nutritioncounseling

Fermented & Cultured Foods 101

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(Kvass Soup, Kefir, Pickles)

Fermented and cultured foods have long been touted for their health benefits, but do you know why? A staple in many cultures, fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha, and cultured foods like kefir, Greek yogurt and buttermilk promote the proliferation of good bacteria in our gut, which aid in digestion and boost our immune system. Having a healthy gut filled with good bacteria, known as probiotics, can help us reduce gas and bloating after meals and even shed a few pounds!

Fruits, vegetables and fiber from whole foods can help promote the growth of strong, healthy bacteria, but, unfortunately, many things in our environment wreak havoc on a healthy gut.

Good Bacteria, Don’t Go! 

Step 1: Don’t eat processed foods. Many ingredients in processed foods are foreign to our digestive tract and we are not equipped with the right enzymes to break them down. Unhealthy bacteria feed on these foreign ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, which cause them to proliferate and potentially outnumber the healthy bacteria. An uncomfortable side effect of this process is gas, which makes us feel bloated. Cutting down or avoiding processed foods, as well as adding cultured and fermented foods, can help the good bacteria flourish.

Step 2: Check your antibiotic use. Along with wiping out the bacteria that makes us sick, antibiotics clear the healthy lining of good bacteria in our gut. If you are prescribed antibiotics for longer than three days, you may consider taking a probiotic supplement during and for at least a week after treatment. Recommendations can range anywhere from 1 to 30 Billion CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per day, depending on age and symptoms. Some of my favorite probiotic supplements include: Align® probiotic, Culturelle® probiotic, Designs For Health probiotic synergy, and Garden of Life raw probiotics. 

How can we bring the good bacteria back?

Eat cultured and fermented foods! (Of course…) These foods contain healthy bacteria, yeasts and/or fungi that set up shop in our gut as we digest them. To start, aim for one serving of these cultured and fermented foods per day.

Here is a list of fermented and cultured foods to try:

Fermented

  • Pickles
  • Pickled Fruits and Vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Homemade Ketchup
  • Kimchi
  • Kvass
  • Fermented Salsa
  • Sourdough Bread 

Cultured

  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Cultured Sour Cream (low fat)
  • Lebneh Cheese (low fat)

Let me know what your favorite cultured or fermented food is at Bushwick Nutrition! 

Co-Written by Debi Zvi RD, CDN & Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Reference: Probiotics & Fermented Foods. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op. 

Edited by the Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Response to NY Times Article: Why Nutrition Is So Confusing

Dear Gary Taubes, 

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I work with the individual. I extrapolate my dietary recommendations from the best available research, but I also understand that each person is different; therefore success depends greatly on individualized advice. With their specific needs in mind and an expert by their side, we surpass their motivational plateau to achieve their goals, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or a response to a life-threatening diagnosis. Nutrition has become confusing because time and again we look at only one aspect of nutrition or respond to the latest findings, instead of looking at the whole picture.  It is rarely just one change that results in success, but a mix of factors such as eating real food, eating less, taking ownership of one’s decisions, incorporating exercise, and having the necessary support system. Yes, there are gaps in nutrition research and it’s still “a learning experience in the limits of science”, but an experienced dietitian is adept at devising an individual plan that will work for their client. 

Best,

Alanna  

Holiday Granola & Healthy Gift Ideas

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Instead of joining the December feeding frenzy, consider changing your gift ideas. In my view, the best gifts are the ones that benefit the receiver! The best part of all is that many of these gift ideas are New York City based. Don’t you love this city?!

Make your own granola and give it away in fancy mason jars. This particular recipe is not only festive (red & green!), but high in antioxidant content from the cranberries, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds (“pepitas”). It’s also incredible satisfying because of it’s good sources of healthy fat. See recipe below!

The gift of chocolate. The worlds greatest chocolate made right here in Brooklyn! Check out Mast Brothers factory in Williamsburg or the fanciest 72% dark chocolate bars in town at Cacao Prieto in Red Hook. Two ounces of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) provides 200mg of antioxidant-rich flavonols associated with cardiovascular health! Reason enough to make the trip. 

Pitanga Juice’s motto is Happiness! Find happiness in their delicious array of juices, smoothies, raw food, and balanced cleanses. Owner, Raquel, includes exotic fruits and vegetables from Brazil, her home country. Read more about juicing versus blending here. 

Filling Station is a unique shop located in Chelsea Market. They specialize in extra virgin olive oils (EVOO), balsamic vinegars, and exotic salts, to mention a few. The best part is that the company encourages customers to reuse and refill their bottles and jars in order to receive a 10% discount. My favorites are black cherry vinegar, black truffle sea salt, and chipotle olive oil. Environmentally friendly and delicious!

Beautiful gift sets from Spice & Tease. You can mix and match any spice or tea to your liking.

Fitbit is a great way to monitor steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep quality. Their catch phrase? Make fitness a lifestyle. Amen. 

Looking for an ergonomic, BPA/BPS-free water bottle? Look no more. LifeFactory water bottle is the way to go. 

Brooklyn Slate Co. sell amazing pieces of black and red slate from the Vermont and New York Slate Valley. These pieces are handpicked to make cheese boards and coasters from one of the most durable, naturally occurring stones readily available. 

If you are interested in a balanced, funny, and informational (but not boring) scientifically-based book on weight loss, buy Foodist. I’ve read a lot of books on nutrition, and this one really spoke to me. I also loved the non-extreme approach to healthy eating. Enjoy! 

Gift Certificates. Show you care by gifting certificates to a session with a registered dietitian! Hint hint… ;)

Holiday Granola

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ½ tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp clove

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Mix oil, honey, vanilla, clove, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Slowly add flaxseeds and oats to the bowl. Mix well, until oats are fully coated.
  • Spread out granola onto a parchment paper or baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Stir well, add seeds and cranberries, and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until oats are golden.
  • Allow to cool.

 Happy gifting! Alanna

What are some of your healthy gift ideas?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN

My Big Thin Greek Yogurt

With fourteen Pinkberry locations in Manhattan alone and the opening of a Chobani yogurt bar in July 2012, it’s pretty obvious that New Yorkers are crazy about Greek yogurt!

The name “Greek yogurt” currently references how the yogurt is made rather than the country where it originated. Greek yogurt is made by straining out the whey (watery liquid part) of the yogurt. This process creates a thicker, creamier yogurt, reduces the liquid content, and increases the nutritional density.  

Nutritionally, Greek yogurt rocks! Compared to traditional unsweetened yogurt, Greek yogurt has:

  • Almost triple the protein content (15-20 grams per 6 oz serving), leaving you feeling fuller longer
  • Half the sugar, about 5-8 grams per serving
  • Up to 95% of the lactose (sugar in milk) removed, making it a better option for the lactose intolerant
  • Healthy bacteria! Live bacteria have been shown to help the immune system and promote regular digestion. Make sure to look for the National Yogurt Association seal of approval. “Live & Active Cultures“ 
  • Proven to keep age-related weight gain at bay, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine focusing on one serving of low-fat, plain yogurt per day 

To Consider:

  • Greek yogurt naturally has more fat content so beware of the saturated fat content, which can raise the “bad” cholesterol (LDL). When going Greek, stick to nonfat or low fat.
  • Greek yogurt has less calcium than regular yogurt as some calcium is lost in the liquid whey. However, one serving still has 200mg or 20% of your daily recommendation.
  • Compared to natural yogurts, the flavor can be tart. Add fruit or spices, such as cinnamon to naturally sweeten.
  • Environmental experts are concerned that acid whey, a byproduct of the Greek yogurt straining process, may become harmful to aquatic life if improperly handled. Currently, acid whey is used mostly as fertilizer or as a protein supplement for animal feed, but as the popularity of Greek yogurt increases – Greek yogurt comprises 35% of all yogurts on the market – the issue of proper byproduct handling will become crucial.

