From keeping our immune system functioning to bowel regularity, our digestive systems do a lot for our everyday health.
Dietary fiber as a regular part of your diet will promote lower cholesterol levels and improved heart health. Most of us consume about half of the fiber our bodies need to function correctly.
If we include fiber in the diets of our children now, we can make it a natural habit they continue into adulthood.
I asked registered dietitian Felicia D. Stoler, DCN, how parents can get inventive about ways to increase our family’s fiber intake. Stoler is the former host of TLC’s “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids,” and author of “Living Skinny in Fat Genes.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: How much fiber do we need?
Dr. Stoler: “Toddlers ages 1-3 need 19 grams of fiber daily. Children ages 4-8 years need 25 grams, about the same as adult women. Teenage boys and adult men should aim for 38 grams per day. That fiber requirement probably won’t be met by eating fast food. “A four-piece serving of chicken nuggets has just one gram of fiber. A six-inch turkey breast deli sandwich only has three grams.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: How do you get around the idea that a high-fiber diet means piling plates high with vegetables?
Dr. Stoler: “Sometimes playing ‘hide the fiber’ is the best way to improve a family’s nutrition.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Can you give me some examples?
Dr. Stoler: “I’m always tossing ground flax seed into foods. One of my favorite tips is to use it as a thickener for tomato sauce or soup. Serving a lot of side dishes is a great way to load up on vegetables or grain-based foods. Along with a main course of poultry or fish, I prepare a lot of side dishes with beans, lentils and multiple grains. For flavor and color this time of year, toss in some cranberries.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: What about giving the family a high-quality fiber supplement?
Dr. Stoler: “I keep Sunfiber on the kitchen counter so it’s very convenient while I’m cooking. Since it’s odorless, tasteless and mixes easily into just about anything, it’s routinely my secret ingredient in a lot of foods from pancakes, waffles and muffins to chili, soup and yogurt. One scoop adds six grams of fiber, which is significant. It also helps support your family’s bone health because it supports better calcium and magnesium absorption.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: How can you add more fiber to kids’ party foods, especially if the event is at someone else’s home?
Dr. Stoler: “Offer to bring a snack for fall get-togethers. Kids go crazy for fruit kabobs. Just thread fresh melon balls onto wooden skewers. Then flip over half of the empty melon shell, and stick the skewers into it for a festive presentation. If you’re short on time, buy the pre-cut melon and stick the skewers in a Styrofoam ball from the craft store or invert a colander. When fruit is presented in an enticing way, people want to eat it.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Do you have other creative tricks for getting kids to eat healthier?
Dr. Stoler: “Make sure plates are filled with colorful foods. Food that’s appealing stands a greater chance of getting eaten. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches made with high-fiber bread. Use a vegetable peeler to cut carrots or cucumbers into ribbons. Experiment with cutting other vegetables into fun shapes.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: What do you suggest for a high-fiber, family dessert?
Dr. Stoler: “Dress up fruits for dessert. The beauty of high-fiber desserts is that they fill you up, especially if you slow down and savor each bite. So you won’t be as tempted to over-indulge. Frozen grapes are fun and easy. Fruit cobblers are also a good choice for chillier evenings, especially if you sprinkle some Sunfiber into the mixture before baking. Making it with an oatmeal topping will add even more fiber and nutrients.”
Lisa Nelson, RD: Do you have any other suggestions for parents to encourage their kids to start eating more vegetables?
Dr. Stoler: “Include your children in creating menus, grocery shopping, gardening, setting the table and food preparation. “This may not only broaden their interest in trying different foods, it can also teach them important life skills around food such as budgeting money and time management skills. Passing on your knowledge will help them to be great parents!”
Dr. Stoler adds that Sunfiber, which she referenced, is well researched for its health benefits. Those studies are available at www.Sunfiber.com.
You can also access the free ecourse How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Blood pressure is the force exerted against your artery walls. A blood pressure reading is comprised of two numbers. The top number is the systolic pressure, which represents the force against artery walls when the heart beats and sends blood throughout the body. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure, which is the force against artery walls in between heart beats, or another way to state this, when the heart is at rest and filling with blood.
High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, increases your risk for heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and eye damage.
A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120 (top number) and less than 80 (bottom number). Prehypertension, meaning you are at risk for high blood pressure, is a range between 120-139 and 80-89. High blood pressure is a ready greater than 140 and 90.
What causes high blood pressure?
Let me begin by pointing out this finding is based off a small study of only 24 volunteers, but if the findings are accurate…what a relaxing way to promote a lower blood pressure!
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, exerts force against artery walls. If the force is high, it’ll cause microscopic tears that turn into scar tissue. This scar tissue promotes the accumulation of plaque in their artery walls causing arteries to narrow and harden.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 67 million American adults have high blood pressure. Or to state another way…that is 1 in every 3 American adults.
Why this happens is still unknown.
It’s speculated that nitric oxide plays a role. The skin contains nitric oxide metabolites. It is hypothesized that UVA exposure mobilizes the nitric oxide into circulation resulting in beneficial cardiovascular effects.
Researchers speculate this may play a role in why those in the “darker north”, such as Scotland, have higher death rates associated with heart disease. Incidence of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease rises in the winter and in relation to latitude.
The 24 volunteers in the study obtained the equivalent of 30 minutes of natural sunlight at noon on a sunny day in Southern Europe. Just in case lower blood pressure is caused by warming, the volunteers were protected from this warming effect. Researchers found volunteers blood pressure reduced by about five points with the effects lasting a half hour.
That doesn’t mean potential negative effects associated with too much sunlight, such as skin cancer, should be ignored in favor of this potential cardiovascular benefit. However, it be worth exploring a healthy balance of time in the sun against preventive measures to protect your skin.
If you are working to lower your blood pressure, access the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at http://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
On the road to heart health, start with weight control. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight promotes overall health and prevents many diseases, including heart disease. Living with extra weight, puts an increased burden on your heart muscle. Being overweight or obese puts you at increased risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other health
Here are five additional steps you can take for heart health:
1. Exercise more.
Being inactive is a major risk factor for heart disease. Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, has many heart related benefits. For example, exercise will strengthen your heart, improves circulation, and lowers blood pressure.
2. Cut back on salt.
Salt can hide in places you may not expect. Read food labels. For some individuals, a high sodium diet is linked to high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts excess work on the heart and can lead to stroke and heart failure.
3. Avoid trans fat.
Trans fat increase LDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides and lowers HDL cholesterol. The FDA no longer recognizes trans fats as “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. Read food labels and select heart healthy oil when cooking, such as olive oil or canola oil.
Internationally-renowned registered dietitian, Ashley Koff, has answered some questions on Omega-3 and Omega 6.
What are Omega-3 and Omega-6?
Ashley Koff: Omega-3 and Omega-6s are essential fatty acids (EFAs). Both are essential to the structure and function of our cells, and regulate critical aspects of brain function, metabolism, and immune-system health. We cannot make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our bodies, so we have to get them from foods or supplements.
We need omega-3s in our diet to help prevent chronic inappropriate inflammation. Insufficient omega-3s are associated with a lengthy list of health problems including heart attacks and stroke. Unfortunately, most Americans get a high percentage of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in their diets but not enough omega-3s. In fact, the average American diet now provides 20 or more parts omega-6s to one part omega-3s. That’s about seven times higher than the three-to-one intake ratio shown to deter major diseases and promote optimal health. We need to bring that back into a healthful balance.
There’s an easy, at-home way to check your own levels with a Vital Omega-3 and -6 HUFA Test kit. It’s available through VitalChoice.com, and is discounted to participants of the 100 Days to Better Heart Health Program. It’s a great way to know your omega balance starting point, as you challenge yourself to improve your ratio.
What are some common food sources of omega-6 that should be limited?
Ashley Koff: Omega-6 fats are found in the vegetable oils, such as corn and soy, that started replacing butter and lard in the 1960s. They are also found in most margarines, and in most baked goods as well as in fast-food meals and other restaurant dishes.
What are some top food choices you recommend to boost daily omega-3 intake?
Ashley Koff: There are two primary types of omega-3. The only type your body needs is long-chain (EPA and DHA) which is found in seafood. You can get short chain omega-3s (ALA) from plant sources such as flax, but the body can only convert less than 10 percent of dietary ALA into EPA, and less than one-half of one percent into DHA. That’s why it is best to try for two servings a week of fatty fish, such as wild salmon, sardines and tuna.
Do you recommend omega-3 supplements? Continue reading