Hannibal Regional Blog

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Our blog offers content about healthcare, healthy living and the culture at Hannibal Regional.


Beyond Weight Loss

The power of food is infinite. I love when people ask me for nutrition advice, because talking about nutrition is truly my passion. I believe that what we put in our body is the force behind everything that takes place within our body. Nutrition is a challenging topic, with continuously changing research, media hype, poorly written nutrition claims and more confusion than the average person can keep up with. It is easy to get lost in the world of nutrition. “What not to eat?” “What diet to follow?” “When and how to eat?” However, what most people lose sight of is the power that food has to offer, the good that food does for our body and that food can actually improve our mental and physical well-being. As you can imagine, the number one reason that people ask me for nutrition advice, is because they have a goal in mind. That shared goal, is often weight loss. Rather than weight loss being the driver for our food choices, let’s make food choices for a reason OTHER than weight loss.  Eating healthy has far more benefits than decreasing the number on the scale, or going down a pant size. Filling up on the right foods have been shown to provide feel-better benefits and improving overall well-being. Benefits of a healthy diet range from improved heart and brain health, to a higher chance of being successful at work!  Below are ten reasons to eat healthy - other than weight loss.

It makes you happy
Fast food and pastries that are high in trans fat and sugar can throw off your brain’s levels of mood-regulating chemicals to spur symptoms of depression. Research consistently shows that health-promoting nutrients—such as omega 3's from fatty fish, and vitamin D in dairy - can boost your mood and combat depression.

It Makes You Smarter
Research from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging shows that eating a diet high in saturated and trans fats from fried and processed foods reduces your cognitive abilities. Meanwhile, high intakes of omega 3's from foods like fish, walnuts, and avocados improves brain function.

Improves your activity level
Food is fuel. Every one of your dietary decisions throughout the day impacts your exercise performance, as well as your productivity at work and other life decisions you make throughout the day. Consistently getting the hydration, and vitamins/minerals from nutrient dense foods you need, keeps your body primed and ready to work its best. 

It Scores You Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep will not only help you make good food choices, but good food choices also help you sleep more soundly through the night.

It Slashes Stress
Food choices have a huge influence on the level of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine as well as your levels of stress-inducing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Foods high in antioxidants such as dark chocolate, and deeply colored fruits and vegetables help reduce stress related hormones.

Healthy Skin
Staying hydrated, choosing foods with omega-3 fats, and eating more fruits and vegetables can help the body fight dry skin in the winter. Fish is the best source of omega-3 fats, but plant foods such as flax, chia and hemp seeds and walnuts also are good sources

Fight Inflammation
Inflammation is linked to everything from stress and brain fog to heart disease and cancer. According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who eat whole grains over refined ones cut their levels of C-reactive protein—a key indicator of inflammation—by 38 percent.

Boost Immunity
Consuming yogurt and other fermented foods containing probiotics, along with complex carbs (whole grains) can strengthen your immune system to reduce your likelihood of infections. (Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology)

Heart Health
Women are more likely to die from heart disease than from anything else. Luckily, all weight loss aside, eating right can help cut your risk. For instance, one New England Journal of Medicine study found that people who eat about a handful of nuts every day were 29 percent less likely to die from heart disease.

It Prevents Osteoporosis
Strong diet = strong bones. Apart from getting adequate dairy, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends consuming fish, fruits, and veggies. It also states that getting your sodium intake into a healthy range (a.k.a. nixing processed foods) can help ward off osteoporosis.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian

 


All Types of Olive Oil Benefit Heart Health

Research shows that all types of olive oil – from extra virgin to extra light tasting – can reduce the risk of heart disease. That's because all types are equal in heart-healthy fatty acids. This is good news for people who want the heart benefits of olive oil but prefer a milder flavor or lower price. Try this loaded Mediterranean humus drizzled with olive oil for a snack, meal or party pleaser.