Note: acid whey differs from sweet whey, which is a byproduct of making cheese.

Healthy Ways of Going Greek

  • Opt for nonfat, unflavored Greek yogurt and DIY toppings toavoid added sugars and calories. Use fresh or frozen fruit and for extra flavor add vanilla, lemon or 1 tsp of natural sweetener such as honey, agave nectar, or molasses.
  • A recent study showed that breakfast is the meal lowest in protein content. What better way to start your day than with protein-rich Greek yogurt for breakfast? Add healthy fat such as nuts (almonds, walnuts), seeds (flax, chia, sunflower) or homemade granola and you have a complete, balanced meal.
  • Greek yogurt is very versatile. Use plain Greek yogurt as a cooking substitute for sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, sauces, dressings or toppings. Tzatziki is one of my favorite sauces. All you need is yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, parsley and mint. 

Brands I like

Unsweetened

  • Chobani 0% Nonfat Plain
  • Dannon Oikos Fat Free
  • Fage Total 0% Plain
  • Stonyfield 0% Organic Plain
  • Yoplait Greek Plain
  • 365 Nonfat Plain

Sweetened

  • Fage Total 0% Strawberry Goji, Raspberry or Strawberry
  • Stonyfield Oikos Organic with Superfruits or Vanilla
  • Trader Joe’s Greek Style Nonfat Pomegranate
  • Wallaby Organic Lowfat with cherries
  • Wallaby Organic Nonfat with Mixed Berries

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD. Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Edited and photographed by TCabrarr 

References:

Here’s the Scoop on Greek YogurtEnvironmental Nutrition. June 2013.

Not All Yogurts Are Created EqualEnvironmental Nutrition. June 2011.

Whey-ing Greek yogurts environmental impact. Eatocracy. June 2013. 

Giles-Smith, K.  Milk Proteins: Packing a Powerful Nutritional Punch. Today’s Dietitian. 

 Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt. US News. September 2011.

 

Against the Odds: The James Nicholson Story

To celebrate Men’s Health Week, I would like to share the amazing story of how my colleague, James Nicholson, changed his life. James is a certified Fitness Trainer, a Licensed Massage Therapist, a distance runner and a TRX/Kettle Bell enthusiast at the NYHRC Whitehall location. 

Before James committed to regaining his health, he was 70 pounds overweight and had a 40-inch waist (too much belly fat). By the time he was 19 years old, he had had two hip surgeries and one knee surgery. When men let their eating habits slide, claiming lack of time or no interest in cooking, they tend to overindulge in fast food. Excessive poor eating habits lead to weight gain and belly fat, which can result in cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome (more common in men than women), certain cancers (colorectal and colon) and benign prostatic hyperplasia. 

James told me that up until the day he decided to commit to his health goals, he was misinformed about what a proper diet entailed. He skipped meals (the #1 dieting approach for men) and suffered from lack of energy and mood swings. The little exercise he managed to squeeze into his day gave him physical pain. So James turned to a personal trainer and dietitian for the help he needed to make the biggest change of his life. It took him 7 grueling months, but James lost the excess weight. As a result, his body started functioning better, he had more energy, and he looked as great as he felt.

James’s personal tips:

1.      See a dietitian/nutritionist. Strategies are good but a specific eating plan is the most effective way to achieve your personal goals. A dietitian/nutritionist tailors your meal plan based on food intolerances, preferences, and existing health conditions.

2.      Drink water, not coffee.There is no end to the benefits of drinking more water. Water thins the blood and lowers blood pressure naturally. It facilitates liver and kidney function and aids in digestion, and it improves circulation, which aids in mental focus. Fresh fruit (with ~90% water content) aids hydration and also increases vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

3.      Eat frequent, small meals. Our bodies are not designed to go for long stretches of time without nourishment. Avoid waiting more than 4 hours between balanced meals consisting of a variety of lean protein (turkey, fish, chicken), healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts) and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables – raw or cooked). This combination will leave you feeling satiated and energized.

4.      Have a game plan. You need to schedule your meals and snacks ahead of time if you want to succeed. Make sure you have fresh fruit, nuts and/or vegetables available at your desk for snacking. This will keep you from reaching for candy or coffee.

5.      Be your own activist. Create a support group and strive to be an agent of change for those around you. See if you can have the office vending machines offer healthier options!

6.      Get your significant other involved. You are more likely to accomplish your goals if your partner is on board. Making healthy changes together will help you not only reach your targets but also maintain that healthy lifestyle.

7.      Sleep, sleep, sleep.

8.      James’s tip for the win. Your body is the first gift you receive in life. Just like a luxury car that runs on a specific type of fuel, your body will perform to the best of its ability if you fuel it properly and regularly.

James’s powerful and encouraging experience is one of many ways to take back your health. Remember, we are all unique and our needs vary from person to person. If you have specific questions for James, feel free to contact him. If you are interested in making dietary changes, take advantage of the 20-minute complimentary nutrition sessions at NYHRC

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr. 

Inspired by  James Nicholson.

Written by James Nicholson and Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

Edited by TCabrarr.

References: The Perils of Belly Fat. Today’s Dietitian June 2013.

 

