Dressing up your Oatmeal

 

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 This week the Scots will vote yes or no for independence.
So I thought this would be a perfect time to think about a traditional Scottish breakfast –
oatmeal

And now that the chill of fall is in the air,
there is nothing more satisfying than a hot steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

One of my “top 10” healthy choices

Oatmeal is a whole grain and one of the healthiest choices you can make for breakfast as it provides essential nutrients like iron, magnesium and B vitamins.  Oats are a combination of insoluble and soluble fibre. Oatmeal has more soluble fibre than any other grain. The soluble fibre unique to oats is called beta-glucan.

No matter what kind of oats you use, – rolled oats, quick cooking oats, instant oats or steel cut oats – you still get the same amount of soluble fibre. Steel cut oats don’t have significantly more soluble fibre than other types of oats. They are just processed differently – chopped up instead of being pressed through rollers into flakes.

Why is oatmeal so good for you?

  1. The expression oatmeal “sticks to your ribs” is so true because oatmeal is a very satisfying breakfast. It is slowly digested which gives you long lasting energy.
  1. The soluble fibre in oatmeal also helps to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol from the gut. Oats act like tiny sponges soaking up cholesterol in your gut and causing you to get rid of cholesterol instead of absorbing it into your body. This slows down the build up of plaque in your arteries and can reduce your risk of heart disease.
  1. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index meaning that it is slowly absorbed, producing a more gradual increase in blood sugar and lessening your need for insulin. Overtime this can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It also makes oatmeal a great breakfast choice for those with diabetes.

Cooking oatmeal is fast and easy
Quick oats from the bag cook up just as fast as the instant oatmeal in the packages and is a fraction of the cost. Quick oats can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. I like the microwave. Here is how I make a bowl of oatmeal for myself:

Basic Oatmeal
In a microwave-safe cereal bowl, mix ⅓ cup oats, ¾ cup milk, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1½ -2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Top with a sprinkle of brown sugar or maple syrup if desired.

Now let’s dress it up
A handful of raisins or crasins are often added to the mixture before cooking.  Here are some other ideas:

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
In a microwave-safe cereal bowl, mix ⅓ cup oats, ¾ cup milk, 1 apple diced (skin left on), a pinch of salt and a pinch of cinnamon. Cook for 1½ -2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Top with a sprinkle of white or brown sugar if desired.

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Banana Nut Oatmeal
In a microwave safe cereal bowl, mix ⅓ cup oats, ¾ cup milk, 1 banana, sliced and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1½ -2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Top with a handful of nuts (e.g. pecans or walnuts) and a sprinkle of brown sugar or maple syrup if desired.

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Other ways to give your bowl of oatmeal a fibre boost:
 1.  Add 2 Tbsp Bran Buds
2.  Add ground flaxseed
3.  Use Porridge Oats (a mixture of oatmeal, oat bran, flaxseeds and wheat bran)

Give your bowl of oatmeal a protein boost
You can boost the protein of any oatmeal by mixing an egg or whey powder into the milk or water before adding the oatmeal and then cook as usual.

Here is one combination that I really love to make:

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Protein Power Oatmeal
Beat 1 egg and ⅓ cup milk in a microwave-safe bowl until blended. Stir in 1 package apples and cinnamon instant oatmeal* (I like using the lightly sweetened version). Microwave on high until liquid is absorbed and egg is set, 1½ -2 minutes. Stir. Top with vanilla yogurt. Enjoy!

* Instant Oatmeal in a package, unlike quick oats from a bag, is fortified with iron, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and folic acid.

To see my interview on CTV News at Noon click on:  Oatmeal Dressed Up

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Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

How to get your kids to like veggies

Fresh veggies from the backyard gardens to the Farmer’s Market are here and taste so good!  However, there are challenges to getting some kids to enjoy them.  Here are some ideas that may help you.

Grow a garden
Grow a garden with your kids. They will love planting the seeds and watching the plants grow. But the best part is eating vegetables straight from the garden.  A favourite thing to do this time of year, is to eat some garden peas, fresh out of the pod!


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Cedriceating

If you don’t have your own garden, take your kids to the Farmer’s Markets and let them choose a vegetable. This week I saw a preschooler choose a purple cauliflower to take home just because she liked purple!

Offer veggies that taste less bitter
Kids are SUPER tasters and taste the flavours of foods more keenly than many adults. And that can be a challenge when it comes to veggies because vegetables can taste bitter. It is those healthy vitamins and antioxidants that they contain that give them that bitterness. Some veggies are more bitter than others.

