3. Polyphenol is a winning antioxidant.
Although the term “polyphenol” sounds like it belongs to something artificial, polyphenols are really antioxidants—naturally occurring molecules that are supposed to be able to prevent damage in some cells by preventing or inhibiting their oxidation. By doing this, it’s believed that polyphenols can reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and some cancers, to name a few.
We all know that nurses are busy people, so with the recommendations to ensure we have certain types of foods in our diet, won’t this take up a lot of our time? According to Dr. Richard Baxter, the medical director of Healthy Aging, a magazine for physicians, it doesn’t take much effort to get polyphenols in your daily routine.
“An easy way to start is [to have] some dried fruit or berries on your breakfast cereal,” he says. “With pomegranate juice, go for the real thing, not the sugary drinks that contain a small percentage. Tea is a great source, too, so consider that instead of coffee during the day, although coffee also has respectable levels.”
Dr. Baxter, who is also a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, says that polyphenols may help make your skin look younger, too: “Since polyphenols work by countering free radicals and other causes of damage to cells and DNA, the effect is cumulative over one’s lifetime. So starting early is ideal, but it’s never too late!” he says. “There is some early evidence that skin damage can be reversed on a cellular level with these compounds.”
4. Tame your tummy with probiotics.
We all know that to feel young and healthy, we have to feel our best. We can’t feel our best if our digestion is off kilter, causing bloating, cramping, loose stools or constipation. The changing shifts, the inability to eat regular meals at regular times and stress that are part of a nurse’s life can all affect how a nurse’s body digests food, and ultimately mood and overall well-being.
Nutrition Educator and writer Christine Garvin, MA, NE, says that some people can improve their digestion by simply increasing their probiotic consumption by eating store-bought yogurt or kefir. Some people need more than others. “For others, if suffering from impaired digestion (leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s), the yogurt found in the store may not be enough, particularly because a lot of the good bacteria may no longer be present by the time it arrives on the store shelves,” she explains. “Homemade yogurt or kefir is better and less expensive in the long run.”
Don’t like yogurt? Garvin says that raw sauerkraut before meals is helpful, as is raw apple cider vinegar, which she says is also a great inexpensive probiotic tonic.
5. Consume phytonutrients, or leafy greens.
Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, are naturally occurring compounds that come from plants. There are hundreds of them, most not yet identified, but among those we know of are beta carotene, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), folic acid and vitamin E.
Nurses who work in obstetrics, particularly in prenatal clinics or doctors’ offices, know the importance of folic acid—it’s an essential nutrient for pregnant women and their developing children. But did you know it’s also important in maintaining heart health and may help decrease the risk of certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s?
Doug DiPasquale, a holistic nutritionist in Toronto, Canada, explains that while not all phytochemicals are considered essential, “Phytonutrients are as helpful for us as they are for the plants that produce them.” On top of that, many experts believe that consumption of phytonutrients can promote healthy aging.
“A good way to ensure you’re getting a good variety of these phytochemicals is to eat colorfully. Each color represents a different family of phytochemicals, so eating a variety of plant foods will mean you’re getting a good nutrient profile,” says DiPasquale.
So, how does your diet add up? Luckily, it’s never too late to start eating to look great and live long.