Juicing vs. Blending 101  
 Juice bars are the latest of health trends to take the city by storm. It seems like every New Yorkcorner is sprouting a  juice bar  these days. Between Juice Generation, Juice Press,Organic Avenue, Liqueteria, The Butcher’s Daughter and others, this trend is becoming impossible to ignore.    
 Here is the breakdown:    
  Juicing:  
 Extracting the juice of the fruit removes most of the fiber as well as some nutrients such as antioxidants, protein, and essential fatty acids. Fruit juice has been touted for lowering risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s, helping with weight loss, providing a glow to skin, and aiding with detoxification. Experts believe that this concentrated form of nutrition makes vitamins, minerals, and enzymes easier for the body to absorb, although there is little scientific evidence to support this belief. 
 Pros 
  Requires minimal effort to digest, therefore providing quick delivery of nutrients to the blood stream and giving the digestive system a break. 
 Is a helpful way to increase intake of fruits and vegetables for people who do not consume enough on a daily basis, which is most people! 
 Is useful for people sensitive to fiber (especially insoluble fiber that acts as a “mild laxative”) since most fiber is left out. 
  Cons 
  Removes most of the fiber (except some soluble fiber) and 10-20% of the antioxidants. 
 Allows fast delivery of sugars to the blood stream, drastically affecting blood sugar levels, and is therefore not recommended for diabetics or those at higher risk of developing diabetes. 
 Is not usually satisfying as a meal or snack. 
 Juicers are expensive, ranging anywhere from $200 - $500 dollars, and readymade juices can cost anywhere from $6 - $12 for a 16 oz juice!    
 Is time consuming to prepare and typically involves extensive cleanup time. 
   Blending:  
 Blending or emulsifying uses the whole fruit or vegetable, along with some liquid, to form a puree. You get everything the whole food has to offer including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. 
   Fiber   has been proven to reduce the risk of CVD, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal disorders (reflux, ulcers, constipation, etc). Higher intake improves total and LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and insulin sensitivity both in children and adults. Most people consume less than 50% of their recommended fiber quantity! 
 Pros 
  Expedites delivery of nutrients to the blood stream without significantly spiking blood sugars because of the natural fiber content. 
 Requires only a small amount of digestion, giving the digestive system a break. 
 Makes more nutrients available to the body because the whole plant is being consumed. For example, vegetable and fruit skins contain some of the highest concentrations of nutrients. 
 Blenders, even including new machines like NutriBullet, only cost between $20 - $120, 
 Allows for faster preparation and easier cleanup than juicing. 
  Cons 
  Can cause bloating and gas, especially if you are sensitive to fiber or not accustomed to much fiber in your diet. 
 Can make taste and texture difficult to manipulate.     
 Might decrease naturally-occurring enzymes because some blenders create too much heat if left to blend for too long.    
   Whether blended or juiced, a liquid diet is NOT usually a balanced diet.  Fruits and vegetables have little to no protein or fat, and therefore should not be your sole source of nutrition. I would not follow a strictly liquid diet for more than 2-3 days, maximum! 
  In my opinion, blending is higher in nutrition and a more efficient source of energy.  In addition, it doesn’t spike blood sugars so drastically and helps increase fiber intake, which has been chronically low across all ages.    
  Bottom line:  juicing or blending can be a part of a healthy diet if followed in moderation. Indulge in an 8-oz juice or smoothie when you have a sweet craving or make it a part of your mid-morning or afternoon snack. Even better, replace your sweetened beverage (coffee, energy drink, soda) with a small juice or smoothie. 
 Stay tuned for  Part II ! 
 Originally posted on  NYHRC Tumblr   
 Written by  Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD  
 References:  Juicing: Your Key to Radiant Health.     Mercola      To juice or to blend?     NutriBullet Blog   AndersonJW, Baird P, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber.     Nutrition Reviews     2009. The Pros And Cons Of Juicing.     Food Republic  .   
 Edited by  TCabrarr  

Juicing vs. Blending 101

Juice bars are the latest of health trends to take the city by storm. It seems like every New Yorkcorner is sprouting a juice bar these days. Between Juice Generation, Juice Press,Organic Avenue, Liqueteria, The Butcher’s Daughter and others, this trend is becoming impossible to ignore. 

Here is the breakdown: 

Juicing:

Extracting the juice of the fruit removes most of the fiber as well as some nutrients such as antioxidants, protein, and essential fatty acids. Fruit juice has been touted for lowering risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s, helping with weight loss, providing a glow to skin, and aiding with detoxification. Experts believe that this concentrated form of nutrition makes vitamins, minerals, and enzymes easier for the body to absorb, although there is little scientific evidence to support this belief.

Pros

  • Requires minimal effort to digest, therefore providing quick delivery of nutrients to the blood stream and giving the digestive system a break.
  • Is a helpful way to increase intake of fruits and vegetables for people who do not consume enough on a daily basis, which is most people!
  • Is useful for people sensitive to fiber (especially insoluble fiber that acts as a “mild laxative”) since most fiber is left out.

Cons

  • Removes most of the fiber (except some soluble fiber) and 10-20% of the antioxidants.
  • Allows fast delivery of sugars to the blood stream, drastically affecting blood sugar levels, and is therefore not recommended for diabetics or those at higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • Is not usually satisfying as a meal or snack.
  • Juicers are expensive, ranging anywhere from $200 - $500 dollars, and readymade juices can cost anywhere from $6 - $12 for a 16 oz juice! 
  • Is time consuming to prepare and typically involves extensive cleanup time.

Blending:

Blending or emulsifying uses the whole fruit or vegetable, along with some liquid, to form a puree. You get everything the whole food has to offer including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber.

Fiber has been proven to reduce the risk of CVD, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal disorders (reflux, ulcers, constipation, etc). Higher intake improves total and LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and insulin sensitivity both in children and adults. Most people consume less than 50% of their recommended fiber quantity!

Pros

  • Expedites delivery of nutrients to the blood stream without significantly spiking blood sugars because of the natural fiber content.
  • Requires only a small amount of digestion, giving the digestive system a break.
  • Makes more nutrients available to the body because the whole plant is being consumed. For example, vegetable and fruit skins contain some of the highest concentrations of nutrients.
  • Blenders, even including new machines like NutriBullet, only cost between $20 - $120,
  • Allows for faster preparation and easier cleanup than juicing.

Cons

  • Can cause bloating and gas, especially if you are sensitive to fiber or not accustomed to much fiber in your diet.
  • Can make taste and texture difficult to manipulate.  
  • Might decrease naturally-occurring enzymes because some blenders create too much heat if left to blend for too long. 

Whether blended or juiced, a liquid diet is NOT usually a balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables have little to no protein or fat, and therefore should not be your sole source of nutrition. I would not follow a strictly liquid diet for more than 2-3 days, maximum!

In my opinion, blending is higher in nutrition and a more efficient source of energy. In addition, it doesn’t spike blood sugars so drastically and helps increase fiber intake, which has been chronically low across all ages. 

Bottom line: juicing or blending can be a part of a healthy diet if followed in moderation. Indulge in an 8-oz juice or smoothie when you have a sweet craving or make it a part of your mid-morning or afternoon snack. Even better, replace your sweetened beverage (coffee, energy drink, soda) with a small juice or smoothie.

Stay tuned for Part II!

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

References:
Juicing: Your Key to Radiant Health. Mercola 
To juice or to blend? NutriBullet Blog
AndersonJW, Baird P, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews 2009. The Pros And Cons Of Juicing. Food Republic

Edited by TCabrarr 

During Women’s Health Week, starting on Mother’s Day, celebrate yourself, your mom, your sister, your aunt, your friends, colleagues, and loved ones by reminding them about the five step checklist for better health. 
   National Women’s Health Week  is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the purpose of promoting and empowering women to make their health a priority.  Women often act as caregivers for their families, putting their personal needs and well-being on the backburner. Whether the checklist helps to remind you about your yearly mammogram or encourages you to eat an extra serving of vegetables, take this week to reevaluate and go through the five steps to lower your disease risk and improve your overall health. 
        Step 1: Visit your health care professional.  Depending on your age and family history, you may need to receive yearly checkups or go for preventative screenings. Check out this  interactive screening chart , which goes through bone, breast, diabetes, heart and reproductive health, specific to age.  
        Step 2: Get moving.  150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and physical activity per week such as walking, bicycling, ballroom dancing and moderate housework provide tremendous health benefits. Short activities can also add up. Walk 10-minutes during lunch hour or take the stairs instead of the elevator and make every step count!    
          Step 3: Eat healthy and balance your diet.  A recent study found that over time, a mere 100-calorie reduction per day may help maintain a healthier body. Therefore, small changes can make all the difference. Some ideas on how to eat healthier: 
   o        Eat more vegetables.  Most women should have about 2.5 servings of vegetables a day, where 1 serving= 1 cup raw, cooked or frozen, 1 cup vegetable juice or 2 cups raw leafy greens. 
   o        Don’t drink your calories.  The Nurses’ Health Study found that, on average, women who reduced their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, juice) cut their daily caloric intake by 319 calories! 
        Step 4: Pay attention to mental health.  We often forget how day-to-day activities affect our health, such as  lack of sleep  or the  stress  we encounter every day. Here you will find information about  mental health issues  and links to the best resources. 
        Step 5: Practice healthy behaviors.  Avoid harmful behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, not wearing a seat belt, bicycling without a helmet, and texting while driving (or  walking !).  
   What step will you start with during women’s health week?   

