Is Your Elderly Parent Eating Properly?

*Remember when your Mom used to bug you about eating your vegetables when you were a child? Well, in my case the shoe is now on the other foot. My 80ish young at heart mother does not like to eat vegetables. Nor does she like to cook. Her meals consist of supermarket takeout or restaurant leftovers or, sigh!, slices of cake and pie. She has a wicked sweet tooth. I worry she is too thin and malnourished; she brushes it off as earning the right at her age to eat whatever she wants if it tastes good.

If you are like me, living many miles away from an elderly parent, you may worry whether or not your loved one is eating properly. My mother loves sweets and snacks and does not like to cook or eat alone at home. I am constantly giving her tips on healthy eating, remind her that pie and cake are not intended to be main courses, and I worry about her choking on food since she talks with her mouth full (and she loves to chatter!).

But which service is best for your parent? Mom’s Meals has 8 health specific menus to address a variety of dietary issues.  One option to make sure your elderly parent is receiving a nutritious meals on a regular basis is to set him/her up with a subscription to Mom’s Meals and pay for it. 

*Excerpt of blog by Melanie Young: author & radio show host of Fearless Fabulous You!

melanie young

Send a Healthy Mother’s Day Gift This Year


For homebound seniors, 33-million have one chronic condition and 25 million have two or more chronic conditions, which can make some of the most basic of functions, including meal preparation difficult, to say the least.

Many seniors have difficulty getting out and about to get the foods they need in order to prepare healthy meals, let alone actually prepare them. In fact, 92% of seniors ages 75+ live at home with 32% of them being “homebound,” and unable to get to a market without assistance.

Although aging in place is great for dignity and independence, it can be hard on health. And health is not the only thing it is hard on—it can be a challenge for caregivers as well. Of those caring for an aging parent, 59% are employed full or part time and have their own families to look after.

Staying on top of the eating habits of their senior loved ones is difficult at best, and unrealistic for many. In fact, 76% of all care givers live more than twenty minutes away from their elderly loved ones, and aren’t there daily, no matter how they wish they could be.

If you fall into this category, and can’t spend Mother’s Day or Fathers Day with your elderly loved ones, consider sending them love in the form of Mom’s Meals NourishCare®.  Mom’s Meals are fresh, healthy, and easy to prepare meals that are delivered to the door of seniors. These meals are created by chefs and dieticians to provide great taste and nutritional benefits for seniors aging in place.

Mom’s Meals is dedicated to providing fresh-made, nutritious, home meal delivery to customers nationwide, specializing in senior and patient care for over 15 years.

5 Tips to Kick Bad Eating Habits to the Curb


Eat breakfast The key to a good breakfast is balance – include lean protein, whole grains and fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.  Protein will help to keep you satisfied longer in the morning.

Cut back on caffeineLimit regular coffee intake to 3 cups or less per day, and watch what you add to it that increases calories.  Drink it as plain as possible.

Bring lunch to workAt PurFoods, we have meals available which is a great benefit.  If you do choose to bring lunch to work, prepare ingredients over the weekend to use for lunch (or dinner) the following week.  Turn left-over chicken into a delicious salad with chicken, vegetables and fruit.

Eat more fruits and vegetablesFruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture to foods, in addition to nutrients and fiber.  Check out the produce aisle and choose a new fruit or veggie to try!

Cook dinner at homePlanning ahead makes cooking dinner at home less painful.  Again, preparing food on the weekend can help save time during the busy week.  Consider the option of having a home delivered meal service, like Mom’s Meals NourishCare®, that can provide a well balanced and nutritious meal.

To read the full article and for more quick tips to make breakfast, lunch and dinner healthier, check out this link to the article:

Heart health critical to longevity for seniors


It is American Heart Month and heart health is critical to the longevity and quality of life for seniors.  With heart disease ranked as one of the top killers in America (with over 2,200 deaths a day), raising awareness can only go so far.  Daily exercise, a diet low in sodium, replacing white flour with wheat, increasing vegetable intake, and decreasing added sugars are among the top recommendations* for improving heart health. And with a list like that, we believe it is clear that what we eat, or don’t eat, can make a distinct difference when it comes to heart health.

