This semester, one course to be held at the Samis Education Center is a new type of class — “Nutrition and Wellness as We Age,” led by the OU Health Sciences Center’s Brian dela Cruz.
Brian is a clinical instructor and coordinator for the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Allied Health. He expressed great interest in the OLLI program at OU and shared the idea of providing a nutrition course for our OLLI members. We asked Brian to talk about his "Nutrition and Wellness" course.
Patrick: How long have you been studying nutrition?
Brian: I started the Nutrition Program at OUHSC in 2008. I practiced as a Dietetic Intern at St. Francis Hospital in 2010. Since 2011, I have been practicing both as a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist and teaching nutrition at OU.
Patrick: Do you feel nutrition becomes more important the older we get and why?
Brian: Nutrition definitely gets more important as we age. Unfortunately, as we age, we have to work harder to stay healthy. It’s not that we can’t stay healthy; it’s just that we are more prone to chronic diseases when we get older. As we get older, we can see vitamin deficiencies, muscle loss and bone fragility.
Patrick: What are some of the course topics you're most excited about teaching?
Brian: I think the topics that I’m most excited about are concerning osteoporosis and preventing muscle loss. Unfortunately, these are common conditions we see with the elderly population, but there are ways to maintain health and slow the process of these chronic diseases.
Patrick: Will you do demonstrations on simple, yet healthy cooking for the OLLI students? Will they get to sample some dishes?
Brian: Yes, I’m hoping we will do a short cooking demonstration during the lecture on heart disease. Salt is detrimental to a person with heart disease, and I know many of us use salt in much of the foods we consume. But there are other spices we can use to make foods tasty and healthy.
Patrick: Do you often cook for yourself?
Brian: I definitely cook for myself when I’m at home, but I also like to treat myself by going out to eat every once in a while! We’ll talk about eating out and choosing what to eat when eating out in this course.
Patrick: What is your favorite dish to prepare and eat?
Brian: One of my favorite dishes to make is a very low sodium beef taco recipe. When we think of meat found in beef tacos, we usually think of it as tasting quite salty. The recipe I use incorporates multiple spices, which give the beef its flavor. What’s great about the recipe is there is no salt added. Use a hard taco shell or a soft taco shell, load it up with vegetables, guacamole, salsa and a little bit of shredded cheese, and you’ve got healthy tacos!