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Woman in workout clothing with hands in shape of heart on stomach.

 

A new study from MDVIP and Ipsos finds two-thirds of adults experience recurrent digestive symptoms like gas, bloating and abdominal pain, but few seek care from their doctor. The survey also reveals that most people are not aware of the importance of gut health and ways to improve it, with over half (52%) saying they are confused by the deluge of information on diet and nutrition and 85% of Americans failing a Gut IQ quiz. 

 

The gut is an important factor in maintaining your overall health. It's often referred to as the "second brain" due to its vast network of neurons (called the enteric nervous system) and its ability to influence various aspects of well-being. Understanding the significance of gut health and the microbiome is crucial for your physical and mental wellness. 

 

Imagine your gut as a bustling city, inhabited by trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These tiny residents work tirelessly, helping you digest food, absorb nutrients, and even protect you from harmful invaders. But their impact goes beyond digestion — they help your immune system, mood, and mental health.  

 

In this blog post, we will share extensive information on gut health and nutrition. We'll learn about the microbiome, explore the intricate relationship between what you eat and the well-being of your gut, and share profound implications of maintaining a healthy gut for your overall wellness. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your gut health or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

What Is Gut Health? 

Gut health refers to the state of your gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The microbiome, on the other hand, is the bustling community of microorganisms that calls your gut home. It comprises a vast array of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms, all working together in a symbiotic relationship.  

 

This dynamic microcosm has a profound impact on your overall well-being, from digestion to immunity and even beyond.  

 

The microbiome is a vital ecosystem in your gut with functions extending beyond digestion, including nutrient absorption, immune support, and overall health, underscoring the importance of nurturing it. 

 

The gut-brain connection is also sometimes referred to as the "second brain". The gut communicates with the central nervous system and reminds it of the significant impact of diet and gut health on mental well-being. 

 

 

The Microbiome: What You Need to Know 

 

Different Types of Microorganisms in the Gut 

The gut is a thriving ecosystem inhabited by a diverse range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and archaea (which are like bacteria’s ancient, distant cousins). Among these, bacteria are the most prevalent and extensively studied microorganisms in the gut microbiome. The composition and balance of these microorganisms can vary greatly from person to person, forming a unique gut microbiome fingerprint. 

 

How the Microbiome Develops and Changes Over Time 

The development of the microbiome begins at birth when a baby's gut is initially colonized by microorganisms from the mother, environment, and breast milk or formula. As a person grows and experiences different life stages, such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, the composition of their gut microbiome can evolve. Factors like diet, lifestyle, antibiotic use, and environmental exposures can influence the diversity and stability of the gut microbiome throughout one's life. 

 

The Importance of a Diverse Microbiome 

A diverse microbiome has a wide variety of microorganisms with different functions and roles. Diversity is essential for a balanced ecosystem, as it promotes stability and resilience in the face of environmental changes. A lack of diversity in the microbiome has been associated with various health issues, while a richly diverse microbiome is often associated with better health outcomes and improved overall well-being. 

 

 

Nutrition and Gut Health 

 

Healthy foods in plastic containers.

 

Diet is a critical factor that significantly influences the composition and function of the gut microbiome. Certain dietary choices, such as high consumption of processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats, can lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiota, potentially promoting the growth of harmful microorganisms. On the other hand, a balanced and nutrient-rich diet can support a diverse and thriving microbiome, contributing to better overall gut health. 

 

Gut-Friendly Foods and Their Benefits 

 

Gut-friendly foods include: 

  • fiber-rich fruits and vegetables 

  • whole grains 

  • lean proteins 

  • fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut 

 

These foods provide essential nutrients and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods contain probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria that can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and aid in digestion. 

 

The Importance of Fiber, Probiotics, and Prebiotics 

 

Fiber is a crucial component of a gut-friendly diet as it cannot be fully digested by the body but serves as food for beneficial gut bacteria. 

 

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, can have a positive impact on gut health by improving the balance of beneficial bacteria. 

 

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as a fuel source for probiotics and support their growth and activity. 

 

 

How To Maintain a Healthy Gut 

  • Incorporate a variety of fiber-rich foods into your daily meals, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, to support a diverse microbiome. 

  • Consume fermented foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, to introduce beneficial bacteria to your gut. 

  • Limit the intake of processed and sugary foods, as they can negatively impact gut health by promoting harmful bacteria. 

  • Be mindful of your alcohol consumption, as excessive alcohol can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome. 

  • Consider incorporating gut-friendly supplements like probiotics or prebiotics under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 

 

Lifestyle Factors that Impact Gut Health 

 

Chronic stress can adversely affect gut health, so prioritize stress management techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. 

 

Aim for a consistent sleep schedule and ensure you get enough quality sleep, as poor sleep patterns can disrupt the gut-brain axis and lead to gut-related issues. 

 

Practice mindful eating by savouring your meals, avoiding rushed eating, and paying attention to hunger and fullness cues to support digestion. 

 

Hydration and Exercise 

 

Stay well-hydrated, as water is essential for maintaining the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and aiding in digestion. 

 

Regular physical activity can positively influence gut health by promoting motility and blood flow to the digestive organs. Aim for a balanced exercise routine that includes both cardiovascular workouts and strength training to support overall well-being. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your gut health or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

 

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Woman laying on bed, writing in a journal.

 

Did you know that having a positive outlook on life not only brightens your day but can also significantly improve your overall health and well-being? The nature of your thoughts can dramatically change your life! 

 

  • 87% of people with positive mindsets are more likely to live healthier lifestyles and make better choices for their health. 

  • Optimists have a 19% lower risk of early death than pessimists. 

  • People with a positive outlook are 13% less likely to have heart attacks than those with a negative outlook.

 

In today's fast-paced and often stressful world, maintaining our physical and mental well-being has never been more critical. Positive thinking isn't just about having a sunny disposition — it can be a game-changer when it comes to managing stress, building resilience, and achieving a happier, healthier life. 

 

In this blog post, we'll explore the profound impact of positive thinking on overall wellness. We'll look at the scientific evidence supporting the connection between a positive mindset and improved mental and physical health. And, of course, we’ll provide practical strategies for having a positive mindset. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your positive mindset or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

What Is Positive Thinking? 

Positive thinking, at its core, is the practice of maintaining an optimistic and constructive outlook on life's challenges and opportunities. It involves harnessing the power of mindset to cultivate a mental attitude that focuses on solutions, hope, and resilience, fundamentally differing from negative thinking, which dwells on problems, pessimism, and self-limiting beliefs. 

 

 

The Science Behind Positive Thinking 

Neurologically and psychologically, studies have shown that positive thinking can reshape neural pathways, leading to enhanced cognitive function, reduced stress responses, and improved emotional well-being.  

 

The hormonal effects of positive thinking are remarkable, with an increased release of endorphins and other 'feel-good' hormones that not only elevate mood but also contribute to a more robust immune system and better overall physical health.  

 

Why does this matter? Let’s look at some of the benefits.  

 

 

The Benefits of Positive Thinking on Wellness 

Discover how positive thinking can transform your well-being. Let’s explore its mental, physical, and social benefits, and learn practical strategies to foster a positive mindset for a happier, healthier life. 

 

Man sitting on bedroom floor while meditating.

 

Improved Mental Health 

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Positive thinking helps individuals manage stress more effectively by promoting a proactive approach to challenges, reducing the harmful effects of chronic stress. 

  • Enhanced Resilience: It fosters mental resilience, allowing people to bounce back from setbacks and adversities, which is crucial for maintaining overall psychological well-being. 

 

Positive Thinking and Physical Health 

  • Impact On Immune System: Research suggests that a positive mindset can boost the immune system's effectiveness, making the body more resilient to illnesses and infections. 

  • Better Cardiovascular Health: Positive thinking is associated with reduced risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels, and improved heart health overall. 

 

Positive Relationships and Social Well-Being 

Positive thinkers tend to have healthier relationships, as their optimistic outlook fosters better communication, empathy, and supportiveness in interpersonal interactions. 

  • Enhanced Social Well-being: Maintaining a positive attitude can lead to increased social engagement, improved social connections, and a greater sense of belonging, all of which contribute to overall well-being. 

 

 

Cultivating a Positive Mindset 

Unlock the power of a positive mindset in this section. From gratitude practices to mindfulness techniques, let’s explore actionable steps to foster optimism and resilience. 

 

Strategies For Fostering Positive Thinking 

  • Gratitude Practices: Regularly expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of life can shift focus away from negativity, fostering a more optimistic perspective. There are tools available, like the Five Minute Journal, to help get you started with this habit.  

  • Affirmations: Positive self-affirmations can help individuals challenge and replace negative self-talk with constructive and empowering beliefs. 

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices encourage being present in the moment, reducing rumination on past regrets or future worries and promoting a calmer, more positive state of mind. Apps like Calm or Headspace can make a significant impact on this habit.  

 

Overcoming Negativity Bias 

Recognizing and understanding the inherent human tendency toward negativity bias is essential. It involves acknowledging that we often pay more attention to negative events or feedback and consciously working to reframe or balance these perceptions with positive ones. 

 

Here are strategies to overcome negativity bias: 

 

  • Practice Self-Awareness: Recognize when negativity bias is at play by monitoring your thoughts and reactions. 

  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: Actively question and reframe pessimistic thinking patterns to focus on more positive aspects of a situation. 

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: Regularly jot down things you're grateful for to shift your focus towards positivity. Again, you can use the Five Minute Journal or even a simple pen and notebook on your bedside table.  

  • Limit Exposure to Negative Content: Reduce exposure to negative news or social media that can exacerbate negativity bias. 

  • Surround Yourself with Positivity: Spend time with people who uplift and inspire you, fostering a more positive environment. 