For this reason, I like to give kids raw veggies that are not bitter, such as mini carrots, red and green peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes. I offer raw veggies with a dip because kids love to dip anything and a dip can take away from the bitterness of the vegetables.

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I have found that some veggies are less bitter when cooked. For example, raw broccoli is very bitter but if it is cooked for just 2 minutes, it takes on a much brighter green colour and loses its bitterness. Some vegetables taste milder when they are not cooked, for example spinach.

Offer veggies that are not mushy
Kids like vegetables with a crunch. Raw veggies are favourites. Many kids prefer the fresh green beans available now in the summer over the cooked frozen beans that we have all winter. Kids like veggies cooked until tender crisp and not mushy.

In fact, I have found that kids prefer to eat frozen peas frozen instead of cooked. When my kids were young, I just put some frozen peas in a bowl for them to eat as a snack. They loved them that way!

Give kids veggies when they are hungry.
Have kids start their supper with veggies by putting out some raw veggies and dip for them to munch on while you are making supper.  By the time supper is served they will have eaten their veggies and won’t need to eat them with the meal.

Enjoy those veggies yourself – your kids do what you do, not what you say.
Don’t force your kids to eat veggies. Don’t even say “Have just one bite.” Offer crisp veggies that taste good and enjoy eating them yourself. Your child may take some time but s/he will eventually enjoy them too.

To see my interview on CTV News at Noon click on:  Kids and Veggies

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Treat yourself to health!

Ruth

Summer Salad Dressings

In the summer, I love my salads.
With all those greens and added veggies, they are so very nourishing.
But to keep them light in calories and sodium,
here are some of the dressings that I like to drizzle over them.

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Calorie-wise dressings

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  1. Most creamy dressings have 70 calories/Tbsp.  So I choose light creamy dressings.  One of my favourites is Kraft Calorie Wise Ranch dressing at 35 calories/Tbsp.  I love using it as an easy summer dip for veggies.
  2. For potato or macaroni salads, I use Hellmann’s Light (1/2 the Fat) mayonnaise or Miracle Whip dressing.  At 40 calories/Tbsp, the calories are less than half those of regular mayonnaise (100 calories/Tbsp) with all the taste!
  3. When eating out I order my dressing on the side.  This is important because the average portion of salad dressings in a restaurant is 3-4 Tbsp!  At 70 calories per Tbsp for regular creamy dressings this can add up to almost 300 calories!  I dip my fork into the dressing for each bite of salad and use a fraction of the amount served.
    Better yet, order an oil and vinegar type dressing.  Creamy dressings cling to the leaves but a lot of the oil and vinegar dressing falls to the bottom of the bowl and you end up eating less.
  4. When at home go for Kraft Calorie Wise Italian Dressing.  At 5 calories/Tbsp it is the lowest calorie dressing I have found.  I like to use it as a marinate.  Add it to a mixture of cut up broccoli, cauliflower, mini carrots and grape tomatoes.  Let stand for a couple of hours in the refrigerator and then serve!

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Tasty, low sodium dressings

Homemade salad dressings that are fast and easy and low in sodium:

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  1. Add a dazzle of olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar straight from the bottle onto your salad.  Just like they do in Italy!
  2. Mix 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 crushed clove of garlic, ¼ tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

Commercial salad dressings:

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  1. The lowest sodium commercial dressing that I have found is Raspberry Merlot from Bolthouse Farms at just 25 mg sodium/Tbsp.
  2. Check out the sodium on the labels of the dressings in your refrigerator.  Some high sodium dressings I found were ones I thought would be low sodium.  For example:  Kraft Oil and Vinegar at 200 mg sodium/Tbsp and Newman’s Lite Balsamic Dressing at 175 mg sodium/Tbsp!

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Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

To see my interview on Edmonton CTV News at Noon, click on Summer Salad Dressings

Sugar Shockers!

Now that it is warmer, I often want a nice cold beverage to quest my thirst.  However, I tend not to choose regular pop, iced tea, vitamin water and fruit juices because they contain significant amounts of sugar.

Did you know?
1 can (355 mL) pop = 10 tsp sugar

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1 bottle (500 mL) iced tea = 11 tsp sugar


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1 bottle (591 mL) vitamin water = 8 tsp sugar

Juice, even pure unsweetened juice, contains about as much sugar as pop.
For example…
1 bottle (355 mL) no sugar added orange juice  = 8 tsp sugar

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1 juice box (200 mL) apple juice = 6 tsp sugar

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All this sugar adds up to significant calories.

