Hide

Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close
fdn-pregnancy-article

Pregnancy, Hormones and Mood Swings

Why are women hormonal when they are pregnant?  And are there different types of food that can help alleviate the symptoms?

By “hormonal”, we are referring to the severe mood swings that many women experience during pregnancy. Mood swings are also a common symptom of PMS, and in both cases, hormone imbalance is a likely cause. Unfortunately, hormone imbalance is quite common and is often a result of the unhealthy habits that our modern lifestyles promote. While there are many health factors that can cause moodiness, female hormone imbalance will be the focus of this discussion.

Female Hormone Imbalance

Estrogen and progesterone are the primary hormones involved in menstruation and pregnancy. In general, estrogen promotes tissue growth and progesterone regulates it. As such, when an imbalance between these hormones develops, serious problems can result.

Low progesterone is the most common form of female hormone imbalance and typically results in a condition called “estrogen dominance.” Even if estrogen levels are normal, they’ll still be high in relation to the low level of progesterone. This can cause mood swings, breast soreness, migraines, irregular menstruation, water retention, weight gain and much more. If left untreated, some of the major problems it can lead to include fibroids, infertility, endometriosis, cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Although the production of both estrogen and progesterone are dramatically increased during pregnancy, the severity of estrogen dominance can increase if the body is not able to meet the increased demand of progesterone. In extreme situations, this can even result in miscarriage.

What Causes the Imbalance?

The two primary factors that contribute to progesterone deficiency have to do with how it’s made and its involvement with stress.

Progesterone is synthesized from another hormone named pregnenolone which is created from cholesterol. Because we’ve been programmed to fear dietary cholesterol, many people follow a low fat and low cholesterol diet. This deprives them of the materials needed to synthesize important hormones such as progesterone. Furthermore, because cholesterol is important to the function of the brain and nervous system, the body will always sacrifice hormone production in favor of these more important areas.

Another dietary factor that contributes to estrogen dominance is the consumption of xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens. Respectively, these are chemical and plant based substances that mimic estrogen in the human body. Xenoestrogens are commonly found in plastics, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals while soy products are notorious for containing phytoestrogens. This is just one of many reasons why it’s important to eat organic food, avoid storing your food or water in plastic, and minimize your consumption of soy products.

The Contribution of Stress

Finally, stress is a major contributor to progesterone deficiency. Cortisol, the body’s primary stress and anti inflammatory hormone, is derived from progesterone. As such, chronic exposure to stress will greatly reduce the availability of progesterone for other purposes. Furthermore, common sources of chronic inflammation such as infection and food sensitivities will do the same.

Many of us live with excessive stress, eliminate saturated fat and cholesterol from our diets, eat conventionally farmed foods that are laced with chemicals, and unknowingly eat foods that we’re sensitive to. In fact, this typically occurs on a daily basis. Each of these factors can cause estrogen dominance and modern society promotes all of them!

Adrenal fatigue is another example of how modern living promotes hormone imbalance and poor health. And it plays a role in estrogen dominance as well.

Regaining Balance

The question asked assumes that eating specific foods can resolve all of this. While diet is part of the solution, it’s far from being the complete solution. Searching for a particular food or supplement to resolve a specific problem is nothing more than a natural form of chasing symptoms. As always, the solution to all health problems begins with living a lifestyle that incorporates the 7 foundational factors of optimal health.

Because cholesterol is a precursor to many essential hormones, it’s important to get past the fear that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease. For further information about the fallacies of this belief, read The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov MD, PhD.

A few good sources of saturated fat and cholesterol include beef, pork, butter, ghee, and eggs. Be sure to get these foods from quality sources, and consider following the Metabolic Typing Diet to understand what quantities of these foods would be best for you.

In chronic cases of hormone imbalance where progesterone is used excessively to produce the cortisol needed to handle frequent stress and inflammation, the body’s preferred pathways of hormone synthesis can become altered indefinitely. In such cases, lifestyle improvements are still necessary, but often not enough.

Supplementation of bio-identical hormones is often needed to re-establish the proper pathways. However, for this to happen, any existing food sensitivities or chronic infections must be addressed as well. For this type of treatment to be effective, and also safe, proper testing is absolutely essential.

Hormone Balance is Just One Part of Functional Nutrition. 

Integrate Functional Nutrition Into Your Services. Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) offers a certification for professionals with a passion for helping others and who is willing to walk-the-talk. Helping others to regain health, regardless of their starting point, requires only the proper training and leadership. Click here to learn more about the FDN Certification course.


Originally printed on the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition blog. Reprinted with permission.

The mission of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition is to educate as many people as possible about how to get well and stay well naturally, so that they may, in turn, educate others. FDN founder Reed Davis is a Certified Nutritional Therapist and Founder of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® (FDN) Certification Course. Reed is known as one of the most successful and experienced clinicians in the world today, having provided functional assessments to over 10,000 clients for hormone levels, bone density testing, adrenal function, digestive problems, immune system and detoxification issues as well as testing for pathogens, food sensitivities and many related health problems.

sweetener

The Not So Sweet Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

As of 2014, approximately 2.1 billion people – nearly one-third of the world’s population – are overweight or obese; with Americans tipping the scales at over 160 million. This includes nearly 75% of American men, more than 60% of women and over 30% of children under 20 years old (1).

It’s likely you know someone who may choose to regularly consume artificial sweeteners as part of their daily meal pattern in an effort to decrease total caloric intake in order to promote weight loss or manage their blood sugar (possibly you’ve tried them in the past as well). Are they the answer to the obesity epidemic and disease prevention? What are the differences in those different colored packets anyway?

What are they?

An artificial sweetener, or sugar substitute, is any food additive that provides a sugary taste, but has significantly less associated calories, or food energy (2).

Some sugar substitutes are derived from natural sources, like stevia and monk fruit, while others are synthetic, coining the term “artificial sweeteners”.

Because they can be 200-20,000 times sweeter than sugar, smaller amounts are needed to achieve the same level of sweetness.

There are currently six artificial sweeteners approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (3). Saccharin (including the brand Sweet’N Low® and packaged in pink packets) was the first to be discovered in 1878, and after a sugar shortage following WWI, the popularity and use of artificial sweeteners skyrocketed.

The remaining five include aspartame (found in blue packets like Equal®), sucralose (marketed under the trade name Splenda® in a yellow packet), acesulfame potassium (with a brand name of SweetOne® in a light blue sachet), neotame and advantame; which are not as commonly used.

Where are they found?

  • diet sodas
  • juices and other drinks
  • reduced-calorie dairy products
  • cereal
  • condiments
  • desserts and baked goods
  • chewing gum
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • lip balm
  • medications and supplements

What are the risks?

While sucralose usage is possibly the greatest in the country (4), aspartame has been the most studied artificial sweetener.

To that point, although the FDA has said artificial sweeteners are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption and the National Cancer Institute has concluded from research they are not linked to cancer (5), we still don’t really know if there are long-term health consequences to their use.

Sucralose may actually raise blood sugar and insulin levels, particularly in obese individuals who do not regularly consume artificial sweeteners (6). However, small research studies have determined it may not have an increased effect on people who already typically use them (7).

The CDC found that 67% of consumer complaints regarding aspartame in the 1980’s involved neurological or behavioral symptoms, primarily headaches, but also included mood changes like depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances, confusion, dizziness, seizures, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and irregular menses (8).

Other studies found no connection between artificial sweetener consumption and body weight or fat mass, but some of them reported a small increase in body mass index (9).

Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to drive the development of glucose intolerance negatively impacting the microbiome (10) and reduce the amount of healthy gut bacteria (11).

In addition, they may reset our taste perception, therefore foods that are naturally less sweet tasting may not offer the same satisfaction, or “reward”, as they did before. This phenomenon may result in a person seeking out more food in an attempt to please the pleasure centers of their brain, thus potentially promoting an overweight or obese status, as well as blood sugar irregularities (12).

What to do?

As a mindful-eating practicing dietitian, I promote all foods fitting in moderation. However, I highly emphasize consuming whole foods for optimal health and wellness. If you are looking to decrease your caloric intake, but still want some added sweetness, currently stevia (found in green packets) and monk fruit (in orange) are the closest natural sugar substitute choices on the market.

Since long-term studies are still lacking on how these artificial sweeteners may ultimately be affecting us, what we want to consider more is listening to what our bodies are saying after consuming them. Do we experience any negative side-effects, like a headache, bowel pattern changes or the desire to eat more of something since it may claim to be sugar-free, even though we are no longer physically hungry?

Get more on this topic! 

Join Regina for her upcoming webinar, The Not So Sweet Truth About Artificial Sweeteners.


Regina Saxton is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in intuitive eating behaviors helping women develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies while managing weight and disease for optimum health. She has a private practice out of Georgia and offers virtual nutrition coaching nationally. Visit her website for more information, reginasaxton.com

watermelon berries

Nutrition Myths | Part 2

Check out Part 1 of this article for more nutrition myths.

Looking for weight loss and overall health in the digital age can be a mixed blessing. Technology, on one hand, is a threshold to endless potential weight loss diets, nutrition facts, health and fitness approaches.

But, on the flip side, it can be difficult to know what to follow and what activities could supercharge your health and fitness.

Take a look at some common nutrition myths…

Myth#6: All sugars are bad.

Fact: Go for natural sugars over artificial sugars. Natural sugars are already present in whole foods, such as milk (Lactose), plain yogurt (Lactose), and fruits (Fructose).

Natural sugars are a better alternative to added sugars as they are packed with health-promoting nutrients such as calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium and fiber, along with natural sugars.

Added sugar sabotages your metabolism leading to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, weight gain and other inflammatory diseases. You will be surprised to know that, even if you don’t eat sweetened foods like dessert and cookies. your foods have hidden sugar in it.

Added sugars present in your diet include high fructose syrup, maple syrup, honey and glucose. Around 70% of processed and packaged foods (breakfast cereals, soups, flavored yogurt) have added sugar in it.

As per a CDC report (1), 14% of total calories are comprised of added sugars in the Western diet. Consumption of added sugars should be less than 10% of 2000 calories/day (<200 calories).

According to the American Medical Association, 6 teaspoons of sugar (25g) for a woman and 9 teaspoons of sugar (36g) for a man is enough to add sweetness to your diet.