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Cultivate mindfulness to become aware of negative thoughts without judgment and let them go. 

  • Seek Constructive Feedback: Encourage open communication and ask for constructive feedback to balance negative input with growth opportunities. 

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate even minor achievements to boost positivity and self-esteem. 

  • Practice Positive Affirmations: Use affirmations to counteract negative self-talk with empowering and constructive statements. 

  • Engage in Hobbies and Activities that Bring Joy: Pursue activities that make you happy and create positive experiences. 

 

Building Mental Resilience 

Cultivating mental resilience involves developing the capacity to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. Positive thinking plays a crucial role by enabling individuals to approach difficulties as opportunities for growth, learning, and improvement. 

 

 

Practical Tips for Incorporating Positive Thinking 

What can you do today to change your mindset and, in turn, change your life? Here are a few things to consider: 

 

Gratitude Journal 

  • Set aside a few minutes each day to write down three things you're grateful for. 

  • Reflect on both big and small blessings, fostering an appreciation for the positive aspects of life. 

  • Regularly revisit your gratitude journal to reinforce a sense of positivity. 

 

Positive Self-Talk 

  • Pay attention to your internal dialogue and identify negative self-talk patterns. 

  • Challenge negative thoughts by replacing them with constructive and affirming statements. 

  • Practice self-compassion and self-kindness, treating yourself with the same empathy you would offer to a friend. 

 

Mindfulness Exercises 

  • Dedicate time to mindfulness meditation, even if it's just a few minutes a day. 

  • Focus on your breath and stay present in the moment, reducing rumination on past regrets or future worries. 

  • Engage in mindful activities such as mindful eating, walking, or deep breathing exercises to center yourself. 

 

Random Acts of Kindness 

  • Perform small acts of kindness for others, such as offering a compliment, helping a colleague, or volunteering. 

  • These acts can boost your mood and create a positive ripple effect in your interactions with others. 

 

Visualization Techniques 

  • Visualize your goals and dreams, imagining yourself achieving them with confidence and success. 

  • This can help reinforce a positive outlook and motivate you to work towards your aspirations. 

 

Limit Negative Media Exposure 

  • Reduce exposure to negative news or social media that can fuel pessimism and anxiety. 

  • Choose to consume content that uplifts, educates, or inspires you. 

 

Set Achievable Goals 

  • Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps. 

  • Celebrate your progress and accomplishments along the way, reinforcing a sense of achievement. 

 

Surround Yourself with Positivity 

  • Spend time with people who uplift and support you. 

  • Engage in activities that bring joy and create positive social connections. 

 

Practice Deep Breathing 

  • Incorporate deep breathing exercises into your daily routine to reduce stress and promote relaxation. 

  • Focus on your breath to stay grounded in the present moment. 

 

 

Developing a Daily Positivity Routine 

Creating a structured daily routine centered around nurturing a positive mindset can be a transformative step toward well-being.  

 

Woman smiling in the mirror while placing her hands in the shape of a heart.

 

Beginning the day with affirmations sets a constructive tone, reinforcing self-belief and positivity. Practicing gratitude before bedtime helps individuals reflect on the day's positive moments, promoting a sense of contentment and serenity. Integrating mindfulness exercises into breaks throughout the day allows for moments of calm and self-awareness, reducing stress and enhancing mental clarity. This intentional daily routine not only fosters a positive mindset but also creates a framework for resilience and emotional balance, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and enriched life. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your positive mindset or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

 

 

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People gathered around a table filled with food for the holidays.

 

The holiday season is a time when gatherings with family and friends are abundant, and indulgent meals and sweet treats often take center stage. While it's a time for enjoyment and relaxation, it's also a period when many individuals struggle to strike a balance between festive indulgence and wellness.

 

Just because the holidays are typically an indulgent time, it doesn’t mean that you need to set those healthy lifestyle habits you’ve made on the back burner. You don’t need to wait until January to stay on top of your health and your well-being. 

 

In this blog post, we'll explore various strategies and habits to help you navigate this festive season while prioritizing your health and maintaining a sense of balance. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your heart health or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

Mindful Eating During the Holidays 

Mindful eating during the holidays involves consciously selecting nutritious foods, savouring each bite, and practicing portion control to strike a balance between enjoying festive indulgences and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

 

Tips for Making Healthier Food Choices 

 

  • Opt for a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure a balance of nutrients. 

  • Choose lean protein sources like turkey, chicken, or fish for main dishes. 

  • Be mindful of hidden sugars and unhealthy fats in processed holiday foods. 

  • Prioritize whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or brown rice, when possible. 

  • Incorporate healthy fats like nuts and avocados into your holiday dishes. 

 

Suggestions for Portion Control and Avoiding Overindulgence 

 

  • Use a smaller plate to help control portion sizes naturally. 

  • Pay attention to hunger cues and stop eating when you're satisfied, not overly full. 

  • Take your time to savour each bite, enjoying the flavours and textures of your food. 

  • Limit alcohol consumption, as it can lower inhibitions and lead to overeating. 

  • Consider sharing dessert or choosing smaller portions of your favourite treats. 

 

 

Healthy Holiday Recipes 

When it comes to healthy holiday recipes, it's all about enjoying the festive flavours while making mindful choices.  

 

For appetizers, consider serving roasted vegetable skewers with a light yogurt dip or a flavourful quinoa salad.

 

As a main course, try a succulent roasted turkey with herbs and citrus, or opt for a vegetarian stuffed acorn squash for a hearty, nutrient-packed option.

 

Finally, indulge in guilt-free desserts like baked apples with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey, or a berry parfait layered with Greek yogurt for a satisfying and health-conscious sweet treat to complete your holiday feast. 

 

 

Stay Active During the Holiday Season 

Staying active during the holiday season involves finding creative ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, embracing holiday-themed workouts and activities, and prioritizing movement to counterbalance the festive indulgence. 

 

Couple holding toddler's hands while outside in a snowy forest.

 

Ways to Incorporate Physical Activity 

 

  • Schedule regular walks with family or friends after holiday meals to encourage movement. 

  • Take advantage of winter sports like ice skating, sledding, or skiing, depending on your location. 

  • Offer to help with holiday preparations like decorating, which can involve physical activity. 

  • Set a daily step goal and use a pedometer or smartphone app to track your progress. 

  • Explore indoor exercise options like yoga, Pilates, or dance classes at local studios or online platforms. 

 

And if you want to make it festive… 

 

  • Organize a festive family walk or run on Christmas morning or New Year's Day. 

  • Host a holiday-themed fitness challenge with friends or colleagues, such as a "12 Days of Fitness" event. 

  • Engage in winter-themed activities like building a snowman, shoveling snow, or having a friendly snowball fight

  • Create a holiday scavenger hunt that requires participants to walk or jog around the neighborhood in search of hidden items or decorations. 

 

 

Manage Your Holiday Stress 

For many, the holidays can be a particularly stressful time. There are so many lists, so much running around, ample cooking and cleaning to be done. Not to mention how they can be so emotionally and financially draining, too. 

 

Managing holiday stress is crucial as the emotional and physical toll of heightened stress levels can significantly impact your health. The pressures associated with holidays can lead to elevated cortisol levels, contributing to anxiety, sleep disturbances, and weakened immune function.

 

To avoid this, try stress management strategies like meditation or deep breathing exercises, which promote relaxation, reduce tension, and enhance overall well-being.  

 

Doing this will hopefully help you navigate the holiday season with greater ease and resilience. 

 

 

Prioritize Self-Care 

The holiday season can bring about added stress, and self-care is essential for managing it effectively. Self-care is a necessary practice for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Taking care of yourself allows you to have a more joyful and present experience during the holidays.  

 

Self-Care Tips 

 

  • Take regular breaks to recharge, whether it's a few minutes of deep breathing or a longer bath or spa day. 

  • Create a personal holiday ritual, like reading a book, listening to calming music, or practicing mindfulness meditation. 

  • Set boundaries with social commitments to ensure you’re getting enough rest and relaxation. 

  • Only take part in activities that bring joy, such as decorating, crafting, or enjoying a favorite hobby. 

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and get proper nutrition to support overall well-being during the holiday season. 

 

 

Stay Hydrated 

Drinking enough water is crucial for overall health and well-being, especially during the holiday season when people may consume more alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods. There are so many benefits that come from proper hydration, such as improved energy levels, digestion, and skin health, as well as better management of holiday-related stress. 

 

Woman journaling by the Christmas tree and sipping a glass of water.

 

Ways to Incorporate More Water 

 

  • Drink water before, during, and after holiday meals and gatherings to help control appetite and reduce the chances of overeating. 

  • Infuse your water with fresh fruits, herbs, or cucumber slices to make it more appealing and flavourful. 

  • Carry a reusable water bottle to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day, whether at home, work, or while running errands. 

  • If water is not your thing, try herbal teas, water-rich fruits (e.g., watermelon), and hydrating foods (e.g., soups and broths). 

  • Limit sugary, carbonated, and alcoholic beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration. 

 

 

Create Healthy Holiday Traditions 

Creating healthy holiday traditions is an opportunity for you and your loved ones to fill your festive season with wellness and meaningful experiences. It’s never too late to start new traditions that prioritize health and well-being.  

 

Some examples of health-conscious holiday traditions could include starting the day with a family walk or run, hosting a healthy recipe exchange party, or volunteering together as a family to spread goodwill in the community. All of these contribute to a more balanced and enjoyable holiday season. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your heart health or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.

 

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays! 

 

 


 

Any medical or pharmaceutical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-pharmacist relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. 

 

Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. 

 

Cook’s Pharmacy and its subsidiaries expressly disclaim responsibility and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. 

 

 

 

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Healthy Habits for Better Heart Health

Person holding heart shape with stethoscope

 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for approximately 17.9 million deaths each year. It accounts for over 31% of all global deaths.

 

High blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol levels, and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease. Other risk factors include obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, diabetes, and excessive alcohol consumption.

 

Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and not smoking.

 

The heart is the body's vital engine, supplying essential nutrients and oxygen to all cells and organs. Neglecting heart health can lead to severe consequences, such as heart disease.

 

In this post, we will explore healthy habits for better heart health, including maintaining a heart-healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and adopting strategies for blood pressure and cholesterol control.

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your heart health or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.

 

 

Enjoy a Heart-Healthy Diet

Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining a healthy heart. Eating a heart-healthy diet influences cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular function. A well-balanced diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and related complications.

 

Heart-Healthy Foods

Including a variety of nutrient-rich foods in your diet is essential to heart health.

 

  • Fruits and vegetables, high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, help reduce inflammation and improve heart function.

  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa are rich in fiber, which can lower cholesterol levels and enhance heart health.

  • Lean proteins such as poultry, fish, and legumes provide essential amino acids without the excess saturated fat found in red meats.

  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for heart health.

  • Nuts, seeds, and olive oil contain heart-healthy fats that can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels when consumed in moderation.

 

Incorporating Heart-Healthy Foods

 

  • Start your day with a heart-healthy breakfast by including whole-grain cereals, fresh fruits, and low-fat dairy or plant-based alternatives.

  • Incorporate colourful vegetables into your lunches and dinners, aiming for a rainbow of options to maximize nutrient intake.

  • Opt for lean protein sources like skinless poultry or tofu in your meals and limit red meat consumption.

  • Replace saturated and trans fats with healthier options like olive oil for cooking and salad dressings.

  • Snack smartly with nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit instead of sugary or processed snacks.

  • Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating, as excess calories can contribute to weight gain, which impacts heart health.

 

Engage in Regular Physical Activity

Exercise helps maintain and improve cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart, improving blood circulation, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure, control weight, and manage cholesterol levels.

 

Types of Exercises Benefiting the Heart

 

  • Aerobic exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular fitness.

  • Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting and bodyweight exercises, help build muscle mass, which can boost metabolism and support heart health.

  • Flexibility and stretching exercises, like yoga or Pilates, can improve overall mobility and reduce the risk of injury during physical activities.

 

Tips for Incorporating Exercise into a Busy Lifestyle

 

  • Prioritize physical activity by scheduling it into your daily routine like any other appointment.

  • Break exercise into smaller, manageable sessions if you can't find a continuous block of time.

  • Choose activities you enjoy to make exercise more sustainable and fun.

  • Make it a family or social activity to increase motivation and accountability.

  • Utilize technology and apps to track your progress and set goals.

  • Consider incorporating physical activity into your daily commute, such as biking to work or taking the stairs.

 

Manage Your Stress

Chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on heart health as it triggers the body's "fight or flight" response, leading to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

 

Woman meditating on the beach wearing headphones.

 

Over time, this chronic stress response can contribute to the development of heart disease, including hypertension and atherosclerosis, as well as an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

 

Stress-Reduction Techniques

 

  • Meditation: Meditation involves focusing your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve mental clarity and relaxation. Regular meditation can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve overall heart health.

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep, slow, and controlled breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing or the 4-7-8 technique, help activate the body's relaxation response, reducing stress and anxiety.

  • Yoga: Yoga combines physical postures, controlled breathing, and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress. It can also improve flexibility and overall fitness, contributing to heart health.

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques encourage staying present and accepting the moment without judgment.

  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise, including aerobic activities like walking or running, can reduce stress hormones and promote the release of endorphins, which act as natural mood lifters.

  • Social Support: Maintaining strong social connections and seeking support from friends and family can help alleviate stress and improve emotional well-being.

 

 

Manage Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

High blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol levels are major risk factors for heart disease.

 

Hypertension puts added stress on the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems. High levels of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

 

 

Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption

Smoking poses severe threats to heart health by increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, blood clots, and irregular heartbeats. If your goal is to improve your heart health, you must quit smoking. There are many resources available to help you with this, such as nicotine replacement therapy and support from healthcare professionals or support groups.

 

Excessive alcohol consumption can also have negative effects on the heart, leading to high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and weakened heart muscles. To avoid these risks, reduce or eliminate alcohol intake. Similar to quitting smoking, there are several resources to help you achieve this, such as setting limits, seeking counseling, or exploring healthier alternatives to alcohol consumption.

 

 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is a significant risk factor for heart disease, as it can lead to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, can contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure, all detrimental to heart health.

 

Man on exercise bike smiling.

 

We have written an entire blog post on this topic, so if you’d like to learn more, check out our blog, "The Importance of Portion Control for Weight Management."

 

How to Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

 

  • Set realistic and achievable weight loss goals for long-term success in maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Aim for gradual weight loss, typically 1-2 pounds per week, as rapid weight loss can be unsustainable and may lead to muscle loss.

  • Consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to create a personalized weight loss plan based on individual needs and goals. We’re always here to help you.

 

 

Get Quality Sleep

Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can lead to various risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

 

Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, all of which contribute to heart disease. Lack of quality sleep can disrupt the body's natural processes for repairing and maintaining heart health, including regulating blood pressure and inflammation.

 

Tips for Improving Sleep Quality and Establishing a Sleep Routine

 

  • Maintain a Consistent Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body's internal clock.

  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Develop calming pre-sleep rituals, such as reading, meditating, or taking a warm bath, to signal to your body that it's time to wind down.

  • Optimize Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.

  • Limit Screen Time: Avoid electronic devices like phones and tablets before bedtime, as the blue light emitted can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.

  • Watch Your Diet: Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime, as these can disrupt sleep patterns.

  • Get Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.

  • Manage Stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as relaxation exercises or mindfulness to calm the mind and reduce anxiety that can interfere with sleep.

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to focus on your heart health or anything else related to healthy living, reach out to us and we will help you out.

 

 


 

 

Any medical or pharmaceutical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-pharmacist relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

 

Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.

 

Cook’s Pharmacy and its subsidiaries expressly disclaim responsibility and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.

 

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Paper bag full of fruits and vegetables.

 

According to a study published this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as much as 80 percent of the population is not consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

 

We live in a society consumed by countless dietary trends and fads, but one thing remains unchanged: the vital role of fruits and vegetables in our daily nutrition. They're not just side dishes or garnishes. They are the backbone of a healthy diet.

 

It’s important to remember that nutrition is not just about flavour and aesthetics. In this fast-paced, modern lifestyle, it's easy to neglect whole-food meals in exchange for takeout food or quick cravings on the go. Fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They're your first line of defence against chronic diseases, and they play a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting better digestion.

 

In today’s blog post, we will talk all about fruits and vegetables, understanding their benefits, and sharing practical strategies on how to incorporate them into your daily diet. Get ready to transform your eating habits and nourish your body from within.

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to incorporate more produce into your diet or anything else related to healthy eating, reach out to us and we will help you out.

 

 

The Benefits of Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet not only provides essential nutrients but also offers a wide range of health benefits that can positively impact your overall well-being.

 

Nutritional Advantages

 

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of essential vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, and various B vitamins, as well as important minerals such as potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are crucial for maintaining overall health and supporting various bodily functions.

  • Dietary Fibre: One of the best things about fruits and vegetables is their high dietary fibre content. Fibre helps with digestion, regulates blood sugar levels, and promotes a feeling of fullness, making it an excellent asset for weight management.

  • Antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids, which combat harmful free radicals in the body. These antioxidants play a key role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting cellular health.

 

Health Benefits

 

  • Lowers the Risk of Chronic Diseases: Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in these foods contribute to their disease-fighting properties.

  • Weight Management: Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in fibre. This combination makes them ideal for weight management, as they help control hunger and reduce overall calorie intake, leading to healthier body weight.

  • Improved Digestion: The fibre in fruits and vegetables promotes healthy digestion by preventing constipation and supporting regular bowel movements. Also, the water content in these foods aids in keeping the digestive tract hydrated and functioning optimally.

 

 

Assessing Your Current Diet

Making any lasting change in your life starts with first taking a real and honest look at your current situation.

 

Man grabbing food from fridge.

 

Before attempting to increase fruit and vegetable intake, it's important to take a step back and evaluate your current dietary habits. Assessing your fruit and vegetable intake is about self-awareness, allowing you to ask important questions about your eating patterns.

 

Here are a few to help you get started:

 

  • Are you reaching the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables?

  • Which fruits and vegetables do you consume most frequently?

  • Which ones are often overlooked?

 

Answering these questions will help you pinpoint specific aspects of your diet that may need adjustment. It could involve recognizing days when fruits and vegetables are conspicuously absent from meals or acknowledging that processed snacks have become default choices. This introspection sets the stage for personalized and practical strategies to incorporate more of these nutritious foods into your daily routine, ultimately paving the way for a healthier and more balanced diet.

 

 

How To Incorporate More Fruits and Vegetables into Your Diet

Now comes the fun part! We understand that change is hard, but we believe that you are capable of doing the hard things that allow you to become healthier and happier.

 

We’ve put together some practical strategies and creative ideas to make incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet an enjoyable and achievable goal. Tailor these tips to your preferences and lifestyle to make lasting improvements in your overall nutrition.

 

Setting Realistic Goals

Begin by setting achievable goals for increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. These goals should be specific, measurable, and tailored to your current habits and preferences. Gradual changes are often more sustainable and less overwhelming than drastic dietary overhauls.

 

Shopping Smart

 

  • Buying Fresh and In-Season: Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. They tend to be more affordable, flavourful, and nutritionally dense. Local farmers' markets are great places to find seasonal produce.