Loaded Mediterranean Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 cups original hummus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup green or orange bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup black olives sliced
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chopped

Instructions

  1. Spread hummus over plate or serving dish
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and paprika
  3. Top with red bell pepper, olives, pine nuts, feta cheese and cilantro
  4. Serve with whole wheat crackers, pitas, chips or veggies

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian


The Mediterranean Diet

A cross-cultural prospective study that began in 1958 lasted for 50 years, studying 7 countries having varied traditional eating patterns and lifestyles. The term “Mediterranean diet” was derived from the foods and lifestyle enjoyed by the people living in proximity to the Mediterranean Sea during the late 1940’’s, 50s and 60s. This population had surprisingly low rates of heart disease and long lifespans compared to most other populations. This diet, was locally sourced, and comprised of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seafood, olive oil, some poultry and some dairy, occasionally red meat and red wine in moderation. Daily walking and physical activity was a way of life.

My top recommendations overall healthy eating habits:

  • Pack on the produce: veggies and fruit should be the main focus at meals and snacks.
  • Prioritize good-for-you fats: plant-based oils such as olive oil and other monounsaturated fats such as tree nuts.
  • Eat more seafood: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) served at least once a week.
  • Choose 100% whole grains: farro, buckwheat, bulgur, wheat, brown rice and oats, or products made with 100% whole wheat flour or grains.
  • Enjoy conscious indulgences: dark chocolate, dried fruits, sweets, and baked goods in moderation.
  • Think quality over quantity: limit/eliminate added sugar, refined grains, processed meats, and other high processed foods.
  • Provide enrichment — of multiple varieties: cooking with herbs and spices, enjoying favorite restaurants, and trying new flavors.

What makes this "diet" so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It's all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging yet being mindful, and making time for plenty of physical activity. Fill up on tons of veggies, fruit, 100% whole grains, pulses (beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils); choose lean protein like seafood, eggs, and small portions of meat; and savor sweets in smaller amounts.

*Please note these recommendations are for the average adult, certain health conditions/diseases are inconclusive to these recommendations.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian


Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet Top the Chart for 2018

According to recent findings from U.S. News and World Report, the best diets of 2018 include the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet (both tied at #1). This year’s worst diets included the Keto diet, Dukan diet and Whole30 (all tied at #39). I could not agree more with these findings. As a registered dietitian at Hannibal Regional, I provide numerous diet education to various patients. A diet should be one that is individualized to each patient, yet focuses on an end result of better health and chronic disease prevention. Diet fads are everywhere. Better health and weight loss should be driven by choices that over time, become habits which promote lifelong change. Stay tuned for a breakdown of the Mediterranean and DASH diet guidelines, and tips to incorporate these strategies into your lifestyle.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian


Blissful Holiday List

What a wonderful time of year. For many, it is a time to enjoy favorite foods, music, family, and decorations. Along with this can come stress from too much to do and not enough time. Here are some self-care tips that will only take minimal time but keep you healthy.

Sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with increased hunger, poor concentration, increased illness, and poor decision making. Sleep 7 hours a night or make nap time a priority.

Hydrate. Not drinking enough water can leave you feeling fatigued and increase your appetite. Add a splash of fruit juice or cucumbers to spruce up your routine.

Gratitude. Take a moment each night before sleeping to list three things you are grateful for that day. This will help create a positive mind-shift that will leave you feeling happier.

Teeth. Taking care of you includes taking care of your teeth! Make sure to brush teeth twice daily and floss at least once per day. Sugar build up can inflame your gums which can increase your blood sugar and chance of infections.

Eat Mindfully. This is the most wonderful time of year to enjoy traditional foods and treats. Be mindful about how hungry and full you are. Slow down when eating and enjoy the taste and texture of each food. Place appetizers on a plate so you can visualize how much you have eaten instead of grazing with your hands. Allow yourself to indulge in a treat when desired otherwise restriction can lead to overindulgent later and that terrible overstuffed feeling.

Move. Instead of being sedentary after meals find an activity that you enjoy and just move for 10 minutes. This will make a big difference in the way you feel. Add in an extra bonus for finding an outdoor activity and getting a dose of fresh air in at the same time.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Holiday Season.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian