A New Year’s Resolution to Extend Your Life: Ask A Nutritionist

Categories: Ask a Nutritionist, Blog

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist and volunteer at Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. Prior to joining the Clinic, she served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP).

Happy New Year! If you’re going to keep one resolution this year, make it one that counts for decades.

The food you eat has the power to extend your life – and cut it short. A recent study showed that several types of eating patterns can cause an early death. These diet patterns include eating too much salt, not enough whole grains, and not enough fruit. Any of these diet habits led to an early death for millions of people around the world.

Eating too much salt leads to the most early death. Too much salt in your diet is linked to a greater chance of having a heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. The current recommendation for Americans is to consume less than 2,300 mgs of sodium per day -that’s about one teaspoon. If you have any diseases or conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, you may need to eat less.

Eating lots of fruits and whole grains provides lots of benefits to your health. Whole grains give you lots of fiber, help you feel full, manage blood sugar levels and help with regular bowl movements. When you shop for whole grains, check the ingredients and look for the word “ whole” at the beginning. Whole grain sources include brown rice, 100 percent whole grain breads, cereals and crackers, oatmeal, quinoa, farro, barley and popcorn.

Fruits also provide fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Fresh, frozen, and fruit canned in its own juice are good choices. Limit your fruit to juice to one-half cup a day. It does not have any fiber.

Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about the recommended amount of salt and fiber for your daily eating plan. And enjoy a long and healthy life!

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.