You’ll Look Beautiful on the Outside

Check this article out:

Beauty Might be a Matter of Dietary Makeup

Seriously, it’s quick and entertaining.

Want to have beautiful skin this summer? Forget fake baking, try more fruits and vegetables! The caratenoids that give our produce such a beautiful color may in fact beautify your skin tone as well.

Prudent Healthy Diet

I came across 12 tips to prudent healthy living in a nutrition book of mine. It sounds so pioneer right, prudent healthy diet? But anyway, the tips are great so I thought I would share with you today:

1. Balance the food you eat with physical activity to maintain or improve your weight. Consume only moderate food portions. Be physically active every day.

2. Eat a nutritionally adequate diet consisting of a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Let the MyPlate Food Guide guide your food choices.

3. Choose a diet moderate in total fat, but low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol.

4. Choose a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, and legumes, which are rich in complex carbohydrates, phytochemicals, and fiber.

5. Choose beverages and foods that moderate your intake of sugars.

6. Choose and prepare foods with less salt and sodium.

7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol.

8. Maintain protein intake at a moderate, yet adequate level, obtaining much of your daily protein from plant sources, complemented with smaller amount of fish, skinless poultry, and lean meat.

9. Choose a diet adequate in calcium and iron. Individuals susceptible to tooth decay should obtain adequate fluoride.

10. Practice food safety, including proper food storage, preservation, and preparation.

11. Avoid excess intake of questionable food additives and dietary supplements.

12. Enjoy your food. Eat what you like, but balance it within your overall healthful diet.

I love this stuff. It’s basically what I have been trying to express in my past 25 blog posts. So much for all that, this is everything you need to know! Especially the last tip. Best advice I could ever offer. So please print this out, hang it on your fridge, and let this be your nutritional mantra til death do us part.

And here is a picture of a kitchen that I very much do like.

The Fat Truth

Despite popular belief, losing weight is not a matter of cutting out all the fattening foods in your diet. It’s a simple calories in and calories out balance. If you eat more calories than you burn then you will likely gain weight. If you burn more calories than you eat, you will sometimes loose weight (I say sometimes because it doesn’t always work like that, and that’s a story for another day). But eating fat in your diet does not mean fat on your belly.

Fat has more than double the calorie amount per gram than carbohydrates and protein. 1 gram of fat totals 9 calories where 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein equals 4 calories. And because of this fact, a lot of people choose to cut out fattening foods when dieting because it tends to be an easier way to reduce unwanted calories. Which is true, and great work figuring that out, but why do we even need fat then if it tends to be the first thing to go?

Well it shouldn’t be. The truth is, we need fat. Fats (or lipids as we tend to call them once they are inside and apart of our body) do the following wonderful things:

  • Insulate and protect our organs
  • Provide structure to all our cells (aka a cell wall is made of lipids. I know everyone took 9th grade biology here, do you remember the cell mosaic and these little guys? Yep, phospholipids are fats! So unless you want all your cellular contents spilling out all over the place, you need to eat some fat!)
  • 60% of your brain is made up of fat. Good luck being a smarty pants with only 40% of your brain…
  • Fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, E, K, and D require fat to be absorbed in our bodies.

Even those who have diabetes or insulin resistance who try to combat their condition by switching to low fat or fat-free diets have found adverse effects. Low fat just simply isn’t always the way to go.

So now that you are all convinced that fat is good for you, let’s talk about which food sources really are the best for you. Unsaturated fats are fats that have a double bond break in their carbon chain structure. Notice the double lines between the 6 and 7th C? These fats help to lower risk of heart disease by reducing LDL (the bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (the good cholesterol). Foods would include olives and olive oil, canola oil, avacado, and nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pistachios.

