Am I at Risk for Prediabetes?

September 17, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under Diabetes, Weight management

Many people are aware that diabetes and obesity rates are on the rise in the United States. But do you know how many people have prediabetes? Over 84 million adults, or 33.9% of the US population, have prediabetes. This is a condition in which a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. One condition that goes hand in hand with prediabetes is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that absorbs glucose in the bloodstream and regulated blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance is when the body is unable to adequately use insulin to absorb the glucose resulting in high blood glucose levels. Preventing prediabetes can help you prevent type 2 diabetes and the long-term complications associated with diabetes including heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

 

The direct cause of prediabetes is unknown, however, there are a few conditions associated with this disease including high blood pressure, low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and high triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood). The risk factors that increase your risk for prediabetes are the same risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. These include:

 

  • Family history: risk increases if a parent or sibling has diabetes.
  • Weight: weight is one of the primary risk factors as it is greatly associated with insulin resistance. For people who are overweight, aim to lose 7% of initial body weight.
  • Waist size: increased waist size is also associated with insulin resistance. Men are at risk for insulin resistance with a waist size greater than 40 inches and women, 35 inches.
  • Diet: include a variety of nutrient-dense foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid highly processed foods and saturated fats.

 

  • Lack of exercise: sedentary lifestyles increase risk for prediabetes. The recommended amount of moderate-intensity physical activity is 150 min/week.
  • Age: prediabetes and diabetes can develop at any age, however, the risk of prediabetes increase at the age of 45.
  • Race: certain races are at greater risk of developing diabetes. These include: African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

 

The good news is that you can prevent prediabetes and even reverse it if you already have been diagnosed with the condition. With a lifestyle approach, you are able to use diet and exercise to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Eating well-balanced and nutrient-dense foods as well as increasing physical activity can help prevent or reverse pre-diabetes. Since weight is one of the primary risk factors, using these two approaches can also help you maintain a healthy weight. The American Diabetes Association Standards of Care 2018 recommends losing 7% of initial body weight in people who are overweight.

 

How do I determine if I have prediabetes?

 

Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about prediabetes. Testing for the condition is recommended for asymptomatic adults who are overweight or obese (BMI >25) or if over 45 years old.

 

There are three different tests you can undergo to determine if you have prediabetes.

 

  1.     Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG): this test requires a blood glucose test after fasting for at    least 8 hours.
  2.     Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): this test requires consumption of 75 grams of glucose and taking a blood glucose test 2 hours after.
  3.     A1C test: an A1C is the measure that reflects your average blood glucose levels over a period of 3 months.

 

Prediabetes is categorized as having an A1C% of 5.7-6.4%, and/or impaired fasting glucose of 100-125 mg/dL, and/or an impaired glucose tolerance during a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test with levels resulting in 140-199 mg/dL.

Remember that prediabetes can be prevented. Don’t delay, and start prevention today. Increase daily physical little by little, even if you just take a walk around the block. Include wholesome foods like fresh fruits and vegetables to balance out your meals. Try to limit highly processed foods with high fat and sugar content. Every little step of progress counts toward getting healthier and preventing prediabetes.

 

Resources:

  1. Diabetes Statistics | NIDDK [Internet]. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. [cited 2018 Sep 4]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics
  2. Talmadge K, Philipson L, Reusch J, Hill-Briggs F, Youssef G, Bertha B, et al. AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION OFFICERS CHAIR OF THE BOARD. :150.

 

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her contributions to and creation of this post.



Should I Take a Fish Oil Supplement?

August 24, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids are substances that your body requires in order to carry out various daily functions. Unfortunately, the body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids by itself, and therefore, we must ingest these healthy fats from food. Two important types of omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Docosahexaenoic acid and EPA can be found in animal-based food sources including fatty fish and shellfish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, mussels, oysters, and crabs.

Research has shown that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can positively impact your health. EPA, specifically, has shown to reduce inflammation, which helps keep metabolic processes in the body balanced and properly functioning. Research suggests that consuming EPA can help improve symptoms of people with depressive disorders.