The Takeaway: Try to add fruits to your breakfast for sweetness. Buy plain oats over flavored oats, which are loaded with added sugar and excess sodium.

Also, you can enhance your meal with the addition of plain yogurt, not flavored yogurt. Then you can enjoy more natural sugars. Reconsider your diet and lifestyle.

Myth#7: Drink 8-ounce glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.

Fact: Our body comprises of 60% of water. You can’t store water; you need to continually replenish your body with water throughout the day.

Drinking those bland and boring 8-10 glasses of water is now revamped to include flavor-infused water, along with herbal tea and green tea.

Along with a glass of water and beverages (tea, coffee), you can add foods rich in water. Water-rich foods (pineapple, strawberry, celery, watermelon, oranges, and spinach) not only keep you hydrated, but are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

During summer, you can drink smoothies that have a blend of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats for a morning go-getter.

Myth#8: Organic foods are better than conventional foods.

Fact: Despite the high prices of organic foods, its consumption has increased over the last few years. Organic, as the name suggests, means more natural, ethical, and healthy, without artificial GMO seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers.

Unlike conventional processing of foods organic farming involves traditional ways and uses organic compost.

We tend to buy organic foods as they are touted to be high on antioxidants, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acid. There is mixed evidence about it. Hence, there’s not a significant difference in its nutritional value compared to conventional foods.

Organic cultivation has less use of pesticides, like sulphur, natural vegetable oils, and copper sulphate.

Toxic content in any food depends on concentration and vulnerability of toxins, not on how natural that food is grown.

It is healthy to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables judiciously with little significance on how it is produced.

In respect to the environment, conventional foods are better than organic foods. A study showed that organic farming requires more land to produce and emits more greenhouse gas compared to the same crop grown from conventional methods.

The Takeaway: A healthy eating approach boils down to two factors viz. expectation and personal choice.

Research says to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet to attain health benefits. Buy locally grown foods that are in season to avail every nutrient.

The organic tag is not a guarantee for your food security. Moreover, the difference in taste and quality of organic and conventional foods are minimal if any at all.

Tip: In practice, rinse the food thoroughly before consumption to remove bacteria, pesticides from outside.

Myth#9: Multivitamins protect you from diseases.

Fact: Multivitamin intake should never interfere with a nutritious, varied and regular diet. Consumption of multivitamins daily for disease prevention is a double-edged sword.

As per Harvard led Physician Health study for a period of ten years in 1000 men showed that multivitamins lowered the risk of developing a diagnosis of cancer by 8%, but not death.

In another Harvard led PHC study no beneficial effect of multivitamin supplements were observed in the prevention of heart disease and related symptoms such as heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.

The physicians in the study had a more nutritious diet, were more physically active and were involved in less unhealthy routines compared to the general population.

The Takeaway: More than spending time and money on supplements, focus on getting essential nutrients from healthy foods that are seasonal, locally grown and home-cooked.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS), a healthy diet is superior to taking a multivitamin. If you already eat a healthy diet, you are less likely to benefit from extra multivitamin pills, says Dr. Kormos.

Overall optimal health is not based on a single nutrient, rather a synergy of varied nutrients from the food we eat.

Choosing nutrient-dense foods such as plain yogurt, whole grains, salmon, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and lentils helps you meet nutrient and vitamin needs.

But, people who eat a vegan and a vegetarian diet, vitamin D may be recommended if the intake cannot be met through foods. Vitamin D supplements (600-800 IU) are good, as sources of vitamin D are of animal origin (such as tuna, fatty fish, salmon, cod liver oil, and mackerel).

Hint: You can also add Vitamin D fortified foods in your diets such as orange juice, soy milk, some dairy products, and cereals.

The decision to include supplements in your diet is personalized based on your diet and your risks. Review the recommendation of supplements with your doctor to make the important health choice, says Dr. LeBoff.

Reprinted with permission from Akanksha Srivastava. Originally printed on healthrewardz.com.


Akanksha Srivastava is a Nutritionist, content writer & a food blogger. She is a life member of the Nutrition Society of India (LM No. LM-2018-0284). Her blog, healthrewardz.com, is not just a hub of information which imparts views on health & nutrition related topics backed with scientific research papers, but a journey where everyone associated is a part of an endeavor through educative article beyond health. With a significant focus on the holistic approach to health and well-being, her blog successfully forays into empowering people with healthy eating behavior.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html
Junk Food Concept

Blues-Busting Foods: Rx For Emotional Eating

For many, negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression, lead to out-of-control eating…and ensuing weight gain. Knowing which foods can bust the blues, without weight gain, could reduce the odds of emotional eating episodes. Meet the foods that may help.

Mac and cheese. Chocolate chip cookies. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Some call it “comfort food”; others say it’s “food as friend.” However you phrase it, turning to food to soothe unpleasant feelings—from depression and anxiety to anger, loneliness, even fatigue—is the key cause of Emotional Eating. As a matter of fact, our research revealed that eating to cope with negative feelings is the #1 reason we overeat; and the key cause of weight gain.