 Originally posted on  NYHRC Tumblr  
  References:  
   Office of Women’s Health.   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   Environmental Nutrition Archives  . Environmental Nutrition.     

 Edited by  T Cabrarr 

During Women’s Health Week, starting on Mother’s Day, celebrate yourself, your mom, your sister, your aunt, your friends, colleagues, and loved ones by reminding them about the five step checklist for better health.

National Women’s Health Week is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the purpose of promoting and empowering women to make their health a priority. Women often act as caregivers for their families, putting their personal needs and well-being on the backburner. Whether the checklist helps to remind you about your yearly mammogram or encourages you to eat an extra serving of vegetables, take this week to reevaluate and go through the five steps to lower your disease risk and improve your overall health.

Step 1: Visit your health care professional. Depending on your age and family history, you may need to receive yearly checkups or go for preventative screenings. Check out this interactive screening chart, which goes through bone, breast, diabetes, heart and reproductive health, specific to age. 

Step 2: Get moving. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and physical activity per week such as walking, bicycling, ballroom dancing and moderate housework provide tremendous health benefits. Short activities can also add up. Walk 10-minutes during lunch hour or take the stairs instead of the elevator and make every step count! 

Step 3: Eat healthy and balance your diet. A recent study found that over time, a mere 100-calorie reduction per day may help maintain a healthier body. Therefore, small changes can make all the difference. Some ideas on how to eat healthier:

o   Eat more vegetables. Most women should have about 2.5 servings of vegetables a day, where 1 serving= 1 cup raw, cooked or frozen, 1 cup vegetable juice or 2 cups raw leafy greens.

o   Don’t drink your calories. The Nurses’ Health Study found that, on average, women who reduced their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, juice) cut their daily caloric intake by 319 calories!

Step 4: Pay attention to mental health. We often forget how day-to-day activities affect our health, such as lack of sleep or the stress we encounter every day. Here you will find information about mental health issues and links to the best resources.

Step 5: Practice healthy behaviors. Avoid harmful behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, not wearing a seat belt, bicycling without a helmet, and texting while driving (or walking!). 

What step will you start with during women’s health week?

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

References:

Office of Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Environmental Nutrition Archives. Environmental Nutrition.  

Edited by T Cabrarr 

Is Gluten-Free Living Necessary for Everyone?

Celiac disease is no joke. About 1% of the population has celiac disease and some experts believe that up to 10% of people have gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which one cannot digest gluten, a waxy protein, found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats. An easy acronym to remember is: “W-BRO.”

While celiac disease can’t be cured, its symptoms can be controlled through a gluten-free diet. If one does not completely avoid gluten, the autoimmune response damages the small intestine, which slowly loses the ability to absorb the nutrients in food and can cause long-term malnutrition and other complications. Some symptoms include stomach discomfort or pain, bloating, pale, foul-smelling stools, unintentional weight loss and fatigue.

If you don’t have celiac disease, wheat is not inherently bad for you. However many people have adopted a gluten-free diet, swearing it helps with weight loss. Many products made with wheat can be low in nutrition or just plain bad for you. Eliminating them from your diet may indeed result in weight loss. But rather than restricting your diet so severely, make healthier choices. Opt for whole grains and limit your cookie and pastry intake. 

Whole grains have been a staple of the human diet since early civilizations. Asia and India are known for their rice, United States for its corn and South America for its quinoa. Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrition, as they contain essential enzymes, dietary fiber, iron, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. In addition, their high fiber content helps slow down digestion and consequently provides long-lasting energy. 

Below are a few gluten-free grains that taste great, are incredibly versatile and have a high nutrient content:

  • Quinoa
  • Rice (wild or brown)
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Teff
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat (aka Kasha) 

Do you think you may be sensitive to gluten? An elimination diet can help you identify specific food sensitivities that trigger digestive discomfort. Eliminate wheat for two to three weeks and note whether your symptoms resolve. Gradually reintroduce wheat back into your diet, preferably under the supervision of a health care provider who can help monitor your symptoms. 

What should you do when eating out?

  • Plan ahead and look up the menu beforehand to review your options.
  • New York restaurants are catering more and more to gluten-free diners, so feel free to ask your server about gluten-free menu items.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces on the side, or skip them completely. Vinaigrette is usually a safe gluten-free option.
  • Stay away from breaded appetizers and entrées as well as fried foods which may have been fried with gluten.
  • Remember, wheat free does NOT mean gluten free! 

During celiac awareness month, learn more about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet from reliable sources:

Celiac Disease Foundation 
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America - contains guides to restaurants serving gluten free foods, gluten free brands
Gluten Free Mall - an online source for gluten free foods
Gluten Free Living - a magazine dedicated to living a gluten-free life
Gluten Free Drugs - a list of medications that contain gluten
Celiac Sprue Association  

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

Photo courtesy of Andrea Nguyen on Flickr

Edited by TCabrarr

The Weight of Sleep

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We may live in the city that never sleeps but the truth is we all need a good night’s sleep! 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night; yet the average American gets about 6.5 hours or less during the work week.

Not getting enough sleep, even short term sleep deprivation, can lead to mental stress, attention deficit, fatigue, and irritability. Sleep also plays a role in the risk of metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and diabetes as well as hypertension, depression, and sleep-related disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and insomnia. 

Most recently, studies have indicated that both insufficient sleep (less than six hours) and excessive sleep (more than 10 hours) are associated with weight gain and higher body mass index (BMI). Shorter sleep duration was specifically linked to increased fat mass in both children and adults. Furthermore, excess weight gain increases the risk of medical conditions that may interfere with sleep such as reflux, osteoarthritis and OSA. 

Sleep deprivation has shown to interfere with hunger and satiety hormones - leptin and ghrelin - crucial to regulating appetite, therefore leading to overconsumption of carbohydrate and high-calorie foods and consequently weight gain. A large majority of studies have shown increased consumption of at least 250 calories with limited sleep, and some up to 500 calories.   

Interestingly enough, short sleepers (less than six hours) not only consumed more calories, but had the least variation in what they ate, an important factor for a balanced diet. 

Dietary Tips for Better Zzzz Time: 

Highlight Complex-Carbohydrates

Carb-rich foods help L-tryptophan function better in the body. Foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, etc.), and sweet potatoes aid a good night’s sleep. 

Go Herbal

Chamomile tea especially is said to create a “hypnotic-effect” in sleep-deprived rats. Yet, many herbal teas (caffeine free) can help settle the stomach and induce relaxation.  

Emphasize L-Tryptophan

Think turkey! The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor to the hormone serotonin, which is said to produce relaxation and stable sleep. Other tryptophan-rich foods are chicken, soybeans, tuna, shrimp, salmon, milk, cheese, cow’s yogurt, beans and cashews. 

Be Melatonin-Smart

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and synchronize the circadian rhythm. It is a powerful antioxidant that is naturally produced in the body and starts reaching its peak serum levels after nightfall, around 9 pm, and lasts up to 12 hours. Foods high in melatonin are tart cherries and/or tart cherry juice, tomatoes, olive oil, wine/grapes with skin, beer and walnuts.

  • For supplements. General recommendations are: 0.5 - 3 mg 45 minutes before sleep. Always consult your doctor since side effects can arise including morning. These side effects may include grogginess, sleepiness and small changes in blood pressure.   