With that in mind Mom’s Meals NourishCare created a heart-friendly menu. Designed by our chefs and Registered Dietitians to meet the lower sodium and lower fat guidelines recommended by the American Heart Association. Each meal has less than 800 mg of sodium and less than 30% calories from fat. The menu also provides a broad variety of options for delicious and nutritious meals for all preferences.

Mom’s Meals strives to provide fresh-made, nutritionally balanced and home delivered meals to help meet the specialized dietary menu needs of seniors or those recuperating at home after a hospitalization.

*American Heart Association. Healthy Living. Retrieved from

Aging in Place? Three ideas to get you started


It’s becoming more and more popular for America’s graying population to choose to age in place, and not go prematurely into an assisted living facility. Today, nearly 90% of American seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age. Even 82% of seniors who need some daily assistance prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. So what can caregivers and family members do to make this dream a reality?

1. Tap into your local Area Agency on Aging. Local Area Agencies on Aging provide support, assistance, and accurate information to seniors, and can easily connect them with local resources. These community resources can help enhance a senior’s independence without placing any burden on family members who are trying to balance the care of a senior as well as their own families and careers.

2. Wait no longer: Make home modifications now. It’s no secret that we lose balance and muscle strength as we age. Modifying the home helps facilitate mobility, and increase safety and comfort, and goes a long way in helping seniors age in place. Consider adding handles or chairs in the shower, a ramp to the front door, easier pulls on the kitchen drawers, and adding non-slip surfaces.

3. Send nutritious meals right to their door. Aging Americans have so many changes to deal with, from technology to hearing loss, the loss of friends and family, to the possibility of moving out of a beloved home. Nothing provides greater comfort than a hot, healthy meal, but getting to a market or even preparing food can be an insurmountable hurdle. One solution is to send Mom’s Meals NourishCare meals right to someone’s door.

As you can see helping those you love stay healthy in their own homes can be as easy as 1, 2, and 3!

Is My Elderly Parent Getting Enough to Eat This Winter?


Winter is hard. Days are short, nights are long, and temperatures are low. The roads may be snow or ice-covered, making transportation unpredictable and risky. Physical activity drops, cold and influenza rates peak, and stress rises. These are challenges we all have to face, young or old. However, if you have chronic health problems and severe physical limitations, the challenges are even greater, especially when living alone with limited resources and support.

If you have an elderly parent who lives alone in a different community or state, you may be wondering if their nutritional needs are being met. Often, the winter season highlights an elderly person’s limitations, especially if they have been dealing with health issues or have been hospitalized recently.

Are they able to get to the grocery store and prepare meals?

Are they eating enough?

Are they taking their medications?

If diabetic, are they properly monitoring and managing their blood sugar?

If on another special diet, are they properly adhering to it?

If the answers to these questions pose concerns, it may be time to look into services available to help your elderly parent.  Inadequate nutrition can have dire consequences if ignored, yet can be a very simple issue to address.

Congregate Meals are served in a group setting and provide an opportunity for seniors to get out of their homes and socialize while enjoying a nutritionally balanced meal. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging to find out when and where these are held. Transportation assistance may also be available.

Home-Delivered Meals are delivered directly to an individual’s doorstep. Mom’s Meals NourishCare provides delicious, fresh- made meals that are ready to eat in less than 2 minutes and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. There are more than 60 meals to choose from and they can be conveniently ordered online or by phone. We also offer registered dietitian-designed meals for those with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, celiac disease, or dysphagia. We also offer a vegetarian menu.

Home Health Care Aides can help with transportation, grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, meal clean-up, and medication assistance.

When it comes to nutrition, it is better to be proactive than to wait for an emergency or tragedy to prompt an intervention.  Loss of weight and lean muscle mass in seniors can decrease mobility and increase the risk of falls and fractures. For someone with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, poor dietary choices or inadequate nutrition can prompt a serious medical emergency. Canned soup may be inexpensive, convenient, and easy, but hospital stays definitely aren’t.

The Impact of Nutrition on Wound Healing


Most wounds occurring in healthy people heal quickly if they are kept clean and free of infection. Good nutrition is part of the healing process because increased amounts of calories, protein, vitamins A&C and sometimes the mineral zinc are needed. Nutrients are lost in the fluid that weeps from wounds. So what can be done regarding your food choices to improve the healing process? Consider these tips.

1. Consume sufficient calories from a healthy, balanced and varied diet throughout the day. This includes all meals, snacks and beverages from the MyPlate food groups – protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and healthy fats. If you currently have a prescribed diet, continue to follow it to promote wound healing and avoid complications.

2. Include optimum amounts of protein to promote wound healing. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein at each meal and 10-15 grams of protein in each snack. Unsure what a protein serving is? A piece of cooked chicken, lean meat or fish (the size of a deck of cards) is about 3 oz and contains 20-25 grams of protein. 1 egg, 1 T. of peanut butter or 1 oz cheese provides 6-7 grams protein, and 1 cup of low-fat milk or plain yogurt contains 8 grams protein. Did you know that Greek yogurt contains even more protein? Cooked beans, nuts and seeds, and firm tofu are also great sources of non-meat protein. Fresh vegetables, citrus fruits and juices are excellent sources of vitamins C and A, which also help to heal damaged tissue. Zinc sources include fortified cereals, red meats, and seafood.

3. Stay well-hydrated with water and other unsweetened beverages such as tea, coffee, 100% fruit juice and milk, which also provides protein. Consider fruit smoothies, milkshakes, frozen fruit bars and frozen yogurt, gelatin with fruit, or hearty soups to provide additional fluid and nutrients.

4. Some wounds may require a higher intake of certain vitamins and minerals, or your appetite may be affected. Try eating 5-6 smaller meals per day instead of 3 regular meals and choose healthy snacks such as string cheese and crackers, fruit and cottage cheese, or peanut butter on crisp apple slices.

5. For those who are managing diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to prevent or treat a wound and may prevent infection. Monitor blood sugar levels regularly. Check with your healthcare provider for further suggestions regarding wound healing and nutrition.

Sources of this article were “5 Nutrition Tips to Promote Wound Healing” by Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CHWC (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) published 7/21/2015 and “Nutrition Guidelines to Improve Wound Healing” (Cleveland Clinic) 2013.



Do the nutritional needs of a healthy older adult differ from those of a younger individual?

nutritional needs

Yes and no! While we all need the same nutrients to function properly, the nutritional needs of older adults are unique. Fewer calories are needed to provide those nutrients, therefore calories for seniors must count!

Men and women are living longer, enjoying energetic and active lifestyles we into their 80’s and 90’s. Study after study confirms eating well and being active can make a dramatic difference in the quality of life for older adults. You are never too old to enjoy the benefits of improved nutrition and fitness. With nutrient-rich foods and activities with friends, you can feel an immediate difference in your strength, energy levels and enjoyment of life. In fact, as we get older, our food and activity choices become even more important to our health.

Source of this article was “Healthy Weights for Healthy Older Adults” (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) published June 4, 2014.

Higher risk of readmission for seniors after outpatient surgery

no hospital zone

The point of having outpatient surgery is to avoid a hospital stay.  A current study “Age predicts hospitalization risk after outpatient surgery” found seniors face a 54% greater risk of hospitalization within 30 days of outpatient surgery compared with patients younger than 65.  Not the seriousness of the diagnosis or the complexity of the surgery but rather the age of the patient that was the largest factor in hospital readmission. After a procedure the senior patients struggles to understand the discharge and medication dosing.   “When patients are sent home on the same day, a lot is required of them to take care of themselves.”

How might the outcomes be different?   “Additional time and effort needs to be extended to the senior patient when a discharge is the same day as a procedure to avoid potential readmission.”   Planning ahead before surgery for services to be delivered to the home such as nursing visits, home-delivered meals and help filling and reviewing needed medications may be ways to reduce the risk of being readmitted to the hospital.


American kidney crisis?


The midlife crisis determining late life kidney failure.

1 in 3 American adults is at a high risk for developing kidney disease.  While 1 in 9 American adults has kidney disease and many of them don’t know it.  Your risk factors for developing kidney disease are high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure and being over 60.

Who has the highest risk?  The AGES (Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility)–Reykjavik Study is seeing a link between midlife blood pressure and late-life kidney functions.  The study suggests that efforts to improve health in midlife could help maintain your kidney function as you age.

So what can you do NOW to avoid being that “ONE in the 1 of 3 Americans”?  Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.  By reducing and controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar, quit smoking, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding excessive use of pain medications.  These simple lifestyle modifications can prevent the onset of a late-life kidney disease that could impact your quality of life.    Be the ONE to make the change!