Theories abound about the causes of out-of-control eating. Is it linked to brain chemistry? Or is it a behavioral addiction? Or both? What is clear is that when some people experience unwelcomed feelings such as fear, anger, anxiety, or depression— because of physical (such as back pain), emotional (negative feelings), mental (stress-filled thoughts), or spiritual (emptiness) distress, they may turn to food to feel better. Why? Because food does, indeed, have the power to bust the blues! Here’s why.

Anatomy of Emotional Eating

Have you ever felt frustrated, and turned to carbohydrate-dense fries, cake, cookies, or potato chips—seemingly unable to stop until the whole bag (or bags) is gone? If so, it’s possible you’re self-medicating unpleasant feelings with food. How so? Certain hormones—naturally occurring “chemical messengers” released when you consume certain nutrients (such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, and so on) in food—have the power to “replace” negative emotions with feel-good feelings. This is because high-carb foods, such as chips, stimulate the production of serotonin, an emotion-friendly hormone that calms and soothes the psyche.

It seems so easy: load up on carbs, feel better. But you pay a price for this feel-good fix. This is because processed, sugar- and fat-laden junk food—from donuts, cookies, and cake, to chips, fries, candy bars, and soda—ultimately, are “downer” foods. This means these often tasty, high-carb foods may provide some short-term comfort by releasing soothing serotonin, but you won’t get long-term relief. Rather, sugar-laden comfort foods could worsen negative feelings, because after they drive up insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar and energy absorption), your blood-sugar levels inevitably plummet, leaving you even more depressed and fatigued then prior to eating them.

Damage Control: Calming Carbs Without the Crash

If you’re an emotional eater—if you cope with unpleasant emotions by overeating and bingeing on high-carb, super-sweet foods—there are many proactive steps you can take to turn the tide. For starters, consider consuming some blues-busting foods that bring the benefits of serotonin—without the downside of the emotional “crash” and the weight gain that bingeing on processed, high-calorie, “downer” food (products) can cause.

Here are some quick-fix, mood-friendly foods and snacks that not only may bust the blues, they may crush cravings and curb your urge to splurge.

FLASH TIP: BE SURE TO WAIT AT LEAST 20 MINUTES AFTER YOU EAT TO GET THE CALMING AFFECTS OF SEROTONIN. THIS IS HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR YOUR BRAIN TO REGISTER THAT SEROTONIN IS WORKING ITS WONDERS.

Smoothie. Combine 2 cups chopped dark leafy greens, 1 cup blueberries, 3 walnut halves, 1 cup milk of choice (cow, soy, almond, rice), ½ cup juice of choice, 3 walnut halves, 1 teaspoon flax oil. Blend.

Avocado spread. Toast a piece of multi-grain bread or choose whole-grain rice crackers. Mash ½ avocado, add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the avocado on the bread. Or a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut, tahini, etc.) on it.

Popcorn. Pop some air-popped popcorn. Spritz lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Toss.

Cereal. Enjoy a bowl of cracked oatmeal with a handful of blueberries and milk of choice.

Nuts/Seeds. Try a ¼ cup of raw, unroasted nuts or seeds of choice. A sampling: walnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Veggies. Munch some carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes; crunch kale or Romaine lettuce leaves. Optional: Use the nut butter blend, above, as a dip or spread for your veggies.

Fish. Enjoy a tuna or salmon salad. Mix together water-packed tuna fish, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, diced celery and red onion, juice from ½ lemon, salt and pepper.

Fruit. Have an apple, papaya, orange, frozen grapes, banana, kiwi, cherries, pineapple pieces, tangerine, or any other fruit you like.

Chocolate. Savor a piece or two of dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Or make hot chocolate with 100% cocoa powder and milk of choice.

The take-away: Enhancing emotions by consuming fresh, whole, blues-busting foods—instead of processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories—is a sound step toward overcoming Emotional Eating, the #1 overeating style our research on Whole Person Integrative Eating has revealed.

In other words, if you turn to food that enhances feel-good feelings, but that also nourishes your mind and body—without the “downer” crash—you’re more likely to lower your odds of Emotional Eating episodes. How so? You’ll keep your mind-body in balance.

Visit Deborah’s websitemakeweightlosslast.com, for free evidence-based, credible information and education about optimal eating for weight loss and well-being. You can also visit her blog, integrativeeating.com.


Originally printed on integrativeeating.com. Reprinted with permission from Deborah Kesten. 

Deborah Kesten, M.P.H., is an award-winning author, specializing in preventing and reversing obesity and heart disease. Her expertise includes the influence of epigenetics and diet on health, Lifestyle Medicine, and research on the Whole Person Integrative Eating dietary lifestyle to treat overeating, overweight, and obesity. She and her husband, behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz, Ph.D., collaborate on research and writing projects. 

grocery basket

3 Common Grocery Shopping Nutrition Tips that are NOT Better

Are your grocery store habits keeping you from getting better health? We are all trying to grocery shop better and the tips out there currently are supposed to help you shop smarter – but are they really better? Here are 3 common grocery shopping “hacks” that actually won’t help you make better choices, and a better nutrition tip to help you shop better, more often.

Choose products with fewer (less than 5) ingredients.

