Tag Archives: aging

Could healthy fats help promote healthier aging?

healthy fats, omega-3, heart health, healthy, unsaturatedIt’s well-known that healthy fats can help improve heart health. But did you know that they could also help you stay healthy all over as you get older? Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of unsaturated healthy fats. You can find these fatty acids in plant-based oils and vegetables like avocado. However, you can also find healthy fats in seafood like fatty fish. It’s this latter form of fatty acids that has been studied recently in connection with aging.  Let’s take a look at what omega-3 fatty acids are, where you can find them, and how they can help you stay healthy as you age.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid you can find in plant-based oils like olive and flaxseed oils and other plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives. These healthy fats can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and sardines. The most common forms of omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  You may see the names of such fatty acid types on the label of fish oil supplements.

You can find ALA in the plant-based oils, and EPA and DHA in fish, fish oils, and krill oils. Fish oils come about when fish consume phytoplankton that eat microalgae. The fish then accumulates omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues.

How much omega-3 fatty acids should you eat each day?

Most adults should have about 1.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day, whereas those who are pregnant should have about 1.4 grams a day. Recommendations for children range from 0.5 grams to 1.0 grams, with younger children requiring less.

To give you an idea of how much omega-3 fatty acids are in certain foods, here are a few examples.

  • Flaxseed oil contains 7.26 grams of ALA fatty acids per tablespoon.
  • Chia seeds contain 5.06 grams of ALA fatty acids per ounce.
  • English walnuts contain 2.57 grams of ALA fatty acids per ounce.
  • Flaxseeds contain 2.35 grams of ALA fatty acids per ounce.
  • Three ounces of cooked Atlantic farmed salmon contains 1.24 grams of DHA fatty acids and 0.59 grams of EPA fatty acids.
  • Three ounces of cooked Atlantic wild caught salmon contains 1.22 grams of DHA fatty acids and 0.35 grams of EPA fatty acids.

Fish oil supplements are another option for fulfilling your daily fatty acid needs. A typical fish oil supplement contains about 1000 milligrams of fish oil that consists of 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA. An example of a high quality fish oil supplement is produced by Vita Sciences. The Vita Sciences Fish Oil contains 1000 milligrams of fish oil with 400 milligrams of EPA and 300 milligrams of DHA.

Omega-3 fatty acids and aging

So, what is healthy aging anyway? According to researchers at Tufts University at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science, healthy aging is a “meaningful lifespan without chronic diseases and with intact physical and mental function.”  To see if omega-3 fatty acids could help promote healthy aging, these researchers looked at data from over 2600 people. They looked at the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in of adults enrolled in the United States Cardiovascular Health Study.

This study observed these levels of the people in the study over about 13 years. Study results show that people who consumed more DHA-rich seafood were 24-percent less likely to experience unhealthy aging than those who consumed the least. Researchers suggest that these results likely stem from the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and improve heart health.

Other ways you can age healthier

Besides eating plenty of healthy fats in your diet, there are other lifestyle factors that can help promote healthy aging.

  • Stay active at least 30 minutes each day for most days of the week by walking, swimming, or engaging in other physical activities.
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours each night. Although you may not think sleep is more important than your daily tasks, it is more important than you think. This is because while you sleep, your body helps to regulate many processes. These processes include blood pressure, hormones, fluids, and body temperature, to name a few. Therefore, be sure to add a good night’s sleep to your daily to-do list.
  • Managing stress well through yoga, meditation, prayer, relaxation breathing, or talking to a counselor. This is because by managing stress, you can reduce inflammation in the body and in turn reduce risk of chronic disease. Therefore, be sure to make time to relax so your health can be at its best.
  • Drinking plenty of water each day to stay hydrated. This is because water is needed for many processes in the body. For example, water helps prevent constipation so waste can leave the body and it helps carry nutrients and oxygen to cells.
  • Consuming a plant-based diet with plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.  A plant-based diet is important because the antioxidants found in such foods help reduce inflammation. Not only that, but fruits and vegetables can help provide heart healthy fiber and other heart healthy nutrients like potassium.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

References:

Mayo Clinic (accessed October 21, 2018) “Nutrition and healthy eating: Functions of water in the body.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/functions-of-water-in-the-body/img-20005799

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (June 6, 2018) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.”

National Sleep Foundation (accessed October 21, 2018) “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Sandoiu, A. (October 18, 2018) “Seafood rich in omega-3 may promote healthy aging.” Medical News Today online.

 

 

 


  • Could hypertension affect your brain health?

    Do you check your blood pressure often? Do you know what your blood pressure numbers vegetables, nutrition, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart healthare?  If you are a young adult, it is very likely that these questions have not been at the forefront of your mind when it comes to your health. A recent study showed that in 2013-2014, only half of the 6.7 million young adults from 18 to 39 years old were treated for high blood pressure. Meanwhile, only 40-percent got their blood pressure under control.  However, blood pressure control is not only important for heart health, but for brain health as well. Recent studies have linked normal blood pressure levels with improved cognition in older adults.

