Eating Right at Midlife & Beyond

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Elder Care, Homestudy, Nutrition

By Annell St. Charles, PhD, RD, LDN

vegetables-752153_640“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
– Benjamin Franklin, 1789

Human aging is a product of not only physical changes, but modifications and adjustments to our mental, emotional, and social selves.

Creating a healthy daily meal plan is challenging for even the most motivated of us, and it is helpful to keep things as simple as possible. At the forefront of a healthy lifestyle is a healthy diet. However, as we age there is a tendency for many of us to allow our dietary patterns to regress to childhood. If most children are given permission to design their own diet, it would likely be full of sugary treats, salty snacks, and limited choices. As adults, we understand that this is not a healthy way to eat. And yet it often becomes the exact pattern we adopt as we grow old.

The American Institute for Cancer Research’s publication Nutrition After 50 lists some helpful ideas for fitting more plant foods into the diet, as follows:

  1.  Include fruits, juices, or vegetables with the breakfast meal. These foods can be added to cereal, stirred or blended into yogurt, or mixed into an egg dish.
  2. Pack a snack of fresh, dried, or canned fruit (no sugar added) for a day’s outing.
  3. Be creative with adding vegetables to meals. Include them in pasta sauce, use them to top potatoes, or make a vegetable pizza.
  4. Choose fruit for dessert, but make it special. Top low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet with fresh berries. Bake an apple and top with softened raisins and cinnamon.
  5.  Try something new. Branch out from eating the “same old” fruits and vegetables and try something new. The internet provides a lot of good tips for recipes using previously untried food.
  6. Buy frozen and canned vegetables and fruits. Fresh is not always best, especially when most of it gets thrown away because of spoilage. There are many products available without added salt or sugar. Rinsing canned vegetables can also help wash off excess sodium.

Since many of the changes that occur with age are now recognized as resulting from an imbalance between pro-oxidants and antioxidants, consuming a surplus of antioxidants is ideal. In essence, an antioxidant-rich diet is rich in plant foods and healthy oils and low in simple sugars and solid fats. It is also a diet that is part of an overall active lifestyle that includes physical movement, social interaction, and meaningful encounters. Because, in the end, our measure of the worth of our lives should not be the years we have accumulated, but the quality of the years we have lived.

Get Eating Right at Midlife & Beyond and many other Homestudy courses from INR

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Primary Care Treatment for Prostate Cancer Survivors

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Elder Care, Nutrition, Seminars

By Barbara Boughton

cancer-390322_640A new guideline on health care for prostate cancer survivors from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) shines a spotlight on the important role of primary care providers.

The new ASCO guideline, published in early February, endorses and adds to a guideline published in June, 2014 by the American Cancer Society. As well as providing guidance on follow up testing for prostate cancer survivors, the ASCO guideline emphasizes counseling about healthy lifestyle behaviors and interventions for the aftereffects of cancer treatment.

Clinicians are an important source for counseling about nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle as well as assessments for the late effects of prostate cancer treatment, the guidelines say. Clinicians should play an important part in talking to prostate cancer survivors about their lifestyle habits, and giving them advice about how to make changes. Increasingly, studies show that healthy eating and an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of prostate cancer recurrence. Clinicians should advise prostate cancer survivors to take these healthy lifestyle steps:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight by limiting high calorie foods and drinks. Obesity is associated with worse health outcomes in prostate cancer, including a greater risk for recurrence and decreased survival.
  • Engage in exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, no matter what the survivor’s weight. Research shows that 3 or more hours per week of vigorous exercise is associated with a 61% reduction in prostate cancer-specific death among survivors. As well as discussing these benefits of physical activity with survivors, primary care providers should stress the advantages for quality of life.
  • Eat a diet that emphasizes micronutrient-rich and phytochemical-rich vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low amounts of saturated fats. Such nutrition improves survival and decreases the risk for second cancers and chronic disease among all kinds of cancer survivors, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Intake 600 IU of vitamin D per day and consume adequate, but not excessive, amounts of calcium (not to exceed 1200 mg per day). These recommendations are especially important for prostate cancer survivors receiving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), since these treatments increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Most adults between ages 19 and 51 and older need 1000 to 1200 mg per day of calcium. Some, but not all studies on nutrition and prostate cancer risk, have indicated an increased risk for prostate cancer among those who had a high intake of calcium, particularly from dairy products. Calcium from supplements has not been associated with increased prostate cancer risk.

All cancer survivors should be given appropriate vaccines, based on age, season (flu), or travel plans. Primary care providers should also counsel prostate cancer survivors to avoid or limit alcohol, since excessive alcohol can affect cancer risk. Clinicians should also assess prostate cancer survivors for tobacco use and provide or refer survivors to cessation counseling.

Bowel dysfunction can occur in prostate cancer survivors as a result of radiation, although bowel symptoms are more common during treatment than after it. Prostate cancer survivors with bowel problems affecting nutrient absorption should be referred to a registered dietitian.

Prostate cancer survivors are also at risk for anemia, cardiovascular disease and diabetes from ADT, and should be regularly assessed for these conditions, and if present, treated. Thirty percent of prostate cancer survivors also experience distress associated with their cancer diagnosis, including increased anxiety and depressive disorders. Ongoing assessment and treatment by primary care providers or referrals to psychologists, psychiatrists and/or social workers are important to minimize cancer-related distress. Treatment for cancer-related anxiety or depression can also minimize the effects of these conditions on survivors’ quality of life.

INR offers Seminars such as His Health/Her Health – Medical Challenges in Mid Life. To learn more about the seminars, click here.webinarsSeminars-CTA

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Elder Care, Homestudy

alzheimersBy Dr. Mary O’Brien MD

Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German neuropathologist, was the first identify and name Alzheimer’s Disease in 1906.  He had been treating a middle-aged woman who exhibited symptoms of memory loss and disorientation.  Five years later, the patient died after symptoms of dementia and suffering hallucinations.   The manifestations and course of the disease were so unusual that Dr. Alzheimer was unable to classify the disease into any existing category.  Postmortem examination of the brain revealed microscopic and macroscopic lesions and distortions, including neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques.

Although it has been more than a century since the disease was identified, it has been only within the last four decades that it has received recognition.  In the past, symptoms were attributed to the “senility” of old age and victims were cared for at home.  The problems of dementia were gradually recognized as an issue associated with the older population, but the nature of the disease and how to treat it were still a mystery.  In the 1970s, researchers determined that people with Alzheimer’s disease had a neurochemical deficiency. This enabled them to study the disease in more detail and separate patients with Alzheimer’s disease from those with dementia of normal aging.

Researchers and scientist are conducting studies to learn more about plaques, tangles, and other biological features of Alzheimer’s disease. There have been great dvances in brain imaging techniques which allow researchers to see the development and spread of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins in the living brain, as well as changes in brain structure and function. Scientists are also exploring the very earliest steps in the disease process by studying changes in the brain and body fluids that can be detected years before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear. The findings from these studies will help in understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s and make diagnosis easier.

One of the great mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease is why it largely strikes older adults. Research on normal brain aging is shedding light on this question. For example, scientists are learning how age-related changes in the brain may harm neurons and contribute to Alzheimer’s damage. These age-related changes include atrophy (shrinking) of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction (a breakdown of energy production within a cell).

INR offers continuing educations courses that will present the elements of pathology, medical treatment, and care of victims of this progressive disease. It is hoped that the continued research into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease will provide some of the necessary information about the prevention and treatment of this relentless and socially damaging disease.

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Sources: www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers