Eat right to stay healthy and enjoy life more

By Margaret Brackett - Contributing Columnist

By Margaret Brackett

Contributing Columnist

Nutrition is the topic of the week. Newberry residents are approached with a positive message about consumption habits and increased physical activity for a better health program.

Rethink your drink

This means that when you grab a high calorie soda or fruit drink, think about all the calories you will be taking in and opt for a healthier beverage like water or low fat milk. Also, instead of drinking high calorie juices, choose the actual fruit or vegetable instead. A 6 ounce of juice can start adding up — 6 ounces of juice has about 120 calories.

A drinking cup these days can hold 16 to 20 ounces at a time. So if you have a full glass of juice in the morning with breakfast that can provide about 360 calories.

Back to milk — it can have a lot of calories. The higher the fat contents in milk the higher the calories. Whole milk has about 150 calories while fat free milk has 80 calories. The only difference in the types of milk is the amount of fat. All milk is about the same amount of vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates.

Water is really the best choice of beverages. Not only is it calorie free, it helps the body function properly. Most people need to drink 64 ounces of water a day. That is equivalent to three 20 ounce colas.

Fruit and veggies are low in calories and offer nutrients that can help prevent some diseases. Also, the fiber in fruits and vegetables do not get passed along in the juicing process. Fiber can help decrease cholesterol which will in turn decrease the risk of heart disease. Fiber also helps to have healthy, normal bowel movements. And fiber will make you feel fuller longer so you may be less likely to eat that extra snack during the day.

However, fruits and vegetables are not the only sources of fiber. Whole grains are a good source of fiber too. Examples of these types of food are brown rice, whole grain breads and cereals and popcorn. The one food most people forget about but yet provides great amounts of fiber are beans. The types of beans that have most fiber are black eyed peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans and other similar beans. Remember, green beans are a vegetable and not a bean.

Get wiser about fiber

Plants are made up of two kinds of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It speeds up your food’s trip through your digestive system. That reduces your risk of colon cancer, diverticulitis and appendicitis.

Like a sponge, the fiber absorbs water and swells, making you feel full long after you eat it. That helps you lose weight. You will find insoluble fiber in whole grains, wheat bran, vegetables, seeds, peas, beans and brown rice.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It can make food gel like. It helps lower cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels under control even for people with diabetes. It is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, rye, oats, barley, rice, bran, peas and beans.

Small changes in your diet can be easy to make and can have a big impact to your health. The next few suggestions can make a big difference in your health. Portion sizes are getting bigger over time which leads to consuming excess calories. So if you keep your portions to an appropriate size it can make all the difference. An easy way to help incorporate this tip into your life is to try to eat more meals at home.

Meals at home can reduce the amount of fat and calories you eat. It can also save you some money. Restaurant servings usually equal three to four servings. Another way to control portion sizes is to use a smaller plate. It will look like you are eating a lot because the plate will be full, but portions smaller.

You can also use your hand to help judge how much you are eating. About a half cup of anything fit into the palm, like rice, potatoes, cereal or fruit. Meat should be as big as the palm of your hand as well.

USDA has replaced the Food Guide Pyramid with “My Plate.” This is much easier than previous tools. You can look at the plate, see how it is divided up and know exactly what types and amounts of food you should be eating. Visit the website and see the plate to get nutrition and health tips.

Regular physical activity

Every step you take is a step toward a healthier you. Physical activity plays a big part in a healthy lifestyle. You can attend exercise classes, take a walk, swim, or even just take the stairs instead of the elevator. The recommended amount of physical activity is 30 minutes four to five days per week.

Weight bearing exercise is the best for anyone getting older. That means anything in which you apply weight to your body — walking, running, tennis or yard work are all weight bearing exercises.

Swimming or water aerobics are not weight bearing exercises. The reason weight bearing exercises are important is because they increase bone strength and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Also, to increase balance to prevent falls would be Yoga or just plain balance at home. An example would be to stand next to a wall and just stand on one foot and then switch about every 30 seconds. The goal would be to not have to use the wall for a help.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults in the United States. The rate of those deaths has risen by more than 50 percent over the past decade. The CDC estimates that one out of 10 falls among older people results in serious injuries that require hospitalization, and many spend a year or more recovering in long-term care facilities. Some never go home.

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

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