Tuesday, December 20, 2016

All Good Things in Moderation

The holidays are a special time to embrace traditions, celebrate with family and friends, and indulge in treats that make the season so special. Healthy eating embraces all foods as part of a balanced diet, and encourages eating everything in moderation.

Allow yourself a little of your favorite foods as a treat. It is typically not the food that is the problem, it is the quantity of the food that you choose to consume. Take for example one chocolate chip cookie. At 150 calories per cookie eating 3-4 can easily lead to weight gain. Pies average around 350-500 calories per slice and the calories in alcohol can add up quickly as well. Learning to decrease portions can help keep your weight in check. It also helps lower your intake of saturated fat which is very important if you have a history of high cholesterol.

Cravings are suggestions to eat, but not commands to overindulge. When you feel cravings for treats try waiting 20 minutes, concentrating on something else, and leaving the area where food is. Often this will make the craving go away.

If you do choose to eat something you are craving enjoy it, but in moderation. You do not have to overeat. Take the time to truly taste and enjoy every bite of your treats. Avoid eating quickly and with distractions such as the TV or cell phone. This strategy helps us enjoy food more while consuming less.

Other strategies to help keep treats in moderation is to eat three balanced meals each day. This keeps appetite in check and prevents overeating that comes from skipping meals.

Eat until you are comfortably satisfied but not full, knowing you can enjoy more food later when you are hungry again.

Know your social calendar; during some events you may feel comfortable sticking to healthy low calorie foods and beverages knowing you plan to indulge at a different party later on.

Finally learn to say “no, thank you” politely when you have had enough. There is no shame in turning down treats especially if your health is at stake. 

Schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians to plan your 2017 goals; with insurance sessions are no cost to patients. Our office wishes you and your family a Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Eating a High Protein Diet May Raise Women’s Heart Risk

Research presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in November found women over the age of 50 who ate a high-protein diet had a higher risk of heart failure.

The study analyzed the diets of 104,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years of age over a five year period. The likelihood of developing heart failure was statistically associated with the amount of protein they consumed even after controlling for age, race, and other health conditions. The women in the study with the highest protein intake had a 60% increased risk of heart failure compared to women who had little protein in their diet.

The greatest risk was from animal protein sources. Women who had a higher vegetable protein intake (from beans, nuts, lentils, and quinoa) appeared to be protected with a reduced risk of heart failure by 20%.

Researchers speculate similar results would be seen in men, but more studies are needed.

For healthy people the USDA recommends about 46g protein for women and 56g protein for men aged 19-51+ daily, although a registered dietitian can customize protein recommendations based on your unique needs. Most Americans over-consume protein without really trying, for example one chicken breast has 54g protein.

The American Heart Association does recommend fish and poultry in small amounts for a heart healthy diet. They also encourage a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat and non-fat dairy products, nuts, legumes, and non-tropical oils.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why Do I Gain Weight When I Exercise?

Eat less and exercise more might be the over-simplified advise to lose weight, but many people struggle with weight gain once they start an exercise program. In fact a 2013 study found sedentary people who started exercising lost far less weight than expected despite the number of calories they burned when working out.

Why does this occur? Many scientists believe the body tries to compensate for the new exercise by increasing appetite and reducing activity later in the day which limits weight loss.

Our body doesn’t understand we live in a modern society with vending machines and fast food restaurants everywhere around us. Our body, to some degree, thinks we still live in a cave and need to eat for survival. In a caveman world where food is scarce and only the strong survive weight loss would be detrimental. The drive to keep eating is embedded deep within our DNA.

Hunger aside, we also respond to rewards and might reach for a treat after a grueling workout. Briskly   walking for an hour might burn 200 calories but the fruit smoothie we drink afterwards might contain over 400.

Exercise might increase appetite, but is has a very   important role in protecting our health. In fact independent of weight loss, studies show improvements in blood sugar, liver enzymes, cholesterol, and blood pressure with regular exercise. Studies show people who live more active lives can live longer.

A 2016 systematic review of physical activity and   obesity studies found calorie restriction combined with exercise was more effective for weight loss than exercise alone or diet alone. What we eat, the amount we eat, and the amount of energy we expend in one day has a very big impact on weight management.

What amount is right for you? Our team can measure your calorie requirements and design a plan to help you reach your goals. It is never too late to start   working on healthy goals, even during a busy holiday season. Call our office and schedule your appointment today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Maintain Don’t Gain Thanksgiving Survival Plan

Eat a normal breakfast and a light lunch. Avoid skipping meals because it slows down your metabolism and increases hunger causing you to overeat later on.

Wake up early and exercise to burn off extra calories you will be eating and to alleviate some holiday stress.

Stick to water or sparkling water instead of sweetened beverages. Limit alcohol intake and pick light beer or wine instead of mixed drinks, eggnog, or punch which can be over 500 calories each.

Limit appetizers to lower calorie options like fresh vegetables and shrimp cocktail. Make a point not to stand near food to reduce nibbling temptation.

If you know you will not find any healthy choices bring a healthy side dish or salad to share.

Survey the entire table before placing food on your plate. Decide which foods are worth eating and which you should ignore. Stick to your decision, don’t waste calories on foods you don’t love.

Put a small portion on your plate. You can go back for more if you love it and are still hungry.

Pace yourself and be aware of what you are eating. Eat slowly to savor the taste and texture of your food. Talk more to eat less.

Eat until you are satisfied but not full. Leave some food behind on your plate, especially if you did not love eating it. Drop out of the “clean plate” club mindset.

400 calories for a slice of pie can be a big problem. Don’t feel obligated to have dessert if you don’t want any. Avoid “extras” such as ice cream. Try 1-2 cookies or a slice of cake instead of pie, or eat less of the pie crust.

Don’t feel guilty! Holiday’s should be celebrated with family and friends. Treat yourself in moderation and understand one meal has a minor impact when you are good all week.

How to enjoy a lighter Thanksgiving
3 oz skinless turkey 119 calories
2 tbs gravy 15 calories
1/2 cup glazed carrots 45 calories
2 tbs cranberry sauce 55 calories
1/2 cup mashed potatoes 120 calories
1/4 cup stuffing 90 calories
444 calories
Cinnamon Oat Baked Apple153 calories

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Benefits of Beets

Acquiring a taste for beets demands a love of strong flavor and dense texture. Red, yellow, or white varieties might appear at your local farmers market or grocery store providing a variety of nutrients and health benefits.

This super food has been the focus of recent studies claiming increased blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased athletic performance. Low in fat and less than 40 calories per 1/2 cup, beets are an excellent addition to your diet.

The root vegetable contains a good source of folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, pantothenic acid, iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and magnesium.

Beets also contain a unique phytonutrient called betalains which provides the deep red color. This pigment is different from those found in other red foods such as red wine or tomatoes, offering different health benefits to the body. Betalains has been shown to provide detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects on the body.

The green leafy top portion of beets is also edible supplying a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamin A. Consuming foods high in flavonoids and antioxidants can help protect against cancer and may also help prevent heart disease. The greens are usually served boiled or steamed providing a taste and texture similar to spinach.

The heart healthy benefits and lower blood pressure claims are possibly linked to beets being high in nitrates. The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. One study showed people who drank 1 glass of beet juice lowered their systolic blood pressure by 4-5 points within 6 hours. The results of one study are certainly not enough evidence to use beets as a treatment for high blood pressure, however it does reinforce the healthy impact beets can have on a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween The Scary Truth About Sugar

Is sugar the root of all evil? 80% of food in U.S. grocery stores contain added sugar. This “hidden sugar” found in processed foods adds up quickly and increases the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly food raises blood sugar.

Higher glycemic foods increase body fat and central obesity more than lower glycemic foods. A recent study from the University of California San Francisco found increased sugar in a food supply was linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes, independent of obesity.

Researches in Japan found sugar to be the greatest predictor of weight gain in men. Every 5g of sugar a man consumed daily resulted in 1/2 lb weight gain that year.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugar to 25g (2 tbs) for women and 37g (3 tbs) for men daily. That is equivalent to 13 candy corn or 3 fun sized snickers bars or less than 1 can of soda.

Sugar intake can add up quickly when you consider other sources that might be less obvious, such as 1 tbs of ketchup has 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup tomato sauce has 2 tsp sugar, and 1 single serve vanilla Greek yogurt has over 3 tsp sugar.

A healthy lifestyle allows some treats from time to time, after all total deprivation can lead to binge eating later on. Learning to eat treats in moderation is an important skill to acquire, so this Halloween enjoy treats in moderation, staying at 2-3 tbs of sugar per day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Truth of the Alkaline Ash Diet

Alternative medicine has promoted the Alkaline Ash Diet making claims it can help you lose weight, treat cancer, avoid heart disease, and ease arthritis. Many question the true science behind the Alkaline Ash Diet and its safety.

