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010113 Protect your memory by staying at a healthy weight

New research recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a link between weight and memory loss in older women. An analysis of data gathered from 8,745 women, aged 65-79, showed no signs of dementia at the beginning of this study. Things changed.

Throughout the study, periodic body mass index (BMI) measurements were taken on the participants.

The researchers found that for every increase in the BMI unit, memory loss also increased when measured from the memory test. This is not unexpected.

Clearly, from all the scientific studies conducted over the years, there is a direct link between excess body fat and heart disease. The fact is that for every risk for cardiovascular disease there is also a risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the findings were not inconsistent with other data gathered relating to weight gain, cardiovascular health, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The question may arise as to what is a good BMI number. The standard reply is between 18.5 for a normal weight, 24.9; 25-29.9 is considered overweight and 30 plus is obese. However, these numbers should be viewed with caution if you are athletic and muscular. For the purposes of the study, the women were neither athletic nor muscular.

Some dietitians believe that individuals over seventy may be better off if their BMI scores are slightly higher, i.e. 25-27, than recommended by the BMI charts. The reasoning behind this lies in the definition of the ideal weight, which can change, as we get older.

Shedding weight does not seem complicated; eat less, exercise more. However, there is more to it than that. There are dietary changes one can make in cutting weight safely. Putting these changes into effect is another matter though. Here are few ideas to help.

Enjoy frequent but smaller nutritionally balanced meals.
Leave fried foods off the menu.
Eat more fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods add more fiber to your diet.
When cooking, use canola or olive oils. They are healthy monounsaturated fats that your body needs to function.
If you are over fifty, add more lean proteins such as chicken and turkey, without the skin and fish.
Cut back on the simple sugars in your diet. Consider whether you actually need that pop or sugar based fruit drink. You probably don’t.

To get a kick start in losing weight begin with a daily log of what you eat and drink. These diaries help maintain the focus on healthy eating and make you accountable for the calories going into your body each day.

Additional actions that will lower your BMI are aerobic and anaerobic exercise five to six days a week. Not only will exercise help with weight loss but it can help raise your energy levels, lower your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

You may be thinking that losing a lot of weight until you are under the BMI recommendations would be even better. However, this is not the case.

If you are under the numbers on the chart, you may be at risk of being or becoming malnourished, which can lead to other health related issues such as osteoporosis.

Admittedly, some older citizens may unintentionally be losing weight by not be eating enough nutrients due to poor teeth or dentures, decreased appetite, and in certain instances difficulty in swallowing their food. If this is your case, see your doctor. If not then consider eating more frequently each day.

Eating smaller, but balanced, meals five to six times throughout the day will help you gain weight. Foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, poultry and whole grains taste great and make it easier to add the calories to your diet.

If you are still unable to lose that excess fat then it is time to seek the counsel of a registered dietician. These professionals will closely examine your habits, lifestyle, overall health then create a well thought out outline for you to follow in regaining your health.

Not only will losing weight help to keep your memory intact it also contributes to less pain in the joints, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar control, which assists in diabetes and cardio management.

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