Only a third of Americans are at a healthy weight


A new report suggests that only about one third of Americans are at proper weight with the rest considered overweight or obese.  This is based upon a study that compared the weight and heights of 25,000 individuals enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 and 2012.  Weight and height are used to calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is thought to be an indicator of body fat.  To determine your BMI you can use this calculator from the National Institute of Health

The causes of obesity are complex but it is clear that a healthy diet with fewer calories is required for many people.  The nutritional quality of the food is important also.  Many areas of our country suffer from the lack of access to safe, nutritionally wholesome foods.  These areas are as diverse as cities to rural areas where the distances to grocery stores is great but the local convenience store is a source of calories without much of a nutritional bang.  Mom’s Meals NourishCare can deliver to any doorstep in the country, rural or urban, ensuring a good wholesome source of calories that do have a solid nutritional bang.

Sam Beattie, PhD

Dennis Thompson.  2015.  More Than Two-Thirds of U.S. Adults Now Overweight or Obese: Study.  Available at:


County learns about new Butler County Aging programs

“Every year, the state of Kansas requires the area agency to provide a plan on how the funding will be based,” Graham explained. “There are three counties involved: Butler, Harvey and Sedgwick and all county commissions must approve the plan.

She went on to explain the various programs that rely on the funding, which include senior support services, caregivers support programs and meal programs. She also outlined the upcoming changes in those meal programs, which are utilized by both the El Dorado and Andover senior centers.

“The Red Cross has supplied the Good Neighbor Nutritional Program (GNNP) since the 1970s,” Graham explained. “They currently serve 21 sites in South Central Kansas. Now, Red Cross, at a national level, is re-visioning what their roles are in the community and they’ve decide to get out of any business that is not part of their core program.

“When we were informed we would be losing that program, we put out the request for bids. Aging Products, Inc. was one of the companies who submitted a bid. They’re a nutrition program provider who has served in the area directly surrounding Butler County. They provide the same meal program to rural areas that the GNNP provided at senior centers.

“They’re currently working to get their business model set up and they will continue to serve the 21 sites in the area that the GNNP will no longer provide for. They’ll do the same delivery and method of provision that our current provide does.”

She also welcomed Butler County Department on Aging Director Crystal Noles to speak a little about a program for the rural residents of the area.

“One of the new programs involved in our Area Plan is called Mom’s Meals,” Noles began. “It is a business model out of Iowa and it has also been in business for many years. The business provides packaged meals that come to the doors of seniors. The meals meet the required recommended daily allowance of calories for seniors in the program.”

She also explained how their model is unique.

“The program will serve the rural areas across several counties,” Noles said. “They deliver their meals with the Fedex model, packed with ice. They’ll deliver a 10-day supply of meals to the doors of rural seniors who do not have access to the current freezer meals program. They’re prepackaged and labeled for each senior and they will be able to cook the meals in either an oven or a microwave. The seniors will be able to pick what meals they want. There’s a menu where that will give them a choice between a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal.”

The department will also go one step further to make sure the seniors are taken care of despite their rural residency.

“With this plan, we will also match up a volunteer with each senior who receives these types of meals,” Noles explained. “One of the benefits of the Meals on Wheels program is the socialization of a senior having a visitor who delivers their meals daily. When we match up a volunteer with the senior for Mom’s Meals, we will have the volunteers call and check on the seniors five days a week to make sure they’re OK.”

Despite the large size of Butler County, only two Meals on Wheels programs are currently in operation.

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Pre-Diabetes with researchers at Howard University

I was recently in Washington DC discussing Pre-Diabetes with researchers at Howard University.  In this discussion, we noted how diabetes coupled with high blood pressure are responsible for most of the renal failure in this country.  Over 6% of the population has diabetes which is the leading cause of kidney failure.  High blood pressure afflicts 25% of us and is the second leading cause of kidney failure.  Healthy kidneys are dependent upon what we eat.  Both high blood pressure and type two diabetes are controllable by diet.  For many of those who suffer from both high blood pressure and type two diabetes, diet can substantially help control their diseases.  At Mom’s Meals we hear from our customers about how much they believe the meals have helped their diabetes or blood pressure.