 

DHA fatty acids provide a key structural role in many cell membranes, especially in the eyes, brain, and sperm. These fatty acids are also used to form eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are signaling molecules used throughout the body to elicit specific responses from other cells. They are primarily used when regulating responses related to inflammation, allergies, fever, or blood pressure.

 

Adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids for adults over 18 years old is 1.6 g for males and 1.1 g for females daily. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times per week to obtain sufficient amounts of these healthy fats. For those who do not consume fish, one easy way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids is by taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil capsules contain both DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements are a great option as they are generally low cost and can be easily added into your daily diet.

To prevent a fishy aftertaste, try taking them with the largest meal of the day. Another way to avoid fishy burps and aftertaste is by purchasing enteric-coated capsules. The coating on these capsules delay the point in time in which the capsule is digested in the digestive tract. However, expert from the Food and Drug Administration, Siobhan Delancey, advises that absorption of supplements might not reach its fullest potential when coated as some of these supplements are best absorbed and utilized in the stomach. Overall, fish oil capsules can be an easy way to supplement healthy fats into your diet, especially for those who do not consume fish.

Resources:

1. Boston 677 Huntington Avenue, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2012 [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her contributions to and creation of this post.



Is Fruit Juice Actually Healthy for Children?

July 19, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under baby food, Child nutrition, Consumer awareness

 

Juice is one sugary beverage that people perceive as healthy, compared to other sweetened beverages like sports drinks and sodas. People may consider juice to be healthy simply because it comes from fruit; however, the high sugar content is a red flag that can lead to issues further down the road. Some juices even have large amounts of added sugars in it on top of the great amount of natural sugars from the fruit itself. So why are we insisting on giving our children juice?

 

Juice is usually well-liked and tolerated by young children, which may be why we find it easy to give to our children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting juice to 4 oz for children 1-3 year, 4-6 oz for children 4-6 years, and 8 oz for children 7-18 years of age. Juice is not recommended for children under the age of 1 year. On average, children ages 2-5 consume 10 ounces of juice per day. Kids certainly don’t need as much juice as we think! While juice may provide several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too much juice in a child’s diet can contribute to certain health conditions such as obesity and tooth decay.

 

Obesity rates in the United States have risen over the years and affects 19% of children. That is a large percentage of children! Perhaps sugary beverages including juice are contributing to that statistic. Juice has high amounts of natural sugars and calories and lacks the fiber one would get from eating whole fruits. It’s a beverage that can be drank quite quickly and easily, and without the fiber content, does not keep bellies feeling full. Lacking satiety may lead to more snacking and increased calorie intake throughout the day. Diabetes typically goes hand in hand with obesity as well. Research shows that consuming juice is associated with increased risk of diabetes. However, we see the opposite with certain fresh fruit—we see a decreased risk of diabetes. Fresh fruit is recommended over fruit juice any day!

 

While fruit juice is not a necessary part of obtaining an adequate diet, you should consider the following if you choose to incorporate it in your child’s diet. It is recommended that the juice be 100% fresh or reconstituted fruit juice. Consider watering down juice to cut out some calories and sugars. Children should not be given juice in a bottle or sippy cup, especially at night in bed, as this promotes tooth decay.     

 

As a society, we need to aim for lower obesity and diabetes rates in the United States. By restricting high sugar beverages like juice, we can promote healthy diets and lifestyles that can prevent unwanted health conditions.

Resources:

  1. Kit BK, Fakhouri TH, Park S, Nielsen SJ, Ogden CL. Trends in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among youth and adults in the United States: 1999–2010. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;98(1):180–8..
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends No Fruit Juice For Children Under 1 Year [Internet]. [cited 2018 Aug 30]. Available from: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Recommends-No-Fruit-Juice-For-Children-Under-1-Year.aspx

 

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her contributions to and creation of this post.



Getting Fiber from Fruit

June 9, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under Fruit, General

 

What is fiber and how do I incorporate it in my diet? Dietary fiber is a nutrient found in plants that our bodies cannot absorb or digest. Incorporating fresh fruit to your daily diet can help increase your fiber intake. There are several health benefits to consuming fiber each day.