Did you know that if you did nothing but have water
instead of 1 can of pop every day for a year,
you would end up 15 pounds lighter!  

Getting too much sugar from drinks can increase your risk of heart disease and strokes.  It can also lead to abdominal gas and bloating.  Kids who sip on a lot of juice throughout the day get cavities.  The juice can often ruin their appetite for the next meal.

Instead I like to quench my thirst with water.
If I want to add some flavour to my glass of water
I add a lemon wedge,
a package of True Lemon powder

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a splash of lemon lime diet pop,
or a squirt of Mio or Crystal Light flavouring.

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All are calorie and sugar free!!

To see my interview on Edmonton CTV News at Noon, click on:  Sugar Shockers!!

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 Treat yourself to health!  
Ruth

Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer

April is cancer prevention month.
Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer.

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Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada
and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.

On average, over 500 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every day
and over 200 Canadians will die every day from cancer.

Colorectal cancer, cancer of the large intestine,
is the third most common cancer in men and women,
after breast/prostate and lung cancers.

Early screening and detection is the best defense against colorectal cancer because it is curable in 90% of the cases when detected and treated early compared to only 10% when not treated until the advanced stages of the disease. People over 50 should have an occult blood test done every 2 years to help identify polyps (growths on the surface of the large intestine) in the colon early before they become cancerous.

The risk of developing each type of cancer is affected by a unique set of factors. In the case of colorectal cancer you are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer when you are over 50, have a family history and if you smoke, drink heavily, or are overweight. You can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer by being active (exercising at least five times per week) and by eating a healthy diet.

How can diet affect your risk of developing colorectal cancer?

Fibre probably lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.

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You can lower your risk by choosing high fibre foods at each meal:  whole grain cereals and toast at breakfast; vegetables or salad at lunch as well as dinner; trying beans and lentils at lunch (for example, baked beans, chili, lentil soup); and having one or two pieces of fruit each day.

We now have convincing evidence that red meats,
especially processed meats,
can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

There is convincing evidence
that 
we should avoid eating processed meats
(i.e. ham, bacon, sausage and hotdogs)
to reduce the chance of colorectal cancer.

 

Red meats include beef, pork, lamb and veal and are a valuable source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B 12.

Therefore to reduce the chance of colorectal cancer, it is recommended to not cut out red meat but to keep the intake of red meats to less than 24 oz of raw meat (or 18 oz of cooked meat) per week.

So how can you keep your intake of cooked red meat to the recommended weekly total of 18 oz?

  1. Have fish and poultry (chicken and turkey) more often. These do not increase the risk of colorectal cancer. So of the seven dinners in a week, make one fish, two chicken and four beef or pork. For example, have salmon or skinless chicken breasts/thighs on the BBQ instead of steak or pork chops.
  2. For lunch have a tuna salad, peanut butter, or egg salad sandwich instead of one made with processed meats.
  3. When you have red meat, choose a lean cut (e.g. beef tenderloin) and aim for a palm-sized serving (i.e. 4-6 oz). This is very different from the amounts served in many restaurants! When eating out, order the smallest steak available, usually a 6 oz portion, and have a salad, as well as cooked vegetables, with it.
  4. Extend your red meat by having stews, stir fries, chili or spaghetti sauce. This way the amount of meat in your portion is probably only 2 oz or less.
  5. Use meat alternatives such as beans or lentils for some meals. I find that this works better at lunch than at supper e.g. minestrone soup, black bean soup, and baked beans on a baked potato all make wonderfully satisfying lunches.

Food for thought…

Use your diet to reduce your chance of colorectal cancer:
Up your fibre. Reduce your red meat. Avoid processed meat.

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For my CTV interview on this topic, click on:   Diet and your risk of colorectal cancer

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Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

Ancient Grains

You can now find breads, cereals and granola bars
that contain ancient grains.

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What are ancient grains?

  • ‘Ancient grains’ are grains or seeds that have remained true to their original genetic form.
  • They originated centuries ago in northern Africa, South America or Asia.
  • They are rich in fibre and B vitamins and, depending on the grain, can be rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese and zinc.

Are ancient grains just as nutritious as whole grain wheat?
Yes, all whole grains are nutritious and each provides its own unique mix of nutrients.

What is not an ancient grain?