It is notable that healthy kidneys mean less health care costs.  The National Kidney Foundation recently put out a very entertaining, yet informative video on healthy kidneys called “Everybody Pees” – Take a look. It is cute but gets right to the point about how important healthy kidneys are to us.

Sam Beattie, Ph.D.

What do you know about magnesium?


Do you know what magnesium does for the human body, how much we need on a daily basis or what food sources provide it? Magnesium is an abundant mineral and its important to many biochemical processes including regulation of muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, protein formation and the structural development of bone.

The amount of magnesium we need depends on age and gender. For adults over age 51, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men. 50-60% of the magnesium in the body is found in the bones and most of the rest is present in soft tissue and blood serum. Magnesium balance is controlled by the kidney – when status is low, excretion in the urine is reduced; the body can conserve magnesium if reserves are low.

Magnesium is found naturally in many plant and animal products, as well as fortified foods like some breakfast cereals. It is also available as a dietary supplement and present in some medicines such as antacids and laxatives. The best way to meet the RDA is by choosing a variety of foods, and note that foods with dietary fiber generally contribute more magnesium. Consider these foods in your meal plan:

  • Nuts (almonds, cashews & peanuts including “butters”), legumes (black beans
  • and kidney beans), seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), whole grains (whole wheat
  • bread & brown rice), and green leafy vegetables (spinach and Swiss chard)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals and products fortified with 10% of the
  • “Daily Value” for magnesium
  • Soy products – soymilk and shelled edamame (green soybeans)
  • Dairy products such as plain low fat yogurt and milk

Diets of most Americans provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men over age 70 and teenage girls are most likely to have low intakes. When magnesium from the diet and supplements are combined, intake is generally above recommended amounts. Deficiency, due to low dietary intake in healthy people, is not generally common due to the kidney’s ability to control excretion, but the following groups of people are more likely to get too little magnesium:

  • Those with gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
  • Those with type 2 diabetes and/or insulin resistance
  • Those with long-term alcoholism
  • Older adults whose intake of magnesium is less than younger adults; they are also more likely to be experiencing chronic diseases and taking medications affecting magnesium absorption

Several types of medications can interfere with magnesium status or function incorrectly if not taken at the right time with magnesium supplements. Those medications include biophosphates which are used to treat osteoporosis; antibiotics because absorption might be affected; diuretics which can increase or decrease magnesium loss depending on type of diuretic; and medications treating acid reflux or peptic ulcer which can affect blood levels of magnesium if taken for a long period of time. Check with your physician or pharmacist about all dietary supplements and medications you take, both prescription and “over the counter”, to avoid drug interference or interactions. Your healthcare provider is the best person to answer your specific health questions.

Information for this article was provided with assistance from “Magnesium” Fact Sheet for Consumers (reviewed 2/2014) and “Magnesium” Fact Sheet for Health Professionals (reviewed 11/2013) NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27, 2015.

Nutrition Reconciliation and Nutrition Prophylaxis: Toward Total Health



Malnutrition is a common and debilitating condition in the acute hospital setting that is associated with many adverse outcomes, including prolonged length of hospital stay, increased readmission rates, and increased mortality. However, malnutrition by definition may be an abnormality in either under- or overnutrition. With obesity rates rising, many patients admitted to the hospital may be overnourished from unhealthy eating habits. Unhealthy eating habits and obesity increase a patient’s risk for cardiovascular events and complications in the hospital setting.

Nutrition risk screening or nutrition reconciliation is an underutilized tool in the hospital that would identify patients with over- and undernutrition. Nutrition intervention or nutrition prophylaxis initiated in the hospital may help reduce hospital days, readmissions, and mortality. Nutrition reconciliation is a new term developed to increase the awareness of nutrition in total health. Nutrition reconciliation means that all patients have their nutritional status reconciled on admission to and discharge from the hospital. Nutrition reconciliation is defined as the process of maximizing health by helping align an individual’s current diet to the diet prescribed for him or her by the health care team. Nutrition prophylaxis is a proactive intervention to prevent a medical complication.
Mandatory nutrition reconciliation and nutrition prophylaxis is not widely performed in most hospitals. Such an intervention may help our patients by improving their short- and long-term health. In addition, nutrition reconciliation and nutrition prophylaxis may allow for a more effective use of resources to prevent a preventable disease.