Factors That Disrupt Sleep:

  • It takes about six to eight hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off. Try to avoid intake after 2pm. Note: caffeine is found in coffee, tea and energy drinks, but also in foods such as chocolate and guarana berries.
  • Drinking too much water late at night can disrupt sleep by waking you up to use the bathroom. Drink most of your water during the day.  
  • Large meals can cause indigestion; consuming especially heavy and/or spicy foods can lead to reflux. Eat a smaller dinner at least three hours before you go to sleep.
  • Alcohol can affect the deep stages of sleep.
  • Iron deficiency has been linked to restless leg syndrome. Check with your doctor if you have symptoms. 

Sample Zzzz Meals:

  • Turkey and spinach sandwich on whole grain bread with a handful of grapes.
  • Salmon with brown rice and a side of green salad with olive oil. Served with a glass of red wine.
  • Natural yogurt sprinkled with tart cherries and walnuts. Served with chamomile tea. 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS. RD

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Resources:

The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain. Today’s Dietitian.
SleepFoundation.org 
Foods that lead to a good night’s sleep. The Wellness Advisor. 
Integrative Strategies for Cancer Patients. World Scientific 2012 
Does Your Diet Influence How Well You Sleep? Time, Health & Family.

Photo courtesy of Relaxing Music

Edited by TCabrarr

Superfood: Mushrooms

Superfood: Mushrooms

All around New York City, we see mushrooms. On our pizza, in our grocery stores, even in some urban gardens. Mushrooms are often mistaken for vegetables when, in actuality, they belong to the fungi rather than the plant kingdom. They are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Sounds tasty, right? Before you shy away from this delicious superfood, read all the reasons why you should make a point to include mushrooms in your diet. 

1. Mushrooms boost immunity and fight cancer; they specifically suppress breast and prostate cancer cells. 

2. Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses. They are a good source of B-vitamins (riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin), iron, selenium, and potassium, which improves heart health. Some mushroom varieties are even sources of vitamin D - the only source you’ll find in the produce aisle! 

3. Mushrooms contain high amounts of beta-glucans, keeping your immune cells prepped against disease. 

4. Mushrooms are naturally low in calories, low in carbohydrates, low in sodium and cholesterol free. They also have high water content (80-90%) and are high in fiber, which makes them a great diet food. 

5. The best news about mushrooms, however, is that they contain high concentrations of a powerful micronutrient called ergothioneine, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Ergothioneine contributes to immune support and is released from the mushroom cells upon cooking. 

6. Oh yeah, and did I mention mushrooms are delicious? They add a rich, earthy taste to every meal.  

Just a few of the 250 edible varieties of mushrooms: 

· White button mushrooms (of the Crimini mushroom family) contain more protein, potassium, copper selenium, and immune boosting benefits than their more exotic counterparts (I’m looking at you shiitake and maitake mushrooms). They represent 90% of the total mushrooms consumed in the United States!

· Maitake are best known for their cancer-fighting properties, specifically against leukemia, stomach, and bone cancers. In addition, the maitake mushroom has been used to lower blood pressure, lower blood lipids, and aid digestion by eliminating food stagnation. Raw maitake mushrooms are extremely rich in vitamin D – up to 940 international units (IU) per three-ounce serving!

· Morels contain protein, vitamin D (200 IU per three-ounce serving) and vitamin B that help the body maintain a healthy metabolism. They also have copper, selenium, and potassium.

· Oyster mushrooms are used to strengthen veins, relax tendons, and are rich in iron that helps build blood.

· Portabellas contain a wide variety of B complex vitamins. They’re also a great source of potassium – three ounces have more potassium than a banana! If barbecuing, expose the portabella to UV light. This will increase its vitamin D content up to 490 IU per three-ounce serving.

· Reishi mushrooms are particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma and other respiratory complaints. 

How to Choose and When
Look for dry mushrooms with smooth caps, firm grills, and a fresh aroma. While usually available year-round, mushrooms are at their peak in fall and winter. Lucky for us though, morels are one of spring’s best produce! 

Fresh? Dry? Canned?
To receive all the health benefits of mushrooms, fresh is definitely preferable to dried, while canned mushrooms usually have added sodium. 

How to Store
Store unwashed mushrooms in a paper bag in the main compartment of your refrigerator (avoid the crisper drawer, it adds too much moisture) or cover a tray with a paper towel. Do not soak in water as they are very absorbent and their flavor and texture are easily altered. They absorb odors and flavors like a sponge so avoid placing next to pungent foods. 

To Cook or Not to Cook?
Cooking releases Ergothioneine (the antioxidant mentioned above) and also removes agaritine, a compound that can be carcinogenic in extremely high doses. Not to mention most mushrooms are grown on manure. Need I say more? 

Below are some recipes to try out ranging from simple to advanced. Remember, mushrooms make great side dishes, can be added to pasta or omelets, and are also great additions to a salad! 

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS. RD

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

References:
Natural News. Mushrooms Cancer Food. 
American Cancer Society. Shiitake Mushroom.   
Agricultural Research Service. Researchers Study Benefits of White Button Mushrooms. 
Fresh Mushrooms. All About Vitamin D.

Edited by TCabrarr 

Photo courtesy of Edsel L 

Get Up & Walk   
  April 3rd was National Walking Day.  The day is a call to action from the  American Heart Association  (AHA) to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Walking is an inexpensive and humble exercise that has proven to lower anxiety, improve mood, reduce the risk of dementia, increase heart health, and aid sleeping patterns. Walking also makes for an entertaining and environmentally conscious way to explore New York City. For many of us who appreciate all that New York has to offer, walking is the perfect way to engage in the unique neighborhoods, people-watching, and urban scenery. Not to mention, it’s an ideal way to  walk off  all the excellent varieties of Big Apple cuisine! 
  A  recent campaign    from the NYC Health Department encouraged New Yorkers to consider how far they would need to walk in order to burn off the calories from consuming just one sugary drink. The results showed that an average-sized person, about 160 pounds, would need to walk three miles at a leisurely pace to burn off a 20-ounce soda. Drinking a medium frozen vanilla coffee, would require an eight mile walk – that would be like walking from the Goethals Bridge to the Verrazano Bridge  –  the equivalent of a whopping 650 calories from just one drink!  
  For those of us living in New York City, a good rule of thumb to remember is: one mile = six long crosstown avenues or 20 streets.  
 This kind of nutrition and exercise visualization has proven useful in other instances.  A recent study  involving 800 participants showed that by converting what people ate into the amount of exercise they would need to do led to a decreased caloric intake of 200 calories a day per individual! 200 calories a day may not seem like much, but over the course of a year the results add up tremendously. 
    So, how much walking is recommended?  
  The AHA suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise .    I like to remember it as at least 30 minutes a day of active movement five times a week.  But if your schedule doesn’t allow for such structured workouts, you can nonetheless experience the benefits of exercise if you divvy up your walking time into 10 or 15-minute segments throughout the week. Smaller people tend to burn fewer calories while bigger people burn more. For instance, not taking into account any additional factors such as age, body composition and age, a person weighing about 150 pounds walking at 2.5 mph on a flat surface burns approximately 204 calories/hour. 
 New York is a walking city. Follow the below tips to increase your walking time and burn off those extra calories 
 - Remember to properly hydrate throughout the day, especially in warmer weather 
 - Wear comfortable shoes 
 - Take a quick walk on your lunch break 
 - Longer walks (more than an hour) require a carbohydrate-protein snack 
 - Take the subway, especially when you need to transfer or take the stairs. In addition, get off one or two stops earlier and walk more 
 - Even if you can’t find the time to walk off that whole slice of pizza, it is better to try to burn off some of it rather than none 
 - Make a resolution to see more of the city by foot 
 - Create your own walks on  Map My Walk   
 If you are interested in personal health and nutrition counseling, contact me  here.   
  Originally Posted on  NYHRC Tumblr   
 References: Walking for Fitness.  Walking Off the Big Apple. ;Tread Lightly: Labels That Translate Calories into Walking Distance Could Induce People to Eat Less  Scientific American. ; Health Department Launches Campaign Showing How Drinking Just One Soda a Day Equals 50 Pounds of Sugar a Year.  New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene   
 Edited by  TCabrarr