 

There are two types of fiber that help with maintaining normal bodily functions: soluble and insoluble fiber. Because fiber cannot be broken down and absorbed in the body, it simply makes its way through the digestive tract promoting motility of other materials that need to be excreted. Insoluble fiber in particular helps produce normal bowel movements by bulking the stool to increase weight while also softening it. Bulking the stool decreases watery loose stools and helps with constipation.

 

Soluble fiber on the other hand helps lower cholesterol and keep blood glucose levels stable. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is what is commonly known as the “bad” cholesterol.

 

Soluble fiber has water-holding properties and dissolves into a viscous gel-like substance. This gel-like substance helps lower LDL cholesterol by inhibiting LDL absorption through the intestines and into the bloodstream. The formation of the gel-like substance also slows gastric emptying which helps with blood sugar control. Slower gastric emptying translates to slower nutrient absorption in the digestive tract. Therefore, when glucose in consumed in tandem with fiber, the absorption of the glucose will take longer than normal preventing a spike in blood glucose levels. Due to the water-holding properties soluble fiber also results in stomach distention, which makes the body feel full. The delayed gastric emptying then makes the body feel fuller for a longer period of time. This mechanism can aid in weight loss as it can help prevent snacking and cravings.

 

Adding fruit to your day is an easy way to increase your fiber intake. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 21-38 grams for the average adult. Fiber can be found in all fresh fruits. However, the amount of fiber in each fruit varies. Common fruits with the highest amount of fiber per serving include blackberries, muscadine grapes, pears, kiwis, and figs. It is imperative to note that fiber content in fresh fruit is NOT the same as in fruit juice. Fruit juice loses most of its fiber contents during processing. Some fruit juice may have unnecessary added sugars included during processing. Therefore it is recommended to consume fresh fruit rather than fruit juice in order to increase fiber content and reduce added sugars.

 

Resources:

  1. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2018 Aug 27]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
  2. Food Composition Databases Show Nutrients List [Internet]. United States Department of Agriculture. [cited 2018 Aug 27]. Available from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/report/nutrientsfrm?max=25&offset=0&totCount=0&nutrient1=291&nutrient2=&fg=9&subset=1&sort=c&measureby=g

 

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her contributions to and creation of this post.



Is Bone Broth Healthy?

May 8, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under Consumer awareness, Cooking, General

Recently in the food world, the “super food” bone broth has been a huge hit due to its supposed variety of health benefits. Some people have even started drinking bone broth in place of their morning coffee or tea. Bone broth has been acclaimed to sooth arthritis and boost immune function while also smoothing and strengthening skin. To clear the air, there is nothing new about today’s bone broth. Bone broth, or stock, has been used in cooking in many cultures around the world for centuries. Bone broth can be made from bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin from beef, poultry, pork, and fish. These animal components are simmered in water over several hours and can be consumed hot as it is or incorporated into soups, gravies, and other dishes. So what about bone broth makes it a health food?

 

Sadly, little research has been done with bone broth and therefore, the supposed health benefits have little evidence to back them up. Bone broth has peaked scientists’ interest for over 80 years. A research study regarding nutritional benefits of bone broth dating back to 1934 in The Archives of Disease in Childhood came to the conclusion that bone broths are not of  “great nutritional value”. Over the years, there have been few studies on bone broth with indefinite conclusions. The medical journal Chest published a study in 1978 concluded that chicken soup helps clear nasal passages. The study found that consuming hot chicken soup significantly increased flow of mucus significantly better than consuming cold or hot water. While results appeared to be significant in this study, it is important to point out that there were only 15 subjects involved. Not to discount the study’s results, however, a small amount of participants like this suggests for further research to be done. Another piece of research surrounding chicken soup was published in the Chest in 2000. Researchers concluded that chicken soup might reduce inflammation. Laboratory test results showed that consuming chicken soup lowered the activity of the white blood cells called neutrophils. This specific type of white blood cell is the immediate responder when there is an inflammatory response within the body. While this study reports positive outcomes, the study was not confirmed in a controlled group of participants.