This tip was created to help you make better, not perfect, packaged food choices. The idea is that if there are fewer ingredients, it should be better for you, right? Wrong. An organic frozen dinner with 25 ingredients that are whole foods, includes herbs and spices, balances nutrients etc. can be a better choice whereas there are plenty of 5 even 3 ingredient items that aren’t (hello a certain “energy” drink with artificial colors, artificial sweetener, and caffeine).

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

This tip was created to emphasize the ready-to-eat fruits and vegetable section (a better idea for sure), but then retailers heard this tip and saw where their customers were shopping and started planting chips and/or candy in the produce aisle (I’m not kidding, this occurred in my neighborhood grocery store!). Now, let’s not make retailers the bad guys, there is even more reason to NOT follow this tip: If you only shop the perimeter, you are missing out on a lot of better nutrition choices like organic frozen fruits/veggies (frozen is as fresh as ready-to-eat, lasts longer, and costs less typically), whole grains, spices, oils, and so much more. Every grocery store is also set up differently – so get to know where the better options are in your store.

The Veggie Choice is Always a Better Choice.

Better nutrition better be plant-based because humans (like all animals) need the nutrients that plants provide to build and repair our bodies. BUT not all plant-based products in a store are better nutrition options. Better nutrition needs to provide a balance of nutrients, from better quality ingredients. So make sure your plant choice is a) packed with whole or kitchen-processed plant ingredients b) doesn’t overdo your better amount of one nutrient group serving c) doesn’t pack in the salt, sugar or other preservatives. Some veggie burgers and bars use highly processed plant proteins or pack in 3-4 servings of carbs, now that’s not better!

Got a grocery shopping tip you are wondering about – is it better or not for your health and your wallet – share it with us on Facebook / Instagram — @thebetternutritionprogram — and we will answer it in our next round-up.

Want more Better Nutrition? Join nutrition expert Ashley Koff, RD for her webinar with MedFit:


Originally printed on ashleykoffapproved.com. Reprinted with permission.

Ashley Koff RD is your better health enabler. For decades, Koff has helped thousands get and keep better health by learning to make their better not perfect nutrition choices more often. A go-to nutrition expert for the country’s leading doctors, media, companies and non-profit organizations, Koff regularly shares her Better Nutrition message with millions on national and local television, magazines and newspapers. Visit her website at ashleykoffapproved.com. Ashley is also available for nutritional consultations.

healthy food basket

9 Nutrition Myths | Part 1

Looking for weight loss and overall health in the digital age can be a mixed blessing. Technology, on one hand, is a threshold to endless potential weight loss diets, nutrition facts, health and fitness approaches.

But, on the flip side, it can be difficult to know what to follow and what activities could supercharge your health and fitness.

Take a look at some common nutrition myths…

Myth#1: A Gluten-Free Diet is Healthier.

What it is: Diet that excludes gluten content in food. Gluten is a wheat protein.

What it is not: Gluten-Free Diet is not a Guilt-Free Diet

Fact: Replace gluten-free diet with a Low-Gluten Diet with High Fiber as a better alternative.

A gluten-free diet is beneficial for people suffering from Celiac Disease (an autoimmune allergic response to the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and wheat products).

A recent study (1) suggested a low-gluten diet with high fiber has a beneficial health effect on our microbiome (gut bacteria composition in the intestine) that improves healthy gut bacteria. These changes in intestinal function alleviate bloating.

Research (2) suggests that there is modest weight loss with both low-gluten, high fiber diet over a high-gluten diet.

Studies have previously shown improvement in the condition of irritable bowel syndrome (IBD) and other gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, constipation, stomach cramps). These are the gastrointestinal disorders that prevail in about 20% of the Western population.

A long-term study is needed to establish the beneficial effects of a low-gluten diet in healthy individuals. Although, intake of the low-gluten diet is prevalent in the general healthy population to aid in weight loss and lessen intestinal discomfort caused due to gluten insensitivity.

Mostly, a gluten-free diet available in the market is deprived of fiber and nutritional content. Nutritional composition of a gluten-free diet can be enhanced when it is high fiber enriched and minimally processed, for those who prefer a low-gluten diet.

Benefits:

  1. Improves healthy gut bacteria
  2. Combat excess weight and intestinal discomfort
  3. Less bloating was observed in some healthy individual and along with IBS.

Tip: Replace fiber from wheat and rye with fiber from vegetables, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and corn.

My Advice: Check for gluten-free ingredients carefully.

Myth#2: It is healthy to lose weight with the low carbohydrate diet.

What it is: A quick-fix for weight loss

What it’s not: A long-term weight loss approach

Fact: Some carbs are good for your health and some aren’t.

Sugar is a bad carbohydrate and fiber is a good carbohydrate present in whole grains and oats, says Professor Jim, University of Otago. Therefore by cutting carbohydrates from your diet, you are also cutting down fiber that affects your health in the long-term.

High carbohydrate diet is good if it’s high in fiber, as it has protective effects on heart and gut. As WHO explains, a diet high in fiber (whole grain pasta), nuts and pulses will cut down chances of heart disease and aids healthy weight loss.

Tip: Dividing the number of carbohydrate per serving by number of grams of fiber can give you insight for good carbohydrate foods.

Cut down on added sugars, processed foods, and carbonated drinks. Add minimally processed foods in your diet. Try quinoa, amaranth, farro, millet in addition to brown rice and whole wheat products.