We usually hear mostly about omega-3 oils. (Hint the picture above is an omega-3 fatty acid because the double bond occurs at the third carbon from the “omega” end which is the CH3 end, if anyone cares about organic chemistry…) Omega-3’s are essential, meaning our bodies cannot produce it on it’s own, we must consume it. Omega-3’s can protect your heart from disease, modulate inflammation, support brain function, focus, and memory, alleviate depression, and increase sleep even. Not to brag or anything, but I participated in a omega-3 study evaluating the effect of supplements in reducing pain and promoting happy thoughts. Unfortunately I can’t stick to pill regimens very well and dropped out after 27 days. But I was pain free for 27 days!

Anyways, from unsaturated oils we get ALA, EPA, and DHA. Please don’t ask me to spell out or ever say aloud the full names of these acronyms, thank you. You may have seen DHA on baby formula and supplements. That’s because it is the byproduct from omega-3’s that promotes brain and nervous system development. We get EPA and DHA from fish and other omega-3 products. ALA is a byproduct of omega-6 oils. You can find that in flaxseed oil or meal, pumpkin seeds, tofu, and walnuts.

So if you are confused by all these terms and chemistry jabber, just remember to use olive oil or canola oil for cooking or salad dressings, sprinkle pumpkin seeds or flaxmeal over your oatmeal, smoothies, or soups, have an avocado on your salads and sandwiches, and snack on nuts!

No that we have talked about the good fats, I will hurry up and finish with the not-so-good fats. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol, but saturated fats are found in animal products naturally like meats, milk, and cheese. Even the lean varieties have a bit of saturated fat. But we would never want to recommend cutting out animal products, because we should all know that’s how we get the best protein sources, so eat lean cuts and feel fine about having a little bit of saturated fat in the diet. In fact the recommendation is to have about 10% of your fat from saturated sources.

Trans-fats on the other hand is a synthetic fat made from hydrogenation to make foods more shelf stable. You will find these fats in your bakery items, bagged cookies, fast food, some margarine (please read the label) , and hostess pies. These are totally unnecessary in our diets and in fact, harmful. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. So the recommendation here is, try your hardest to never eat these fats. If you are insistent in cutting our fat from your diet, here is where you do that.

Goodby forever McDonald’s Apple Pie!

The Power of Protein

Getting our plates into shape protein style!

Protein Frequent Flier

What Men think of protein
What Women think of protein
What personal trainers think of protein
What Nutritionist think of protein What society thinks of protein
What protein actually isI’m so clever!

Protein, chemically speaking, is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and a nitrogenous group. These compounds make amino acids, which you are probably more familiar with right? There are about 20 amino acids that make up practically everything in your body. Amino acids are what help your body code your DNA, which acts as a blue print to replicate every cell and tissue that amounts to your existence! So these powerful amines are to be taken seriously!

As far as the proteins we consume, it’s important to know the difference between a complete protein and an incomplete protein. Let me give you a little background first…

There are nine amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine- incase you were wondering) that your body absolutely cannot make itself-whereas the rest of the amino acids can be created through the break down of other aminos. That makes these amino acids essential aka you have to eat these from food sources. A complete protein is a food source that has all these essential amino acids in it. High quality food sources would be:

eggs, poultry, beef, pork, fish, veal, duck, and all sorts of meats, milk, cheese, yogurt, and sources of dairy, quinoa and soy

But wait? What about legumes, nuts, and peanut butter?! These foods do contain a good amount of protein, but one or more essential amino acid is missing and must therefore be coupled with a complimentary food that would have that missing amino. A perfect example is rice and beans. Beans are missing the amino acid acid methionine and rice is missing the amino acid lysine. Combined they equal each other out and give you a total amino acid profile! Neat!

It’s really important we include protein in all our meals and snacks to help our blood sugars and rebuild our muscles. You might think that only body builders and teenage boys need protein to rebuild their muscles, but actually our bodies are constantly turning over our protein stores, meaning breaking down and rebuilding. So it is important we consistently and regularly eat protein.

