KnovaSolutions Member Center Login KnovaSolutions Member Center Login
Healthy Diets Improve Health  — February 2020

Healthy Diets Improve Health — February 2020


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Unhealthy Diets Linked to Disease

Most of us know that healthy diets are important for health. They nourish and protect us against disease. In fact, unhealthy diets are linked to almost half of heart disease, stroke and diabetes deaths according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of the 702,308 U.S. adults who died from heart disease, stroke and diabetes, 45% of the deaths were associated with eating too few healthy foods and eating too many unhealthy ones. The top cause of death in this group was from consuming too much salt. About 70% of the salt the typical American eats comes from foods like bread, pizza, cold cuts, cured meats, soups, burritos, tacos, chips and cheese. Eating too much processed meat and drinking too many sugary drinks were right behind salt, as well as not eating enough nuts and seeds, fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and “good” fats.

Bowl of broccoli, red pepper, tomato, cucumbers and greens

It’s not just these conditions that can be triggered or worsened by eating a poor diet. Cancer, gout, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, chronic pain and kidney disease are among conditions linked to poor eating habits.

The Low Down

Table salt is a combination of two minerals, sodium and chloride. Our nerves and muscles need some sodium to function properly; it also helps keep the right balance of fluids in the body. But if our body has more sodium than the kidneys can process, it builds up. This can lead to high blood pressure, which can lead to other health concerns. Nutritionists recommend that we eat less than a teaspoon (2,300 mg) of salt a day, and those who are sensitive should eat less.

Most of the sodium in the typical diet comes from processed food. That doesn’t make all processed foods unhealthy though. Practically all the foods we eat are processed, that is, changed, prepared or packaged, in some way. However, there is a big difference between minimally processed and highly processed foods.

Minimal processes like cleaning vegetables and vacuum packing meats are done to increase food safety and to keep them fresher. Canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna are processed at their peak to retain their nutritional value. Even pressing olives to get olive oil (one of the healthiest of ingredients) is a form of processing.

On the other hand, highly processed or ultra-processed foods undergo several steps. Ingredients like sweeteners, salt, oils, artificial colors, flavors and chemical preservatives are added. Processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausage, pepperoni, beef jerky and deli meats) are preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by adding chemicals. Nitrates and nitrites are chemicals added to keep processed meats fresher longer. Eating red meat and processed meat are associated with colorectal cancer.

Refined or processed carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, low-fiber cereals, some crackers, chips and packaged baked goods. Processing the grains used to make these items removes their nutritional benefit and often involves adding trans fats, salt and/or sugars. These foods cause blood sugar levels to spike and then fall, leaving us feeling tired. Sugary drinks (soda, fruit drinks and sports beverages) can do the same. Plus, they can add as many calories as a meal without offering any nutrients. A 12 ounce can of soda equals 10 teaspoons of sugar! Drinking empty calories (calories without nutrients) can cause weight gain and increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Ok, Got It!

Since you know the dangers of highly processed, salty and sugary foods, let’s focus on healthier options! Think of your changes as adding certain foods, not just cutting back on others. Since no single food will make you magically healthy, try to build your overall diet around real foods, fresh from the ground, ocean or farm. Eat more:

  • Healthy fats like olives and olive  oil, fish oil (from salmon, trout, sardines, albacore tuna), avocado, raw nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds) and flaxseeds. Avoid: fried food, fast food and processed snack foods.
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen. Shoot for 7-9 servings per day. An apple, banana, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables and 1 cup of greens count as a serving. Avoid: packaged fruits and vegetables with added sugar and salt.
  • Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods (breads, cereals and pasta made from whole grains or legumes). Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are members of the vegetable family. Avoid: white or egg breads, sugary cereals, white rice and pasta made with white flour.
  • High quality protein like chicken, fish, tofu, legumes and eggs. Try adding more plant protein, for example, split pea soup, stir-fried tofu, and bean salads. Avoid: processed meats and red meat (if you do eat it, chose lean cuts and have it no more than once a week).
  • Low-fat or non-fat dairy products if dairy is part of your diet (some people are sensitive to it). Skim or 1% milk, non-fat yogurt, low or non-fat cottage cheese and reduced fat cheeses are the best options. Avoid whole milk/cheeses and processed cheese.

If you’re wondering how to make these changes, here are some ideas. Read food labels (see below) so you know what you’re getting. Consider growing fruits and vegetables. A container works in very limited space and is a fun way to grow some food, even if it’s only a tomato plant or herbs. Cook more meals at home so you can control what gets added. If you’re short on time, buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit; they can be added to a meal or taken to work as a snack. While you’re working on adding healthy foods, try to replace sugary drinks with water.

Decoding Food Labels

  • The longer the list of ingredients, the more processed a food is. Watch for these ingredients:
  • Sugar can be listed as honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, dextrose, malt syrup and molasses. The American Heart Association recommends that women not exceed 100 calories (25 grams) and men 150 calories (37.5 grams) of added sugar a day.
  • Other words for salt include monosodium glutamate and disodium phosphate. Notice how many milligrams of sodium are in a serving. Remember not to exceed 2,300 mg a day.
  • Saturated and trans fats may be listed as butter, margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortening, palm oil and lard. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, it’s recommended that you get 44 to 78 grams of fat per day. Of that, saturated fat should be no more than 22 grams.
  • Preservatives like ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and tocopherols prevent spoilage. Emulsifiers such as soy lecithin and monoglycerides prevent separation of liquids and solids. Thickeners such as xanthan gum, pectin, carrageenan, guar gum add texture. Colors can be added to make a food more pleasing like artificial FD&C Yellow No. 6 or natural beta-carotene.

