Drinking juice sounds healthy. But even a small bottle of apple juice can contain 10 teaspoons of sugar, a nutritionist told seniors at the Healthy Eating Event at the Richmond Auditorium Wednesday morning.
About 50 people attended the free event, organized by the Richmond Commission on Aging and aimed at educating the elderly in Richmond on the benefits of eating and living healthily.
“Instead of drinking juice and sweetened drinks, drink water,” said nutritionist Cheryl Davis. “And it’s not just about soda. It’s about all the food we eat.”
To prove her point, Davis presented the audience with a bottle of apple juice, a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Sunkist from which she had removed all the liquid. The apple juice had 10 teaspoons of sugar, the Mountain Dew bottle 19 teaspoons and the Sunkist bottle 21 teaspoons.
To fully understand what we put in our bodies, Davis said, everyone needs to begin reading labels.
“If your ancestors did not recognize it as food, remember, you’re too good to eat it,” she said.
Davis also advised attendees to cut back on their salt and fat intake. Salt and fat contribute to the top five killer diseases in America – heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
An estimated 58 percent of Richmond adults are overweight or obese, according to a 2011 Contra Costa Health Services report, and approximately 84 people die every year from obesity-related diseases.
“One of the principles of nutrition is moderation,” Davis said. “Too much of anything is not good for the body so don’t add flavorings to your food without tasting it first. It’s a bad habit.”
Davis recommended more colorful fruits and vegetables as a way of preventing illnesses. The audience snacked on fruits such as melons, grapes and strawberries provided for breakfast.
The Richmond Farmer’s Market offers fresh fruit and produce Fridays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m..
Dr. Desmond Carson of Doctors Medical Center also brought up the importance of exercising. While some seniors might not be able to take part in vigorous activities, he said that the best form of daily exercise one could get was walking.
Gloria Sewell, a writer, said she felt that people were spending less time cooking and enjoying food as everyone wanted things to be done faster and multi-tasking had become the norm.
“There has to be a change, because for decades, there has been a trend moving away from healthy eating,” she said. “It’s time to go back to the basics.”