Some tips to shape up your plate:

  • Eat a variety of protein sources. Try having a day or two that are “meat-free” and try some quinoa, lentils or legumes (coupled with grains of course!), or soy.
  • Choose lean varieties or chicken and beef. Chicken breast and tenderloins are the leanest cuts.
  • Try to have fish twice a week.
  • And remember to limit portions. I still laugh when I think of my husband at a steak restaurant a few weeks ago disappointed because the largest cut of steak was only 12 oz. ONLY! Um, an actually portion size of meat is 5 oz…. or think of the size of a deck or cards or the size of your palm.
  • Add seeds, nuts, cheese, or nut butters to your snacks for an extra protein kick!

Happy National Nutrition Month!

Here it is folks, an entire month dedicated to nutrition! Did you even know March is National Nutrition month? I’m waiting for Martha Stewart to come up with crafts, meals, and decorations for this holiday, because it’s epic!

This years theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape!” Remember this? The FDA came up with the new plate method just last year, so this March to celebrate, the theme is based around adapting the plate method into every meal. Let’s get our plates together people! (I said that in a very Tina Fey from 30 Rock style).

Check out what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has to say about this month: National Nutrition Month Press Release

And some tips to help you get your plate in shape: Simple tips from Registered Dietitians

For those of you who hate following links (it’s ok, I am one of them), I will give you a run down. There are 4 areas of emphasis when it comes to your plate.

  1. Making half your plate fruits and veggies
  2. Incorporating more whole grains (1/2 of your choices ideally)
  3. Including a variety of lean proteins
  4. Adding more low-fat diary foods to your diet

I thought I would dedicate a blog each week to one of these categories, followed by a personal goal I am working on to shape up my plate. So you better stay tuned ya’ll!

Feeling S.A.D?

This time of year a lot of people tend to be more SAD. I’m talking Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka seasonal depression. I’m guilty of having this problem every year or two, and I find it gets to me the most in the early “spring” (probably because this is Utah and spring doesn’t happen until the end of May)!

Symptoms typically include excess sleepiness, lethargy, increased appetite, social withdrawal, and feelings of unhappiness. To learn more specifics check this out. For this little blurb, I would like to suggest NATURAL ways to help you during this dreary time of year. (By natural I mean your doctor probably won’t tell you these tips, he will be too busy trying to prescribe you the happy pill).

Step One:

Start by eating a diet of whole-rather than processed-foods that doesn’t include a lot of sugar or starches. Consider supplementing or incorporating foods rich in b vitamins. Food sources include: green leafy vegetables, brown rice and whole grains, lecithin, brewers yeast, meats and liver, oats, bananas, avocados, legumes, and brazil nuts – to name a few.

Get fishy. Increase your fish intake to at least two servings per week and consider supplementing with fish oil capsules. Fish oils are high in EPA/DHA which promote increased neurotransmitter production and brain development. Anything that supports a healthy brain is going to support a healthy mood.

Step Two:

If improving your diet doesn’t make much of a difference after a couple weeks consider adding this supplement to your routine:

  • 5-HTP: This is a good one. I am personally not a huge supplement person, but I did try taking this for a hot minute and it helped me during times when I had insomnia and anxiety. Some of you medical or biology geniuses out there might know that our body can convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin (serotonin is the neurotransmitter involved specifically with our moods). What’s tricky though, is that trpytophan is used for a lot of functions in our body so by increasing our meat and protein intake, we can’t always be sure that the individual tryptophan amino acids will be used to convert to serotonin. The good news is 5-HTP is a by product of tryptophan that is used specifically for the serotonin producing pathway. Start with 50 mg a day (I would say at night because it can cause sleepiness) and build up to 100 mg if needed. This supplement only needs to be taken temporarily and therefore is perfect for SAD.

Step Three:

Increase your physical activity. Even if it is just going outside for a 15-20 minute walk. I guess we have been lucky here in Utah that the winter has been so mild; I haven’t had to pull out my snow boots once! So grab a scarf and get outside! Remember how physical activity increases endorphins in our bodies? I mean who doesn’t love that feel good high you get after a good work out!? We like to move it move it!