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Nutrition – The Solution for Improved Post-Surgery Recovery

recovery blog

In 1974, Dr. Charles Butterworth used the phrase “The Skeleton in the Hospital Closet” to  raise awareness of physician and hospital induced malnutrition (iatrogenic malnutrition) in patients.1  The premise was that patients came into the hospital and became malnourished because of a variety of reasons including fluid and food withdrawal prior to surgery or diagnostic tests, failure to assess the patient, failure to monitor food intake, and others. Failure to maintain the nutritional stature of the patient through hospitalization and after are causes of longer length of stay, poor outcomes, and early return to hospital.

With the new enhanced recovery protocols post-surgery, “patients still can’t eat after midnight before an early morning surgery, but two or three hours before surgery they do get a carbohydrate-loaded drink fortified with electrolytes, minerals and vitamins. They are pretreated for pain with non-narcotic painkillers and epidurals that are kept in place postoperatively. With careful monitoring, patients receive only necessary levels of IV fluid during surgery. Soon afterward they get out of bed to walk and may ingest solid food, and they are discharged earlier with careful instructions for home care.”

Another surgeon, Dr. Hedrick, who is the co-author of a study published online in February in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, “found that the new protocol, used in colorectal-surgery patients at the UVA health system, helped reduce the length of hospital stay by 2.2 days compared with a control group who had conventional treatment. It also reduced complications by 17% and increased patient satisfaction with pain control by 55%. There was a cost savings of $7,129 per patient.”

Dr. Butterworth also noted that nutrition education is critical to physicians understanding the risk to their patients.  It has taken quite a few years, but, finally it appears that the lessons may have been learned. An article in the Wall Street Journal (March 31, 2015) by Laura Landro discusses the concept of “enhanced recovery” which is a method to reduce the stress on patients while reducing the potential for “surgery procedure induced malnutrition.”  Shortening the fasting time before surgery and feeding as soon as tolerable after surgery are hallmarks of the enhanced recovery process.   Many studies have shown that proper nutrition during hospitalization shortens length of stay, improves patient outcome, and helps prevent readmissions.

It is too bad that it has taken such a long time for the implementation of the holistic approach to patient care.

1 Butterworth C. The skeleton in the hospital closet. Nutr Today. 1974;9: 4-8.
2 Thiele, RH, et al., 2015. Standardization of Care: Impact of an Enhanced Recovery Protocol on Length of Stay, Complications, and Direct Costs after Colorectal Surgery.  J. Am. College of Surgeons, 220:4 430–443.


Designated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the 2015 theme for National Nutrition Month is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Choosing tasty and nutritious foods in proper serving sizes along with adequate physical activity is important in staying healthy and avoiding chronic disease. This month, let’s focus on “food bites” containing calcium and its role in keeping us active and healthy — no matter our age or activity level.

A mineral found in many foods, calcium is known for its storage in bones and teeth where it supports their structure and hardness. But, we also need calcium for muscle movement and for effective nerve transmission between the brain and every part of the body. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood through the body and assists in the release of hormones and enzymes affecting many functions. The amount of calcium needed varies with age, but the current guideline for women and men over 70 years of age is 1200 mg/day. Certain groups of people are more likely to have trouble getting enough calcium. Those groups include:

  • Postmenopausal women
  • Those with lactose intolerance who cannot digest lactose
  • Vegans (vegetarians who eat no animal products)
  • Ovo-vegetarians (vegetarians who eat eggs but not dairy)

The best advice: choose a variety of foods that provide calcium including:

  • Milk, yogurt and cheese – 8 oz. of milk = 300 mg calcium
  • Kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage and dark green leafy vegetables
  • Fish with edible soft bones such as canned sardines and salmon
  • Legumes including black-eyed peas and white beans
  • Some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy and rice beverages, and tofu have calcium added. Check labels for calcium

Other factors affecting the amount of calcium absorbed in the digestive tract include:

  • Age because efficiency of calcium absorption decreases with age.
  • Vitamin D intake, present in some foods and produced in the body when skin is exposed to sunlight, increases calcium absorption.
  • Other components in food such as oxalic acid and phytic acid can reduce calcium absorption.