Myth#3: Cut fat for weight loss

What it is: Diet devoid of essential fats

What it is not: Healthy approach to eating

Fact: As per various studies, it has been proven that fat isn’t always the culprit when it comes to extra inches around your waistline.

It’s good to stay away from fried and processed foods as they are high in trans fat. Trans fat is found in foods cooked in partially hydrogenated oil (a type of “bad fat”). Such a diet increases your risk factor for developing cardiac disease by 12%, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

Take note of the good fats that improve health and aids in weight loss.

Good fats include: Healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA) — they help lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve good HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats include vegetable oils, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts and seeds. Monounsaturated fats include avocado, plant origin oils like canola oil, olive oil.

Add healthy nuts and seeds rich in good fats (MUFA and PUFA) to your diet to improve heart health, lower inflammation, maintain healthy skin and hair.

Tip: Keep healthy nuts and seeds in your kitchen and bag as snacks.

Myth#4: Juices aids in weight loss

Fact: Juicing is not the right way to lose weight long-term, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN. Relying on juices depletes you from protein and healthy fats required by your body for proper functioning.

Even 100% fruit juice adds more calories to your meal, along with other sweetened beverages. A 2011 Harvard study explains, sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to long-term weight gain, therefore stick to not more than one small glass of juice a day.

Juices fill you with only carbohydrates that are easily digested, making you feel hungry again. Whereas, protein and healthy fats keep you full for a longer duration and delays hunger.

People include a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks in their diet. According to a study consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is about 63% in children and 49% in adults. This forms the major source of added sugar that provides calories without nutrients.

Home-made smoothies without sugar, plain green tea, infused water are a better alternative to provide ample an amount of nutrients.

It is recommended to eat a well-balanced diet that comprises of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, along with non-sweetened beverages.

Good protein like salmon and chickpeas are great picks. Also avoid foods that add empty calories and no nutrition, such as alcohol, fizzy drinks etc.

Eat food as a whole, rather than liquid form, as it leaves you much fuller. Simple fruit juices are loaded with sugars and high in calories. One bottle of cola has 200 calories, and one cup of apple juice is around 115 calories. One can of beer has 154 calories with no significant nutrition content.

Myth#5: Dieting is a good way to lose weight

What it is: Modest to severe food restriction

What it is not: Magic pill to lose weight

Fact: Focus on what works — healthy eating behavior to maintain a healthy weight.

Why dieting doesn’t work? It is an outdated and ineffective approach to weight loss. If you want to be healthy, you need to get of this relic and find a new approach! Dieting posses little significance today, as calorie restriction leads to undernourishment and calorie-dense but nutrient deficient food leads to malnourishment.

Don’t neglect colors in your diet: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients to provide you with vitamin A, B, K and minerals such as fiber, iron, carotenoids, and anti-oxidants, says clinical dietician Beth Morris.

Time is the key: It’s good to change your eating pattern rather foods. A study says to eat within a 12-hour window to let your body perform repair and regenerative activities at night. This process works within the biological clock of 24 hours.

For example, if you eat breakfast at 8:00am, then eat your dinner before 8:00pm. This helps your body overcome inflammation and disease.

My advice: Cook your meals more often at home. This will help you develop a healthy relationship with your food. You’ll enjoy the taste, flavors, aroma of your meal more than counting each calorie!

Part 2 Next Week!

Reprinted with permission from Akanksha Srivastava. Originally printed on healthrewardz.com.


Akanksha Srivastava is a Nutritionist, content writer & a food blogger. She is a life member of the Nutrition Society of India (LM No. LM-2018-0284). Her blog, healthrewardz.com, is not just a hub of information which imparts views on health & nutrition related topics backed with scientific research papers, but a journey where everyone associated is a part of an endeavor through educative article beyond health. With a significant focus on the holistic approach to health and well-being, her blog successfully forays into empowering people with healthy eating behavior.

References

  • (1) https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-low-gluten-high-fiber-diet-healthier-gluten-free.html
  • (2) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07019-x
  • https://www.amydgorin.com/
  • https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h3978
  • https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/sugar-sweetened-beverages-intake.html
  • http://phs.bwh.harvard.edu/phs2.htm
  • https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Sites/Longwood_Seminars/Nutrition_3_5_13.pdf
Full page photo

Save the Date: Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, May 1-31

Employers and Employees everywhere can show their support for healthy living by participating in Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM) sponsored by the National Association for Health and Fitness (NAHF) and MedFit Network. This outstanding worksite initiative is held from May 1 through 31 each year to celebrate National Employee Health and Wellness Month. The new and improved website for a healthy, active workplace can now be accessed 12 months a year and a company can choose not only the month of May, but any other month in the year to improve well-being and to increase human movement.

Since the founding of Employee Health and Wellness Month in May of 1989, there have been significant strides in documenting the evidence of the value of investing in employee health. Employee health is a powerful strategic  component of an organization’s human capital management. Progressive employers understand that their greatest asset is their workforce and an investment in their employee’s health is essential to managing health costs, improving organizational productivity and employee morale.