  • Exploring Frozen and Canned Options: Don't underestimate the convenience of frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. They are often just as nutritious as fresh and have a longer shelf life, making it easier to incorporate them into your meals.

 

Meal Planning and Preparation

 

  • Batch Cooking: Dedicate some time on the weekend to batch cook and prep fruits and vegetables. This will be such a time saver during the week when you’re run off your feet. It will also help you curb those impulses to grab takeout or turn to your snack drawer for something easy. Wash, chop, and store them in portioned containers for easy access when you're in a hurry or not in the mood for extensive meal prep.

  • Pre-Cutting and Prepping: Having pre-cut veggies readily available encourages their inclusion in meals and snacks. Keep a container of sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks in the fridge for quick, healthy munching.

 

Sneaky Ways to Add Veggies to Your Meals

 

  • Smoothies: Blend spinach, kale, or other leafy greens into your morning smoothie. The sweetness of fruits can mask the taste of greens, making it a palatable way to boost your vegetable intake.

  • Veggie-Based Sauces: Incorporate finely grated or pureed vegetables like zucchini, carrots, or bell peppers into pasta sauces, soups, or chilli. This not only adds nutrition but also enhances flavour and texture.

 

Healthy Snacking with Fruits and Vegetables

Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your countertop and sliced veggies in the fridge for easy, nutritious snacking. Pair them with hummus, yogurt dip, or nut butter for added taste and satisfaction.

 

Creative Recipes and Cooking Ideas

 

  • Salad Variations: Salads do not have to be boring! Experiment with different salads using a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Consider adding fruits like strawberries, apples, or pomegranate seeds for a sweet twist.

  • Stir-Fries: Whip up colourful stir-fries with an assortment of vegetables and lean protein. The versatility of stir-fries allows you to experiment with different flavours and sauces.

  • Roasting and Grilling: Roasting or grilling vegetables enhances their natural flavours and textures. Try roasted brussels sprouts or grilled eggplant for a tasty change.

  • Vegetable-Based Pasta Dishes: Replace some or all of the pasta in your favourite pasta dishes with spiralized zucchini (zoodles) or spaghetti squash for a lower-carb, veggie-packed alternative.

 

 

Overcoming Common Barriers

Overcoming common barriers to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is crucial for sustained dietary improvements.

 

Woman cutting vegetables for food prepping.

 

This involves both letting go of common excuses like time constraints and budget limitations and providing practical solutions and motivational guidance, including time-saving cooking methods and cost-effective shopping tips, to empower yourself in your journey toward a healthier and more balanced diet.

 

 

Consistency Is Key

Consistency in incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is everything to seeing long-term health benefits. It's not just about a one-time effort; it's a sustained commitment to making these foods a fundamental part of your eating habits. Tracking your progress provides a tangible way to measure your success and helps you stay on course while celebrating small victories, such as trying a new vegetable or consistently meeting your daily fruit and veggie goals. This keeps you motivated and reinforces the importance of your dietary choices.

 

 

Final Thoughts

We understand that change is hard, but we believe that you are capable of doing the hard things that allow you to become healthier and happier.

 

Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet will allow you to prioritize health and wellbeing, and help you live your best life. We hope that the practical strategies we shared with you above will help you in your journey toward a healthier and more balanced diet.

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your health journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re still unsure about how to incorporate more produce into your diet or anything else related to healthy eating, reach out to us and we will help you out.

 

 

 

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Variety of food prepped meals.

 

In today's fast-paced and convenience-driven world, maintaining a healthy weight has become more challenging than ever.

 

The prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, easily accessible processed foods, and larger portion sizes have contributed to an alarming increase in obesity rates across the globe. As individuals strive to achieve better health and well-being, the concept of portion control emerges as a powerful tool to combat these challenges. 

 

At its core, portion control involves being mindful of the quantity of food we consume during each meal or snack. It's not about restricting ourselves. Rather, it's about making conscious choices that align with our nutritional needs. The relationship between portion control and weight management cannot be overstated. As we embark on a journey to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, the choices we make regarding portion sizes play a pivotal role in determining our success. 

 

Maintaining a healthy weight isn't just about aesthetics. It's about safeguarding our overall well-being. Excess weight can lead to a host of health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and joint problems. 

 

By taking control of our portions, we empower ourselves to create a positive impact on our health. Through this blog post, we will explore further the importance of portion control and uncover the science behind its effects on weight management. We'll also equip you with practical strategies to incorporate portion control into your daily routine, allowing you to make lasting changes that promote a healthier and happier life. 

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your weight management journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re unsure about portion control or anything else related to weight management, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

Understanding Portion Control 

Portion control refers to the practice of consciously regulating the amount of food we consume in a single sitting, ensuring that it aligns with our nutritional needs and health goals. It's not about deprivation or strict limitations, rather, it's about finding a balance that supports our overall well-being. By mastering portion control, we can enjoy the foods we love while maintaining a healthy weight and promoting optimal health

 

Calorie Intake and Portion Sizes 

To understand the importance of portion control, it's crucial to understand the concept of calorie intake. Calories are units of energy derived from the foods and drinks we consume. The balance between the number of calories we consume and the number we expend through physical activity determines whether we gain, lose, or maintain weight. 

 

The relation between calorie intake and portion sizes is significant. Larger portions often translate to higher calorie intake, even if the food is nutritious. When we consistently consume more calories than our body needs for its energy expenditure, the excess is stored as fat, leading to weight gain over time.  

 

Historical Changes in Portion Sizes and Their Impact 

Over the past few decades, portion sizes have undergone a dramatic transformation. What was considered a standard portion size in the past now seems minuscule compared to the larger servings commonly served today. This shift in portion sizes can be attributed to a variety of factors, including marketing strategies, societal trends, and economic incentives

 

The increase in portion sizes has contributed significantly to the obesity epidemic. Research suggests that when larger portions are presented, individuals tend to consume more without realizing it, a phenomenon known as "portion distortion." This overconsumption, combined with the surplus of readily available high-calorie foods, has contributed to weight gain and obesity-related health issues. 

 

 

Benefits of Portion Control 

Embracing portion control as a core component of our dietary habits, we not only enhance our physical appearance but also invest in the longevity of our health, safeguarding ourselves from the debilitating effects of chronic diseases.

 

Woman smiling outside wearing athletic clothes.

 

Here are some benefits of portion control: 

 

Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance 

Practicing portion control offers a multitude of benefits, starting with its direct impact on weight loss and weight maintenance. By consuming appropriate portion sizes, we create a calorie deficit that promotes gradual, sustainable weight loss. When we consistently match our energy intake with our energy expenditure, our body taps into its fat reserves, leading to gradual and healthy weight reduction. 

 

Equally important is the role of portion control in weight maintenance. Once we've achieved our weight loss goals, portion control becomes a valuable tool to prevent weight regain. It allows us to sustain the progress we've made without feeling deprived or restricted, fostering a healthier relationship with food. 

 

Improved Overall Health 

Portion control extends beyond weight management and contributes to overall health improvement. By practicing moderation in our food consumption, we can reduce the risk of overloading our bodies with excess calories, sugars, and unhealthy fats. This leads to improved energy levels, better digestion, and enhanced nutrient absorption

 

Additionally, portion control helps to regulate blood sugar levels, promoting stable energy throughout the day and preventing energy crashes. This can lead to improved mood, concentration, and productivity, making portion control a tool not just for physical health but also for mental well-being. 

 

Prevention of Chronic Diseases 

One of the most significant advantages of portion control is its role in preventing chronic diseases. Obesity is a major risk factor for conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. By managing our portion sizes, we can directly impact our weight and subsequently reduce the risk of these conditions. 

 

Overeating, especially of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, can lead to insulin resistance and increased inflammation, both of which are precursors to diabetes and heart disease. Portion control helps regulate insulin levels and reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system, mitigating the risk of these diseases. 

 

Studies have shown that individuals who practice portion control are more likely to maintain healthier blood pressure levels, cholesterol profiles, and blood sugar levels. This translates to a decreased likelihood of developing hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, thereby promoting a longer and healthier life. 

 

 

Strategies for Practicing Portion Control 

Practicing strategies for portion control empowers you to take ownership of your portion sizes, fostering a healthier relationship with food and ultimately leading to more mindful and satisfying eating experiences.

 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind: 

 

Estimating Appropriate Portion Sizes 

 

  • Visual Cues: Use your hand as a reference for portion sizes. For example, a fist can approximate a serving of vegetables or grains, while the palm of your hand can guide you in determining the appropriate amount of protein. 

  • Measuring Tools: Invest in measuring cups and a food scale to accurately measure portion sizes. This is particularly helpful for foods that are calorie-dense or difficult to estimate visually. 

  • Food Labels: Pay close attention to food labels, especially when it comes to packaged items. Serving size information on labels can help you gauge how much you're consuming in relation to recommended portion sizes. 

 

The "Plate Method" for Balanced Meals 

 

The "Plate Method" is a practical approach to portion control that helps you create balanced and portioned meals: 

  • Fill Half of Your Plate with Vegetables: Choose a variety of colourful vegetables to provide essential nutrients and fibre. 

  • Allocate a Quarter for Lean Protein: Opt for sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, or legumes. 

  • Reserve the Remaining Quarter for Whole Grains: Incorporate whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta for sustained energy. 

  • Include a Small Serving of Healthy Fats: Add a small amount of olive oil, nuts, or seeds for flavour and satiety. 

 

Adopting the "Plate Method" can help you intuitively construct meals that align with portion control principles while delivering a well-rounded nutritional profile. 

 

Mindful Eating Techniques 

 

  • Eat Slowly: Savour each bite and eat slowly. This gives your brain time to register fullness signals and prevents overeating. 

