April is Oral, Neck, and Head Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, approximately 43,000 Americans are diagnosed with some kind of oral, neck, or head cancer. The most common risk factor for these cancers are tobacco use and alcohol consumption followed by poor oral hygiene and the human papillomavirus. Because digestion of nutrients begins in the mouth, it is important to make oral care a priority each day.
Function of the Oral Cavity
The oral cavity has four functions important for the maintenance of our nutritional status. The teeth cuts, tears, and grinds the food; the saliva helps soften food to create a “bolus” for swallowing while also digesting starches into simple sugars; the tongue manipulates the bolus and fluids to be chewed and swallowed; the throat transports the bolus and fluids to the stomach for continued digestion. In this cavity also includes two important barriers: the gum line and the mucosal membranes (lining of your throat and inside of your mouth). When these are damaged, either due to a cut or poor brushing of the gum line, bacteria can enter into these cracks and increase our risk to infections and chronic diseases.
Maintaining Oral Care
According to the American Dental Association, brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing between each tooth/gums, and using mouthwash helps improve oral health. For those who wear dentures, practicing similar oral care routines are beneficial. Wearing dentures while consuming alcohol or using tobacco can trap harmful substances between the denture and gum line posing risk for infections and chronic disease. It is also important to consider the moistness of your mouth. Dry mouth can increase the rate of plaque buildup, risk for thrush (an oral yeast infection), and mouth sores/split lips. When there are concerns for dry mouth, check with your doctor or pharmacist if you could be experiencing this side effect from a medication, try sleeping with a mouthguard, use lip balm, stay hydrated, consume hard candy to stimulate salivation, or use a mouth moisturizer like Biotene.
Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups help promote strong teeth and gums. Incorporate calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, fatty fish (salmon, tuna), and dark green leafy vegetables. Phosphorous, found in whole grains, nuts/seeds, eggs, fish, and even milk provide that an additional boost in strength. Get your gums pink and tight by eating Vitamin C-rich foods such as fresh fruits, colorful vegetables, and even potatoes. Do resist the urge of frequent snacking. According to Colgate, snacks high in sugar and starch speed up plaque development. Colgate suggests kicking these cravings aside for meals as saliva production is highest, helping to digest these sugar and starches.
Try this recipe packed with nutrition for strong, healthy teeth!
Healthy Potato Skins by Pinch of Yum! April 2015
April is National Soyfoods Month - make a goal to incorporate more soy into your meal pattern! Soy are one of the few vegetables that are considered a complete protein. Complete proteins are foods that contain all the essential amino acids for health just like animal protein sources. Unlike animal protein sources, soy is cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat which makes it friendly for a heart healthy diet. Like any bean, soy and soy products can be incorporated into any recipe or be substituted in place of animal protein sources.
Soy Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms.
Research on Japanese women, a population where soy intake is very high, found that they are less likely to experience menopausal symptoms. A 1998 study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed soy contains phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogen hormone) called isoflavones. When isoflavones gets further broken down during digestion, it gets converted into its active form that mimics estrogen resulting in a decrease in symptoms. The study did note that not all women react strongly to soy as an intervention, but is more commonly used today.
A Rich Source of Molybdenum.
Soy are rich in the mineral molybdenum - it helps the body breakdown sulfites from consuming animal protein products. Molybdenum prevents risk of toxic levels of aldehydes (cause facial flushing, rapid heart rates, hangover-like symptoms, etc) in the blood which are a by-product of alcohol metabolism. Though it is rare for people to be deficient in molybdenum as our body does not need a lot to function.
Iron is an essential nutrient that helps our blood deliver oxygen throughout our body to move and function effectively. When we are low in iron it can lead to concerns such as iron-deficiency anemia. It is a common misconception that iron must be consumed from animal-protein sources. One cup (~6 ounces) serving of soy provides on average 9 milligrams of iron! When compared to a 6 ounce portion of steak, steak has on average 5 milligrams of iron. To optimize iron absorption from plant-protein sources tie in foods high in Vitamin C such as dark green leafy vegetables (ie. kale, spinach), colorful vegetables (red or yellow bell pepper, red cabbage), fruits, and 100% fruit juice beverages.
Crispy Tofu with Maple-Soy Glaze,
by Chris Morocco, Bon Appetit, 2018
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four Americans over the ages of 65 fall each year. Of those, falls result in an estimation of 800,000 hospitalizations annually and are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults. Many factors can be attributed to falls including environmental hazards, weakness, unexplained weight loss, and poor bone density. Living in Minnesota, many persons are low in Vitamin D, an essential nutrient to build strength of our bones. Vitamin D is also naturally produced in our skin when exposed to the sun for just 15 minutes; however, the long winter months require us to find Vitamin D sources elsewhere.