The amazing strategic partnership between GEHFM, NAHF and MFN resulting in the new and improved Global Employee Health and Fitness Month website is truly historic in the arena of workforce wellness.  Business and industry can encourage positive behavior change in the supportive context of workplace policies and culture and provide support that assists today’s workforce with their daily struggles. Through GEHFM we will achieve the optimum result of a more physically active, healthier population – one healthy moment and one healthy group at a time.

All you have to do is create and share “Moments, Groups and Projects for Health” such as preparing a healthy meal, organizing a recurring walk or bike ride with colleagues or participate in a clean-up day with your community.

It’s time to make “healthy the norm” in American and this game-changing initiative is a powerful effort toward the realization of this goal.

Visit the website, healthandfitnessmonth.org

healthy-food-assortment

Aging Well By Eating Well

Our health and how we age are not only dependent on our genes, exercise and a positive attitude. What we eat has a major influence on how well we look and feel as we head into our golden years. Simple changes to the choices made on a daily basis can make aging well something to look forward to.

One vitamin (really a type of hormone) that most of us are deficient in, but is essential to optimal health is vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol), and many longevity experts call it the miracle anti-aging vitamin.

A lack of D3 is thought to be a factor in many health problems, from increased cancer risk to inflammation and osteoporosis. Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Ten to fifteen minutes per day between the hours of 10am and 3pm on unprotected skin is all you need. However, increased time is necessary for those who are older, have darker skin or are obese. By using sunscreen to prevent the risk of skin cancer after a thirty-minute sunbathe, not to mention wrinkles, or if you happen to live in northern regions (37 degrees above the equator or basically north of Atlanta, GA) during the winter months, you are unlikely to get sufficient sun exposure to produce enough. Since our vitamin D level decreases with age, and it can be difficult to get adequate amounts from the food and beverages we consume, the majority of individuals take it in the form of a supplement. A simple blood test can determine if your vitamin D3 level is within the recommended healthy range; ideally between 30 and 60 ng/ml. In the meantime, you can eat more fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified dairy, juice and cereal products.

We also tend to become deficient in B vitamins as we age, especially B6. Thankfully, this vitamin is one you can easily get through food by choosing poultry and other meats, as well as fish including cod, salmon, halibut and tuna. Fruits and vegetables such as avocados, red bell peppers, spinach, yams and potatoes with the skin on, asparagus and green peas are also excellent sources of this essential vitamin. Snacking on unsalted sunflower seeds, chestnuts and pistachios will supply a good dose of B6 too.

If you want to age well, there’s no better strategy than loading up on the veggies. They provide essential minerals and vitamins. Plus, they are chock full of natural antioxidants. Strive to eat a “rainbow” of colors, as the darker the pigment in the food, the more minerals and vitamins it contains. Choose dark green leafy greens including kale and Swiss chard, orange and red foods such as carrots and tomatoes, purple fruits and veggies similar to blueberries and beets, as well as yellow foods like peppers and squash.

Fat is not the enemy when it comes to aging well. Good fat from omega-3 fatty acids, that is. Two crucial ones – EPA and DHA – are primarily found in certain fish. Two to three servings of fish a week is adequate, since so many types are contaminated by mercury, PCBs, dioxin or other toxins, so more is not necessarily better. This warning about fish is true especially for children and pregnant women. Another omega-3 fatty acid, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia and oils from flaxseed. These all support heart health and brain cell function, among other anti-aging benefits. They are also thought to be important for cancer prevention and reducing the risk of autoimmune disease, which can increase as we age.

An additional strategy for nutritionally aging well is to increase your fiber consumption. Although we need a little less as we get older, most of us never reach the recommended 21-38 grams per day. Aim for two servings of fruit, three vegetables and three to four portions of whole grains daily. Remember to gradually increase your fiber intake, as well as your water to prevent any gastro-intestinal discomfort.

Most everyone can drink more water. It is essential to cellular function and organ health, including adequate digestion and glowing skin. Who doesn’t want that? Increasing your water intake gradually is the key to establishing a new habit. Start by drinking one glass for every caffeinated beverage you consume. Then slowly begin to replace other liquids like diet drinks, fruit juices or sugary beverages to work up to a minimum of eight glasses a day. Be sure to consult your physician or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist if you have a heart, kidney or lung disease as your fluid intake may need to be limited.

Last, but not least, don’t skip breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day for fueling your body and maintaining your metabolism. Choosing your breakfast foods wisely will give you the energy needed to start your day on the right track. Reserve fast food, high-fat options, pastries, and high-sugar cereals to infrequent emergency situations.

Hopefully, by implementing the suggestions offered you will begin aging well by eating well.

Curious if your levels of D3, B6 and many other micronutrients are within normal range? Order a test HERE and MedFit members will receive 10% off the analysis consultation with promo code MEDFIT.


Regina Saxton is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in intuitive eating behaviors helping women develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies while managing weight and disease for optimum health. She has a private practice out of Georgia and offers virtual nutrition coaching nationally. Visit her website for more information, reginasaxton.com

Concept healthy food and sports lifestyle. Vegetarian lunch.  He

Sports Nutrition: Elite vs. Recreational Athletes

Nancy, do you offer different nutrition recommendations for elite athletes as compared to recreational exercisers? I am highly competitive, work out intensely, and often wonder if I am eating to be the best athlete that I can be.

