2/25/08- 2/29/08


Friday, February 29, 2008

Healthy Eating Payoff

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The monthly blood test results are in, and I must admit I feel good about the progress. My total cholesterol has dropped to the lowest level since I started the blog last October. It is now 166. On Oct. 1, 2007, it was 199 or borderline high. That is a 33-point drop. It was 179 last month. Not bad! I was also pleased to see that my triglycerides dropped to 79, down from 100 last month and 112 in October. My HDL (remember this is the good cholesterol) is up to 45. It was 38 last month and 42 last October. This is moving in the right direction. My LDL (the bad cholesterol) is down to 105. It was 121 last month and 135 in October. The HDL/LDL ratio is 2. It was 3 last month and 3 in October. It is beginning to look like a change in lifestyle affects your blood chemistry, which in turn affects your health. I will have the DEXA and weight data next week. I hope those reports are as good as the blood chemistry.

When you see results like these, you just want to continue eating healthy. I must admit, though, I haven’t been as strictly disciplined with the nutrition plan as I want. Traveling seems to make smart choices even more difficult. 

March is National Nutrition Month. We will devote many of this month’s blogs to the topic of smart choice nutrition. The data regarding proper nutrition and good health is overwhelming. As I used to hear people say, you are what you eat. 

National Nutrition Month is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign is focused on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Sure fits right in with this blog. So this month we will dedicate and focus ourselves on sharing with you my personal experiences with sound nutrition and exercise. 

Finally, do you know what a Locovores is? My local paper published an editorial this morning.  Hint: it involves food and where we get our daily supply of food. I’ll share more with you next week.

The guest blogger on Monday is the mayor of Oklahoma City. You will want to hear his story.

Nutritionist’s Response

The chancellor’s blood lipid values continue to change from month to month, and they are moving in the right direction. The optimal level for total cholesterol is 100-200 mg/dL, and his is 166, which is excellent. The normal range for triglycerides is from 0 to 149 mg/dL, and the chancellor’s triglyceride level was 79 this month. This has been coming down ever since October. The optimal level for HDL is a value greater than 60 mg/dL. The chancellor’s HDL is 45, which is higher than it was last month, and it is moving in the right direction. It is moving up. The higher the value, the better. He still has room to improve his HDL value. HDL will increase with exercise and a high fiber diet.

Blood lipids reflect what is going inside our bodies based on what we eat. The values will respond to changes in the diet. If we eat lower-fat and lower-cholesterol choices, blood lipid values will change accordingly. A diet high in fiber, whether the fiber comes from cereal grains or from fruits and vegetables, will reduce blood lipids. Also, exercise helps in reducing blood lipids. Total calories also influence blood lipids because if we overeat calories, we will synthesize fat and deposit it in the fat cells. It has to go through our bloodstream to be deposited as fat. Therefore, I can tell that the chancellor is eating a high fiber diet, he is exercising and he is not overeating based on his blood lipid values.

Heli Roy

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Go for the Green

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I recently wrote about the strawberry season, and I’ll let you in on another product becoming available this time of the year – greens. Doesn’t excite you as much as strawberries, does it? Me either. But I no longer have the aversion to greens that I had when I was young. Now I find greens an excellent complement to my nutrition planning. I don’t know how you like to fix greens and which ones you like the best. I was introduced a few years ago to a dish called “pot liquor” or “pot likker.” I’ve seen different spellings. It is a very good soup-like dish made of a combination of several types of greens, with some pork cooked in. It is low in calories, yet tasty. I use it as a meal. You might try it. 

I want to remind you again that an excellent selection of greens and other fresh vegetables and fruits are at your local farmer’s markets. Most cities and many towns have a farmer’s market where you can go and buy directly from the farmer. You just can’t beat fresh picked or plucked products. To me, once things get processed, they lose some of the freshness edge and quality. 

Have you ever heard of the term “polk” salad? It’s another green that resembles a turnip green. Turnip greens, collard greens and spinach are what I commonly call greens. Others include kale and mustard greens. When prepared properly, all are a great nutritional complement to any meal. I have even heard of a gumbo made of greens. One of our Cajun readers can give us the name, which escapes me right now.

It is time for the next monthly update. I’ll share some of the blood work and DEXA numbers with you tomorrow. Monday we have a great guest blogger. The mayor of Oklahoma City will tell you about an innovative program he initiated. You will not want to miss this one.

Go get some fresh greens from your farmer’s market and fix ‘em as you like ‘em.

Bill Richardson


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Devastation of Diabetes

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I was not able to get a blog written yesterday. Traveling across the state is my excuse. However, I also had more on my mind than usual. A dear friend, colleague and mentor is hospitalized, and I spent a couple of hours with him. He is dealing with his diabetes and has to have a leg amputated. As stark as that sounds, it is a reality. I write this not to upset anyone, but some days you have those seminal moments when reality does indeed have its way. I came face-to-face with it yesterday discussing the surgery with my friend and admiring the way he had accepted the reality of his situation. We made plans to go to an event in three months and walk in together. 

Diabetes is a horrible disease. I am not a medical doctor, nor do I pretend to be one. There is a lot I don’t know about the disease. I have never had to deal with it through any of my family. There is a staggering amount of literature that points to the relationship between obesity and diabetes. Perhaps if we can continue to pound home this point, then the scene yesterday in the hospital room can be avoided for others. If this blog can help just one person deal with obesity and the potential of diabetes, then it has been a success. 