Get Up & Walk

April 3rd was National Walking Day. The day is a call to action from the American Heart Association (AHA) to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Walking is an inexpensive and humble exercise that has proven to lower anxiety, improve mood, reduce the risk of dementia, increase heart health, and aid sleeping patterns. Walking also makes for an entertaining and environmentally conscious way to explore New York City. For many of us who appreciate all that New York has to offer, walking is the perfect way to engage in the unique neighborhoods, people-watching, and urban scenery. Not to mention, it’s an ideal way to walk off all the excellent varieties of Big Apple cuisine!

recent campaign from the NYC Health Department encouraged New Yorkers to consider how far they would need to walk in order to burn off the calories from consuming just one sugary drink. The results showed that an average-sized person, about 160 pounds, would need to walk three miles at a leisurely pace to burn off a 20-ounce soda. Drinking a medium frozen vanilla coffee, would require an eight mile walk – that would be like walking from the Goethals Bridge to the Verrazano Bridge  the equivalent of a whopping 650 calories from just one drink!

For those of us living in New York City, a good rule of thumb to remember is: one mile = six long crosstown avenues or 20 streets.

This kind of nutrition and exercise visualization has proven useful in other instances. A recent study involving 800 participants showed that by converting what people ate into the amount of exercise they would need to do led to a decreased caloric intake of 200 calories a day per individual! 200 calories a day may not seem like much, but over the course of a year the results add up tremendously.

So, how much walking is recommended?

The AHA suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. I like to remember it as at least 30 minutes a day of active movement five times a week. But if your schedule doesn’t allow for such structured workouts, you can nonetheless experience the benefits of exercise if you divvy up your walking time into 10 or 15-minute segments throughout the week. Smaller people tend to burn fewer calories while bigger people burn more. For instance, not taking into account any additional factors such as age, body composition and age, a person weighing about 150 pounds walking at 2.5 mph on a flat surface burns approximately 204 calories/hour.

New York is a walking city. Follow the below tips to increase your walking time and burn off those extra calories

- Remember to properly hydrate throughout the day, especially in warmer weather

- Wear comfortable shoes

- Take a quick walk on your lunch break

- Longer walks (more than an hour) require a carbohydrate-protein snack

- Take the subway, especially when you need to transfer or take the stairs. In addition, get off one or two stops earlier and walk more

- Even if you can’t find the time to walk off that whole slice of pizza, it is better to try to burn off some of it rather than none

- Make a resolution to see more of the city by foot

- Create your own walks on Map My Walk 

If you are interested in personal health and nutrition counseling, contact me here. 

Originally Posted on NYHRC Tumblr

References: Walking for Fitness. Walking Off the Big Apple.;Tread Lightly: Labels That Translate Calories into Walking Distance Could Induce People to Eat Less Scientific American.; Health Department Launches Campaign Showing How Drinking Just One Soda a Day Equals 50 Pounds of Sugar a Year. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 

Edited by TCabrarr

Oats & The Heart

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It is pretty common knowledge that heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Yet unexplainably, even in the health field, heart disease is associated more with men. A scary statistic states that 1 in 2 women will die from heart disease compared to 1 in 25 women who will die from breast cancer. Rates are even higher in the African American community. Therefore, this message is especially written for all women and men living in the United States or any other higher income country.

In honor of February- The Heart Health Month- I am going over a few ways that you can make an extra special contribution to your heart health- with a special focus on oats!

TIP #1: Eat more soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has shown to reduce cholesterol, help keep blood sugar levels steadier, and keep your appetite under control. Sources: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

  • Oats, oatmeal, and oat bran has a special type of fiber called beta-glucan, which for decades has proven beneficial to lower total cholesterol. Consuming ~3 grams of soluble fiber in 1 cup of cooked oatmeal has shown to lower cholesterol by 8-23%. This is so important! - since a 1% drop is equated to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease. Oats also have antioxidant properties called avenanthramides and selenium that have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Oats 101: All oats start as oat groats. Steel cut (Irish) oats are the least processed. Stone ground (Scottish) oats are exactly like steel cut except smaller. Steel cut take about 45 minutes to cook and Scottish oats about half. Old-fashioned rolled oats have been steamed and rolled prior to consumption and can be eaten out of the package or cooked for oatmeal in about 10 minutes. Quick-cooking oats are just cut into thinner flakes and cook faster. Instant oats are the most heavily processed and usually have added salt and sugar.
  • So, which should you buy? Steel cut, stone-ground, and old-fashioned are all made from whole grains and they all pretty much have the same nutrition breakdown. Quick-cooking also has the same nutritional properties as the above, but the glycemic index is higher, which spikes your blood sugar at a faster rate. I would limit quick-cooking and avoid most instant oats.
  • Buying Tip: Buy smaller quantities of oats at a time since this grain is slightly higher in fat content (~5 grams per cup) and therefore can go rancid more quickly.

TIP#2: Limit foods high in saturated fat. Dietary cholesterol has minimal effects on the amount of cholesterol in your blood, therefore focusing on saturated fat intake is highly effective. Sources: butter, cheese, full-fat dairy, fatty meats, fried foods, and peanuts (nuts with the highest amount of saturated fat!)

TIP#3: Limit your salt intake by avoiding canned foods, fast food, and cooking more at home. Recommendations are usually <2400 mg/ day, even though recommendations may be lower - down to 1500 mg per day- depending on your health history, weight, and other lifestyle behaviors.  

Other recommendations include: being in a healthy weight range (BMI ~18.5- 25), doing more exercise, not smoking!, eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and relaxing. Check out the detailed program entitled “28 Days to a Healthier Heart” by the CDC for more ideas. 

Another way to enjoy the benefits of oats is by baking. I have to admit the below recipe is healthier, but definitely not the healthiest. Use in moderation, enjoy, and share!

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“Spicy” Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1 ½ cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup of whole wheat flour  
  • 4 oz of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of brown or turbinado sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup of raisins, golden or other
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (crushed)
  • ¼ tsp of baking soda
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ tsp of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp of ground cloves
  • a pinch of ground ginger
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 F.
  2. Line tray with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt); set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars, on medium speed, until light in color (3-5 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).
  5. Mix in the oats until just combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients in thirds.
  7. Sprinkle in the raisins and coconut until just combined.
  8. Make cookies about the size of 1 heaping tsp leaving between 2" between the cookies for spreading. Lightly tap each cookie with the spoon. Irregular shapes are welcomed!
  9. Bake the cookies for ~8-10 minutes. Finished cookie should be golden brown. Let cool before serving.

If you are interested in a private nutrition session (in person, over the phone, or via skype), contact me here.

Picture By TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr 

Recipe revised from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook. 