Eating Gluten Free; Part 3

Finally. What to eat.

First off, charts of the ALLOWED and to AVOID grains. These lists will come in handy when reading all the processed foods with laundry lists of ingredients.

Allowed Grains and Plants

Amaranth Montina Salba
Arrowroot Nut flours Sorghum
Bean/Pea flours Oats (if gluten free) Soy
Corn* Potato Flour and Starch Sweet potato
Buckwheat Flax Xanthan Gum
Quinoa Tapioca Guar gum
Rice Tef Millet

*Corn in all its forms: cornstarch, corn flour, cornmeal, corn grits, corn bran, hominy, grits, has marina

Grains to Avoid

Barley Graham flour Semolina
Bulgur Kamut Spelt
Couscous Malt Sprouted wheat
Durum Matzo Sprouted Barley
Einkorn Oats(if  cross contaminated) Tabbouleh
Emmer Pasta Triticale
Farina Rye Udon
Farro Seitan Wheat**

**Wheat in all it’s forms: wheat flour, whole wheat flour, bread flour, white flour, cake flour, self-raising flour, pastry flour, enriched flour, wheat germ, wheat bran, cracked wheat, wheat starch

Overwhelming much? It is kind of. But if you are needing a gluten-free diet, it gets easy with time. I would recommend making little charts to keep in your wallet so when you shop you can compare ingredient lists to your list. This way you can feel confident whether or not a product actually is gluten-free even without the official logo. Or you can stick to eating a whole foods diet so you actually know what’s in your dinner.

Moving on. Here is where it get’s even more challenging. If you are Celiac and haven’t met with a dietitian or a doctor you might not know this. There are other not-so-obvious ingredients you will need to learn to look out for. They are as follows:

Brown rice syrup (often made from barley)
Carob-Soy Flour (usually contaminated)
Dextrin (usually made from corn but sometimes from wheat)
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Modified Food Starch (can be made from wheat)
 Malt (made from barley)
Modified Hop extract (made from barley)
 Natural or artificial flavors (usually only in when found in meats)
 Sacrament bread or communion wafers (guess you won't make it to Heaven)
Some Seasonings (read labels)
Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce (try Tamari instead)
Starch (when an ingredient in medicines, NOT foods)
 Malt Vinegar Worcestershire sauce (because it contains soy sauce)
 **I was just kidding about the sacrament and not going to Heaven,
 but you will need to find a gluten-free bread to be blessed

It’s appropriate to add here that you will need to also read ingredient lists on makeup, toothpaste, vitamins, medications, and other cosmetics or supplements. It may seem impossible and unnecessary, but it is. A lot of newly diagnosed Celiacs, when first starting a gluten-free diet, feel loads better and the symptoms quickly disappear. But just because over time the symptoms subside, it doesn’t mean damage isn’t still being done by little ingredients in your fluoride. So please be aware of this and in no time you will be an expert ingredient reader!

Reading Labels: Always check ingredient lists. As we just learned, it’s easy to spot a wheat product, but is it obvious by the front graphic whether or not there is malt in the product? Side note- one time I did a three day gluten free challenge and made it to the last hour and failed because I ate Sour Patch Kids (there’s dextrin in the ingredient list). Bummer. So lesson learned, it’s very important to read labels. And of course, sometimes it still isn’t that easy. I learned from the my last job to really utilize the number the package will provide that says “Question or Comments” because I made several calls for customers to see if a product could be verified gluten-free.

Shopping: The good news is lots of grocery stores and markets are carrying a large variety of gluten -free products, especially the health food stores. You can now buy gluten-free bread mixes (thank goodness! cooking gluten-free bread from scratch can be a nightmare!), cereal, baking mixes, cookies, and crackers. Ya know all the healthy stuff. It seems easier to me to just eat whole foods, cut out the bread products, and add more vegetables instead of processed and boxed gluten-free grains. Less of a hassle, more health benefits. Win win. But that’s just my opinion.