  • modern wheat – a hybrid, ‘dwarf’ variety of wheat bred (not genetically modified) to increase yields and improve disease and pest resistance
  • corn – most of the corn grown for food has been genetically modified to resist herbicides and certain insects
  • rice – genetically modified to resists herbicides, resist pests and increase nutritional value (e.g. Golden Rice that is higher in beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is being used to prevent irreversible blindness and death from vitamin A deficiency in countries where rice eaten almost exclusively e.g. China.)

Ancient grains include ancient forms of wheat:

  • Spelt
  • Kamut® (Khorasan)
  • Einkorm
  • Emmer (or Farro)

These ancient wheats contain less gluten than modern wheat but still need to be avoided by those with celiac disease or wheat allergies.  They may be bettered tolerated by those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  They are known for their pleasant nutty flavour and chewy texture.

Ancient grains include seeds which have been called ‘pseudograins':

  • Quinoa                      Buckwheat
  • Millet                         Flaxseeds
  • Amaranth                 Chia seedsP1120812

These ‘pseudograins’ are seeds, not true grains.  Quinoa and amaranth are seeds more closely related to spinach, buckwheat to rhubarb, and millet to sorghum.  They are all gluten-free.

Those with celiac disease have to avoid the gluten in wheat, rye, oats and barley.  That means that they can’t have hot porridge made out of wheat (cream of wheat or Sunny Boy) or oatmeal porridge.  Millet can be used to make a millet porridge that is gluten free.

Ancient grains also include:

  • Barley                        Rye
  • Oats                           Teff
  • Wild rice

Many people have used pot or pearl barley in soups and stews.  Barley flakes are used in breads.  However, pot or pearl barley has had its husk removed in processing and have been polished which removes a lot of the nutrients.

A new type of barley that has just come on the market over the past few years is a quick cooking barley which cooks up faster (i.e. in 10 minutes).  It isn’t as processed and is higher in nutrients and fibre than pot or pearl barley.  It is great used in a salad, a pilaf or in soup.  I get my quick cooking barley from Save On Foods.

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Ancient grains are worth trying!
I really enjoy the nutty flavour and a chewy texture
that they add to foods.

To see the CTV interview about ancient grains click on:   Ancient Grains

What type of chocolate is best for your heart?

Chocolate is a wonderful “melt in your mouth” treat
but, over the past few years it has also gained a reputation for being “heart healthy”.
But is it really?
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?

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Flavanols
The reason that chocolate has been thought to be heart healthy
is because of the flavanols that cocoa/cacao beans contain.
 

Flavanols are antioxidants
that have been shown to relax and dilate arteries.
This helps to reduce blood pressure.

Cocoa/cacao beans are high in flavanols.
They have a strong, pungent taste that comes from flavanols.
But the flavanol content of the raw cocoa beans is reduced
when raw cacao beans are made into chocolate.  

So the more processed chocolate is, the lower the flavanols.

Cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is the least processed form of chocolate.
However, some cocoa powders are further processed (alkalized or “Dutched”)
to reduce the bitterness of the flavanols (e.g. Fry’s).
This kind of cocoa powder contains almost no flavanols.

 Some cocoa powders are not further processed in this way.
These are called “natural” and contain significant flavanols.  

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In fact the Hershey’s natural cocoa powder shown here
states on their label that it contains 119 mg flavanols/Tbsp.
This is the only chocolate product that I found that stated its flavanol content.

Dark Chocolate
It is well known that dark chocolate is considered more heart healthy than milk chocolate.
This is because it is higher in flavanols.

However, most commercial dark chocolate is highly processed
and how much flavanols a particular chocolate has, is often unknown.
Being labeled “dark” chocolate is no guarantee.

Even labeling a chocolate bar as having a certain “% cacao”
isn’t a reliable guide to the amount of flavanols.
You really can’t tell if the cocoa powder used was processed or “natural”.

 So there are probably some dark chocolate bars out there that contain almost no flavanols.
However, some dark chocolate bars do contain flavanols.
The amount is just not on the label. 

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A recent analysis done for Nutrition Action Health Letter looked at three dark chocolate bars  – Hershey’s Special Dark, Lindt Excellence 70% Cacao and Dove Promises Dark Chocolate.  It found an average of 200 mg flavanols per 55 gram portion.  Unfortunately, a 55 grams portion would not be considered heart healthy because it also provides 300 calories and half the saturated fat (which increases blood cholesterol) you should have in a day! 

So what is your most heart healthy way to get the benefits of flavanols?