Founded in the belief that certain foods can affect the acidity of blood and urine, the Alkaline Ash Diet focuses on eating foods to promote an alkaline pH in the body to avoid health problems associated with an acidic Western diet. (Alkaline is another word for basic.)

A substance is acidic or alkaline based on its pH: 0-6.9 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 7.1-14 is alkaline. Our blood is a little alkaline at 7.4 and our stomach acid is very acidic at 3.5.

When we break down food in our body, an ash byproduct is left behind which can be acidic or alkaline. The composition of the ash determines whether it is allowed in the Alkaline Ash Diet. The original pH might be very different from the by-product ash, for example lemons are very acidic, but once digested they produce an alkaline ash and are allowed in the Alkaline Diet. Examples of acceptable alkaline ash foods include most fruit, vegetables, soy, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Acid forming foods such as alcohol, caffeine, dairy, meat, eggs, grains, and processed foods are not allowed.

Looking at evidence-based research, eating different foods can change the pH of urine but does not change blood pH. Blood pH is tightly regulated by the lungs and kidneys, a change in blood pH is associated with critical illness.

There is no scientific evidence the Alkaline Ash Diet prevents or treats cancer. However, eating a good amount of fruit, vegetables, and minimally processed foods can reduce risk. A plant-based diet is also beneficial for cardiovascular health. Cutting out certain food groups might aid in weight loss but ensuring essential micronutrient intake is important. Eggs, dairy, and whole grains provide a great source of protein, B vitamins, and fiber which are essential for fighting disease.

The Alkaline Ash Diet lacks scientific evidence supporting its claims, but eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and minimally processed foods are healthy benefits to embrace.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pumpkin Season Has Arrived

When prepared in a healthy way, pumpkin is a great source of many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. With 50 calories and 3g of fiber per cup, pumpkin keeps you full in a weight conscious way. It is also a great source of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana. 

The bright orange color comes from carotenoid pigments which have been shown to decrease risk of chronic disease, cancer, and eye disease.

Beta-carotene, one type of carotenoid, is used by the body to make vitamin A. This is needed for immune function, healthy vision, and keeping skin looking youthful. Zeaxanthin is another carotenoid found in pumpkin which can prevent macular degeneration.

Pumpkin seeds are just as nutritious and offer a great source of magnesium, which is essential for energy production and DNA synthesis. They are  also packed with zinc which is vital for taste and sense of smell, building healthy red blood cells, and supporting healthy bones.

The seeds also contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which reduces inflammation. They also contain phytosterols which can help lower cholesterol. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds has around 150 calories, you can easily toss the seeds in olive oil and roast them at 400°F for 20 minutes. They add a nice crunch to salads, oatmeal, or mixed into healthy muffins.

Baking pumpkin instead of boiling helps retain more nutrients. If this is too much work canned pumpkin puree that is unsweetened is an easy option as well. Eat roasted pumpkin as a tasty side dish or add pumpkin puree to soup, smoothies, oatmeal, or hummus.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lose Belly Fat “Overnight”

There are two types of fat around the mid-section. The less dangerous fat is called subcutaneous fat or “surface level” fat, which contributes to the love handles you might not love. The second type of fat is called visceral fat, which accumulates around organs making it more dangerous.

Visceral fat wraps itself around the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. This type of fat secretes hormones and inflammatory substances which can impact appetite, weight, brain function, and disease risk. Visceral fat is associated with high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and other health problems.

Measuring your waist circumference can give you an idea if you might be at risk of having too much visceral fat. Place a measuring tape around your waist, level with your belly button. Men should measure no more than 40 inches and women should measure no more than 35 inches. Higher measurements place individuals at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. and should be discussed with your doctor. 

Hormones play a big role in the way fat is stored in the body. People who get little sleep secrete more stress hormone called cortisol which causes more fat to be deposited around the mid-section. One study looking at over 1100 participants found those who slept five hours or less each night gained 32% visceral fat over five years compared to a 13% gain in visceral fat in those who slept six hours or more each night. To help reduce belly fat focus on getting at least six hours of quality sleep each night.

