September 2018 - Proportion Foods
Proportion Foods - Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

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Fine Food Australia highlights

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Sep 24, 2018 in Nutrition

Every year, food operators including chefs, restauranteurs, café and bar owners gather to showcase new foods, tools of the trade, and industry insights. This year’s show in Melbourne was the biggest event yet.


Temptations from the recent food fest ranged from chocolate masterpieces by artistic chocolatier Stephane LeRoux and patisserie innovations to premium beer, wine and spirits and Peruvian superfoods like Camu Camu fruit and Sacha Inchi seeds.



ProPortion Foods


We presented a variety of possible ways to serve our portion-controlled cakes, from a tray display to plated up portions with garnishes and accompaniments.


The baked cheesecake was a big hit, with people coming back wanting more. We were delighted with compliments on the expert styling by My, and about how delicious our products are.


“It was great to catch up with our current suppliers and customers who stopped by to visit us at our stand, including interstate visitors,” says Nikki. “It’s always nice to be able to put a face to a name.”



And beyond…


Gluten-free products received less attention than in previous years, perhaps owing to their transition from a healthy living niche to mainstream fare. Their appeal has reached beyond people with allergens or intolerance as gluten-free fare has become part of a healthy lifestyle for many.


Hemp – the nutritious, protein-packed, non-psychoactive version – was one of the new kids on the block. Its nutty tasting seeds featured in many novel hemp-based products, owing to Australian legalisation last year that allowed it in foods.


“This is very exciting as it is a complete protein source with a natural health halo,” says Nikki. She thinks that we can expect to see more hemp protein powders, fortified foods and beverages.


Always fascinated to try new foreign foods and beverages, Nikki tried an animal from our own backyard in Australia: wallaby – grilled and as a “salami”.


“Less gamey than kangaroo, it has a soft texture similar to lamb,” she recalls. “A novelty taste testing, but I don’t think I’ll be eating it again.”





The importance of mobility

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Sep 21, 2018 in Mobility, Muscle, Nutrition

Jane is 52 years old. She suffers chronic neck pain and impaired mobility, resulting from an occupational violence attack. But she needs to continue her activities in the domestic domain and understands the importance of staying active despite the pain.


This is not easy. Although Jane’s house was designed for her ageing parents, the surrounding footpaths are dangerous, and she has already tripped a couple of times. Jane is also a quiet person who enjoys intimate social interactions in the comfort of her own home.


John is a socially and mentally active 44-year old who admits to mildly excessive alcohol consumption and periods of depression. He stays physically active to keep fit and get around.


With an aversion to driving, cycling is his preferred mode of transport. He hopes his physical health will allow him to continue. John lives close to a natural enjoyment which facilitates outdoor physical activities.



Mobility, independence and aging


As Jane and John age, mobility will become an increasingly important theme in their lives. Their independence will count on it.


A comprehensive survey of long-term studies covering 12.6 million older adults found that mobility improved quality of life and body function capacity and reduced medical expenditure.


Grocery shopping, housework, gardening, visiting friends and family, personal hygiene, going to appointments are things we take for granted. But impaired mobility and chronic conditions in aging can have a significant impact on these daily activities.


“Life space”, the space within which people move in their daily lives, impacts mobility – people who have restricted life space tend to be less mobile.


Walking is an activity that can easily be included in a daily routine as a form of transport to increase life space, thereby enhancing mobility and health.


John and Jane both identify Tai Chi as an activity that they could enjoy in 25 years. It is low impact, and as a bonus includes meditation and breathing for mental relaxation.



Lifestyle index


Global public health policies increasingly target healthy aging. To this end, a lifestyle index was developed to identify key factors related to aging well.


Core components of the index are vigorous and moderate physical activity, consuming fruit and vegetables, regular meals, plenty of fluids, and psychosocial factors – social engagement, networking and life satisfaction.


There is an interactive element to these. For instance, eating well reduces risk of overweight and chronic disease, both of which restrict mobility. Being socially active, like John, will enhance opportunities to be active.


In turn, higher mobility will enable greater engagement in social networks and activities.


Active aging policies could support people like Jane to be mobile by improving sidewalks and providing walking trails.


More broadly, policies across multiple sectors will empower older adults to remain independent, active community members – characteristic of a healthy, humane society.




Bridging child care and aged care

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Sep 12, 2018 in Aged Care

What better way to breathe life into aged care than with young children. That’s what intergenerational programs are starting to do in Australia.


In an era of dissolving extended families, the new model of bridging generations is testament to their multiple psychological, social and economic benefits.





Dr Catrin Hedd Jones, from Bangor University in the UK, took part in a documentary about six nursery children who were introduced to an adult day care facility for three days.


She said she witnessed some “life affirming interactions” that benefited both the older people and the children, who flourished with the extra attention and opportunity to grow their social and emotional skills.