 

One of the few factual pieces of health information is that bone broth is a good source of protein. One cup of bone broth has about 5 grams of protein. Proteins are the fundamental pieces of muscles, bones, cartilage, and skin. Bone broth has also been suggested as a post-workout drink to replace lost electrolytes when exercising. High concentrations of electrolytes, such as sodium and chloride, are easily lost through sweat.

 

Several other health claims have been made about bone broth with no scientific evidence to support them. A few are listed below:

 

Claim 1: Bone broth strengthens bones because of the calcium content. Even though bones simmer in the broth for hours at a time, little calcium is released from the bones into the broth. The amount is so little that will not significantly increase bone strengthen or prevent bone conditions such as osteoporosis.

 

Claim 2: Bone broth relieves join pain. Arthritis occurs due to a loss of collagen, which is protein that provides padding for the joints. The collagen found in bone broth is not directly absorbed and transferred directly to the joint to prevent joint pain. Dietary collagen protein is broken down into amino acids just like any other protein food source. These amino acids are then used to help build and repair components of the body including skin, cartilage, and bone; however, they will not immediately transfer to the joints to relieve pain.

 

Claim 3: Bone broth helps firm and smooth skin. While collagen plays a structural role in skin just like it does with joints, it isn’t directly absorbed through the skin either.

 

The sad truth about supposed “superfoods” is that there is no one food that has all the health properties that the body needs. The body requires a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and we are unable to obtain those from one specific food source. It is important to incorporate a wide variety of all food groups in your diet in order to nourish your body properly. While bone broth is most likely harmless, it does not have the curing capabilities that the media construes. Incorporating bone broth into a healthy balanced diet may help promote health overall, however, it will not be the magic ingredient that cures one from any illness.

 

Resources:

  1. McCance RA, Sheldon W, Widdowson EM. Bone and vegetable broth. Arch Dis Child. 1934 Aug;9(52):251–8.
  2. Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here [Internet]. NPR.org. [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/10/384948585/taking-stock-of-bone-broth-sorry-no-cure-all-here
  3. Publishing HH. What’s the scoop on bone soup? [Internet]. Harvard Health. [cited 2018 Aug 28]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/whats-the-scoop-on-bone-soup

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her contributions to and creation of this post.



Is Almond Milk Good for You?

April 2, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under Consumer awareness, Dairy

It seems that dairy is usually the first group of foods that people eliminate from their diet when having indigestion or irritable bowel symptoms. In turn, they typically choose to replace dairy with products like soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk. These products are quite popular as they are advertised as vegan-friendly, lactose-free, and fortified with calcium and vitamin D. As time has progressed, other dairy-free “milk” alternatives have been added to the market coming from sources such as coconuts, cashews, and quinoa.

While these products give a dairy-free option for people with lactose-intolerance, we often see healthy people choose milk alternatives solely to follow the popular nutrition fad at the time instead of out of medical necessity, such as a milk allergy. It is imperative that we educate ourselves on the health benefits of dairy products and what nutrients may be missing or lacking in the diet if we choose to eliminate them.

Almond milk is one of the most popular dairy-free milk alternatives.

But is it actually a healthy choice? Cow’s milk provides us with nutrients such as calcium, protein, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. While calcium and vitamin D are added into almond milk during processing, it lacks the other nutrients that cow’s milk provides us with. For most adults, it is recommended that a person consume 10-35% of their diet from protein sources. Dairy provides protein that allows the body to build and repair muscle and tissues as well as providing the foundation for cartilage, skin, and bones. An 8-oz serving of almond milk provides about 1 g of protein compared to 8 g from 2% cow’s milk. There is hardly any protein in almond milk! Protein is important to consume during aging because of the natural muscle degeneration.

Added sugars are a huge culprit in almond milk! To provide a more satisfying taste for consumers, almond milk comes in a several flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Adding these flavors usually means adding unnecessary sugars into the almond milk. Sugar is typically the second most abundant ingredient in these products.

One 8-oz serving of sweetened chocolate almond milk contains up to 20 g of sugar compared to 12g of 2% cow’s milk. It is important to point out that the sugars (lactose) in dairy products are natural sugars and are not added. While dairy alternatives may seem like a healthy choice, be aware of what you actually are drinking. If you choose to purchase a dairy-free product, try choosing the unsweetened version to reduce unnecessary sugar intake.

