The Power of Potassium

By Heather Jewett, BHS Dietetic Intern

Potassium is a nutrient that is often overlooked, and it is essential to understand where to find it and why it is important in our diets.

Potassium is an electrolyte that acts opposite of sodium in our body’s cell membranes. Too much sodium in the diet is known to increase blood pressure, and adequate potassium intake can help maintain a healthy vascular system and heart.

Potassium is found in a variety of foods. Foods high in potassium include:

  • Fruits like bananas, kiwis, cantaloupe, avocados, prunes and apricots
  • Vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, lima beans, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and winter squash
  • Dairy products like milk and yogurt
  • All meats (red meat and chicken) and many types of fish.
  • Other plant based proteins like nuts, beans, legumes, soy products, and veggie burgers

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Potassium is important as we get older because we need it to build proteins and muscle, to control the electrical impulses that make our hearts beat, to use carbohydrates in the body, among other functions. Most people do not eat enough potassium. In severe potassium deficiency, symptoms of weak muscles, abnormal heart beat, and an increased blood pressure can occur.

A diet rich in potassium has the potential to improve health outcomes for a longer, healthier, and happier life. There are some cases where people may have to restrict potassium, as in kidney disease.  If you fall into this category, follow the advice of your doctor or dietitian on what foods to limit.  When it comes to potassium-rich foods, don’t be shy! Pile your plate high with potassium-rich fruits and veggies and enjoy the reward of a happy heart.

San Antonio, Let’s Do Lunch™

San Antonio, Let’s Do Lunch: Volunteer with Meals on Wheels

More than 10 million seniors in the United States (that’s 1 in 6) currently face the threat of hunger and 15 million seniors are living alone in isolation. And, each and every day, Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver one million meals to those who need them the most. In Bexar County, we deliver more than a meal to 3,800 seniors every week day. Almost a million meals a year!

Many people know Meals on Wheels as a food delivery service for the homebound. However, what they don’t know is how impactful the moments of contact between the volunteer and the recipient can be. For many seniors, the volunteer who drops off their meal is the only person they will see that day. The delivery isn’t just about nourishment; it’s about a valuable moment of human connection. And in turn, it’s those moments of human connection that make volunteering so rewarding.

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We know firsthand that Meals on Wheels clients are some of the country’s most inspirational and interesting people, full of wisdom and stories. Our volunteers have noted time and again that these experiences are what keeps them coming back to Meals on Wheels, and deepens their connection beyond food delivery.

With the senior population projected to double by 2050, Meals on Wheels needs to recruit a whole new wave of volunteers to serve the growing need. Meals on Wheels, which consists of more than 5,000 local programs in virtually every community in America, relies on an army of two million volunteers who deliver meals to seniors in need every day between 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM. These volunteers are crucial to the well-being of seniors across the country. With the majority of the current volunteer base over the age of 55, there is a real need to encourage and recruit people of all ages to get involved, donate their lunch break and volunteer.

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What can you do? You can experience these special moments of human connection right here in Bexar County by volunteering with Meals on Wheels of San Antonio If you can’t stray too far from the office, donate your lunch break and participate in meal delivery close to your work. We have opportunities for volunteers to help by delivering meals and assisting in the kitchen to prep and package meals for delivery!

Sign up to volunteer with Christian Senior Services and Meals on Wheels of San Antonio to start making a difference right here in our local community today.

Hydrating the Healthy Way

Rhaizza Velasquez-Garcia, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian
Meals on Wheels of San Antonio

The warmest months of the year in San Antonio are July and August, with average temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. During those months, it is especially important to stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause a decrease in physical and cognitive performance. It affects concentration, alertness, and short term memory, and it can also cause confusion, dizziness, and headaches.  While it is important for everyone to stay hydrated, it is even more so for the elderly as the negative effects of dehydration are more intense in this population. Furthermore, studies show older people drink less water, have low water reserves, their kidneys do not conserve fluid as effectively, and have altered responses to heat and cold stress. For all of these reasons, it is important for our seniors to learn to drink regularly, even if they do not feel thirsty.

The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration: little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual, dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, dizziness or lightheaded feeling, and no tears when crying. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the best way to reduce your symptoms is by drinking water.

The average adult needs about 1.5 to 2 liters of water each day (52-68 ounces).  A great way to get that is simply by drinking water, but there are plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables that can help us meet our daily need.  We can also get water by drinking other beverages such as juice or milk, but many of them also add calories.  Sugar sweetened beverages such as soda, highly sweetened coffee and iced teas, and other such drinks should be kept to a minimum.

Some tips for staying hydrated:

Hydration Tips

Water Content of Fruits and Vegetables

Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated.  If you do not drink often, give yourself a little reminder to do so.  Remember to add more vegetables and fruit to your diet to supplement any lack of liquid in your diet.  So, enjoy the summer heat but stay cool while doing so with these tips!