  • Remove Distractions: Avoid eating in front of screens or while engaged in other activities. Focus on your meal to better gauge your hunger and fullness. 

  • Listen to Your Body: Check in with yourself before, during, and after a meal. Are you genuinely hungry? Are you satisfied? This helps you eat in accordance with your body's needs. 

  • Take Small Bites: Eating smaller bites encourages you to chew more thoroughly, aiding digestion and allowing you to enjoy your food more mindfully. 

 

 

Overcoming Challenges 

By acknowledging and proactively addressing common challenges, you empower yourself with tools to navigate various situations without compromising your portion control efforts. These strategies not only help you stay on track with your goals but also reinforce healthier habits when it comes to managing portion sizes. 

 

Friends at dinner, drinking wine and laughing.

 

  • Dining Out: Dining out often presents larger portion sizes and calorie-dense options. The allure of indulgent dishes can make portion control challenging. 

  • Social Gatherings: During social events, the availability of tempting treats and the pressure to partake in shared meals can lead to overindulgence. 

  • Emotional Eating: Stress, boredom, and emotions can trigger overeating, making portion control difficult when relying on food for comfort. 

 

Strategies to Navigate Challenges 

 

Dining Out 

 

  • Share Meals: Split an entrée with a friend or family member to reduce portion sizes. 

  • Order from the Appetizer Menu: Opt for smaller portions from the appetizer section, or request half portions. 

  • Box Half Your Meal: As soon as your food arrives, pack half of it to-go to prevent overeating. 

 

Social Gatherings 

 

  • Plan Ahead: If you know the menu, decide in advance what you'll order to avoid impulsive choices. 

  • Choose Wisely: Opt for healthier options on the menu, such as salads, lean proteins, and grilled items. 

  • Practice Moderation: Allow yourself to enjoy treats, but limit portion sizes to avoid excess calorie intake. 

 

Emotional Eating 

 

  • Identify Triggers: Recognize emotional triggers that lead to overeating and find healthier ways to cope, like exercise, meditation, or hobbies. 

  • Create a Food Diary: Maintain a food journal to track emotions tied to eating, helping you understand and manage emotional eating patterns. 

  • Practice Mindfulness: Before eating, pause to assess your hunger level and emotional state. Choose to eat only if you're genuinely hungry. 

 

 

Final Thoughts  

Maintaining a healthy weight isn't just about aesthetics. It's about safeguarding our overall well-being. Excess weight can lead to a host of health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and joint problems. By taking control of our portions, we empower ourselves to create a positive impact on our health

 

As always, our team at Cook’s RX is here to help you in your weight management journey. You do not have to navigate this part of your life alone. If you’re unsure about portion control or anything else related to weight management, reach out to us and we will help you out.  

 

 

 

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Elderly couple preparing vegetables in kitchen. Wife feeding husband lettuce.

 

 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, contributing to around 7.5 million deaths annually

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds

 

These are staggering numbers. 

 

Several risk factors contribute to the development of heart disease, including high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet (high in saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars), obesity and diabetes. 

 

While it would be worthwhile to go over every single risk factor, today we will focus specifically on sodium and its negative impact on heart health when consumed in excess.  

 

The health of our heart is crucial for overall well-being because it pumps blood and nutrients to keep our body functioning properly. However, too much sodium (found in salt) can harm our heart. 

 

Some sodium is essential for the body's balance, nerve function, and muscles. But consuming too much salt can increase blood pressure. High blood pressure puts extra strain on the blood vessels and can lead to heart problems over time. 

 

In this blog, we will share practical tips to reduce sodium in your diet and improve heart health. By understanding the link between sodium and heart health, you can make informed choices to protect your heart. We will explore simple strategies like cooking with fresh ingredients. We'll also learn about the DASH diet, designed to lower blood pressure and promote heart health. 

 

By following these tips and embracing a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve your overall well-being.  

 

Remember, even small steps can make a big difference in our heart health and lead to a happier, healthier life.

 

 

Understanding Sodium and Heart Health 

Sodium is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining the body's fluid balance, transmitting nerve impulses, and supporting muscle contractions. It is essential for overall health and proper functioning. However, the key is to consume sodium in moderation

 

When you consume sodium in your diet, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream, where it helps regulate the amount of water in and around the cells. This, in turn, influences the volume of blood circulating in the blood vessels.  

 

When the sodium level in the blood is higher than required, the body retains more water to maintain the right balance, leading to an increase in blood volume. As a result, the blood vessels experience added pressure, leading to elevated blood pressure, also known as hypertension. 

 

High Sodium Intake = Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Research has consistently shown a direct correlation between high sodium intake and an increased risk of developing hypertension and heart disease. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for various cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. 

 

When our blood pressure remains consistently elevated due to excess sodium, it puts immense strain on the walls of our blood vessels. Over time, this strain can cause damage to the blood vessel walls, making them less elastic and prone to the formation of plaque deposits. These deposits can eventually lead to atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries narrow, hindering blood flow to the heart and other organs. 

 

The reduced blood flow to the heart can cause angina (chest pain) and, in severe cases, result in a heart attack. Moreover, if the arteries that supply blood to the brain become narrowed due to atherosclerosis, it can lead to a stroke. 

 

 

Assessing Current Sodium Intake 

Taking a closer look at your sodium intake is an essential first step in improving heart health.  

 

Healthy prepped food, person taking notes on paper.

 

Many of us may not be aware of the amount of sodium we consume daily, as it is often hidden in various foods we eat. Encouraging individuals to assess their sodium intake empowers them to make informed choices about their diet and take proactive measures to reduce excessive sodium consumption. 

 

One way to do this is to keep a food diary for a few days, noting the sodium content of the foods you eat. By tracking your meals and snacks, you can identify patterns and discover hidden sources of sodium in your diet.  

Additionally, becoming familiar with food labels can help in understanding the sodium content of packaged foods. 

 

Daily Recommended Sodium Intake 

Understanding the recommended daily sodium intake is crucial for maintaining heart health.  

 

For healthy adults, most health organizations, including the American Heart Association (AHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), suggest consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.  

 

However, for individuals who are at risk for heart issues or have hypertension, the recommended limit is even lower, ideally not exceeding 1,500 mg per day

 


 

It is important to note that the average sodium intake in many Western diets far exceeds these recommended limits, often reaching levels of 3,400 mg or more daily. This excessive intake puts individuals at a higher risk of developing hypertension and related heart problems. 

 


 

Sodium, The Hidden Ingredient 

Reducing sodium intake can be challenging, primarily due to the prevalence of hidden sodium in processed foods and meals prepared at restaurants.  

 

Many processed and packaged foods, such as canned soups, frozen meals, snacks, and condiments, contain high amounts of sodium to enhance flavor and increase shelf life. Even seemingly healthy items like salad dressings, sauces, and ready-to-eat meals can be loaded with sodium. 

 

Similarly, dining out at restaurants can be a significant source of excess sodium consumption. Restaurants often use salt generously to enhance taste, and large portions of restaurant meals can contain much more sodium than a homemade equivalent. 

 

Knowing these truths can help you make wiser choices when grocery shopping or eating out. Reading food labels, choosing low-sodium alternatives and even asking for less salt when eating out can make significant difference in managing sodium intake. 

 

 

Tips for Reducing Sodium Intake 

Opting for a heart-healthy, low-sodium diet can have numerous advantages for your cardiovascular health.  

 

By reducing sodium intake, you can effectively lower our blood pressure, reducing the risk of hypertension and its associated heart conditions. Also worth mentioning, embracing a heart-healthy diet can improve overall well-being, enhance energy levels, and contribute to a healthier weight. 

 

We understand, however, that it’s not always as easy as it sounds and that some may struggle with savoury cravings more than others. Here are some ways we believe you could reduce sodium intake in a more approachable way: 

 

  • Cook at home with fresh ingredients: Preparing meals at home gives you greater control over the amount of sodium in our food.  

  • Use herbs and spices as flavour enhancers: Experiment with a variety of herbs and spices to add delicious flavours to meals without relying on excessive salt. Herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary, and spices such as cumin, turmeric, and paprika can add depth to dishes without the need for added salt. Another option is to use a salt-free alternative like such as a potassium-chloride seasoning vs. a sodium-chloride. 

  • Read food labels for sodium content: Pay attention to food labels while grocery shopping. Choose products with lower sodium content or opt for "low-sodium" or "sodium-free" versions when available. 

  • Limit processed and packaged foods: Processed and packaged foods are often high in sodium. Minimize their consumption and focus on whole, unprocessed foods. 

  • Dine out wisely: When eating out, choose dishes that are prepared with less salt. Request for sauces, dressings, and toppings to be served on the side, so you can control the amount you use. Consider healthier options like salads, grilled items, or dishes with fresh ingredients. For example, an easy win is to order your fries unsalted, then add a small amount of salt yourself. 

 

Exploring the DASH Diet 

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a scientifically proven eating plan designed to lower blood pressure and promote heart health.  

 

Whole foods on white countertop. Salmon, almonds, eggs, olives, vegetables.

 

It has gained widespread recognition for its effectiveness in reducing the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The DASH diet is not a restrictive fad diet, but rather a balanced and sustainable approach to eating that emphasizes nutrient-rich foods and proper portion sizes. 

 

The DASH diet encourages a focus on whole and natural foods that are rich in heart-healthy nutrients. It promotes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (such as poultry, fish, and legumes), and low-fat dairy products. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber while being naturally low in sodium. 

 

The DASH diet also incorporates foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are beneficial for heart health. These minerals help to counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

 

Here is a sample meal that aligns with DASH diet principles. Sounds tasty, right? 

