A Vital Connection

Two important lifestyle factors can affect your body weight more than any others. The first is work-related physical activity. Individuals who walk and stay mobile as part of their jobs are less likely to be overweight. The second factor is dietary fiber. If you are mostly stationary during your work day, it’s a good idea to look at how much fiber you are getting in your diet. Fiber serves two main purposes that affect your health. Soluble fiber in foods like oat bran, nuts, beans, and some fruits and vegetables helps prevent your body from re-absorbing bile acids in your gastrointestinal tract, which can help lower your cholesterol without medication. Insoluble fiber found in wheat bran, whole wheat bread, and many vegetables absorbs water in your colon and can help keep you regular. Because fiber absorbs water, it can also help you feel fuller after taking in fewer calories.

The immune system, which defends the body against disease, is made up of millions of cells that circulate through the body or reside in lymph nodes. Like all cells in the body, they require a wide spectrum of nutrients to perform at their peak. Over the years, research has pointed to key roles for nearly all nutrients, including zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, C, E, D, and B6. Doctors have long known that serious malnutrition can weaken the immune system, making people vulnerable to many kinds of infections.

Most of us get less than the 25 grams of daily fiber recommended by many heart specialists. Consuming this recommended amount can help you lose weight while improving your heart health. You can bulk up on fiber pretty easily by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, and making a point of trying higher-fiber breads, cereals, and rice. In some cases, you can meet your fiber goals with the use of a fiber supplement, but talk to your health care provider first about that. Making some simple changes in your shopping patterns can help you reach the recommended amount of daily fiber and reduce your risk of heart disease.
When you reduce your calories to lose weight, you run the risk of falling short on key nutrients. That’s why choosing nutrient-rich foods is particularly important when you’re dieting. Fortunately, some of the foods richest in nutrition fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also happen to be low in fat and calories. They also tend to be higher in fiber. So they help fill you up even when you’re eating less to lose weight. Even on the healthiest diet, however, you may fall short on nutrients over time. The nutrients that are most often in short supply are iron and calcium. But if you’re dieting to lose weight over an extended time, you may run a risk of falling short on other nutrients. Taking a multivitamin can help ensure that you meet your basic needs while you try to lose weight.
Also, certain vitamins and minerals are especially important for a healthy immune system. The immune system, which defends the body against disease, is made up of millions of cells that circulate through the body or reside in lymph nodes. Like all cells in the body, they require a wide spectrum of nutrients to perform at their peak. Over the years, research has pointed to key roles for nearly all nutrients, including zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, C, E, D, and B6. Doctors have long known that serious malnutrition can weaken the immune system, making people vulnerable to many kinds of infections. To support your immune system, focus on eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated oils. You can also take a multivitamin pill to help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet. But remember, a pill is no substitute for a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.
(Inputs from Dr. D. Kiefer,
Dr. J. Beckerman, Dr. K.M. Zelman)

Supplements For Health

Once-daily multivitamins/minerals geared for age and sex should take into account the changing needs of adult men and women. If you cannot tolerate dairy and do not eat calcium-fortified foods, you may need additional calcium beyond a multivitamin. During childbearing years, it is essential for women to get adequate folate and iron in their diets or through supplements. Pregnant and lactating women have increased needs that require a special supplement during these times.
Vegetarians may need to add supplements, depending on the foods excluded in their diets. Smokers require an additional 40 milligrams of vitamin C that can easily be obtained from fruits or vegetables. In addition, some adults depending on their diet, health history, and where they live — may require more vitamin D than the amount in a standard multivitamin pill.

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