discuss your diet with your doctor to determine the right combination of foods for your heart health.


What is the cardiac diet?

The cardiac diet limits the amount of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium you eat each day. If following the cardiac diet, total fat intake should be limited to no more than 30% of total calories consumed each day, and saturated fat should make up less than 7% of the calories eatten on a daily basis. If you have no significant health proplems, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. However, if you have high levels of "bad cholesterol" or take medication to reduce your total cholesterol level, then you should limit your cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day.

While the body does need sodium to absorb major nutrients, maintain normal balances of water and minerals, and control the nerves and muscles properly, excess sodium causes fluid retention, which increases the volume of the blood. Increased blood volume makes the heart work harder, increasing blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and other cardiac complications. The cardiac diet limits the amount of sodium you consume each day based on your personal risk factors.

Consult with your doctor to determine how much sodium you should consume.

The importance of screening

The lipid profile blood test helps your doctor determine if your cholesterol levels have decreased in response to adhering to the cardiac diet. This screening test determines the levels of low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides and total cholesterol in your blood, and helps your doctor decide if you need to make any adjustments to your cardiac diet. A simple blood pressure check will determine if the diet has reduced your blood pressure, or if you need to further reduce your sodium intake.

GA Foods’ meals are all DRI-compliant and low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar, making them suitable for individuals needing modified diets for cardiac disease and diabetes. For more information, click here

Frozen Home Delivered  Meals & Nutrition Information  
The above information is intended for an education aid only. It is not intended as medical/nutritional advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor before following any regimen to see if it safe and effective for you.

Read More

Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Cardiac Diet, Heart Disease

The Facts about Diabetes

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on May 19, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Levinia Clark is the Manager of Nutrition Services at GA Foods.  This is the second of a series of articles about managing chronic diseases with medical nutrition therapy. 

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Our bodies convert the food we eat into glucose while the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose to get into the cells of our bodies where it can be used to make energy. With diabetes, the body may not make enough insulin, use the insulin in the right way, or both, causing blood sugar levels to be too high.

Over time, diabetes can cause additional health issues such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and circulation problems that could lead to amputation. 

What are the different types of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes develops most often in children and young adults. This type of diabetes accounts for approximately 5% of all diagnosed cases. With type 2 diabetes, commonly referred to as adult-onset diabetes, the body produces insulin, but doesn't use it the right way. This is the most common type of diabetes, as it accounts for approximately 90-95% of all diagnosed cases.  The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which only pregnant women get. 



What are the risk factors for diabetes?

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at a particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. 

Risk factors are not as well defined for type 1 diabetes. However, autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in developing the less common type 1 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently in African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and people with a family history of diabetes than in other groups. Obesity is also associated with higher risk. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35 - 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10 - 20 years.

What is the treatment for diabetes?

Healthy eating, physical activity, and insulin injections are the basic therapies for type 1 diabetes. The amount of insulin taken must be balanced with food intake and daily activities. Blood glucose levels must be closely monitored through frequent blood glucose testing to ensure that they do not go too low or too high.

Similarly to type 1 diabetes, the basic therapies for type 2 diabetes are healthy eating, physical activity, and blood glucose testing. In addition, many people with type 2 diabetes require oral medication, insulin, or both to control their blood glucose levels from being too low or too high. 

Can diabetes be prevented?

Researchers are making progress in identifying the exact genetics and "triggers" that predispose some individuals to develop type 1 diabetes, but prevention remains key.

A number of studies have shown that regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity.

Building on this research, the Center for Disease Control's National Diabetes Prevention Program supports establishing a network of community-based, group lifestyle intervention programs for overweight or obese people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As of early 2011, it was anticipated that 33 U.S. sites will offer group lifestyle interventions, with plans to expand to other communities.

Is there a cure for diabetes?

While there is no cure for diabetes at this time, the US Department of Health and Human Services is actively researching how to prevent diabetes, cure diabetes, and improve the quality of care for people with diabetes to prevent devastating complications, in response to the growing health burden on Americans with this disease. 

GA Foods’ meals are all DRI-compliant and low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar, making them suitable for individuals needing modified diets for diabetes and cardiac disease. For more information, click here.

Download White Paper - Reducing Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes

The above information is intended for an education aid only. It is not intended as medical/nutritional advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor before following any regimen to see if it safe and effective for you.

Read More

Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Diabetes

Swallowing Difficulties: What You Need to Know

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on May 5, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Levinia Clark is the Manager of Nutrition Services at GA Foods.  This is a first of a series of articles about managing chronic diseases  with medical nutrition therapy. 

What is the swallowing process?

Swallowing is a complex process that involves more than 50 pairs of muscles and many nerves. Food is moved from the mouth to the stomach in three stages. In the first stage, food is prepared for swallowing as it is moved around the mouth by the tongue. The second stage begins when the tongue pushes food or liquid to the back of the mouth. The third stage begins when food or liquid enters the esophagus. 

What causes swallowing problems?

Some people are born with swallowing problems, but in many cases it develops as a result of a physical illness or medical condition. Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, can result from a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, other neurological disorders, or pain upon consuming regular foods following oral surgery. People with cancers of the head, neck, and mouth and/or cancer treatment may also have trouble swallowing. 