  1. Get your flavanols from apples, red grapes or tea.  Treat yourself to chocolate just because you like it, don’t count on it for your flavanols.
  2. Use natural cocoa powder to make hot chocolate, or to stir into vanilla yogurt or even oatmeal.
  3. If you want to have a heart healthy portion of dark chocolate, have only 1 small square, the equivalent of 10 grams.   Or perhaps dip strawberries in a small amount of melted dark chocolate.  Enjoy!!

To see Ruth’s interview on CTV News at Noon click on:  Chocolate and Flavanols

Have a heart healthy Valentine’s Day!!

Multivitamins are worth taking

Many adults take vitamin and mineral supplements every day, but how beneficial are they?  

Multivitamins vs single vitamins
The amounts of nutrients found in a multivitamin/mineral are similar to the amounts found in a healthy diet.  For example, in a multivitamin there is 90 mg of vitamin C – the required amount for the day.

In contrast, a single vitamin can be in large amounts and provide much more than we need or can absorb.  For example, a vitamin C supplement is available in 500 and 1000 mg doses.  We can only absorb 250 mg/day.

Vitamin

Adult Requirement/day

Examples of mega doses found in single supplements

Vitamin A 2300 – 3000 IU 10,000 IU
Vitamin C 75 – 90 mg 500 – 1000 mg
Vitamin B6 1.3 – 1.7 mg 100 mg
Vitamin B12 2.4 micrograms 250 micrograms
Vitamin E 22 IU 200 – 800 IU

More is not always better.  Mega doses of a vitamin don’t generally give you an additional health benefit over taking the required amount.  And mega doses can be harmful.  For example, mega doses of vitamin A (over 4500 IU/day) can lead to increased risk of hip fractures.  Mega doses of beta carotene has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and those who have worked with asbestos.  Mega doses of vitamin B6 (over 100 mg/day) can lead to tingling/numbness in the feet.

Do vitamin and mineral supplements reduce your chance of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer?
A recent review of 26 well-designed studies concluded that vitamin and mineral supplements in healthy, well-nourished adults did not reduce the incidence of heart disease or cancer.

However, studies have shown benefits from eating nutritious foods.  For example, vegetables and fruits have been shown to keep your heart healthier and fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, not vitamin C supplements, can reduce the chance of mouth cancer. It is always best to get your nutrients from food because food contains thousands of compounds working for our health versus a single vitamin or a multivitamin that contains only a handful of 10-20 nutrients.

Supplements have been shown to not reduce your chance of chronic disease, but is there still a good reason to take them?
Yes, in the form of a multivitamin.  

Many adults could benefit from taking a multivitamin because of 3 key nutrients that they contain in reasonable (not mega) amounts…

1.  Folic acid
This is a nutrient many of us need more of, but it is especially important for women of childbearing age.  This is because adequate amounts in the diet significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (e.g. the most common forms are spina bifida and anencephaly).  Folic acid has to be adequate for 2-3 months prior to conception and in the first trimester (before many know that they are pregnant) to make a difference.
This is so critical that folic acid has been added to all white flour and enriched pasta since Nov 1998 and has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects – rates have been reduced by 47% (Ontario), 54% (Nova Scotia) and 78% (Nfld) comparing before to after fortification became mandatory. So for women of child bearing age, the folic acid in a multivitamin/mineral would be good insurance.

2.  Vitamin B12
Deficiency of B12 can lead to megaloblastic anemia.  B12 in a multivitamin is especially important for people over 50 years of age because many in this age range do not absorb vitamin B12 well from food.  That is because B12 in food comes attached to protein and we need a certain amount of acidity in our stomachs to separate B12 from protein.  10 – 30% of older adults don’t make enough stomach acid to separate B12 from the protein in food.  Many are on medications to reduce their production of stomach acid.  However, the synthetic form of B12 in a multivitamin is not bound to protein and so is easily absorbed.

Vegans (vegetarians who eat no dairy, eggs, seafood) should also take a multivitamin to get their vitamin B12 because plant foods contain no Vitamin B12.

3.  Vitamin D
Many Canadians are not getting enough vitamin D especially in the winter months when the sun is not strong enough to make vitamin D in our skin or in the summer months when use of a sun screen blocks 98% of our vitamin D production.

  • Vitamin D is just as important as calcium for bone health.  Without it, we absorb 1/3 the calcium from our diet.
  • Inadequate levels of vitamin D have also related to muscle pain and weakness in the elderly (therefore effects the risk of falling).