References: Oats. WHFoods. The top 10 causes of death. WHO.  Are Steel Cut Oats Healthier? Nutrition Diva.  CVD and other chronic conditions in women. AHRQ

Go With Your Gut (Clean, Part I)

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I recently read a book called Clean, written by a cardiologist and functional medicine doctor, Alejandro Junger. The book is designed to help you detox and cleanse your body of the toxins we are exposed to in our food and our environment in a carefully crafted 21-day program. The book also incorporates emotional cleansing from our hectic 21st century lifestyle by way of meditation.

The program is based on a few basic principles:

  • Avoid the most common food triggers: wheat, eggs, dairy, peanuts, soy
  • Increase consumption of alkalizing, enzyme-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and superfoods like spirulina, coconut, and flaxseed
  • Trade two daily meals for protein shakes and dietary supplements from The Clean Program (at a hefty price).

In case it hasn’t become apparent by now, I am not an extremist. If I can, I will avoid using the word exclude. That said, Clean brought up many great ideas. One which I found especially interesting was the attention paid to revitalizing our digestive system. Our gastrointestinal tract (GI) is comprised of a group of amazing organs. It not only helps us extract macronutrients from food to use as energy and absorb necessary micronutrients to help the body work efficiently, but it also serves as a physical and immunological barrier to microorganisms, foreign material, and potential antigens consumed in food.

Our digestive system starts with our mouth, which breaks down carbohydrates by mixing with saliva. When the food reaches the stomach, protein is broken down into smaller fragments (peptides) as well as some fat digestion. The small intestine is where most of our food is absorbed with the help of the pancreas and liver. The small intestine is made up of 7 meters, but has a surface area of approximately 200-300m2- about the size of a tennis court! The large intestine, about 1.5 meters long, is where most of our fluid and electrolytes are absorbed, but it’s also where our healthy bacteria resides and where elimination of undigested food occurs.

It takes about 6-8 hours for food to travel through the stomach and small intestine, and then it spends several more hours in the colon. According to the Mayo Clinic, the amount of time it takes for a healthy adult to completely move a meal out of their system (as stool or urine) is between 24 and 72 hours, longer if the meal was composed of high fat and less if it was mostly refined carbohydrates.

Many people in the clinical world believe there is no need to cleanse because our digestive system already does a fine job on its own. And to a certain extent, they’re right. If our liver or kidneys weren’t functioning we’d die from the buildup of ammonia, lactic acid, carbon dioxide, lead poisoning, and so on.

THAT SAID… our diets, our surroundings, and our stress levels have changed A LOT in the last 100 years. Most people today eat out of plastic containers rather than the earth. People may live longer, but they’re also sicker. And most complain of fatigue, bloating and constipation as if this were the “new normal”. Let me tell you, it is not!

Cleansing provides our bodies the opportunity to reduce the workload of digestion, rebuild our inner environment (help with cravings, food sensitivities, acidity of the body), and enhance elimination.

So, if you ask me, I think we could all benefit from a little cleansing!

I’ve written down my goals for next week. What are yours?

  • Avoid additional sugars and refined grains.
  • Follow the 12-hour rule. Do not eat or drink (except water) for 12 hours: from 8pm to 8am, giving my GI a prolonged break. 
  • Drink a shake a day- either for breakfast or dinner. See below for my own special recipe. 
  • Drink more water, especially on workdays.
  • Limit alcohol beverages. Goal= 3/ week.

Winter Smoothie Recipe. Blend until desired consistency. 

  • 2 oz of plain low-fat yogurt (4 TBS)
  • 1 cup of frozen fruit (half  mango, half raspberries)
  • 1 TBS hemp
  • 1 TBS flaxmeal
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup liquid (half water, half unsweetened almond milk)
The following posts will be based on Clean and other detox programs. 



2013 Resolution: Step Away from Fad Diets

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The New Year brings exciting opportunity for fresh starts, which usually translate into New Year’s Resolutions. Typically, these resolutions are related to health, specifically weight loss.2012 was an interesting year for fad diets. Along with the now-classics: cabbage soup, the fruit flush, raw food, baby food, and master cleanse diets, there were other perplexing programs touted for their “quick fix” to lose those extra pounds. Among my personal “favorites” were the following:

  • The KEN (Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition) Diet gained popularity in Europe despite involving the insertion of a tube through your nose directly into your stomach for 10 days during which time you consume 800 calories/day consisting of protein and fat – no carbohydrates. If successful, you will supposedly be 20 pounds lighter. (Maintaining the weight loss once you integrate solids into your diet remains to be seen.) You will, however, be $1500 poorer. Guaranteed.
  • The Pregnancy Hormone (hCG) diet or “Starvation Diet” (catchy, right?) involves injecting yourself with doses of hCG daily for 23-40 days. Despite lacking any proof/research, the promoters of hCG supplements claim it helps curb the appetite. Is there a caveat? Need you even ask? You must also follow an incredibly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day.
  • Sensa Crystals or “The Sprinkle Diet” consists of sprinkling sensa (tastans) over everything you eat. Tastans (scent and flavor combinations) purportedly provide a feeling of fullness without the hassle of counting calories or restricting one’s diet. With no peer-reviewed research to support their claims, one is expected to lose 30 pounds in 6 months. FYI – with proper guidance, weight loss programs can help you lose up to 36 pounds in 6 months (~1-1.5 lbs/week weight loss), without the purchase of additional supplements.
  • This past year, Dr. Oz promoted Raspberry Ketones on his show saying that this dietary supplement (consisting of the primary aroma of red raspberries) “helps your body think it’s thin” by increasing the amount of adinopectin in the body (a hormone that helps empty and shrink fat calls). This may sound promising, but at a $20/bottle, raspberry ketones must be taken indefinitely in order to see results. And, of course, they must be paired with both exercise and a well-balanced diet. Studies conducted are inconclusive on weight loss success, but research does show marked improvement in skin and hair.
  • The Gluten-Free Diet.  Celiac disease is no joke. It is an autoimmune disease in which one cannot digest gluten (a waxy protein) found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. Only about 1% of the population has celiac disease and 10% have gluten sensitivity, however many more are touting this diet restriction as the miracle weight loss program. If you don’t have celiac disease, wheat is not bad for you. However, many products made with wheat can be low in nutrition or just plain crappy. Rather than restricting your diet so severely, make healthier choices. Opt for whole grains and limit your cookie and pastry intake.

I invite you to join in my personal new year’s resolution to SAY NO to fad diets, like Bushwick Nutrition favorite, Jennifer Lawrence – Love her! Instead, integrate healthy habits into your life one step at a time. Keep your goals realistic and achievable. Remember, research shows that habits take 21 days to stick, so BE PATIENT.

Here are some ideas to jump start your healthy reform:

  • Go back to basics, eat more fruit and vegetables.
  • Set a walking goal: 1 mile equals approximately 20 blocks or 10 avenues.
  • Cook more and limit dining out to 2/week maximum.
  • Read labels. Educate yourself about what you’re eating.
  • Shop around the perimeter of the store. This is an easy way to avoid junk food aisles.
  • Plan ahead and avoid skipping meals. Hunger pangs lead to bad food choices.
  • Keep a journal. It’s a tried and true way to a) figure out how much you’re eating, and b) find associations between what you eat and how you feel

If you’d like to set up a complimentary 10-minute session, feel free to contact me. Currently I am offering a special promotion for the 3 Week Challenge! More info here.  