Answer: Sports nutrition recommendations are based on the assumption we all want to get the most benefits from our workouts so we can perform to the best of our abilities. Because each elite athlete and casual exerciser is unique, a one-diet-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Rather, all exercisers want to be curious and experiment with a variety of fueling practices to learn what works best for their bodies. The following compares recommendations I might make for competitive athletes vs. recreational exercisers.

Note: Sports nutrition is a new science. In the near future, with the refinement of personalized nutrition based on genetics, sport dietitians will be able to offer individualized advice. Some athletes might perform better with more fat than carbs, or more beef than beans. Until then, here are today’s science-based recommendations.

Carbohydrate requirements

In this era that pushes fat and protein, carbohydrate deficiency is common. All exercisers can improve their performance (and health) by consuming adequate “high quality” carbs (grains, fruits, veggies) to fuel muscles and prevent needless fatigue. While elite athletes might want to strategically withhold carbs before specific training sessions to trigger performance-enhancing cellular adaptations, recreational exercisers want to focus on fueling well each day in order to have enjoyable workouts. A sports dietitian can help both elite and recreational athletes reach these carbohydrate goals:

Amount of exercise/day gram carb/lb. body wt. gram carb/kg body wt.
1 hour moderate exercise 2.5 to 3 5-7
1-3 h endurance exercise 2.5 to 4.5 6-10
>4-5 h extreme exercise 3.5 to 5.5 8-12

Example: For a 140-lb fitness exerciser who trains moderately hard for an hour a day, carb goals are 350 g (1,400 calories) For the competitive athlete who trains harder and longer, a good goal is 630 g carb (2,500 calories) a day. Divide that into 3 meals (400 to 700 calories from carb per meal) and 2 snacks (100 to 300 calories from carbs per snack). Start reading food labels to see how well you do. You’ll discover a spinach-cheese omelet doesn’t hit the goal.

Protein requirements

A well-fueled competitive athlete with trained muscles requires a little less protein than a novice exerciser who is building new muscle. The range of protein needs (0.6 to 1.0 g protein per pound body weight; 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg) tends to be moot, given most hungry exercisers and athletes consume plenty of protein.

Most competitive athletes can easily meet their protein needs by targeting about 20 to 30 grams protein per meal (a can of tuna) and 10 to 20 g protein per snack (a Greek yogurt). The protein in natural foods is preferable to protein supplements. Natural foods offer a complex matrix of nutrients that interact with a synergistic effect. Plus, they are unlikely to be spiked with illegal drugs and compounds that can lead to a failed drug test.

Fluids

Competitive athletes lose lots of sweat when exercising for hours on end. But so can recreational exercisers who are out of shape and working hard. That’s why everyone who sweats heavily wants to learn his or her sweat rate. You can learn this by weighing yourself (without clothing) before and after an hour of exercise without drinking anything at X pace and in X degrees of heat or cold. For each pound lost, you are in deficit of 16-ounces of fluid. Drink enough during exercise to minimize this deficit. Throughout the day, drink enough to urinate every 2 to 4 hours. (Peeing every half-hour is excessive; no need to over-hydrate!)

Fueling during exercise

For competitive athletes, a sport drink or gel is a convenient and precise way to boost energy during extended exercise over 90 minutes. With a target intake of 60 to 90 g carb per hour of extended exercise, an elite athlete generally prefers drinking a beverage than eating solid food. A casual exerciser might want some tastier orange slices or a granola bar.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes (potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium) are readily available in standard pre- and post-exercise foods. Most recreational exercisers don’t sweat enough to lose a significant amount of electrolytesHighly competitive athletes, however, train and sweat for 2 to 3 or more hours in the heat. They should add extra salt to their pre-exercise food (helps retain water and delays dehydration) and consume sodium-containing foods and fluids during extended exercise (endurance sport drinks). Afterward, chocolate milk beats Gatorade for an electrolyte-filled recovery drink. Most sweaty athletes intuitively seek salty chips, soup, or salted foods in for their recovery meal. If you are craving salt, consume salt!

Recovery

Recreational exercisers who train 2 to 3 times a week can easily recover by backing their workout into a balanced meal that contains carbs (to refuel) and protein (to build and repair) muscles, such as oatmeal + eggs; yogurt + granola; sandwich + milk; chicken + rice. Competitive athletes who train twice a day should more rapidly refuel by eating soon after working out. The key is to plan ahead to have the right recovery foods and fluids ready and waiting. While a commercial recovery drink can be handy, a fruit smoothie (made with Greek yogurt) or some chocolate milk does an excellent job. Real foods work well for everyone.

After lifting weights, no need for anyone to immediately slam down a protein shake. Muscles stay in building mode for the next 24 to 48 hours. Regular meals, with protein evenly spaced throughout the day, do the job.

The bottom line

Every exerciser and athlete can win with good nutrition. The key is to be responsible, and plan ahead to have the best foods and fluids available at the right times. Here’s to satisfying results from your hard work!


Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes at her office in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). Her best selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook and good guide for soccer, marathoners and cyclists offer additional information. Visit NancyClarkRD.com. For her popular online workshop, see NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.