The type of foods and drinks you consume can also impact belly fat; refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, pretzels, desserts, juice, and sugar can deposit more readily around the mid-section and should be limited. Healthy eating, regular exercise, weight loss, stress management, and sleep are key components to reduce belly fat and for a healthy lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Seltzer

Water is the most essential nutrient, but what else can you drink when you need a change? Seltzer can be a great alternative, as long as you check the product label first.

Pressurized carbon dioxide is added to water to create seltzer. Without added sugar, calories, colors, or alternative sweeteners plain seltzer is a healthy choice.

Carbonation does not lead to dental erosion, but flavoring seltzer with citric acid or phosphoric acid can change the acidity level and damage enamel. Water is neutral and has a pH around 7. When pH becomes too acidic and drops below 4 dental erosion can occur. Adding your own sliced lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, basil, etc. helps to add flavor in less acidic forms than bottled seltzer flavored with citric acid.

Soda, juice, and sports drinks have surprisingly high acidity levels that can damage enamel. For example apple juice has a pH of 3.3-4.0 and Coca-Cola has a pH of 2.4. Colas have also been associated with low bone mineral density, but other carbonated beverages have not show the same association.

Club soda is not the same as seltzer and those drinking it should use caution. Club soda contains sodium to mimic the taste of mineral water. Too much sodium can increase blood pressure. High sodium diets have also been associated with higher risk of stomach cancer.

Bottled seltzer can also lack fluoride, found in fluoridated tap water, which could impact dental health as well. SodaSteam and other in-home sparkling water makers can help retain fluoride.

Plain seltzer is a great hydrator and a great alternative to water. Read food labels carefully to avoid added ingredients such as citric acid or phosphoric acid. And if you drink sparkling water a lot consider an in-home maker to get more fluoride in your beverage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to Prevent Obesity and Eating Disorders in Teens...Stop Talk About It

With 34% of kids aged 12-19 being overweight or obese and the peak onset of eating disorders occurring mid-adolescence, The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their guidelines on managing weight in teens and adolescence.

Families should stop talking about weight and avoid focusing on body dissatisfaction. Avoid making comments about your teens weight, your weight, or the weight of family or friends. Discourage dieting, skipping meals, and using weight loss pills or cleanses. Dieting is a risk factor for both obesity and eating disorders, as overweight adolescents may develop disordered eating behaviors while trying to lose weight.

Focusing on a healthy lifestyle should be made. Families should encourage healthy eating and physical activity behaviors that are sustainable long-term. Talk openly about clean burning fuel and focus on what makes the body feel better. Provide unconditional love and support regardless of size and appearance.

Provide easy access to healthy foods and water while limiting access to sweetened beverages, refined carbohydrates, junk food, and desserts. Remove TV’s from all bedrooms (including parents bedroom) and plan active excursions such as hiking and family bike rides.

Focus on family meals at the table without distractions (like smart phones). Model positive eating behaviors through leading by example. Strong evidence shows eating family meals 7 or more times each week improves nutrient intake, reduces disordered eating behaviors, reduces binge eating, and reduces frequent dieting.

Involving the entire family in positive ways has been show to be more effective in reducing teen obesity and eating disorders than a teen-only focus. Start making changes today for a lifetime of good health.

Active Family Ideas
Hiking nature trails
Flying kites
Plant a garden
Rake leaves
Shovel snow
Miniature golf
Walking the dog


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Garden Fresh or Frozen?

Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, providing   vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidants.  We can buy them fresh, frozen, or canned...but which type has the most nutrients?

People often assume fresh vegetables are highest in nutrients, but this is not always true. The nutritional content is dependent on a variety of factors. Vegetables can travel long distances and be exposed to light and temperature fluctuations which causes a loss of nutrients-especially vitamins A and C. One study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found most vegetables take 10-14 days to travel from farm to your table resulting in significant oxidation and loss of nutrients. Many vegetables are also picked before they reach peak ripeness, causing nutrients to never reach complete potency.

Frozen vegetables are picked at peak ripeness, steamed or blanched, and then frozen to lock in nutrients. Vegetables can lose nutrients during the washing, peeling, and steaming process; particularly vitamin C and several B vitamins. Some companies flash-freeze vegetables instead of steaming or blanching which retains the most nutrients.

Canned vegetables are also picked at peak ripeness, but are steamed or blanched for a longer time resulting in greater     nutrient loss. Nutrients is further degraded during the high-heat process used to seal cans. In some cases though canning can increase the bioavailability of antioxidants, especially in tomatoes, corn, and carrots which is beneficial. When purchasing canned foods be aware of sodium content; salt is often added to preserve flavor and to prevent spoiling. A high sodium diet is unhealthy and not recommended so look for reduced sodium or no salt added canned foods.

The highest concentration of nutrients likely comes from seasonal vegetables from your garden or your local farmers market during summer or fall when they are picked at peak ripeness. For produce traveling long distances or during the off-season flash-frozen vegetables are the next best choice. Canned vegetables are convenient and still provide nutrients when necessary, but be cautious of the sodium content. Whether is fresh, frozen, or canned eat at least three servings of vegetables every day for good health.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Kids Eat Right

August is Kids Eat Right Month, focusing attention on how important it is to shop smart, cook healthy, eat right, and be active. In the United States 1 out of 3 kids are overweight or obese resulting in health concerns such as depression, poor body image, behavior problems, learning problems, insulin resistance, asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, early puberty, and fatty liver.

Shop smart by creating a shopping list with your kids and taking them to the grocery store to involve them in the decision making process. Fill your cart with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy, and healthy fats. Avoid packaged foods and don’t allow junk food into the house. Talk about food colors, shapes, flavors, and textures.

Cook healthy and encourage kids to get involved. Younger kids can rinse produce, mix ingredients, and clear tables. Older kids can crack eggs, peel vegetables, make salads, slice, chop, and pound chicken on a cutting board.

Eat right by sitting down for family meals without TV or phones. Serve all family members appropriate sized portions based on their energy needs. Keep serving dishes off the table. Let kids decide whether to eat what is served. Do not encourage kids to finish their plate. Offer vegetables or fruit if second helping are asked for.

Most importantly lead by example. Eat healthy meals and snacks with your kids. Live an active lifestyle and encourage your kids by playing with them, going on family hikes, biking  together, and taking trips to the pool. We can change the   obesity epidemic starting with one healthy meal at a time!

Healthy Snack Ideas
Celery sticks with natural peanut butter
Yogurt layered with berries
Cookie cutter shaped cheese and whole grain crackers
Kale chips
Carrots and hummus


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Workplace Snacking

Is your workplace a treacherous landscape when it comes to food choices? Is it a  battle ground between self-control and constant temptations from cake celebrations and catered meetings? Let’s not forget the unassuming candy dish land mines that pop up around every corner too.

With demanding schedules the workplace has turned into a grab-and-go culture for many of us. People with the best intentions still break down when unpredictable treats appear in the office.

A study at the University of California examined decision making around food in the workplace and found people with the best self-control drank water as a deterrent from unhealthy eating. People who packed their own food also had more self-control, especially since they were not dependent on office treats.

Eating the right foods can increase work performance especially when it comes to mental focus and patience. The wrong foods, or skipping meals, can cause less productivity, rash decision making, and mistakes. 

While healthy eating does take effort to plan, purchase, and prepare; it does not have to be difficult. Check out some easy options on the right.

Healthy Workplace Snacks
· 6oz nonfat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
· 100 calorie nuts
· KIND, LARA, Uber, Balance, Kashi bars
· Apple with low fat string cheese
· Baby carrots with single serve hummus
· 2 rice cakes with natural peanut butter
· Piece of fruit
· Hard boiled eggs
· 1/4 cup trail mix
· Raw vegetables

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Cost of Exercise

Exercise can have a significant impact on the global economy according to a new study published in The Lancet medical journal. Costs of $67.5 billion a year from healthcare and productivity losses could be eliminated by an hour of exercise daily.

Inactivity is estimated to cause at least 5 million deaths each year and is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. People who sat for eight hours (or more) a day and did not exercise had the greatest risk of premature death. People who sat for eight hours a day and exercised had lower risk of premature death, even compared to people who spent fewer hours sitting but did not exercise. This shows how important exercise is for the body, regardless of how many hours you spend sitting.

The ideal amount of exercise has been debated for many years. This research study found 1 hour of moderate-intense activity for every 8 hours of sitting reduced risk.

Moderate-intense exercise is defined as 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Some examples include brisk walking, water aerobics, biking on level ground, doubles tennis, raking leaves, hiking, dancing, and vigorous vacuuming.

Greater benefits are seen with vigorous-intense exercise defined as greater than 70% of your maximum heart rate. Some examples include running, swimming laps, biking with hills, singles tennis, basketball, soccer, jumping rope, and stair climbing.

If you are new to exercise start with a goal of 50% or your maximum heart rate [(220-your age) x .50]. Count you pulse    during exercise or use a reliable heart rate monitor. Once you work up to 60 minutes of continuous exercise begin increasing your heart rate to higher zones for greater health benefits. Exercise safety is very important so speak with you physician before starting a new exercise routine...and even more importantly talk to your physician before you stop exercise too. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Probiotics and Your Microbiome

Microbiome describes the environment within your intestines where 100 trillion microorganisms live. These gut dwelling bacteria contribute to immune function and are necessary for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and removing harmful pathogens from the body.

Digestive disorders can result from the microbiome being disturbed by infection, antibiotics, or damage to the lining of the intestines. Studies show probiotics (living bacteria or yeast) can improve intestinal function and maintain integrity of the intestinal lining.

Evidence suggests hygienic societies have seen a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases and allergies due to poor challenging of the immune system with pathogenic organisms. Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics can challenge the immune system in positive ways.

A wide range of studies support regular consumption of probiotics as treatment for a variety of conditions. One study found subjects eating 5 oz yogurt for 14 days were alleviated from chronic      constipation. Another study found antibiotic associated diarrhea was shorted by 60% after probiotic usage compared to placebo. Numerous studies also support probiotics alleviating IBS and IBD symptoms, treating UTI’s, reducing inflammation of the GI tract, reducing eczema by 20%, and modestly reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Probiotics come in many forms such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, kombucha, miso, powders, tablets, and capsules. All forms are suitable as long as they contain 50 million or more living cells per dose. Specific probiotic strains have been singled out for targeted treatment in some studies, although many scientists believe several strains working in synergy together could provide the best outcomes.

The FDA does not regulate probiotics, food, or supplements the same way prescription drugs are regulated. Purchasing from reputable brands and researching ingredients is importance to   ensure safety. Probiotics should not be used in people with critically illness, weakened immune systems, or severe pancreatitis.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

National Blueberry Month

July celebrates one of the highest antioxidant rich fruits, the delicious and humble blueberry. The blue color comes from a pigment called anthocyanin which helpings to fight free radical damage, reduce aging, and preserve our health.

Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, helpful for collagen formation, wound healing, and protein metabolism. Blueberries also contain potassium, vitamin K, and B6 which help support   optimal health in the body.

Exciting research on blueberries and cognitive function is underway. One study following older adults for 12 weeks found those who consumed blueberries daily experience improvements in memory and cognitive function. Scientists speculate the multitude of different antioxidants in blueberries help protect nerve cells from oxidative damage.

Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Fiber helps to control appetite which is beneficial for people managing their weight.

One 3/4 cup serving of blueberries has 60 calories, 16g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, and 0g fat. Use blueberries instead of sugar to sweeten oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal. Try them in a smoothie with nonfat plain Greek yogurt or toss them into a spring mix  salad with orange segments and balsamic vinaigrette.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Stop Vacation Weight Gain

Weight gain is a souvenir no one wants to bring back home. Most summer gateways center around food and indulging, which can have major consequences once you get back home. 61% of American adults, in a recent study, gained weight while on vacation. Some gained as much as 7 pounds due to higher calorie intake, especially from alcohol. The average weight gain was 0.7 pounds, which is not too shocking, however the weight tended to stay on after they returned home.
Weight creep is when people gain small amounts of weight over a long period of time. What might not seem like too much weight gain over vacation can add up after several years. Unless you weigh yourself regularly people don’t realize subtle weight gain is happening. Follow these tips to keep your weight stable while on vacation:
· Weigh yourself before and after vacation
· Plan physical activities and exercise during your trip
· Pack healthy snacks and sandwiches in a cooler for road trips
· Don’t load up at breakfast, instead set the tone for the rest of the day by practicing portion control
· Pick healthy menu items at restaurants such as baked poultry, fish, salads, and vegetable based dishes
· Treat yourself in moderation, and not every day
· Enjoy small portions and eat slowly
· Order wisely from the bar, fruity drinks can have over 500 calories. Stick with wine, light beer, white wine spritzers, vodka soda, and champagne.

Healthy Summer BBQ Tofu Burgers
Serves: 4
260 calories per serving
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions                            
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
1 tbs olive oil 
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 1/2 cups coleslaw mix
2 tbs low-fat mayonnaise
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
4 dill pickle slices

Place onions in a small bowl, cover with cold water and set aside. 

Stand tofu on its long narrow side. Cut lengthwise into 4 rectangular slabs, about 1/2” thick. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu slabs and cook about 4 minutes each side until browned. 

Reduce heat to low and add barbecue sauce over the tofu. Cover and cook 3 minutes longer. 

Meanwhile combine coleslaw, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic powder, and pepper in a medium bowl. Drain the onion. 

To assemble sandwiches place 1/3 cup coleslaw mixture on each bun and top with tofu slab, one pickle slice, and a few onion slices.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Is Grilling Safe?

The delicious smoky taste and tender juiciness that can’t come from anywhere else keeps us grilling all summer long. Gas or charcoal, there are some great health benefits to grilling, but also some documented health concerns you should be aware of.

Health Benefits: Grilling helps excess fat drip off, which is particularly beneficial when cooking high fat meats such as steak, sausage, and burgers. The high heat provides a shorter cooking time helping vegetables to retain more vitamins and minerals. The heat also seals in moisture helping your vegetables stay tender and decrease the use of added fat and sauces.

Health Concerns: High temperature cooking over gas or charcoal can produce Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) which are documented carcinogens. These can cause cancer in animals and could increase the risk of cancer in humans. Inflammatory substances called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are also created which speed up oxidative damage to cells. This can lead to or make worse degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and Alzheimer's. The smoke that comes off a grill, particularly from fat drippings, creates toxic chemicals called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can damage your lungs.

Protect Yourself: There are lots of ways to enjoy grilling while minimizing your exposure to HCAs, AGEs, and PAHs. Coat your meat with a rub or marinade. This can significantly reduce the buildup of carcinogens. Be mindful of the salt content if you are watching your sodium intake. Precook your meats inside to limit the amount of exposure they have on the grill. Reduce the heat by cooking over an indirect flame; the higher the temperature the greater the formation of carcinogens and toxic substances. Finally grill vegetables, they do not develop HCAs or PAHs and their healthy antioxidant properties can help counterbalance your meat intake.

Balsamic Grilled Portobello Burger Recipe
Serves: 8
190 calories per serving

˜½ cup balsamic vinegar
˜½ cup olive oil
˜¼ cup lemon juice
˜2 tbs Dijon mustard
˜2 garlic cloves, minced
˜2 tsp minced thyme
˜8 Portobello mushrooms
˜Salt and pepper to taste
˜8 whole grain buns
˜8 kale leaves
˜1 red onion
˜2 large tomatoes

Remove stems and gills from mushrooms (a spoon works well for this) and wash clean. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, and a small amount of salt and pepper. Place mushrooms in a resealable plastic bag and pour marinade over top. Seal bag and toss to coat. Leave at room temperature to marinate for 30 minutes, toss occasionally.

Place mushrooms on a medium heat grill for 5 minutes each side until fully cooked. Serve on a whole grain bun with kale, red onions, and tomato. 

Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Grilled Eggplant
Serve with a side salad

Balsamic Portobello Burgers 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Philadelphia's Sugary Drinks Tax

Upon amending the soda tax proposal, a City Counsel committee voted Wednesday and approved a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet drinks. The proposal will go through a final vote on June 16th, and if approved Philadelphia will be the first major city to tax sugary drinks.

Applying a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax would help discourage people from drinking soda which could help reduce risk of obesity. The tax would also generate an estimated $91 million to fund expanded prekindergarten, establish community schools with social-service hubs, and fix up parks and recreation centers.

Over 30 cities and states have failed to implement soda tax proposals over the past decade. Currently Berkeley, California is the only U.S. city to approve a 1 cent-per-ounce soda tax which went into effect in 2014. Their population of 112,000 compared to 1.5 million people in Philadelphia means passing a soda tax in our city would be historic. Many other cities are expected to follow should the proposal get approved.

The American Beverage Association has been lobbying and spending millions of dollars campaigning against the tax. The group insists taxing sugary drinks would hurt small businesses, reduce jobs, and hurt lower-income families who tend to drink more soda than higher-income families.

Politicians have also weighed in on the issue. Hillary Clinton supports the soda tax “I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids” “I mean we need universal preschool. And if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.” Bernie Sanders opposes the tax stating “A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia.”

Stay tuned for voting results on June 16th to see whether the soda tax proposal becomes approved, and when it will take effect in Philadelphia.