We’d like to help you adopt a healthy diet! Give KnovaSolutions a call at 800/355-0885, Monday to Friday, 8 am-8 pm, Mountain Time.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019

Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Plus, Healthcare Tips When Traveling

The holidays are here, it’s cold and flu season, and you’re leaving town to visit family. What happens if you or a family member gets sick at night, at home or away?

Assuming you are reading this when you don’t have immediate needs for medical care, you probably have time to plan for off-hour medical situations. That’s right, with a little bit of research, you can be better prepared to make decisions about seeking the most cost-effective option for the situation.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Pass the Tissues! — November 2019

Pass the Tissues! — November 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold, the Flu and Allergies

It’s that season again. When you first start to feel lousy, it’s sometimes hard to know whether it’s a cold, the flu or allergies acting up. Knowing the difference may help you pick the best treatment. All three ailments affect the respiratory system and can make it harder to breathe.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

What Changes Are Happening Inside You?

Being 50 or older can be a fulfilling time of life. You are more experienced and wiser. You have a broader view of the world and may be able to take challenges in stride more effectively. If you’ve raised children, they are likely on their feet, or getting there. You may even be enjoying grandchildren or having more time to pursue your interests.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Believing You Can Cope — September 2019

Believing You Can Cope — September 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

In the children’s story, The Little Engine that Could, the little engine agrees to pull a long, broken-down train over a high mountain after larger, more powerful engines refuse. “I think I can, I think I can,” said the little engine. And when it’s successfully coming down the other side, he said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019

Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Do you ever wonder how the blueberries or chicken you eat get broken down into fuel for the body? The digestive system is made up of organs that each have different roles in processing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and liquids. Each organ works to break food into smaller parts and move nutrients to where they can be absorbed. Spoiler: the next section describes the digestion process; skip if you don’t want the details!

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Work-Life Integration — July 2019

Work-Life Integration — July 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance was introduced in the 1970’s as baby boomers struggled to balance their careers, families, friends and hobbies with staying healthy. The idea is to ‘balance’ your work with your private life. Work-life balance means focusing on your job when at work and making time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, as well as engage in other activities you enjoy.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019

Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Taking medicine is part of a daily routine for many people. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)medications treat disease and improve health in many ways. Lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing pain—these are just some of the helpful effects. Along with the benefits of feeling better and getting well, medicines also pose the risk of unwanted side effects or unexpected adverse events.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Food for Thought — May 2019

Food for Thought — May 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Our brains never rest. They hold down a highly specialized 24/7 job. As one of our largest and most complex organs, the brain contains more than 100 billion nerves that communicate through synapses, or connections, to control thinking, breathing, memory, sleep, hearing, digestion, feelings, heart rate, and so much more. Think of your brain as your body’s command center; it controls everything! Weighing just 3 pounds, the brain has a hefty job.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

Continue Reading
Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Taking These (and Supplements) Safely

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are easy to find at the store. They offer relief from common health problems like stuffy noses, seasonal allergies and achy muscles. They also can help prevent problems like constipation and nausea. You may feel empowered to solve a health issue without having to see your primary care provider for advice or a prescription.
Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

No matter our age, our bodies need calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as other important functions. However, without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t be absorbed by the body. What happens then? The body draws from calcium stored in the bones, which weakens them and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile, brittle and prone to breaks. Maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels in a healthy range over your lifetime can help prevent the risks of weak bones, teeth and other potential issues.

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Can They Be Prevented or Reversed?

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. One in two adults has a chronic disease and one in four has two or more, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

When it comes to our health, there are things we can’t control and those that we can try to influence. We can’t change our genetic makeup, gender, race or age—some of the factors that can make us more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. However, many health conditions are caused by lifestyle factors that we do have some ability to manage—our diet, exercise, stress management, weight and smoking habits.

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

How to Enjoy It While Staying Safe

Picnics, roasting marshmallows, swimming, camping, fishing—you name it—these are the treasures of summer. With longer days and schools closed, summer often means vacation time. But even if your summer doesn’t include a vacation, you’ve likely shed some layers and are spending more time outdoors. Being outside is a great way to reboot and revive the mind. To make the most of this more relaxed season, remember to take a few precautions to keep you and your family safe.

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Working Smart — June 2018

Working Smart — June 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Finding Your Way to Workplace Wellness

Fulltime workers spend, on average, more than one-third of their day, five days per week at their place of work. We rely heavily on the fruits of our labor: skills, confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, an income. Since our work life is so important to our livelihood, it makes sense to work smart. Workplace health and wellness includes activities and policies designed to promote the well-being of employees, support health behavior in the workplace, and decrease the risks of injuries. Employees can experience greater job satisfaction by making some key adjustments in the workplace.

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

How to Improve Your Resiliency

Your mental health and wellness affects practically every aspect of your life—how you think, feel and act at home and work, with family, friends, colleagues and the general public. People who are emotionally healthy tend to go about their day with a sense of purpose. They engage in enjoyable activities and balance them with their work and family life. They have fulfilling relationships and have a positive outlook.

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail
Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

And What to Do When Your PCP Isn’t Available

Your primary care provider (PCP) is that professional you see every year or so for preventive screening or more often if you are managing ongoing health concerns. S/he’s also the one you call when you get sick or develop concerning new symptoms. But, what if your PCP isn’t available? Your options depend upon the circumstances.

Wait, Back Up!

Continue Reading

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Copyright © 2020 HCMS Group LLC.

All rights reserved.