Eating Out: Learn to speak up. Ask the waiter specifics about what is added during the cooking process. You may order a stir fry with veggies and rice but then find out the teriyaki sauce is not gluten-free. Be aware of cross contamination. Some french fries may be fried in the same oil as the breaded chicken nuggets. And with that being said, don’t choose breaded meats and fishes. Use oil and vinegar for salads and leave off the croutons. At this point I could go on and on about the things to avoid, but I would rather give tips that help you make choices. Unfortunately this post is too long. Check back for more dinning out specifics and my favorite recipes.

Eating Gluten Free; Part 2

Here we go, part two. First fact, 2 million people have Celiac Disease in The United States, that’s 1 in 133. Quite significant. How do you know if you have Celiac Disease??

The diagnosis of Celiac Disease is made by a combination of clinical, histological, and laboratory evaluations, but a small bowel biopsy is really the only true and final diagnostic confirmation. I am amazed how many people tell me they have Celiac Disease, but when I ask if they have had a biopsy? The answer is no. The only reason this concerns me, is that having to abide by a gluten-free diet is incredibly annoying for the lack of a better word. It’s even becoming a trendy diet in Hollywood, so people are real quick to jump on the bandwagon. I would recommend getting official testing done (aka the biopsy) before making such an extreme lifestyle change. Check out this article here for information on other types of gluten intolerances and testing. As I mentioned in part 1, Celiac Disease has symptoms similar to IBS or other intolerances (ahem, lactose) so I would say it’s important to really know what’s going on with you and how to best treat it.

With that being said, check out my all time favorite website the Mayo Clinic to learn more about the different diagnostic tests and everything you would really want to know about Celiac Disease.

Coming up next, how to actually eat gluten-free.

Eating Gluten Free; Part I

I’ve been asked to do some consults with people with Celiac Disease and Gluten intolerance coming up the next few weeks, so I thought I would prepare here on my little blog. It’s a lot to take in and my blogs tend to get long, so I am breaking it up into segments.

Part One.

So what is Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance? Essentially it is a disorder of the intestines. Our digestive tract and intestines are protected by physical and chemical barriers so when we digest potential antigens from bacteria and foods we have enzymes and gastric juices that protect us. Our immune systems under normal conditions can recognize the foreign and harmful antigens and destroy them. But in the case of Celiac Disease (caused by genetic susceptibility and an unknown trigger) exposure to gluten causes an abnormal immune response; gluten for some strange reason is targeted as a bad guy.

Gluten refers to specific peptides in proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats are also considered a gluten product, because like I mentioned previously, they are almost always processed with other gluten products therefore exposing oats to the gluten protein. Gluten is responsible for the spring and stretchiness in breads.

Celiac Disease has become so “popular”  the past few years because previously the disease was mistaken for Irritable Bowl Syndrome because the symptoms are so similar; loose stools, constipation, fatigue, bloating, cramping, weight fluctuations, etc . These terribles happen because people with Celiac Disease have a marked reduction of villi in their intestines

Villi are these little finger-like projections that line your lumen or intestinal tract. This is one of those physical barriers that protects your insides from damage. The picture above shows some normal healthy villi, and the picture below shows what happens to those sensitive to gluten. Doesn’t look pretty, and you can bet it doesn’t feel pretty either. If the disease is untreated the villi becomes so damaged it can no longer secrete the enzymes that break down proteins, fats, and starches. AKA a person will no longer be able to absorb nutrients and will soon be faced with many other nutrition related problems. Anemia, weight loss, dermatitis, issues of the liver and gallbladder, even as old school as beri-beri perhaps.

Sounds fun right? And unfortunately the only treatment is a gluten-free diet alone. And I’m talking a life long diet, not one of those 3 month Jenny Craig’s.

This post seems like such a downer so please look forward to the next parts on diagnosing ,treating (aka diet), and meal plans!