Posted on : 18-02-2012 | By : Cindy | In : Exercise, Super-healthy...er...stuff, Vids
The Pounamu Prophecy - birth of a book Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That's the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy - my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving...
Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol? The short answer is yes - you can eat mussels if you have high cholesterol. Mussels are low in kilojoules, cholesterol and fat. The little fat they do have is mostly healthy unsaturated fat with plenty...
Bran Muffins These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling - a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don't expect to absorb...
Beat the flu with Chicken Noodle Soup It’s Queen’s Birthday holiday today in New Zealand and thank goodness, the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a sunny room writing this post, sheltered from the icy wind blasting up from Antarctica....
My nanna's recipe for homemade Rewena (Maori) bread Rewena Bread Step 1 1 c flour 1 tsp sugar 1 potato Peel and cut potato into small pieces. Place in pot with 1 cup water, lid on, and simmer to mashing consistency. Mash, cool and when luke...
Talk to most people over 40 and you’ll hear the same comments: “I just can’t eat, drink, run, stay up all night, read the fine print like I used to”. Youth is forgiving but after 40-something years of moving, breathing, digesting and gravity, our body starts to show signs of wear and tear. We’d expect it with any other machine. But most of us are still shocked when our body can’t keep up with what we think it should do. Some desperately grasp at supplements or surgery to retain their youth while, at the other extreme, some passively resign themselves that their bulging tummy and shrinking calves are just part of getting old. Aging happens. But how fast it happens is up to us.
Over the next few posts we’ll look at some common problems that hit the 40-something age group.
Middle age spread
Why it happens
Hormones, hereditary and lifestyle are the culprits in middle age spread. For women, the years leading up to menopause see a gradual drop in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen encourages fat to be stored around the hips and thighs but with less oestrogen fat tends to accumulate around the tummy. We transform from ‘pears’ to ‘apples’ – just like the men.
This is a great visual to show how much exercise you need to do to burn off certain foods. Once you get your head around it, you’ll realise it’s a bit scary – just one cookie and a glass of wine means you have to walk for over an hour! On the positive side, cutting out that cookie and glass of wine saves you from spending hours pounding the pavement. Some people exercise so they can eat more but this picture shows you have to do a heap of exercise to eat just a little more food!
… continued from part 3 … Move your body
As we age we lose muscle which makes us less steady on our feet and more likely to fall. It can be a vicious cycle: you fall – you’re afraid of falling again so you’re less active – you lose muscle strength so you’re more likely to fall.
Less muscle also reduces our basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the rate we burn energy. The lower the BMR, the easier it is to gain fat. And the fat tends to go on around our stomach and internal organs, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Not to mention ruining the look of our best clothes! We tend to accept this as a normal part of aging but researchers have observed that people who keep vigorously active throughout their life have a similar body composition and physiological function to younger adults. Even if you have been a couch potato, all is not lost. One study found that while people who had been physically active all their lives were about 60% less likely to have heart disease, even those lazy-bones who didn’t start serious exercise until after age 40 still had 55% less risk than those who stayed stuck in front of the television!
Regular exercise such as walking from the far side of the car park to the shops, taking the stairs instead of the lift, cycling with the grandchildren, swimming, dancing, golf, pilates and gardening have fantastic anti-aging effects. It helps reduce high blood pressure, increases the good HDL cholesterol that takes fat away from the arteries, gets the bowel moving, keeps joints mobile which helps with arthritis, keeps calcium in the bones so they stay strong, keeps muscles strong so you are less likely to fall, allows you to enjoy more food without gaining weight and gives a boost of endorphins – the body’s natural mood improver.
Be careful about the supplements you take
As our activity slows with age, we need less food but just as many nutrients – sometimes more. As well as vitamin D and B12, the B vitamins, especially B6 and folate are vital for a healthy brain, heart and immune system. Older people can also be low in calcium, zinc, potassium and magnesium.
Does this mean we need to rush for the supplements? It’s true that we need higher levels of nutrients to protect against degenerative conditions and disease than to simply avoid a deficiency. But food is always better and safer than a pill. Food provides all the nutrients we need – the ones we have discovered and those we don’t yet know about – in the perfect package for peak absorption. Supplements are sometimes in a different form from what occurs naturally so may not be as effective. Large doses of vitamins, minerals and so-called ‘natural’ herbal remedies can have potent, drug-like effects, especially in older bodies which are less able to handle it. They can also interfere with medication. For example, taking fish oil or high doses of vitamin E (over 400 IU) with aspirin or warfarin may cause excessive bleeding as they both reduce clotting. Taking just one vitamin or mineral can cause a deficiency in another e.g. zinc and copper. A multivitamin minimises this risk and many people take one as a form of nutritional insurance. But popping a multi-vitamin with your hot chips and jam sandwich doesn’t make a balanced diet!
An expert panel, set up by the National Institutes of Health, analyzed the research and concluded that there was a proven health benefit of supplements in just three cases: calcium and vitamin D to reduce bone fractures in post-menopausal women; vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper to reduce the risk of blindness in people with early signs of macular degeneration; and folic acid to prevent birth defects (not usually an issue for the over-65’s!)
Always let your doctor know if you are taking nutritional supplements, especially if you are on medication
… one more in this series tommorrow …