 

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon 

  • Low-fat Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey 

 

Lunch

  • Grilled chicken and vegetable salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado 
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs) 

 

Snack

  • Carrot sticks and cucumber slices with hummus 
  • Fresh fruit salad (kiwi, strawberries, and oranges)

 

Dinner

  • Baked salmon with lemon and dill 
  • Quinoa pilaf with sautéed spinach and garlic 

 

Dessert

  • Baked apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of low-fat whipped cream 

 

 

Overcoming Challenges and Creating Lasting Habits 

Overcoming challenges and creating lasting habits for long-term heart health benefits involves acknowledging the hurdles of reducing sodium intake and adopting a new diet while staying motivated and focused.  

 

Transitioning away from familiar high-sodium foods can be difficult, but by recognizing the importance of improved heart health, individuals can take the first step towards positive change.  

 

Here are some ways you can overcome challenges in your health journey: 

  • Set achievable goals  

  • Celebrate every small victory  

  • Opt for gradual changes 

  • Involve a support system of family or friends  

  • Explore new recipes 

Embracing a heart-healthy lifestyle becomes a rewarding investment in overall well-being, ensuring a healthier and happier future. 

 

 

Seeking Professional Guidance 

Before embarking on any major dietary changes, it is crucial to seek guidance from healthcare professionals or registered dietitians. These experts can provide personalized advice based on individual health needs, medical history, and existing health conditions.  

 

Pharmacist consulting patient beside a bowl of fruits.

 

Consulting with your pharmacist ensures that any dietary modifications are safe and appropriate for your unique circumstances and medications. Our pharmacists can help identify potential risks and tailor dietary recommendations to achieve the best possible outcomes for overall health and well-being. 

 

Reach out to our team to schedule a consultation and let’s work together to reduce the sodium intake in your diet.  

 

 

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Smiling elderly woman

 

As the influential baby boomer generation enters their golden years, it is crucial to recognize the significance of aging baby boomers and the unique challenges and opportunities they face.  

 

With their sheer numbers and wealth of experience, baby boomers are reshaping our perception of aging, demanding better healthcare options, and redefining what it means to live a fulfilling and vibrant life in later stages.  

 

In this article, we explore the normal signs of aging and how a pharmacist can play a pivotal role in supporting and empowering baby boomers as they navigate this new chapter of life.

 

 

The Normal Signs of Aging 

Normal signs of aging encompass various aspects, including physical changes, cognitive changes, and emotional and mental well-being. These normal signs of aging should be understood as part of the natural aging process.  

 

While they can vary among individuals, being aware of these changes helps individuals set realistic expectations and seek appropriate support and interventions to enhance their overall well-being during the aging process.

 

Here's a summary of these normal signs of aging:

 

 

Physical Changes

 

Vision 

Aging often brings changes in vision, such as difficulty focusing on close objects (presbyopia), reduced ability to adjust to changes in light, and increased sensitivity to glare. It may also include an increased risk of age-related eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.

 

Asian man using glasses to read close-up object.

 

Hearing 

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is common, characterized by difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds, speech clarity, and distinguishing sounds in noisy environments.

 

Taste and Smell

Sensory changes can affect the ability to taste and smell, leading to decreased sensitivity to certain flavors and smells.

 

Muscle and Joint Stiffness 

As individuals age, there is a natural loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) and decreased flexibility. This can result in muscle weakness, decreased mobility, and joint stiffness, making movements more challenging and increasing the risk of falls.

 

Changes in Skin Elasticity and Appearance 

Aging can lead to a decrease in the production of collagen and elastin, resulting in reduced skin elasticity and firmness. This may contribute to the development of wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. The skin may also become drier and more prone to irritation and bruising.

 

Alterations in Sleep Patterns 

Many older adults experience changes in their sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or waking up too early in the morning. These changes can result in poorer sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue.

 

Aging can also lead to a shift in the circadian rhythm, making individuals more likely to feel sleepy earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning.

 

 

Cognitive Changes  

Aging individuals may experience occasional memory lapses, such as forgetting where they placed their keys or struggling to recall names or details. These memory lapses are typically considered a normal part of the aging process. However, they are often minor and do not significantly impair daily functioning.

 

Slower Information Processing and Reaction Times 

As individuals age, there is a natural decline in information processing speed and reaction times. It may take longer to absorb and assimilate new information, leading to a slower response time. This can be evident in tasks such as decision-making, problem-solving, and learning new skills.

 

Challenges in Multitasking and Problem-Solving 

Aging can bring challenges in multitasking and problem-solving abilities. Juggling multiple tasks simultaneously may become more difficult, and individuals may require more time and effort to switch between tasks effectively. Problem-solving skills may also be affected, requiring more time to analyze and find solutions to complex situations.

 

 

Emotional and Mental Well-being

 

Fluctuations in Mood and Emotional Resilience 

Aging individuals may experience more pronounced fluctuations in mood. This can include both positive and negative emotions, with emotional responses becoming more intense. While certain life events or circumstances can contribute to mood changes, hormonal changes, and adjustments to life's challenges and transitions can also play a role.

 

Increased Susceptibility to Stress and Anxiety

Aging individuals may find themselves more susceptible to stress and anxiety. The ability to cope with stressors may be diminished, and individuals may experience heightened feelings of worry or unease. This can be influenced by various factors, including changes in brain chemistry, life changes, health concerns, and social factors.

 

Transitioning Through Life's Changes and Maintaining Purpose 

As individuals age, they often experience significant life changes, such as retirement, loss of loved ones, or changes in social roles.

 

These transitions can present challenges in finding and maintaining a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Adjusting to new routines, establishing new social connections, and exploring new hobbies or activities can help individuals navigate these transitions and maintain a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.

 

 

The Role of Pharmacists in Helping with Aging 

By leveraging their expertise in medication management, preventive care, chronic disease management, lifestyle guidance, and provision of resources, pharmacists play a pivotal role in optimizing health and well-being during the aging process.  

 

Pharmacist talking to baby boomer woman in pharmacy.

 

Their comprehensive support can help aging individuals lead fulfilling lives while effectively managing their health and medication needs. Here are key aspects of a pharmacist's role in supporting optimal health during the aging process:

 

 

Medication Management

Pharmacists are medication experts who can review and assess an individual's medication regimen, ensuring its appropriateness and safety. They can identify potential drug interactions, adverse effects, and duplications, helping to prevent medication-related complications.

 

Reviewing Medication Regimens and Potential Interactions 

Pharmacists conduct comprehensive reviews of an individual's medication regimen, taking into account all prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements. They assess the appropriateness, safety, and effectiveness of the medications, considering factors such as potential drug-drug interactions, allergies, and individual characteristics. This review helps identify and minimize the risk of adverse drug reactions or interactions that can be more significant in aging individuals due to changes in metabolism and multiple medication use.

 

Offering Advice on Adherence and Proper Administration 

Pharmacists play a vital role in ensuring individuals understand how to take their medications correctly. They provide clear instructions on dosage, timing, and administration techniques (e.g., with or without food). Pharmacists also offer strategies to enhance medication adherence, which can be challenging for aging individuals who may have complex medication regimens. This can include using pill organizers, reminder systems, or simplified dosing schedules to help individuals stay on track with their medications.

 

Identifying Alternative Treatments and Adjusting Dosages 

Pharmacists have extensive knowledge of medication alternatives and can collaborate with healthcare providers to identify suitable alternatives when needed. They may recommend medications with fewer side effects or those that are better suited for specific health conditions or age-related changes. Pharmacists can also adjust dosages based on individual needs, considering factors such as organ function, metabolism, and potential drug interactions. 

 

 

Health Monitoring and Preventive Care 

Pharmacists can actively monitor and manage various health parameters to promote well-being in aging individuals. They can perform health screenings, such as blood pressure checks, cholesterol monitoring, and blood glucose tests, helping to identify and address potential health issues proactively.

 

Conducting Regular Health Screenings 

Pharmacists can perform various health screenings to monitor key health parameters. This may include measuring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels, and assessing other vital signs. Regular screenings help identify potential health issues or risk factors, enabling early intervention and appropriate management.

 

Recommending Immunizations and Vaccinations 

Pharmacists are knowledgeable about recommended immunizations and vaccinations for different age groups. They can provide guidance on necessary vaccines, such as influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and other vaccines to protect against infectious diseases. By ensuring individuals receive appropriate immunizations, pharmacists contribute to disease prevention and overall well-being.

 

Assisting with Chronic Disease Management 

Many aging individuals have chronic conditions that require ongoing management. Pharmacists can play a vital role in supporting individuals with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, or heart disease. They can provide education on medication management, lifestyle modifications, and self-care techniques. Pharmacists work collaboratively with healthcare providers to monitor treatment effectiveness, address medication-related concerns, and help individuals navigate their disease management plan. 

 

 

Lifestyle Guidance 

Pharmacists can offer guidance on lifestyle factors that contribute to overall health and well-being. They can provide nutritional counseling, recommending appropriate dietary choices and supplements that support aging individuals' unique nutritional needs.

 

Pharmacists can also promote physical activity tailored to individual abilities, assisting with exercise plans that improve mobility, strength, and balance.  

Moreover, they can provide advice on sleep hygiene and stress management techniques to enhance sleep quality and emotional well-being.

 

Providing Nutritional Counseling and Supplements Guidance

Pharmacists can offer personalized nutritional counseling to help aging individuals make informed choices about their diet. They provide guidance on balanced nutrition, portion control, and dietary modifications to address specific health conditions or age-related changes. Pharmacists can also advise on the appropriate use of dietary supplements, ensuring individuals understand potential benefits, risks, and interactions with medications.