I continue to struggle with weight and exercise. Traveling and eating three meals away from home make it difficult to follow a lifestyle-change plan. I have dramatically improved my eating habits but still have much room for improvement. On May 15, my friend (mentioned above) and I will walk into a graduation ceremony where I am the commencement speaker. I plan to talk about courage, and my inspiration will be my friend. We can make a difference in this battle against obesity. My struggle is only a blip on the screen compared to what my friend will face.  He is out of the operating room and talking. Now the hard part – learning to walk again. 

Let’s win this battle against obesity and help prevent diabetes.

Sorry for the downer today. Tomorrow I will talk about one of the foods that we all know is good for us but often don’t enjoy eating. Sign on to find out more.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Nearly 21 million children and adults – 7.0% of the population – in the United States are living with diabetes, and another 54 million people are at-risk.

If current trends continue, one out of three Americans, and one in two minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Your risk for diabetes increases as you get older, gain too much weight, or if you do not stay active. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Diabetes complications include heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and amputations. Keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol in control can reduce the risk for heart attack or stroke

According to the 2000 Louisiana Health Report Card, an estimated 365,000 or 8.4% (5.7% diagnosed and 2.7% undiagnosed diabetes) of Louisiana residents 20 years and older have diabetes. Of the persons with diabetes, 32% or 115,000 are undiagnosed or unaware that they have diabetes and are therefore not receiving recommended treatment to prevent or delay the onset of complications. More than a million additional persons may be at increased risk for diabetes because of the risk factors of age, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle.

Healthy eating is important for managing diabetes. Tips from the American Diabetes Association for making healthful food choices include

  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Try picking from the rainbow of colors available to maximize variety. Eat non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli or green beans with meals.
  • Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Try brown rice with stir-fry or whole wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce.
  • Include dried beans (like kidney or pinto beans) and lentils in meals.
  • Include fish in meals 2-3 times a week.
  • Choose lean meats like cuts of beef and pork that end in "loin" such as pork loin and sirloin. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Choose non-fat dairy such as skim milk, non-fat yogurt and non-fat cheese.
  • Choose water and calorie-free "diet" drinks instead of regular soda, fruit punch, sweet tea and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
  • Choose liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats that can be high in saturated and trans fats. Remember that fats are high in calories. If you're trying to lose weight, watch your portion sizes of added fats.
  • Cut back on high calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes, and full-fat ice cream.

Beth Reames


Monday, February 25, 2008

Smart Food Shopping

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I noticed in the paper this morning that the LSU AgCenter is sponsoring an event for you or your children to bring their companion animal out for a good time that will include some exercise opportunities. It’s called “4-H Fun Fitness Activity Day Focuses on Family, Fido” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Parker Coliseum. It’s sponsored by the 4-H Canine Connection Dog Club. Call the East Baton Rouge Parish Extension Office if you want more information at (225) 389-3056. I may even bring my good companion Whissie, my Pekingese puppy. He is not much on the exercise part but does like to ride in the car, and, of course, I can bribe him with food. The lobbyists may not be able to feed the legislators as well as they used to, but my pup Whissie can be bought with any good form of human food. Give him a little chicken and he is your best friend for life or until someone comes along with a better offer. Come on out and have some good wholesome fun and get some exercise. Remember, “Couch potatoes raise tater tots.”

I like grocery shopping. But I don’t go there for social reasons. It’s all business. Here are some of my tips for you. First, read the labels. I am appalled at what is in some of the stuff you can buy.  Often when I see something that is low in fat or sodium, it’s high in something else. Second, shop with a list. I do. If it is not on that list, I don’t get it. The reach-and-grab  method of filling the basket doesn’t work for me. I plan out the meals and try to shop for those specifics. Fresh fruit and veggies – and maybe an extra piece of chicken for Whissie. I try not to get too much processed food because it just doesn’t fit in my nutrition program. Only diet soft drinks, if any, and vegetable juice. And, third, when you are in the checkout lane, stay away from those counters of candy and junk food. Read below for more information on the things to consider when grocery shopping.

I‘m looking forward to a nice long walk later today. I hope you can also take the opportunity to exercise. It is more fun to grocery shop when you have a plan that is leading to a healthier you.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

For some people, grocery shopping for healthy foods can be an intimidating experience. Again, plan ahead and make a shopping list guided by the MyPyramid eating plan. Having a shopping list will not only keep you on track to purchase foods you need, but will also help you save money.

More tips from Smart Choices.

  • Use unit pricing to help you compare prices among different sizes, different brands (store brand and national brand) and different forms of a food (canned, frozen or fresh). Unit price labels are usually found on the edge of the shelf under each product and show cost per ounce.
  • Buy generic brands to get the same product at a lower price.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts label. A low-cost food may not be a nutritious food. Use the label to make healthy food choices.
  • Buy seasonal fresh foods when they are most plentiful in your area. Seasonal produce at a farmer’s market and produce stands usually cost less.
  • Compare cost per serving, not cost per pound when buying meats. For example, you’ll get more servings from a pound of ground beef that has no bones than a pound of spare ribs with a lot of bone and fat.
  • Be cautious of impulse buying. Buy only if an item is a good buy, nutritious and the family wants and needs it.
  • Beware of location or placement of foods. More costly items are usually at eye level. End-of-aisle displays are not always a bargain. Items that are next to register are usually not nutritious and cost more.

Denise Holston

2/10/2009 1:16:38 AM
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