There are no obvious symptoms to indicate low calcium levels since the body maintains these levels in the blood by taking it from bones. Long term impact of calcium intake below recommended levels can cause low bone mass (osteopenia) and increased risk of osteoporosis (bones becoming porous, fragile and prone to fracture), a major health problem for more than 10 million adults over age 50 in the US.

Calcium dietary supplements vary depending on type and amount of calcium used, along with the use of other nutrients such as vitamin D. Before considering a supplement, consult with your doctor, pharmacist or registered dietitian as it may interact or interfere with prescribed medications.

Information source for this article: “Eating Well as You Get Older: Benefits of Eating Well” (National Institutes of Health. Senior Health) Topic last reviewed: November 2014.


659-LemonHerbChicken (1 of 2)

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Senior Health website, healthy food choices make a difference in our health and quality of life. In an article, “Eating Well as You Get Older”, staff at NIH stress the impact food choice has on your health and how you look and feel. So, if you are a person who sets New Year’s Resolutions, maybe this will motivate you.

Eating Well Promotes Health

Eating a well-planned, balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some cancers, and anemia. If you already have one or more of these chronic diseases, eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure and lower high cholesterol. Eating well gives you the nutrients needed to keep your muscles, bones, organs and other parts of your body healthy throughout your life. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water.

Eating Well Promotes Energy

Eating well helps keep your energy level up, too. By consuming enough calories, you give your body the fuel it needs throughout the day. The number of calories needed depends on how old you are, whether you’re a man or woman, your height and weight, and how active you are.

Food Choices Affect Digestion

Your food choices also affect your digestion. For instance, not getting enough fiber or fluids may cause constipation. Eating more whole-grain foods with fiber, fruits and vegetables or drinking more water may help with constipation.

Too much of a good thing…becomes a slice of trouble


I like pizza. My kids like pizza. I bet you like pizza too. It sounds as if we all like pizza too much. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics showed that when pizza is eaten by kids and teens they eat 84 and 230 calories more in the day, respectively. Importantly, sodium intake increases also with almost 400 milligrams higher intake per day when pizza is eaten. Now you might not think that sodium intake is a concern for kids, but, rethink – we are training their palette to prefer high sodium foods. Consumption of high sodium foods over time can lead to hypertension, which is a factor for developing further chronic conditions including diabetes, renal disease, heart disease and others.  Costs associated with hypertension are estimated to be over $40 billion each year with half of this going to medication to help reduce fluid build-up. It is interesting to hear heart docs talk about patients that they release from the hospital with orders to consume a low sodium diet but who wind up back in the hospital. The patient gets home and has nothing to eat so they call the local pizza place for takeout or delivery. Wham, high sodium results in fluid retention and a trip back to the hospital. This will cost the hospital for the readmission.

Does pizza or any food need to be high in sodium to taste good? NO. One of the hardest parts of going on a lower sodium diet is adjusting to the taste of food that is much lower in sodium. Mom’s Meals Nourishcare dietitians and chefs work to develop meals with low to moderate amounts of sodium while being highly flavored by herbs and other seasonings…and supportive of heart health.

Powell LM1, Nguyen BT2, Dietz WH3 2015.  Energy and Nutrient Intake From Pizza in the United States Pediatrics. 2015 Jan 19. pii: peds.2014-1844. [Epub ahead of print] Davis, K. Expenditures for Hypertension among Adults Age 18 and Older, 2010: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population. Statistical Brief #404. April 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

DASH Rated #1 Best Overall Diet

dash diet

Recently, U.S. News and World Report did a comprehensive review of the 35 leading diet programs using input from health experts.  Surprisingly, they ranked the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a lesser known diet developed to fight high blood pressure, as the #1 Best Diet Overall  for people to use in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  The experts felt it offered the most “nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes and support heart health.”  We applaud this finding.  The evidence from Dr. Scott Hummel a cardiologist at the University of Michigan Hospitals shows that a low sodium diet has significant beneficial effects on the heart muscle itself.  Improvements in heart function are apparent in certain cardiac patients when they consumed a modified DASH diet.  Mom’s Meals is proud to be a part of the on-going clinical trial of Dr. Hummel and the teams at University of Michigan and Columbia University.  For more on the DASH diet, go to  To see the complete diet reviews and rankings at US News and World Report go to: