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.