I always lived by the “age is just a number” mantra until I was scheduled for surgery recently. Suddenly my age was a hot topic. The doctor said, “Oh, you’re almost 50. You’ll need these additional tests.” A nurse noted that I was nearly 50 so my recovery would be longer than a younger woman. A nurse practitioner commented that I was probably taking the wrong vitamins for my age.
Since so many people noted my advancing age, it seemed like a good time to take stock of my overall health. When The Chicago Moms were invited to visit Modern Aligned Health, I knew immediately that I wanted to talk about my changing nutrition needs.
Dr. Jessica Hehmeyer, a board certified Chiropractic physician, leads the Clinical Nutrition and Functional Medicine program for Aligned Modern Health. We started our session by discussing my habits – good and bad. Let’s face it. You have to admit your flaws before you’ll find improvement. We discussed my recent surgery and how I could use nutrition to speed my healing. While a lot of the conversation was specific to my situation, she had a lot of good information to help you achieve your health goals for 2014.
*Food is about quality and quantity. First we discussed the quality of my family’s food. We cook a lot so I know the ingredients are fresh. We limit our salt and excess fats/oils. We probably eat too much sugar, especially since we have ten-year-old twin daughters. No matter how we try to limit their sugar intake we probably need to be more vigilant. When it comes to my overall health, quantity is the issue. I carefully monitor the girls’ food, but I’m not as careful with mine. I don’t pay attention to how much I’m eating as much as I pay attention to the ingredients.
*The rainbow is important to food. Dr. Hehmeyer and I discussed adding new vegetables to my diet. We tend to eat the same ones over and over because our girls will eat them without fuss. Dr. Hehmeyer talked about the importance of different color vegetables. Each color brings a different vitamin or mineral to the table. When you eat the same things over and over again you can miss out on important nutrients.
I set a goal to increase the number of salads I eat for lunch every day as this is an easy way to add vegetables to my diet. Dr. Hehmeyer recommended adding lean protein and a healthy fat such as a tsp of olive oil mixed with lemon and seasoning, avocado or nuts. I work from home so I have complete control over my lunch. My initial goal was four a week, which seemed fine until I realized we’re in the middle of winter. In the summer we visit the local Farmer’s Market every weekend. We always have fresh lettuce and other vegetables around. In the winter we tend towards soups and stews rather than fresh vegetables. I think I need to work on increasing the types of vegetables in my soups and focus on fresh salads in the summer. We’ll increase the colors in everything.
*Not all vitamins are created equal. When we talked about the fish oil I take, Dr. Hehmeyer showed me how to read the bottle. It turns out the number on the front wasn’t a good indicator of how much EPA and DHA are in each pill. If you turn the bottle to the back label, you’ll see two numbers next to those letters. The total on the front of the bottle should equal the amount of EPA and DHA on the back of the bottle. If these numbers don’t match you’re not really getting the full benefit. On our vitamins, the numbers were quite different. I will finish the bottles we have and then switch.
For women, a special consideration is the amount of iron we consume. When we’re menstruating, then we need iron. Once we go through menopause we can switch to a multi-vitamin without iron. Most people get enough iron in their foods as many foods from bread to pasta are fortified. As with everything else, you need enough iron, but too much can be harmful rather than helpful.
*Labs can be helpful. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what is going on without a little blood work. When I follow-up with Dr. Hehmeyer we’ll do blood work such as a salivary adrenal assessment and either an elimination diet or a food sensitivity lab test. The adrenal assessment will give good picture of the body’s current stress load and its ability to handle it. The food sensitivity lab test can uncover hidden food sensitivities, which are often a cause of excess stress on our body, leading to increased cortisol (primary stress hormone) and a compromised metabolism.
I don’t think I’m allergic to anything, but since I developed other allergies mid-life, I’d like to find out if I’m now allergic to any food. I’d like to know so I can continue to be more mindful about the foods I eat.
We’re working on the dietary changes Dr. Hehmeyer suggested as a way of life. We don’t use the word “diet” in our house to mean something that restricts calories or eliminates foods. We’re careful to project a healthy relationship with food in front of our tween daughters. We talk a lot about being healthy and how food can help us be more healthy. Dr. Hehmeyer said she takes a long-term view with her patients. She said she’s more interested in my health six years from now than six months from now.
Since I’m entering a new life phase, I agree with her. The changes we’ll make should make my upcoming years healthier, which is the goal. Dr. Hehmeyer On the Aligned Modern Health website, the company states it’s goal is to help people live life to the fullest. With Dr. Hehmeyer’s help, I’m on my way to improving my nutrition, which will help me improve my overall health so I can live life to the fullest.
Category: Healthy Living