Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss for adults over age 50. The macula is part of the back of the eye that detects light. When the macula breaks down, central vision becomes blurry. This affects the ability to see fine details.
Early signs and symptoms of AMD:
Increased blurriness of smaller print
Fuzzy appearance of straight lines
Increased difficulty adapting to dim light
Difficulty recognizing faces
AMD can be prevented and/or treated. To help lower your risk of AMD, keep the following in mind:
Wear sunglasses to prevent UV damage.
Choose lutein-rich foods. Lutein maintains eye health. The body does not make lutein, so it needs to come from the diet. Lutein-rich foods include egg yolks, dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, and fruits such as kiwi and grapes. Check out your local farmers market, go.iastate.edu/E16ZAI, for lutein-rich produce.
Don’t smoke. Smoking can advance AMD damage. If you are ready to quit, call the tobacco hotline at 1-800-784-8669. The hotline is open 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Get regular eye exams. Early treatment is critical to prevent common eye diseases from causing permanent damage. EyeCare America, go.iastate.edu/HBIWUX, provides free eye exams for adults ages 65 years and older.
More than 38 million adults and children in the United States are going hungry. In Iowa, 1 in 11 Iowans face hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest anti-hunger federal program. It fights poverty by improving access to affordable and nutritious food. SNAP allows individuals and families with limited income to buy food. It can also be used to buy seeds and plants to grow food.
People can use SNAP benefits at grocery stores, convenience stores, and even farmers markets, bit.ly/3B6xYdc! Farmers markets sell fresh, local produce that help you enjoy the taste of summer.
If you need help completing the online or paper application, you may contact your local DHS office. You can also call the Iowa SNAP Hotline, 855-944-3663, to speak with someone who can help with the SNAP application. The hotline is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Sticking to your budget while eating healthy is possible! Planning is the first step. Menu planning helps you save time, save money, and make healthier choices.
You can personalize your menu by choosing nutrient-dense foods you enjoy. Nutrient-dense foods are high in vitamins and minerals without much saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium.
Start with these tips below:
Check what you have on hand. Check your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator for foods that will soon expire or need to be used up. Make a note of how to use those ingredients in your planner. This can save you money at the grocery store and decrease food waste.
Don’t throw that away! Plan for leftovers. For example, if you make a spinach salad on Monday, use the leftover spinach to make a smoothie for breakfast. Another idea is if you make grilled chicken for dinner, use the leftovers in chicken salad.
Use MyPlate. Healthy meals can be simple and tasty. Plan a meal that has something from at least three MyPlate food groups. This is an easy way to make sure your meals are healthy and nutrient-dense.
Think ahead to your family’s schedules. Do you need quick and easy meals? Are you hosting company? Do you need to harvest your garden? Using a five-day meal planning worksheet can help you plan a menu based on your weekly needs.
Spring is finally here, and many families are enjoying the warmer weather by planning their gardens. The fresh produce from gardens certainly improves our diets. As a bonus, gardening helps us be active! The Centers for Disease Control considers gardening a moderate intensity activity. Gardening helps get us the recommended 2 1/2 hours of activity we need each week. Working in a garden allows us to get vitamin D from the sun. It helps relieve stress. It might even lower our risk of dementia!
People have been fermenting foods for nearly 10,000 years. Fermented foods we eat today include sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
In fermentation, Lactobacilli, which are natural bacteria found in fresh vegetables, feed on carbohydrates and excrete lactic acid. The lactic acid helps preserve the vegetables and gives foods a bright color and tangy flavor.
Fermented foods have many health benefits. They give the body needed probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the gut. They improve digestion, lower inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.
To add more fermented foods in your diet, consider the following:
Eat yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Enjoy it alone, with fruit, or made into a smoothie.
You can also use kefir to make a smoothie. This tangy dairy beverage provides a different variety of Lactobacilli than most yogurts do.
Toss a little sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) into a sandwich or wrap.
Enjoy tempeh or miso, which are fermented soybeans. Tempeh has a nutty, hearty, mushroom-like flavor. Add it to a noodle bowl with vegetables.
Have naturally fermented dill pickles as a snack or a hamburger topping. Most pickles at the grocery store have been packed in vinegar and spices, not fermented. Be sure to buy “naturally fermented” pickles. You can also make your own fermented pickles. For recipes, see the ISU canning pickles instructions, https://bit.ly/3i7P4yQ.
A team at Iowa State University (ISU) is leading the statewide rollout of Walk with Ease (WWE). It is an evidence-based program to help older adults establish healthy patterns of physical activity. The ISU team is currently inviting adults over the age of 60 to take part in an enhanced version of the virtual, self-directed WWE program. This includes access to an online portal as well as personalized support to help older adults incorporate more steps into their daily lives. All programming, including a guidebook, is free for those willing to provide feedback on the enhancements. For more information and to enroll in the program, visit Walk with Ease, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.
Sources: Walk with Ease at Iowa State University, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.
It appears age may affect a person’s ability to outlast a food allergy. In general, children may outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy, and wheat. New research also shows that up to 25 percent of children may outgrow their peanut allergy. However, food allergies in adults tend to be lifelong. The most common food allergies for adults are shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and fish.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include vomiting and diarrhea. These can sometimes be mistaken for the stomach flu or food poisoning. Currently, avoiding the food you are allergic to is the only way to protect against most food allergy reactions. Researchers are exploring treatments and therapies to help manage food allergies.
Eating plant-based meals improves your heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Eating meatless meals may also save you money at the grocery store. According to the American Heart Association, “People who eat less meat tend to consume fewer calories, and foods such as beans are one of the most cost-effective sources of protein available.”
Follow MyPlate, myplate.gov, to plan healthy meatless meals that include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, unsalted nuts, and/or lower fat or fat-free dairy foods. Eating one meatless meal a week is a great way to start. Visit the American Heart Association, www.heart.org, for more tips on keeping your heart healthy.
To promote health and well-being, healthy adults should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly. Although spring is around the corner, it still may not be warm enough to get moving outside. Get moving in the comfort of your home with Spend Smart. Eat Smart.® physical activity videos. You can access these at Spend Smart. Eat Smart., https://bit.ly/3ol6oE6.
Does just thinking about getting more exercise stress you out? It may help you to remember that once you do start a physical activity regularly, you will be melting your stress away.
“Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction,” says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. Getting enough physical activity can counteract the effects of stress. It strengthens your immune system. It helps ward off fatigue and illnesses. A 20-minute walk may energize you more than an afternoon nap!