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

Put Your Best Fork Forward for Healthy Meals

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Mar 15, 2017 2:00:16 PM

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Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month® in March. This year's theme is "Put Your Best Fork Forward" and the Academy encourages everyone to make small, healthy changes when eating.

Choosing a variety of healthy foods across all food groups will help reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Making small changes, one forkful at a time, will prevent diseases before they occur. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Make Half of Your Plate Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs to be healthy. For many people, eating enough fruits and veggies each day is difficult. Try eating cut up vegetables for snacks. Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter so your family can easily grab a piece. Add grated vegetables like zucchini or carrots to sauces, meatloaf, and pasta dishes.

Cut Back on Added Sugars

Foods and drinks with added sugars contribute empty calories and often lack nutrients. Read ingredient lists and choose foods that don't have sugar or other sweeteners listed as the first ingredient. Quench your thirst with water instead of sugary drinks.

Make Family Meal Time a Priority

Studies show that family dinners have a positive impact on children's values, motivation,  and confidence. Involve your kids in meal planning and cooking family meals. Use this time to teach them about good nutrition.

Power Up with Breakfast

Mom was right - breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast gives you the energy to start your day. Include a lean protein like eggs or low-fat dairy like yogurt, cheese, or milk. (Don't forget to fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables!)

Be Adventurous

When food shopping or dining out, select a fruit, vegetable or grain that you have never tried. Foods like jicama, broccolini, purple potatoes or quinoa are tasty and nutritious. Also, explore other options for preparing foods. For example, broccoli roasted in the oven has a very different taste and texture than steamed broccoli.

Home-Delivered Meals

For healthy meals that are perfectly portioned, nutrient dense, and ready to go when you need them, try out a meal delivery service like GA Foods. Many health plans, including Medicare Advantage, offer home-delivered meals as a benefit. Check with your plan to see if you are eligible for GA Foods' home-delivered meals.

Want more healthy eating ideas?  Read this article.

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Topics: Nutrition, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health, National Nutrition Month, Best Fork Foward NNM

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 [email protected] 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.

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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

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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 [email protected] 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.

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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 eldercare.gov 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:

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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

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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

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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 (www.nih.gov) 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. 

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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.

 
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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Diabetes

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