One thing that is often overlooked is the high level of processing almond milk undergoes. Due to the processing, many additives and preservatives are included. These additives include substances such as xanthan gum or gellan gum, which are used as a thickener to achieve a creamy mouthfeel. Cow’s milk does not include any of these additives. The only substances added to cow’s milk are typically vitamin A and vitamin D.

While some people may a digestive intolerance to dairy products, the food group as a whole is recommended to be included in the daily diet for those otherwise healthy. Cow’s milk provides the body with many nutrients not found in almond milk. Cow’s milk also avoids unnecessary added substances such as sugar and food thickeners, which are often added into almond milk. Consider all of the health facts before choosing your next milk or milk alternative.

Thank you to dietetic intern Molly Lowery for her creation of and contributions to this blog post.



National Nutrition Month

March 1, 2018 Edited by  
Filed under Consumer awareness, General

March is known as National Nutrition Month as accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month brings focus to nutrition education in areas of sustainability, healthy food choices, healthful eating and physical activity. This year National Nutrition Month has an important theme, “Go Further with Food”, encouraging people to shop locally, conserving resources and being environmentally friendly, all while adding healthful and nutritious foods into your diet.

A great tip to shop locally is to locate local farmers markets which often provide fun, fresh foods, fruits and vegetables that are often more affordable and more flavorful than local grocery stores. When you promote nearby farms/growers by buying locally you are conserving natural resources and promoting food procurement that has minimal effect on the environment. The environmental impact of growing and transporting food is not often though about; however, the miles driven for food delivery from farm to grocery stores and markets can have a detrimental impact on the environment and an indirect impact on human health.

The Community Food Security Coalition states, “Agriculture, food, and communities are three systems that interact in many ways. While these interactions are beneficial to human health, they can also compromise it, as four of the ten leading causes of death are related to dietary and lifestyle factors.”

Plan ahead for your shopping needs so that you only purchase what is needed and prevent food waste. Be sure that you know how to prepare the foods that you’ve purchased. If you have questions about how to store, preserve and/or prepare the foods on your list, ask a local farmer at the market or even a clerk at the grocery store.

Registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Libby Mills says, ”Sustainability is about making the best possible choices for your health, the health of the community, the environment and those producing your food. Sustainable practices build strong communities, diverse ecosystems and healthy individuals.” Now that sounds like something to celebrate!

Happy National Nutrition Month!



Brain Fuel: Tips for a Brain-Healthy Diet

December 5, 2017 Edited by  
Filed under Carbohydrates, Cooking, Dietary Patterns, Uncategorized

 

There is strong evidence that there are specific foods we can eat to improve and protect our cognitive function. Brain health can be achieved by eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients such phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. It has been proven that following a heart-healthy diet is as good for the brain as it is for the heart. A heart-healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise and a healthy diet pattern to allow adequate blood flow to the brain.

For example, diet styles such as the Mediterranean and Dash-style diet have been researched and inked to improved cognitive function, memory and alertness. A diet style known as the MIND diet (MEDITERRANEAN- DASH Intervention for Neuro- degenerative Delay) is a combination of both the Mediterranean and Dash-style diet. This diet combination focuses on whole, natural, plant-based foods, with an increased focus on consumption of berries and green leafy vegetables, while limiting animal-based and high saturated fat foods.

The MIND diet has proven beneficial in lowering and slowing rick for and progression of Alzheimer disease (the leading cause of dementia). Research has shown that individuals who followed the MIND diet closely, lowered their risk of Alzheimer disease by up to 53%. Studies of individuals who are following the MIND diet pattern has been suggest that the MIND diet substantially slows cognitive decline with age.

