Chewing over medical dietary proverbs: are they true? – Hometown Focus

Many of us have proverbial, old-fashioned sayings we use in our everyday conversations.

But do they have the same meaning today? Does an “apple a day keep the doctor away?”

Research shows that eating more apples may not actually be associated with fewer doctor visits, but increase consumption of fruits and vegetables offers many health benefits that could reduce the need for a doctor’s visit. Apples are one of the most popular fruits and they are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and low in calories.

What about being “cool as a cucumber?” This may take on new meaning beyond being relaxed and calm, but adding cucumbers to your meal plan boosts your intake of vitamin A and C. Cucumbers are cool and refreshing and are about 90 percent water.

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories, low in fat, and protect against cancer and other diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 10 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. You should be incorporating at least five servings a day. Adding servings of fresh, frozen, dried and canned vegetables are all acceptable sources.

There are other ways of keeping the “doctor away” and incorporating more healthy menu planning. Reducing your salt/sodium intake and calorie-containing beverages is another way to make an impact on your overall health.

“Take it with a grain of salt.” This idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt. Salting was a common way to preserve meats by drawing the bacteria and moisture out of the foods in a time when refrigeration was not readily available. We now have improved access to refrigeration, and yet we still have high volumes of salt used in our foods. Key sources include processed foods, sauces, cured meats and snack foods.

The average American consumes 3,500 mg sodium per day. If Americans moved to an average intake of 1,500 mg per day of sodium, it could result in a 25.6 percent overall decrease in blood pressure. Some tips to reduce salt in your diet include: limit processed foods, pay attention to how foods are prepared, use herbs and spices that are salt-free, and increase consumption of fresh foods.

“That’s not my cup of tea” is an expression used for something you may not like. It originates from the 1930s. However, tea is widely enjoyed and there are many varieties to choose from. Green tea is often publicized as the healthiest tea. It is high in flavonoids that boost your heart health by lowering the bad cholesterol.

Matcha is another form of green tea. This powdered form of green tea has become popular. Matcha is the only tea where the leaves are consumed. Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine, as not all tea varieties are caffeine-free.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, caffeine can be a part of a healthy diet, but too much caffeine may pose a danger to your health. A 12-ounce caffeinated soft drink contains 30-40 mg of caffeine, and an 8-ounce cup of coffee is 80-100 mg. For healthy adults, the FDA has cited 400 mg a day is generally acceptable. However, many people tend to be more sensitive to caffeine and should strive for less than 400 mg. If you are used to drinking caffeine-containing beverages every day and want to cut back, it’s best to do so gradually.

While these old proverbs may have had historical context, today they are taking on new meaning. But don’t get cold feet while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Scheduling routine checkups with your doctor is important. An annual wellness visit allows you to talk with a provider about routine screenings. These are important discussions and help to prevent diseases and or catch them early. Don’t get caught red-handed with discovering you could have prevented diabetes or heart disease by making small changes to your lifestyle. Plan ahead and make your health a priority. An apple a day does not keep the doctor away, but you should plan on making an annual wellness visit.

On the Iron Range, you can schedule your wellness visit with one of our providers at St. Luke’s Hibbing Family Medical Clinic at 218-362-7100 or St. Luke’s Laurentian Medical Clinic at 218- 748-7480.

Paula Bursch is a registered dietician and licensed dietician with St. Luke’s.

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