Nutrition News: Gardening for Kids' Health, Best Metabolism Booster, and How Sleep Can Battle Belly Fat


Reaping What We Sow

Want to raise kids who are lifelong healthy eaters? Hand them a trowel, some seeds and a watering can, and point them to the garden. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida suggests that college kids who either gardened when they were kids or currently garden consumed more fruits and vegetables — 2.9 cups daily, on average, about a half-cup more — than those who did not. “We found that if your parents gardened but you did not, just watching them did not make a difference in how much fruits and vegetables you eat in college,” lead author Anne Mathews told HealthDay News. “Hands-on experience seems to matter.”


Why Your Metabolism Is So Slow

If you have a sinking feeling that your metabolism is slowing, you’re probably right. In a U.S. News article, health and wellness writer K. Aleisha Fetters notes that our metabolism — the base number of calories our bodies burn each day — decreases gradually beginning at age 20. (Yes, that young.) So by the time we are 30, we should take in 150 fewer daily calories than we did at age 20 to maintain the same weight. After age 40 in men and 50 in women, that metabolic decrease accelerates. Fetters says this decline has to do with a loss of muscle mass as we age, as muscle burns calories at a higher rate than fat. The antidote, she argues, is to work toward building muscle mass through strength training and support it with concerted protein consumption.


Sleep, Stress and Belly Fat

Another thing we can do to help keep our bodies in shape as we age? Get enough sleep. Eating right and exercise are key tools in our battle against the bulge. But fitness trainer Gabriella Boston suggests, in The Washington Post, that boosting sleep and reducing stress may be more important still in our efforts to attain a flatter belly (and who doesn’t want that?) as we age. “I would say Number 1 is sleep, Number 2 is stress, followed by nutrition and then exercise,” registered dietitian Rebecca Mohning tells Boston. “If you’re exhausted, it’s better to sleep the extra 30 to 40 minutes than to exercise.” That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone has been found to boost belly fat, sugar consumption and our propensity to make unhealthy food choices. “Stress management is part of weight management,” Mohning maintains.