Foods to Fuel Your Brain:

  • Green leafy vegetables & other vegetables
  • Nuts – unsalted
  • Dark berries
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fish & lean poultry
  • Olive oil
  • …and even small amounts of red wine

Brain-Fuel Nutrients:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids –
    • Found in fish, shellfish, and algae, but especially prevalent in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, menhaden, and sardines, is especially important to brain function.
    • Avoiding saturated and trans fat may be as important as consuming polyunsaturated omega-3 fats.
  • Vitamins –
    • Adequate consumption of vitamins and minerals (B,C,D,E) maintain brain function.
  • B Vitamins –
    • Found in animal products such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and fortified breakfast cereals. Helps with energy production in the brain.
  • Vitamin C –
    • Found in many fruits such as cantaloupe, citrus fruits and juices such as orange and grapefruit, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple.strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and watermelon. Helps with energy production in the brain.
  • Vitamin D –
    • Found in cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, raw milk, caviar, eggs and mushrooms.
  • Vitamin E-
    • Found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, blueberries, blackberries, avocados, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, and vegetable oils.
    • Reduces oxidation in the brain.
    • Supplementation with vitamin E must be done safely as taking more than 1,000 IU of vitamin E supplements per day may be unsafe, especially in individuals with cardiovascular disease.
    • Vitamin E supplementation may be risky for people who take blood thinners.
  • Lutein-
    • Found in egg yolk, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale and even avocado is a yellow-pigmented carotenoid linked to brain health and improved memory. May be most beneficial in combination with Omega-3-Fatty Acid consumption.
  • Polyphenols –
    • Found in fruits, vegetables, tea, wine, juices, and some herbs.
    • High in antioxidants, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Curcumin –
    • Curcumin is the polyphenolic compound curcumin that provides the yellow pigment to turmeric (often used as an ingredient in traditional Indian curries).
    • High in antioxidants, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Resveratrol –
    • Found in grapes, wine, peanuts, and some berries.
    • Helps to eliminate free radicals, improving brain health.
  • Catechins –
    • Found in green, white, oolong, black and Pu-erh tea.
    • Highest concentration found in green tea.
    • Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Overall, consuming a well balanced diet that is rich in the protective nutrients listed above it the best way to fuel and maintain brain health!

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Carlyn Blevins for her contributions to this post.



Mindful Eating

With a busy schedule full of work, family and life obligations, it is easy to rush meal times while eating our food on the run. Many of us have mastered the skill of multi-taking, only to miss out on the opportunity to enjoy our food. Do you ever stop to notice the texture of the food that you’re eating or pay attention to your body telling you that you’ve had enough?  Mindful eating is a way to bring the focus back to the peace and joy that eating can provide.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is applying mindfulness to why, when, where, what, and how you eat. This means being aware of both the physical and emotional feelings connected to eating; it is the process of paying attention to the experience of eating.

One study suggests that applying mindful eating tools may help you to avoid overeating by being aware of portion control, taste, texture and sensations such as mouthfeel. By being mindful you will raise awareness to why are you eating (are you hungry or simply snacking?), what you are eating (is this food nourishing to your body?), and how you are eating (am I on the run, multi-taking, driving, watching TV, texting? Am I even enjoying my food?).

Individuals who apply mindful eating tools have reported an increase in self-efficacy; cognitive control, improved eating behaviors; and even decreased symptoms of depression. A mindful eating approach may increase consumption of healthful fruits and vegetables which have protective qualities to help fight against coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, and certain cancers.

Quick Tips For Eating Mindfully:

  • Observe your body: Notice hunger and fullness signals that guide you to start and stop eating.
  • Do not judge yourself: If you want to eat something, have it; as long as eating this food will not bring about any feelings of shame or guilt. If it will, recognize this and either avoid eating it or try to change your reaction to this food.
  • Notice your reaction to food. What do you like, what don’t you like? Try closing your eyes for a moment while you are eating to experience food in a new way.
  • Savor your food: While eating, notice all of the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of the food. Focus on each mouthful. Try to engage all 5 senses when you eat (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch).

Ask yourself, “Am I…” 

  • Physically hungry? Try using a scale of 1-10 (1 very hungry and 10 very full). Ideally, you want to eat when your hunger is mild at a 3-4 and stop when it reaches a 7-8.
  • Eating quickly or slowly? If you notice you’re rushing; take a deep breath and slow down.