References & Inspiration: M. Hartley. 9 Fad Diets of 2012. ABC News; L. Schmidt-Pierson. Eat It Up! Good habits and wise food choices for healthy living. BellaMagazine.com; C. Tunnell. Make and keep healthy habits over 21 days. The Star Press. Photo by Ellen von Unwerth in Vanity Fair, February 2013. 

Thanksgiving Survival Kit: How To Avoid Overeating



It’s true. For some reason we have equated Thanksgiving to “the all-you-can-eat-holiday.” Some research has shown that people eat up to 3,000 calories at dinner alone, meaning that the average person eats around 4,500-5,000 calories a day during the holiday, well above the daily recommendation of ~2,000.

The following are a few tricks of the trade. I promise, they work!

*Don’t skip meals. If you eat a light breakfast and lunch, you won’t be starving for dinner and therefore, you will be able to make better food choices.

**Maximize those healthy sides!  Whether you are having dinner with family, friends, or hosting yourselves, ensure there are at least three healthy foods available. Half of your plate should be overflowing with healthy sides. Some ideas: sautéed vegetables, mixed greens, green beans, or sweet potatoes (low in fat). 

*Chew your food and slow down. There is no reason to eat everything in 5 minutes. It is not a competition. So, enjoy the food and the company.

**Save it for later. My biggest challenge is feeling like I am missing out on all the good food. So, I started saving a plate for the next day. That way, I avoided overeating, skipped seconds and got to try everything. 

*Don’t forget to double fist. If you are going to drink alcohol, always drink water. It will slow you down, help hydrate you and adds no calories to the equation.

**Dress to impress. If you wear fitting clothing, you will be more conscious of when your pants/skirt/dress start feeling a little too snug.

Most importantly, enjoy your family and friends and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!



SPECIAL PROMOTION: Starting in December, the individualized “3 Week Challenge” will commence. The program consists of 3 50-minute sessions over a 3-week period in which we focus on cleaning out your diet, incorporating meal planning/scheduling, and integrating home cooked meals. The cost is $200. For appointments and inquiries: bushwicknutrition@gmail.com  

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday: All Day. Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 6 to 9pm. By appointment only.

Pic from TheVaultDFW from Flickr 

Pic from WishUponACupcake from Flickr

Inspiration from: HuffPost Healthy Living , Fit Sugar 

Food that Helps You Sleep

Pictured: Fiana Fitzgerald after a good nights sleep. 

The recommendation to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day is not new. Yet recent research suggest that not getting enough sleep, even short term sleep deprivation, can lead to mental stress, attention deficit, and may stimulate a person to consume more food, which ties in to additional studies finding a correlation between inadequate sleep and obesity.

The following are Zzzzz tips:

Be Melatonin-Smart

  • Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and synchronize the circadian rhythym. It is a powerful antioxidant that is naturally produced in the body and starts reaching its peak serum levels after nightfall, around 9 pm, and last up to 12 hours. Foods high in melatonin are: tart cherries and/or tart jerry juice, tomatoes, olive oil, wine/grapes with skin, beer and walnuts. 
  • For supplements. General recommendations are: 0.5- 3 mg 45 minutes before sleep. Always consult your doctor since side effects can arise including morning grogginess, sleepiness and small changes in blood pressure. 

Emphasize L-Tryptophan 

  • Think turkey! (perfect timing ;) The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor to the hormone serotonin, which is said to produce relaxation and stable sleep. Other tryptophah-rich food are: chicken, soybeans, tuna, shrimp, salmon, milk, cheese, cow’s yogurt, beans and cashews.  

Highlight Complex-Carbohydrates 

  • Carb-rich foods help L-tryptophan function better in the body. Foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, etc), and sweet potatoes aid a good nights sleep. 

Go Herbal 

  • Chamomile tea especially is said to create a “hypnotic-effect” in sleep-deprived rats. Yet, many herbal teas (caffeine free) can help settle the stomach and induce relaxation.  

AVOID: caffeine/energy drinks (especially after 3 pm), heavy alcohol consumption, and big meals before bed (at least 3 hours before bedtime). 

Sample Zzzz Meals: 

  1. Turkey & spinach sandwich on whole grain bread with a handful of grapes. 
  2. Salmon with brown rice + green salad with olive oil. Served with a glass of red wine. 
  3. Natural yogurt sprinkled with tart cherries and walnuts. Served with chamomile tea. 

Resources: 
SleepFoundation.Org 
TheWellness Advisor.com Spring/Summer 2012
Integrative Strategies for Cancer Patients, World Scientific 2012

While Traveling à la Pinterest

I recently went on vacation. My husband and I wanted to do it as the Europeans do it… so went for three weeks!

On our time off we visited inspiring places, breathed in the old (very old) and the new, and tried traditional as well as fusion foods. 

I also wanted to keep a mental and visual list of things we can all do while on vacation to fully experience each place (including all the rich foods and sweets drinks) without falling off the proverbial wagon of healthy eating or regular exercising. 

The following are some of the highlights with a few theories inserted in between.

(For more tips visit my “While Traveling” Pinterest page, which is sort of new and which I’m loving.)

Tip 1. Only eat two meals per day- indulge in a substantial breakfast and an early dinner- and feel free to try important local delicacies in between. When we travel, we tend to overeat. If you only eat two meals per day, you give yourself the opportunity (and space) to try regional foods without feeling overly stuffed. Important to note, this rule does not apply if your “delicacies” are a sundae at McDonald’s. 

Tip 2. Somewhat related to tip 1, but in order to “have your cake and eat it too” you need to 1.) have the smaller portion and 2.) share (your cake) whenever possible. 

Tip 3. Always take healthy snacks with you, or else you’ll end up with little to no choices. 

Tip 4. Drink water whenever you can. Try not to fill up on empty calories and save your calories to try new foods!

Tip 5. If you follow tip 1, your early dinner will provide more than enough time to walk after your meal. There is no better way to digest than walking and giving your body a time to catch up. Try to avoid eating too late, which will only disturb your sleep and make you feel bloated in the morning. 

For more tips, click here! 

I hope you&rsquo;ve been enjoying the new  Bushwick Nutrition.  It is a practical, exciting, fun, tasty, and affordable tool to help you learn to love healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.  
  NEW!! Follow me on  Pinterest    as I plunge into the complicated world of healthy eating while traveling.  Expect a lot of olive oil and fresh food while I drive a rental Fiat through Italy and Greece!  
  Tumblr posts will reconvene October 2nd.  Subscribe to email notifications of new posts or simply through the RSS reader. The twice-a-week posts are short, informative and fun!  
 In addition, starting in October, Bushwick Nutrition will be available for individual nutrition counseling at the Bushwick office or from the comforts of your own home, office, or by phone/gchat.  Stay tuned for special fall program promotions!    
   See you on Pinterest and stay healthy! 

I hope you’ve been enjoying the new Bushwick Nutrition. It is a practical, exciting, fun, tasty, and affordable tool to help you learn to love healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. 

NEW!! Follow me on Pinterest as I plunge into the complicated world of healthy eating while traveling. Expect a lot of olive oil and fresh food while I drive a rental Fiat through Italy and Greece! 

Tumblr posts will reconvene October 2nd. Subscribe to email notifications of new posts or simply through the RSS reader. The twice-a-week posts are short, informative and fun! 

In addition, starting in October, Bushwick Nutrition will be available for individual nutrition counseling at the Bushwick office or from the comforts of your own home, office, or by phone/gchat. Stay tuned for special fall program promotions!  

See you on Pinterest and stay healthy!