We all need to take a vitamin D supplement from September to April (all the months with “r” in the name).  Vitamin D is found in multivitamins but it can also be taken as just vitamin D.  This is the one “single vitamin” that is recommended as the amounts are in line with our requirements.

Vitamin

Adult Requirement/day Examples of amounts found in a single supplement
Vitamin D 600 – 800 IU 400 IU or 1000 IU

The Bottom Line:  Take a multivitamin daily, especially if you are over 50 years.  Everyone in Canada – every  man, woman and child – needs to take a supplement of vitamin D (whether in a single or multivitamin form) from September to April. 

Click on the following link to see an interview on this topic:
Vitamin Supplements 

Treat yourself with quality this Christmas

Treat yourself with quality not quantity

this holiday season.

Fall and Christmas 2010 101

At a buffet,

get your money’s worth

by having one plate of

the most expensive, the most unique and the most exquisite foods.

Skip all the buns, macaroni salad and other cheap and ordinary foods.

When it comes time for dessert,

fill 3/4 of your dessert plate with fruit and 1/4 with a few delightful treats.

Eat them slowly and savour every bite!

Fall and Christmas 2010 108

At a party,

skip the chips and nuts

that pack  a wallop of uninteresting calories.

Instead, choose a couple of special appetizers

that your host has made or purchased.

Fall and Christmas 2010 110

At home,

be selective about what you bake.

Bake the treats that are your family’s favourites

and those that are most connected to your Christmas traditions.

To see an interview on CTV News at Noon clink on this link:
Choose Quality over Quantity this Christmas

Have a fun and joyful holiday season celebrating with family and friends.

Merry Christmas!!

Probiotic Yogurts

‘Live or active bacterial culture’ is added to all yogurts
All yogurts then are made by adding an ‘active bacterial culture’ to pasteurized milk and/or cream (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermopiles), which ferment the milk and give it its thicker texture and distinctive tart taste. This change in texture and taste happen because the ‘active bacterial culture’ convert about to a ½ of the lactose, or milk sugar, in the milk to lactic acid.

Yogurt is better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance
Yogurt is a good alternative to milk for those who don’t tolerate lactose well.  Usually people have trouble tolerating lactose because they have low levels of lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose, enabling it to be absorbed.  If lactose is not broken down, it stays in the gut and can lead to gas and bloating.  Many people with lower levels of lactase can tolerate small amounts of lactose.  So because yogurt has less lactose than milk, it is better tolerated than milk by those with a lactase deficiency.

‘Probiotic cultures’ are added to some yogurts
All yogurts are made by adding ‘live bacterial culture’ to milk and/or cream.  In the past decade, some yogurts have also had ‘probiotic bacterial culture’ added to them.  This is different from the ‘active bacterial cultures’ added to all yogurts.

‘Probiotic cultures’ are ‘good’ or beneficial bacteria which when taken in adequate amounts give a specific health benefit to the person consuming them.  We all have millions of bacteria in our gut –  mostly good and some bad.  Probiotics work to keep the colon healthy in certain circumstances by adding good bacteria to the gut.

Probiotic cultures are different from the cultures that are added to all yogurts in that:
a) There are many strains of probiotic bacteria.  (e.g.  Lactobacillus casei, BB-12® bifidobacterium lactis, LA-5® lactobacillus acidophilus)
Each specific strain has a specific benefit. 

b)  A specific number of probiotic organisms that are found in the product at the end of its shelf life must be stated on the label.  (e.g. 1 billion per 100 gram serving)

c)  ‘Probiotic’ implies that the organisms will survive the acidity of the stomach and the digestive enzymes of the gut to reach the large bowel.

d)  In the large bowel these probiotic organisms can be beneficial in a number of ways that are specific to the strain of bacteria used.  For example, some are thought to helpful to recolonize the gut with good bacteria after a course of antibiotics which reduce the numbers of all bacteria – good and bad.

e)  You have to keep consuming probiotics on a regular basis to benefit from them.

f)  While manufacturers can add strain-specific claims about the health benefits of a specific ‘probiotic’ added to their yogurt, there are currently no yogurts in Canada which contain a strain-specific claim.  Instead what you will currently find on a label are what are called ‘non strain specific claims’  such as:  “Contains a probiotic that contributes to a healthy gut flora”.

The Bottom Line:
All yogurts are good for you.  All yogurts are helpful to those with a lactose intolerance.  Probiotic yogurts may be helpful in specific circumstances.

To see Ruth’s interview on News at Noon click on:  Probiotic Yogurt