Mindful Eating Resources:

  1. Intuitive Eating website: www.IntuitiveEating.org
  2. Miller CK, Kristeller JL, Headings A, Nagaraja H. Comparison of a mindful eating intervention to a diabetes self-management intervention among adults with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Health Educ Behav. 2014;41(2):145-154.
  3. The Center for Mindful Eating website:http://www.tcme.org/
  4. Tylka, T. Intuitive Eating Assessment Scale. J Counseling Psychology 2006(53):226-240.
  5. Mathieu J. What Should You Know about Mindful and Intuitive Eating?J Am Dietetic Assoc 2009;109(Dec):1982-1987.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Carlyn Blevins for her contributions to this post.



Pumpkin Season: Benefits of Adding Pumpkin to your Diet

November 15, 2017 Edited by  
Filed under Cooking, Food Labels, Holidays

Tis’ the season for pumpkin everything and that is actually a very good thing. Pumpkin contains many protective nutritional qualities.

Fun Facts about pumpkin:

  • Pumpkin belongs to the Curcurbitaceae family, which also includes gourds, squash, cucumbers and watermelons.
  • There are  many shades and sizes of pumpkins, some are best for decorations and some are sweeter and best for pies and baking.
  • In other parts of the world, winter and summer squash are referred to as pumpkins.
  • When cooking or baking with pumpkin, used freshly made or canned pumpkin. Avoid pumpkin pie mix, which is filled with sugar.
  • The fiber content of pumpkin helps you to feel full, promotes digestive health, weight control and prevents constipation.
  • Pumpkin if left uncut, should be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin:

  • Low in calories per serving
  • Approximately 90% water
  • Fiber rich
  • Antioxidants: may help to prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A / provitamin A from Carotenoids (Beta-carotene)
  • B Vitamins: (folate, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin C: antioxidant support
  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Potassium: provides a positive effect on blood pressure.
  • Phosphorus

Beta-carotene:

Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant found in pumpkin, giving pumpkin its orange color. In the body, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements calls beta-carotene “by far the most important provitamin A carotenoid.” Current evidence on the nutritional benefits of beta-carotene suggests it may help protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, fight inflammation, delay aging/body degeneration and improve skin appearance. Multiple studies have concluded that a diet rich in plant food such as pumpkin, decrease the risk factors of chronic disease  such as obesity and decreases overall mortality.

Fiber:

Many Americans consume an average of 15 grams of fiber daily, falling short of the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber daily required to maintain health and a properly functioning GI tract. Adding pumpkin to your diet is a great way to increase daily fiber intake. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood, aids in smooth digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.

What about the Seeds?

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein (7 grams per 1-oz), contain omega-6-fatty acids, and contain the amino acid tryptophan which helps the body produce mood-elevating serotonin. Pumpkin seeds contain fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, minerals and vitamin K.

Pumpkin Seed Oil:

Researchers also have looked into the potential health benefits of pumpkin seed oil, which is high in zinc, vitamin E, and magnesium.The main benefit of pumpkin seed oil is in the protective nutritional qualities benefiting the urinary and reproductive areas of the body, especially in the prostate.

Disease Fighting Properties:

Vegetables are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber and phyochemicals which play a vital role in the prevention of chronic disease. Researches state that the nutrition profile (carotenoids, pectin, oleic and linolenic acids) of pumpkin helps to improve glycemic and insulin response, decrease systemic inflammation and decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors. The plant compounds in pumpkin seeds and pulp are excellent for helping the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines, as well as balancing levels of liver glucose.

Nutrient Content:

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains

1.76 g of protein

2.7 g of fiber

49 calories

0.17 g of fat

0 g of cholesterol

12.01 g of carbohydrate

Recommended daily allowance (RDA) of:

200%: Vitamin A

19%: Vitamin C

10%: Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper, Manganese

5%: Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic acid, Niacin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus

How to Incorporate Pumpkin into your Diet:

Pumpkin may be incorporated into desserts, soups, smoothies, salads and even made into a pumpkin butter to be used as a spread or substituted for butter in baking.

Tip: Remember the only ingredient in canned pumpkin should be pumpkin.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Carlyn Blevins for her contributions to this post.