    What  is blood pressure and what is considered a healthy level?

    The American Heart Association defines high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 140/90.  The top number is the systolic pressure, or pressure at contraction. Furthermore, the bottom number is the diastolic pressure, or pressure in between beats. A normal blood pressure level is 120/80.

    Risks of hypertension

    You may think that hypertension is only related to heart health. However, a high blood pressure can increase risk of stroke, which affects the vessels in the brain. In addition, those with diabetes may have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels as well as the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, those with diabetes should be extra careful to keep track of their blood pressure numbers to make sure they are in a healthy zone.

    In addition to heart-related conditions, hypertension can affect brain health. A recent study has found that older adults whose systolic blood pressure was above 150 mmHg had higher levels of mental decline than those below 120 mmHg.  This study looked at 1700 adults from 70-79 years old over a 10-year period. These individuals in the study were being treated for hypertension, but initially had no mental decline. Those highest numbers in mental decline were seen in African-American older adults. Such declines were linked to health conditions such as kidney disease, stroke, and heart health.

    How to improve heart health

    Besides medications, there are many ways you can work towards improving your heart health.

    • Limit processed food intake such as packaged and canned foods. Crackers, chips, canned soups, sauces, gravies, deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs, as well as frozen meals are all high in sodium. Stick to fresh foods whenever possible. Also, frozen fruits and veggies without added sauces and sugars are good choices for a heart-healthy diet.
    • Stay active often by engaging in moderate activity most days. Walking, biking, dancing, gardening, or swimming are some moderate activities to try. An activity is moderate if you can hold a conversation, but cannot sing while performing it. Stay active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for great heart health benefits.
    • Eat a fiber-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and whole grain breads.  Consume at least 2 cups of vegetables a day at meal times. Also, add in some low-glycemic fruits such as apples, oranges, and berries for snacks.
    • Stop smoking if you smoke, and don’t start if you don’t. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, which makes it hard for oxygen to flow to your body’s tissues and organs.  Quitting smoking is not easy, so visit Smokefree.gov on resources to help you quit.
    • Keep track of your heart health numbers. Your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood glucose are all important numbers to check each year.  Check more often if you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease. Also, check your numbers at least every 6 months if you have a diagnosis of prediabetes, diabetes, or heart disease.
    • Add a heart healthy supplement to your regimen such as Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains heart-healthy compounds such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic extract. These compounds have been found to support healthy blood pressure levels.  Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Medline Plus (August 21, 2017) “Lower Blood Pressure Best for Seniors’ Minds” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167931.html

    Medline Plus (August 28, 2017) “Young Adults may be ignoring high blood pressure” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_168063.html

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (February 2017) “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke


  • Blindness Rates Predicted to Increase Over Time

    You may not realize over 36 million people in the world are blind. In addition, over 200 million more people have moderate to severe vision loss.  A recent study has found that  blindness rates may triple by the year 2050. Therefore, better vision treatment is necessary to prevent theseeye, vision predictions from coming true.

    A study from The Lancet Global Health journal looked at vision statistics from 1990 to 2015. Those older adults in sub-Sahara Africa and Southeast Asia have the highest rates of blindness. Although the percentage of the world’s population that is blind fell from .75 to .5-percent from 1990 to 2015, rates are expected to rise.  Aging is the leading cause of blindness in the world.  Since most of the world’s population is reaching older adulthood, rates of blindness are expected to increase.

    More funding in vision treatment may prevent many cases of blindness, researchers suggest.  From 1990 to 2010, rates of blindness went down as investments went up in vision treatment.  Outside of funding for vision care, there are many ways you can help protect your eye health. Besides seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis, you can do the following to lower your risk of going blind as you age.

    • Stop smoking or don’t start since smoking constricts blood vessels and can prevent healthy blood flow in the body. This can increase risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye, among other eye conditions.
    • Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables that can support eye health. Foods rich in beta-carotene help to improve vision. This is because beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which is vital to preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.  Leafy greens like spinach and kale or brightly colored vegetables such as carrots contain beta-carotene. Eating healthy also helps to lower risk of diabetes, which in turn can lower risk of glaucoma.
    • Take eye healthy supplements such as Ocutain by Vita Sciences.  Ocutain contains eye healthy compounds such as bilberry, beta-carotene, as well as lutein. Lutein has shown to help increase density of the pigment in the macula, or center of the retina. This in turn protects the retina from macular degeneration.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

     

    Sources:

    All About Vision (June 2016) “How Smoking Harms Your Vision” http://www.allaboutvision.com/smoking/

    Medline Plus (August 3, 2017) “As World’s Population Ages, Blindness Rates Likely to Grow” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167592.html

    Prevent Blindness (accessed August 6, 2017) “Healthy Living, Healthy Vision” http://www.preventblindness.org/healthy-living-healthy-vision

    Your Sight Matters “Do Carrots Really Improve Your Eyesight?” http://yoursightmatters.com/carrots-really-improve-eyesight/