May 1, 2007
Table of Contents
A Special Food Pyramid for Older Adults
Tufts University has developed a modified food pyramid for persons 50 years of age or over, and the authors stress that it is especially important for those ages 70-plus. As we grow older, our bodies are likely to require fewer calories to maintain our ideal weight, but our vitamin and mineral needs remain constant or may even increase. The new pyramid incorporates those considerations and provides guidelines for ensuring the adequate intake and absorption of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12, nutrients that sometimes pose challenges in older adult diet planning.
To download a printable version of the Food Guide Pyramid for Older Adults, click on nutrition.tufts.edu/pdf/pyramid.pdf. To download the Guide to the Modified Food Pyramid, click on nutrition.tufts.edu/pdf/guidelines.pdf.
Here's a great fall prevention exercise that fitness professionals can supervise at the gym and that individuals can also try on their own at home. It's based on standard sit-to-stand training, wherein a participant practices getting up from a sturdy chair and then sitting back down again. Continued for several repetitions, the sit-to-stand maneuver is a staple of anti-fall conditioning programs because it strengthens the lower-extremity muscles necessary for weight-bearing ambulation. At the same time, it qualifies as a smart functional fitness exercise because it recreates an important activity of daily living: getting up and down from the seated position.
As all fitness professionals know, performing variations of tried-and-true moves can add a new element to a classic method, making it even more productive than before. That's what this new twist on the sit-to-stand drill is all about. As a matter of progression, it integrates additional balance and posture training into a conventional fall prevention activity. It might also spark some smiles and laughter, which generate their own benefits.
How-to: Over time, practice the sit-to-stand exercise regularly until you can perform it confidently with little or, if possible, no use of your arms and hands to assist in the movements. After mastering those basics, try the exercise while balancing a paper plate atop your head!
A little exercise can go a long way towards countering arthritis pain, according to a recent study published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy. The Australian study found that physical activity helps prevent stiff, aching joints that might otherwise gradually worsen and usher in disabling arthritis.
A surprising finding of this research was that it took very little exercise to discourage the development of debilitating arthritis. Of course, the more time the study's older subjects spent exercising, the greater their odds were of remaining pain-free. However, even exercising for as few as 75 minutes per week had a long-term protective effect, reducing the risk of developing chronic arthritis pain for the next three years.
Dental Care News
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, scientists have linked gum disease with the development of pancreatic cancer. New cases of pancreatic cancer (the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among Americans) appear in more than 33,000 U.S. citizens every year.
How could periodontal disease increase the risk for pancreatic cancer? Inflammation from the infection caused by gum disease can eventually create an environment conducive to the progress of other serious illnesses. Check with your dentist to ensure that you are taking effective preventive measures.
A Complicated Issue
No simple answers spring from a recent study of anger and heart disease published by the Journal of Women's Health. The investigation looked at 636 women, all of whom had chest pain or other symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD). The women completed questionnaires designed to measure anger level and classify one's response to it (that is, whether one tends to vent or hold angry feelings inside). Researchers also had the participants undergo laboratory testing to identify blockages in the arteries of the heart.
The results suggested a relationship between anger and heart problems in women, but no easy-to-understand rule. The authors found that women with a habit of outwardly expressing their anger ran a higher risk for artery blockages if they also: (1) were older adults, (2) had high cholesterol levels, or (3) had diabetes.
Interestingly, neither a generally hostile nature nor a high degree of suppressed anger were linked to an increased risk for CAD. And, to make matters even less clear, the very highest levels of anger and hostility (whether outwardly expressed or not) were found in women with serious symptoms of heart disease but no apparent blockages of their coronary arteries.
Researchers noted that these complex results might, in part, reveal women's frustration when they experience chest pain and other symptoms but fail to obtain a straightforward diagnosis of the health problem. They added that women with unexplained chest pain might benefit from psychological support to help deal with the emotional pressure of remaining undiagnosed.
Asthma and Aspirin
A recent issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine features a study indicating that regular aspirin use may help to prevent adult-onset asthma. Specifically, the data reflected that adults who took 325 milligrams of aspirin (that is, one single aspirin tablet) every other day were 22 percent less likely to develop asthma, compared to adults who did not. Individuals should consult their physicians about whether or not to begin using aspirin regularly.
Live and Learn
Life experience counts for a lot, as today's memorable quote expresses so well:
"The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person."
-- Andy Rooney
Experience! readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.
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