 

Promoting Physical Activity and Exercise Tailored to Individual Needs

Pharmacists recognize the importance of physical activity and exercise for maintaining overall health and well-being in aging individuals. They can provide recommendations on exercise routines tailored to individual abilities, considering factors such as strength, flexibility, and balance. Pharmacists can also offer guidance on incorporating exercise into daily routines and provide resources for appropriate physical activity programs or exercises specific to aging populations. 

 

Offering Advice on Sleep Hygiene and Stress Management Techniques

Pharmacists play a role in promoting healthy sleep habits and addressing sleep-related concerns. They can provide advice on sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, and avoiding stimulating substances or activities before bedtime. Pharmacists can also offer strategies for managing stress, including relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, and referrals to appropriate resources or support services.

 

 

Support and Resources 

By referring to community services and support groups, educating on adaptive devices and assistive technologies, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals, pharmacists provide valuable support in addressing the broader needs of aging individuals beyond medication management. Their involvement helps individuals access necessary resources, adapt to age-related changes, and receive comprehensive care that promotes independence, well-being, and a higher quality of life.

 

Referring to Community Services and Support Groups 

Pharmacists are familiar with various community resources and support services available for aging individuals. They can provide referrals to local organizations, community centers, or support groups that cater to the specific needs and interests of aging individuals. These services may include social programs, transportation assistance, meal delivery services, and caregiver support networks. By connecting individuals with these resources, pharmacists help enhance social engagement, reduce isolation, and improve overall well-being.

 

Educating on Adaptive Devices and Assistive Technologies 

Aging individuals may benefit from using adaptive devices and assistive technologies to maintain independence and improve quality of life. Pharmacists can educate individuals on the availability and proper use of such devices. This may include items like mobility aids (canes, walkers), hearing aids, vision aids, medication organizers, and other assistive devices. Pharmacists can provide information on where to obtain these devices, guide individuals on how to use them effectively, and address any concerns or questions related to their usage.

 

Collaborating With Other Healthcare Professionals for Comprehensive Care 

Pharmacists play a crucial role in a multidisciplinary healthcare team. They collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, to ensure comprehensive care for aging individuals. Pharmacists contribute their expertise in medication management, health monitoring, and lifestyle guidance to create a holistic care plan. They communicate and share information about the individual's health status, medication history, and treatment goals, allowing for coordinated and integrated care that addresses the unique needs of aging individuals.

 

 

In Conclusion 

As the baby boomer generation enters their golden years, it is crucial to recognize the significance of aging baby boomers and the unique challenges they face. Pharmacists play a pivotal role in supporting and empowering aging individuals as they age gracefully. 

 

Baby boomer couple at yoga studio smiling and embracing while holding yoga mats.

 

By leveraging their expertise in medication management, health monitoring, lifestyle guidance, and provision of resources, pharmacists contribute to optimizing health and well-being during the aging process. They serve as valuable healthcare partners, offering guidance on medication regimens, preventive care, chronic disease management, and lifestyle modifications. Pharmacists also promote open communication, trust, and collaboration, fostering strong relationships with aging individuals. 

 

Through medication reviews, regular check-ins, and personalized guidance, pharmacists ensure that medications are appropriate, effective, and properly administered. They provide valuable insights into potential interactions, alternative treatments, and dosage adjustments. Pharmacists also contribute to health monitoring through screenings, immunizations, and chronic disease management, promoting proactive care and early intervention. 

 

Moreover, pharmacists offer lifestyle guidance encompassing nutrition, physical activity, sleep hygiene, and stress management. They educate individuals on making informed choices, adapting to age-related changes, and accessing community services and support groups. By collaborating with other healthcare professionals, pharmacists ensure comprehensive care and facilitate a holistic approach to aging well. 

 

Establishing a strong relationship with a pharmacist is essential. Open communication, trust, and regular check-ins allow individuals to actively involve their pharmacist in their healthcare journey. Pharmacists serve as knowledgeable resources, offering guidance, addressing concerns, and providing personalized support. By building this relationship, aging individuals can enhance their quality of life, make informed decisions, and navigate the aging process with confidence. 

 

In conclusion, the role of pharmacists in supporting aging individuals goes beyond medication management. They serve as trusted allies, empowering individuals to embrace the changes that come with aging while maintaining their health, independence, and overall well-being. With their expertise and compassionate care, pharmacists are valuable partners in helping aging baby boomers navigate the aging process with grace and vitality. 

 

 

 

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What is Normal as we Age

Group of happy friends

 

Everyone gets older, but what can we expect our bodies to do as we age? As we get older our bodies get older too and begin to deteriorate. This may sound bad or alarming but is completely normal and happens to everyone. It is our body’s way of adapting to the new changes that are happening to us as we age. Our hair may begin to get gray, we may need glasses now, or we may begin to lose a little height. However, there is nothing to be worried about.

 

Because our bodies begin to change so much to accommodate our new life stage, we need to consider that some of these changes can be signs of our health changing as well. However, there is nothing to worry about as there are simple and easy ways of managing our health as we get older. We may need to change our lifestyle or simply watch out for some warning signs, but all can be managed. Here are some normal signs of aging and how you can help yourself manage them.

 

Skin Changes

The first thing you may notice as you age is changes to your skin. This may begin happening as young as your 40’s depending on your lifestyle. As we get older, we experience a loss of fluids in our bodies. These fluids often help keep our skin soft, tight, and healthy. This loss of fluids can then lead our skin to wrinkle, feel drier, thinner, and spots or other abnormalities may begin to appear. This is all normal and can be easily managed as we age.

 

How you can help

Here is what you can do to help your skin health as you get older.

 

  • Drink lots of Water: This may seem obvious, but a surprising number of elders drink less and less water as they get older because they believe they don’t need to drink that much. Because you are losing fluids in your body as you get older, you need to drink more water to make up for the fluid loss.

  • Take Warm Baths and Showers: As we age our skin begins to dry out more. Hot water can then further dry out our skin. Our skin also begins to thin as we get older, making us more sensitive to temperature. Taking warm or cool baths and showers still allows you to get clean while also keeping some moisture in your skin and preventing burns.

  • Use Sunscreen: “Use sunscreen!” is often something we yell at our children as they run out of the house in the summer. However, adults need to use sunscreen too or in some cases wear protective clothing. Because our skin thins as we age the sun can be more harmful, causing burns or sun stroke more easily. You should be using sunscreen everyday when you leave the house, even in the winter as the harmful rays’ bounce and reflect off the snow.

  • Check Regularly: You should be checking your skin almost everyday for new spots or abnormalities like moles or rashes. These can often be harmless like age spots, or they could be signs of cancer or other diseases. With so many changes happening all at once it is better to be safe and check often. If something new does appear and you are unsure if it is normal or not, do not hesitate to go see your doctor or talk with your pharmacist. It is better to be safe than sorry.

 

Loss in Strength and Stamina

You may notice that as you get older you aren’t able to climb the stairs as easily or you can no longer pick up your grandchild without joint pain. This is completely normal. As we get older our muscles begin to degrade causing us to experience a loss in strength and stamina.

 

Our muscles will begin to lose tissue and become less toned, causing us to experience a loss in strength. This can then make activities like picking up heavy objects, getting out of bed, or doing hobbies like gardening much harder.

 

You can also expect a loss in stamina. Making things like exercise, walking up the stairs, standing, or maintaining activities much harder.

 

Senior couple exercising at home

 

How you can help

Here is what you can do to improve and manage your strength and stamina as you get older.

 

  • Eat Healthy: Eating healthy may seem like age-old advice given to anyone and everyone, but there is a reason why. That is because it works. Switching over to a healthy diet can greatly improve your strength and stamina. Eating good foods like veggies and fruits, and iron-heavy foods like red meat or fish can be very helpful.

  • Exercise: This may seem counter productive as a loss of strength and stamina can make exercising harder. However, without exercise our muscles will continue to deteriorate further. By exercising we can build that strength back up and often be even stronger than we were before. Start small by going on regular walks, especially if you didn’t do much exercise beforehand. Then begin to work your way up to more strenuous work outs. Maybe even consider weight training.

  • Stretching: Stretching mixed with exercise can greatly improve your muscles. Not only should you be exercising to strength them, but you also need to stretch them to maintain their flexibility. Without stretching you can experience micro tears in the tissue. By stretching you can maintain their elasticity allowing you to push yourself more when it comes to exercise.

 

Harder to See and Hear

You may notice that you are having a harder time seeing when you read a book or trouble hearing when you are out in a crowded space. This is all normal. Just like everything else our eyes and ears begin to deteriorate as we get older.

 

You may begin to realize that it is suddenly harder to read and may need to get glasses for the first time in your life. Or if you already wear glasses, you may notice your vision is getting worse and may even experience glaucoma or cataracts. You may also begin to hear less. This could be higher frequencies or just in general. You may notice that you can only hear someone if they are right in front of you. Or loud spaces may cause you to experience confusion as you can no longer hear the person next to you.

 

Couple wearing sunglasses

 

How you can help

This is all completely normal, but there are still some things you can do to help.

 

  • Get Checked Regularly: It is always a good idea to go and get your hearing and sight checked regularly. When you are younger, they recommend getting your eyes checked every three years if there are no changes. However, as we age the changes can happen a lot more rapidly and without notice. Get checked every year if not every six months if you notice changes. You should also be getting your hearing checked every six months as well to ensure to don’t miss anything.

  • Wear Sunglasses: Up until this point, you may have avoided wearing sunglasses outside as that is just one extra thing you need to remember. However, wearing sunglasses helps protect your eyes from the harmful sun rays. Because our eyes are already deteriorating, going out without sunglasses can worsen it at a rapid rate. Besides, all that squinting is just going to add crow’s feet and wrinkles!

  • Ear plugs: Wearing ear plugs may seem counter intuitive as you are trying to hear more not less. However, wearing ear plugs in loud or crowded spaces may help you. It prevents you from getting overwhelmed and allows you to focus more on the person speaking to you. It will also allow you to maintain what hearing ability you have left, rather than making it worse by overloading your ears with a bunch of noise.

 

Memory Loss

Memory loss may seem scary as it is often associated with things like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, memory loss on a minor level can be completely normal. Even when we are young, we all experience momentary lapses in memory, like forgetting where we put our car keys. As we get older, we continue to experience the same thing more often. Most of the time there is no need to worry about things like dementia, however, if you are worried or experiencing more memory loss then normal feel free to go get tested, it never hurts.

 

Elderly people playing board game

 

How you can help

Managing memory loss is quite easy once you know how.

 

  • Exercise Your Brain: Exercising your brain may seem like a weird concept, however, it can be very beneficial. Exercising your brain can be something as simple as doing a puzzle, as it helps retain memory and cognitive function. Or you could begin doing crosswords or sudoku, as they both require you to engage your use of memory. It could also be more complicated, like learning something new, such as a language or skill.

  • Make a Schedule: If you notice that you aren’t forgetting things all the time just occasionally, try creating a schedule. This will allow you to go about your daily tasks without much thought. If you do the same thing everyday it becomes easier to remember.

We hope this was helpful in allowing you to recognize normal signs of aging either in yourself or a loved one and some ways to help manage them. If you are interested in more health-related content, please check out the rest of our News page.

 

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Dried fruits and nuts on a bowl

 

When you come home from a busy day all you want to do is sit down, relax, and enjoy your night. The last thing that you want to be thinking about is “what can I make for dinner”, let alone whether it is healthy or not. With this busy world everyone is thinking about a million things at a time, your appointment on Monday, the kid’s soccer practice tonight, that report due in the morning. Taking the extra time to consider what you are making for dinner and if it’s healthy doesn’t really seem like a priority.

 

However, it may not have to be that complicated. Many everyday foods that you may have in your fridge or pantry right now, can have some surprising health benefits. By continuing to stock healthy kitchen staples, you can begin to create healthy eating habits with little to no effort. Simply taking the time to educate yourself on some common healthy foods can make the biggest difference. Having them on-hand when you start to cook can save you from just opting for pizza rather than a trip to the grocery store.

 

Here is our list of Top 10 foods you may already have at home that have surprising health benefits. It features all kinds of good and healthy options including natural remedies, anti-inflammatory foods, immune-boosting foods, and some surprising additions you may not expect. For further information on the health benefits of food and health conditions, check out the rest of our News page.

 

Dark Chocolate

Now you may be thinking, “but isn’t chocolate packed full of sugar?”. And you would be right, it can be most of the time. However, dark chocolate can be quite healthy in small amounts. Dark chocolate contains a higher-than-normal level of cacao and lower levels of sugar and milk, making it a healthier treat. It also contains healthy minerals such as potassium, zinc, and selenium, and has been linked to reduced risk of stroke and potential protection against harmful sun rays. When eaten in small amounts, dark chocolate can improve your overall health, and provide a nice treat.

 

If you keep pure cacao on hand, it can be used to add a rich chocolate flavour to smoothies and baked goods without adding any sugar at all! Eating a little bit of healthy chocolate can also satisfy your ‘choco-cravings’ and stop you from demolishing a party-size bag of M&Ms after dinner.

 

assorted bread

 

Bread

Another food that may come as a major surprise is bread. Bread is often associated with heavy amounts of carbs, sugars, and overall seen as an unhealthy food. However, the right bread can provide you with some missing nutrients. White bread is the type that contains all the harmful sugars and carbs. Whole grain, not whole wheat, bread is surprisingly healthy; it’s high in folate, iron, and fiber. It has also been linked to lowering your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, as well as lower levels of cholesterol.

 

All white bread, however, isn’t bad. Enriched white bread, which is white bread that has had additional nutrients added back in after the milling process, can have some good vitamins. Enriched white bread often contains vitamins B1 thiamine, B2 riboflavin, and B3 niacin. If you’re watching your waistline, limit the bread (and total carbs) on your plate to around 33% of your total calorie intake.

 

Pork

When most people think of lean and healthy meats, they often go to skinless chicken breast. However, pork loin or roast can often provide you with similar health benefits. Some cuts of pork can contain a lot of fat, however, the leaner cuts such as the loin or roast can often be just as lean as chicken breast. Pork also contains good B vitamins like B1 thiamin, B2 riboflavin, and B3 niacin. So rather than always going for that plain skinless chicken breast, maybe mix it up and throw in some pork loin every now and then.

 

Just remember that pork is still a red meat, no matter how much the pork board wants to call it the ‘other white meat’. Red meat can affect your cholesterol and studies show that eating a lot of red meat may be linked with certain bowel cancers.

 

Fresh, raw garlic

 

Garlic

Like many other spices, people only think of garlic as a seasoning, meant to add extra flavour. However, garlic can provide you with some great health benefits on its own. Garlic has been proven to be an anti-inflammatory food, lower cholesterol, improve your heart health, aid in digestion, and lower your blood sugar levels. It has also been linked to reducing cell damage and blood pressure. It can also help reduce your chances of getting a cold or the flu, so maybe consider it the next time you are starting to feel under-the-weather. However, like most things, too much garlic can be harmful; leading to bloating and heartburn so be careful how much you are adding.

 

Eating raw garlic also can be more beneficial than adding it into a cooked dish. During the cooking process it can lose some of its important nutrients. By eating it raw and whole, you can get more health benefits out of it. Raw garlic is also a natural remedy for when you are sick.

 

Black tea & Green tea

When thinking of healthy tea most people typically gravitate towards green tea as it is high in antioxidants. But what they don’t know is that black tea is also very healthy. Black tea contains something called catechins, which are a naturel type of antioxidant that comes from tannins. Black tea has also been linked to helping lower your risk of developing heart disease. So next time you are looking for a healthy tea, maybe choose black rather than green.

 

It's important to make sure you are following the correct methods for brewing the tea you have chosen. Different teas require different temperatures of water and steeping times. For example, Green Tea releases the most flavour and nutrients in water that is 175-180 degrees Fahrenheit. If you bring the water to boil (around 212 degrees Fahrenheit) it will destroy some of the benefits and make the tea taste bitter. Green tea should be steeped for 3-4 minutes and then the tea leaves (or bag) should be taken out.

 

Tomatoes

Whether they are a fruit, or a vegetable, it does not matter because either way they are extremely healthy. Tomatoes contain some of the highest levels of vitamin C, even higher than most citrus fruits like oranges. Because of their red pigment, tomatoes contain a very concentrated amount of vitamin C. This level only continues to rise when using tomato paste, because it has been concentrated and reduced even further. Tomatoes are also one of the few sources of lycopene, which has been linked to skin and other health benefits.

 

Canned tomatoes are a healthy option as well, just make sure you choose the no-sodium or low-sodium varieties. You can always add salt to the recipe, and control how much you add, so there’s really no reason to have it in the can.

 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms or fungi may not seem like much from the outside, but on the inside, they are packed full of good nutrients. All mushrooms or fungi contain high levels of vitamin D. Specifically, portabella and cremini mushrooms are also a great source of vitamin B2 riboflavin and B3 niacin.

 

A bowl of oatmeal with berries on top

 

Oats

Aside from being a very versatile food and quick and easy breakfast, oats can be great in other ways. Rolled or steel-cut oats, not instant, can be a great source of complex carbs, fiber, vitamin B1 thiamin, B3 niacin, B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyridoxine, folate, and iron. They have also been linked to a 21% decrease in heart disease as well as decreasing blood sugar spikes.

 

Nuts

Nuts can be very healthy, when they aren’t coated in mass amounts of salt or ground into sugar filled spreads. Unprocessed nuts can provide you with more nutrients than you think. They contain healthy minerals such as magnesium, copper, iron, selenium, and zinc. They are a source of healthy fats and have been linked to lower cholesterol and control appetite.

 

Nuts can also be an anti-inflammatory food source, promote cell growth, increase your overall energy, and improve digestion. However, you should keep in mind that the recommended serving size for most nuts is about an ounce or one handful. This number of nuts is good for your health but over doing it can reduce the beneficial effects.

 

Berries

Many fruits have been said to provide you with health benefits, however, berries such as blueberries and raspberries have some of the best health benefits. Berries are a great way to get a lot of your needed nutrients, they are easy to eat on the go, pair well with other foods, kids love them, and they don’t taste healthy which is always a bonus.

 

Berries are a great source of both vitamins C and K, as well as probiotics, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. They have also been linked to helping reduce conditions like type-2 diabetes. For more information about type-2 diabetes check out this blog post.

 

They also help reduce the risk for heart disease, as well as improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. Consider adding a side of berries to your lunch or giving a little extra to your kids for a snack each day.

 

Conclusion

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore, it can be as simple as stocking healthy kitchen staples. Most of the common foods in your fridge or cupboard right now could have amazing health benefits you just have to know what you are looking for. When it comes to developing healthy eating habits all it takes is to take a step back and recognize what you have and where you can make improvements.

 

Even when it comes to cooking methods for healthy eating, all you must do is reduce the amount of salt and bad fats you are using and start integrating healthy food choices. Consider food pairing for maximum health benefits. And remember it doesn’t have to be overthought or complicated, you probably have everything you need already at home.

 

If you are unsure where to begin your healthy eating journey, come ask a pharmacist at a Cook’s Pharmacy location near you! We are in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Wellesley, and New Hamburg, or give us a call. Our pharmacists are always happy to help and give you healthy recommendations. If you are simply interested in more health-related content, check out our News page for more blogs covering a wider range of health topics.

 

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Poshin Jobanputra
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