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Lower Your Cholesterol with These Tips from the Phoenix Senior Care Experts!

Phoenix Senior Care

Take these steps to lower your cholesterol.

If your doctor has warned you that your cholesterol is creeping upward, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve it before trying cholesterol-lowering medication. And if you already take medication, the tips below can actually improve the cholesterol-lowering qualities of your medication.

It’s helpful to understand what cholesterol is, and how it can affect your health. Cholesterol is manufactured in your liver and has several important functions. It helps to keep the walls of your cells flexible and is necessary in the production of several hormones. But, like anything else…too much of it can create problems.

Cholesterol is transported in the body by molecules called “lipoproteins” which carry cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood. Lipoproteins levels in the blood are used to determine cholesterol levels. You may have heard that low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are bad. This type of lipoprotein carries cholesterol to deposit it on blood vessel walls, leading to clogged arteries, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure and heart attack. So, it is important to lower this level. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good lipoproteins, helping to carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and preventing artery-clogging disease. So, it is important to raise this level.

Your hereditary influence is something you won’t be able to change, but how you manage other high-risk influences can make a difference. Listed below are lifestyle changes that can help you lower your cholesterol while improving health and quality of life, courtesy of the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare:

WATCH YOUR FATS

  1. Focus on Monounsaturated Fats

Your doctor may recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, but often a diet low in fats can reduce not only your harmful LDLs, but may also reduce the beneficial HDLs. In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats will reduce harmful LDLs but also protect higher levels of healthy HDLs. A few good sources of monounsaturated fats:

  • Olive oil and olives
  • Avocado
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts and cashews
  • Canola oil
  1. Use Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fats

Studies show that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some good sources are:

  • Fish oil supplements
  • Seafood with high fatty content: salmon, mackerel, herring, bluefin and albacore tuna
  • Seeds and tree nuts (not peanuts)
  1. Eliminate Trans Fats

Trans fats are handled differently by the body than other fats. They can increase total cholesterol and LDLs, and also decrease the beneficial HDLs. Use of trans fats leads to heart attack and stroke. In the US, food companies are required to list trans fats on nutrition labels. However, they are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their label says “0 grams.” Read further on the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, avoid it, as it contains trans fat! Foods that contain trans fat include:

  • Margarine
  • Store-bought cookies and crackers
  • Fried fast food
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Non-dairy creamer

INCREASE SOLUABLE FIBER 

Soluble fiber actually reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream by increasing probiotics or “good bacteria” in your intestine. These bacteria will reduce harmful lipoproteins and LDLs. The best sources for soluble fiber include:

  • Beans
  • Peas and lentils
  • Fruit: apples and pears
  • Oats and whole grains: not the quick-cooking oats, which have the fiber processed out
  • Fiber supplements like psyllium

ADD WHEY PROTEIN 

Whey protein found in dairy products can help lower both LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. Foods containing whey protein include:

  • Milk
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Whey protein powder

AVOID SUGAR 

If you see sugar, corn syrup or any word containing “ose” at the top of the ingredient list, avoid it.

EXERCISE

Moderate exercise every day can not only combat obesity, it can also help raise good cholesterol levels. Be sure and check with your doctor before you start any exercise program. Try to work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 times a week. Some exercises to consider:

  • Brisk walking
  • Riding a bike
  • Resistance exercise
  • An exercise class
  • Playing a favorite sport

QUIT SMOKING

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by changing the way cholesterol is handled in the body and results in the faster development of clogged arteries. Quitting smoking helps improve your HDL cholesterol levels. This will lower your blood pressure, improve your liver function, and reduce your risk of heart and lung disease.

LOSE WEIGHT

Carrying a few extra pounds contributes to high blood cholesterol. Weight loss will reduce your total cholesterol by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver.

As mentioned, sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to lower cholesterol to optimal levels. If your doctor orders medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed along with continuing your lifestyle changes.

Call on the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare for more healthy living tips, and for the professional in-home care assistance that ensures older adults are living life to the fullest! Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more.

Take a Closer Look at How Eating Habits Change with Age

Phoenix AZ home care

Eating habits change for a number of reasons as we grow older.

We all know how important it is to establish and maintain healthy eating habits, but sadly, a full 25% of older adults suffer from malnutrition, according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging. Whether the problem is eating too little, too much, or the wrong types of foods, poor nutrition for seniors can result in weakened bones and muscles, an increased risk of serious health concerns like diabetes, and more.

The reasons for these nutritional struggles are as varied as the individuals experiencing them. For some, medication side effects impact appetite. For others, dental problems make chewing difficult. And for many, the loss of a spouse results in a lost desire to prepare healthy meals for just herself.

At Nightingale Homecare, our Phoenix, AZ home care specialists offer the following suggestions to help your senior loved ones maintain optimal health by ensuring his or her nutritional needs are met:

  • Fiber up! Consuming plenty of foods high in soluble fiber will help keep cholesterol in check and prevent constipation and other health problems. Older adults should strive to include at least one of the following types of foods with each meal:
    • Beans or lentils
    • Whole grains, oats or oat bran
    • Seeds or nuts
    • Fruits and vegetables
  • Convenience doesn’t have to mean fast food! For seniors who prefer the convenience of ready-made foods, there are a number of healthy options to consider over fast food or prepackaged foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat, such as:
    • Bags of fresh chopped veggies for salad, coleslaw, or steaming
    • Instant oatmeal
    • Fully cooked rotisserie or grilled chicken or turkey
    • Canned or frozen low-sodium/low-sugar fruits and vegetables
    • Low-sodium cans of soup or stew
  • Find a friend! Preparing meals (and eating them) in isolation transforms mealtimes from something enjoyable to something to dread. Share as many meals with your loved one as possible, and seek out other companions for your loved one – neighbors, other family members, friends from religious organizations, etc.

At Nightingale Homecare, we can help implement all of these ideas, and more. Whether the need is for shopping for healthy, convenient foods, preparing nutritious meals, or providing friendly companionship during mealtime, partner with the Phoenix, AZ home care team at Nightingale Homecare and ensure that your senior loved one stays as healthy and happy as possible! Take the first step by calling us at (602) 504-1555 to request a free in-home consultation and discover the difference our professional in-home care services can make in your senior loved one’s life.