Research shows Vitamin D not only helps with bone health, but also strengthens our muscles. Vitamin D helps our body regulate calcium to our muscles; muscles require calcium to contract and communicate with each other to move, function, and grow. As we get older, our ability to absorb nutrients efficiently becomes diminished. Multiple studies show that individuals with low Vitamin D levels are likely to have worse physical function (slower walk, performance, balance, strength, etc). Older adults who are home-bound or in skilled nursing facilities are at greatest risk for Vitamin D deficiency as well. This includes factors regarding poor appetite due to medications, not getting their food preferences met, lack of variety and ability to choose their meals, and other underlying conditions.
Boosting Vitamin D
Due to the interaction Vitamin D has with calcium, it is important to consider pairing calcium sources with Vitamin D sources to optimize absorption. Food sources of Vitamin D include:
When Is Supplementation Necessary
Ask your doctor to test your Vitamin D levels - they will make recommendations to determine if you require a Vitamin D and often times a calcium supplement. Make Vitamin D testing a part of your yearly physical to be proactive.
March 17th, 2020 marks the annual celebration to commemorate the patron Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Known as Saint Patrick’s Day in The United States, or The Feast of Saint Patrick in Ireland, the festivities often incorporate the heritage and culture of the Irish. Corned beef and cabbage for example, became a traditional American staple for the holiday. According to the Georgia Public Broadcasting Station, Irish immigrants in the 19th century developed this meal in place of bacon and cabbage as bacon was expensive at the time. Apart from food and festivities, throwing back a few too many is a common occurrence as well; but, you do not have to choose between healthy habits and having a good time. Here are some tips on how you can be safe while being mindful of your health.
Cabbage is Greater Than Corned Beef.
If you are looking to stay heart-healthy, corned beef is high in sodium and saturated fats. Instead, fill up on hardy, high-fiber vegetables like cabbage to increase fullness while still enjoying a small portion of corned beef. Not only is cabbage a great source of fiber, cabbage is also an excellent source of Vitamin C which is needed to help metabolize alcohol out of your system.
Be Mindful of the Booze.
Remember to have food in your stomach while you are consuming alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach increases the rate of absorption into the bloodstream. This poses risk for you to be able to think clearly, coordinate body movements, and take safety precautions. If you do consume, watch your portions and stay hydrated. Alcohol is also a diuretic and increases your risk for dehydration. If you are watching the calories to maintain your weight, choose options like light beers, red or white wine, or liquor mixed with soda water. Beware of tonic water as it is loaded with sugar.
Think Green for Health.
Green is the iconic color of Saint Patrick’s Day. Green also symbolizes nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that boosts your well-being! Try incorporating more green onto your plate. Avocados for example, are a great source of many B Vitamins which are essential for a healthy liver to metabolize alcohol and medications. A wedge of lime in your water provides magnesium and potassium to promote healthy blood pressure.
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Saint-Patricks-Day https://www.gpb.org/education/origins-of-st-patricks-day https://web.noom.com/blog/eat/2015/03/6-easy-ways-to-stay-healthy-this-st-patricks-day/
Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes March as National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Bite by Bite”. The philosophy of this theme is no matter how small of a bite of food or step you take in an activity, you become one step closer towards achieving wellness and reaching your goals. For this week’s topic, we will recognize the versatility of peanut butter as March is also National Peanut Butter Month!
Great Source of Protein
Though it is not fair to compare the amount of protein in peanut butter to animal protein sources, two tablespoons of protein contains approximately 7 grams which is equally comparable to another plant protein source like a ½ cup serving of cooked black beans! Peanut butter is also an affordable protein source compared to animal products at an average of $0.33 per serving.
Helps with Fullness
The American Heart Association recommends on average 20 - 25 grams of fiber per day to help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol; as well, fiber is also beneficial for a healthy gut and reducing blood sugar absorption. With two tablespoons of peanut butter at approximately 2 grams of fiber, paired with 2 slices of whole wheat bread, brings almost 6 grams of fiber!
Is Low in Fat
If you look at the nutrition facts label of a jar of peanut butter, you might be surprised that it contains a high percentage of fat. In reality, peanut butter is low in the bad, saturated fats and very high in good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Research shows a diet high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help reduce the bad, LDL cholesterol, and slightly increase the good, HDL cholesterol.
Multiple Varieties and Substitutes
With the prevalence of peanut allergies, this leaves many people out of an affordable protein source. There are now a variety of peanut butter substitutes out on the market including almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew nut butter, and more! In regards to the question, “Which peanut butter is better for you - creamy, chunky, reduced fat...etc”? There is no wrong answer for this - choose what you prefer and enjoy it. It is important to note that peanut butters (and any product) that are reduced in fat are often loaded with carbohydrates to make up for the loss in texture. This could pose a problem for diabetics; as well, often times reduced-fat items cut down mostly on the good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and not so much the saturated fats.
Is a Versatile Ingredient
Peanut butter is not just for sandwiches. Try it on a hamburger, make a dipping sauce with it for chicken, create an egg-free pudding, or even a dollop in soups to give it a bolder body.
https://www.verywellfit.com/black-beans-nutrition-facts-calories-and-their-health-benefits-4118125 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-peanut-butter-bad-for-you https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/33-peanut-butter-recipes-cooking-suggestions-article