Increasing numbers of shared care centres have sprung up over the past 20 years in the US. They include a nursing home called ‘The Mount’ in West Seattle, which joins 125 children with 400 residents five days a week.


“We wanted to create a place for people to come to live, not a place for people to come to die,” administrator Charlene Boyd told PBS news hour. Footage shows young children dancing and interacting with the residents, whose faces light up in delight.


Staff and family members say that residents suffering dementia become engaged and lucid during their interactions with the children. They’ve seen some “incredible moments”, as well as enhanced learning for the children.


Over in Japan, a study reported that intergenerational programs with preschool children brought smiles and conversation to older adults.



Meanwhile in Australia


In New South Wales an association holds intergenerational playgroups to support families and strengthen local communities, bringing meaningful engagement and enhanced self-esteem for participants.


But programs that bring together young and old are relatively new in Australia. And they need to be more structured with consistent monitoring and evaluation of outcomes, according to Professor Anneke Fitzgerald from Griffith University.


Her team is trialling two models in older adults living with dementia and 3-5-year-old children – one with aged care and childcare in the same location and one in which the groups take trips to visit each other.


The two generations meet for an hour each week over 16 weeks and engage with each other through shared activities.


Preliminary results are positive, with the children and adults expressing “excitement and joy at being able to interact with each other,” according to Fitzgerald.



Planned programs


Fostering appropriate interactions between young and old takes careful planning and facilitation from trained care staff to help build relationships.


But the possibilities are endless, writes Hedd Jones.


They can range from reading a book to craft activities or dancing together. Musicians aged between 6 and 90 years old in New Jersey play together in an orchestra, while in Massachusetts children and older adults work together on environmental projects.



What’s not to love?


There’s no doubt about the psychological and social benefits of intergenerational connections.


Older adults feel valued with an enriched life purpose; young children benefit from increased knowledge and social interaction, and in the process develop positive perceptions of older people.


The programs could also help alleviate the burgeoning costs of an increasingly older population by lowering running costs and sharing resources.




Can we reverse aging?

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Sep 7, 2018 in Aging, Research

Chronic diseases, impaired mobility and diminished quality of life with aging seem inevitable to most. Although healthy lifestyle habits protect us, researchers say they may have found another way to reverse the aging process.



Revitalising old cells


Aging cells stop working well for several reasons. Researchers have turned the spotlight to ‘senescent cells’ – cells that stop dividing. This process is thought to have several benefits like suppressing tumours, wound healing and more.


But in aging, these cells accumulate and may impact the function of surrounding cells. And animal research suggests that removing these deteriorating cells could thwart or delay age-related physical decline.


Researchers propose that DNA damage, inflammation and erosion of telomeres – protective tips at the end of chromosomes – could all explain why cells become senescent with age.


It now appears that gene regulation might also factor in.


Every cell in the body contains all the information that the body needs to function. But different genes are turned on or off according to that cell’s role – explaining for instance why the heart and brain work differently despite containing the same genes.


Genes are activated by environmental messages, facilitated by around 300 proteins called ‘splicing factors’. With aging, the number of splicing factors drops, so that aging cells are less able to respond to changes in the environment.


Researchers from the University of Exeter, UK, have been able to turn these splicing factors back on and revive old cells – in vitro at least – by treating cells with a chemical that produces small amounts of hydrogen sulphide.


Hydrogen sulphide – the gas that smells like rotten eggs – is found naturally in our bodies. But in high doses it can be toxic. The researchers found a way to send the molecule in small doses to the mitochondria – the cell’s energy powerhouse – where they think it acts.


They hope this procedure could eventually be used in living people and treat age-related diseases.



Prolonging healthy lifespan or life itself?


Can death itself be cured so that people can live forever?


Aubrey de Grey thinks so. He founded the organisation, Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), focussed on finding ways to remove senescent cells and theoretically keep bodies alive forever.


Do people want immortality? A 2013 national survey of Americans found that 56% would not use technologies that would help them live to 120 or longer. Two-thirds of respondents were concerned about the strain on natural resources.


Jake Dunagan, director of the consulting firm Very Nice and researcher in cognitive bias, says the SENS longevity research is selfish. “’I want mine. I always want mine.’ Well what if everyone had this? What would be the long-term implications of that?”



Cherishing life – and death


There is a notable distinction between increasing our “health span” – the primary focus of most aging research – and increasing our life span, say other researchers like biochemist and professor of biogerontology, Judy Campisi.


Most people fear death and discussing it is taboo in many cultures. De Grey calls it “the terrible thing that awaits [us],” disparaging people who simply accept their fate.


But ‘The Art of Dying Well’ suggests that coming to terms with death can help us live more fully. “In fact,” they suggest, “consciousness of our mortality can enable us to cherish every moment of the life we have.”