What are the risks with swallowing difficulties?

In the worst cases, difficulty in swallowing can result in aspiration pneumonia. This occurs when food enters the lungs instead of the esophagus, causing bacterial infection, pneumonia, and occasionally death. Left untreated, dysphagia can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, unintentional weight loss, and decreased quality of life. This can affect all age groups, but it is most often seen in the elderly population.

What is the purpose of a pureed diet?

A pureed food diet provides nutrition for individuals suffering from many different diseases and conditions, but is designed specifically for patients who have difficulty swallowing. Pureed food is described as a smooth, cohesive, pudding-like consistency. A pureed consistency makes it easier to form a bolus, or ball of food, in the mouth before swallowing. The cohesive, smooth texture of pureed foods keeps the bolus together throughout the entire swallowing process to prevent food particles from going into the lungs. Sometimes when a person has dysphagia, it is necessary to thicken liquids to make swallowing them easier. 

People with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, usually follow this type of diet to prevent choking or silent aspiration. The length of time a person uses a pureed diet varies depending on the cause. People recovering from a stroke often use the diet for a period of weeks to months, and those with worsening throat cancer or a progressive degenerative disease may need to use the diet for the remainder of their lives.

People have different nutritional needs depending on a variety of medical and nutritional factors. As with any therapeutic diet plan, consult your physician and dietitian to individualize any diet to meet those needs.

What foods are allowed in a pureed diet?

Few individual foods are excluded from this diet because most foods can be processed to a pureed consistency, however, foods that require chewing are excluded.  

GA Foods’ Pureed Menu Plan contains pureed meals for seniors and those with with dysphagia, designed with all foods including meats, vegetables and fruits to be the consistency of thickened pudding.  Our meals meet the National Dysphagia Diet guidelines.  For more information, click here.

Pureed Meals Brochure and Nutritionals

The above information is intended for an education aid only. It is not intended as medical/nutritional advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor before following any regimen to see if it safe and effective for you.
Read More

Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Dysphagia, Pureed

Can the foods we eat impact our mental health?

Posted by Felicity Dryer on Mar 24, 2015 10:00:00 AM

headshot0112-1This week we welcome our guest blogger, Felicity Dryer. 

Felicity is a women's health and fitness specialist. She loves writing, and due to the recent illness of her mother, has taken interest in senior care. Please be sure to download her infographic about superfoods!

According to many studies, yes. Foods high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, have been shown to improve cognitive function and memory. And while such foods can have a positive effect on people at any age, seniors most notably can reap the benefits of certain foods as they are more susceptible to memory loss and cognitive diseases.

Let's take a look at some of the so-called "superfoods" that could fight dementia, Alzheimer's and similar disorders.

Nutrition for Our Brain Cells

Topping the list for brain power foods is the blueberry. This small fruit packs more antioxidants than any other fruit and vegetable. Most notably, the polyphenol antioxidant found so abundantly in blueberries has been shown to protect the brain from, among other things, inflammation and free radicals.

A 2007 National Institute on Aging study showed that rats on a blueberry-enhanced diet had significantly less brain loss than those on a controlled diet. Another study in the same year, presented by the Neuroscience Laboratory of the USDA-ARS Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, seemed to confirm that blueberry consumption led to a protection of brain nerve cells and improved communication between these cells. This could promote better brain function and reduce the likelihood of impairment.


Another tiny yet powerful food is the chia seed. Chia seeds contain even more antioxidants than blueberries, which is good news for your brain. These antioxidants fight free radicals, which can cause damage to our body's cells--including our brain cells. These little seeds also have the omega-3 fats that are essential to brain health.

Other foods high in antioxidants and omega-3's that could help maintain brain power include:

  • Kale
  • Salmon
  • Avocadoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans (such as kidney and pinto)

Drinking Our Way to a Better Brain

There's not only "superfoods" but "superdrinks" for our brains as well.

Real acai juice can have a tremendous effect on memory and mental focus. Not only do acai berries contain antioxidants to destroy free radicals, they can also prevent the formation of plaque in the brain caused by beta-amyloid proteins, which have been shown to play a part in Alzheimer's.

Pomegranates are shown to decrease cholesterol plaque build-up; studies have shown that increased levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and subsequent plaque buildup is linked to Alzheimer's. One can reap the best benefits from pomegranates by drinking pomegranate juice. Also, both black and green tea have free radical-fighting elements that can keep our brain cells healthier.

And can't get enough of the health benefits of blueberries? Drink blueberry juice. Several studies have shown that older adults who drank blueberry juice daily improved their memory performance by as much as 20 percent!

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

About 40 years ago, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) used the above slogan in an effective ad campaign. The phrase can easily apply to dementia and related disorders.

Of course there are many factors that play a role in the development of Alzheimer's and other cognitive diseases, and it's certainly not suggested here that specific foods are a cure-all or a total preventative measure for Alzheimer's, dementia or mild cognitive impairment.

But if eating the right foods could help in any way at all to prevent or delay the onset of mental decline, it's certainly worth making the necessary changes to our diets to maintain not only our physical but our mental health as well.

Download full PDF of Felicity's Superfoods Infographic!SeniorSuperfood_FDryer_pdf

New Call-to-action


Read More

Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health

Search this Blog