Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Colas – Are they REALLY that BAD?!?!

November 27, 2012

Coca-Cola. The All-American soft drink. Or at least when growing up it seemed like the only option. Of course there were other brands – Pepsi, but they were colas none the less.  Mom made us drink milk with our meals.  And a coke was a treat. So of course when we had our choices and later as we became more independent, milk was replaced by a cola. I worked for a company once where the gentleman in charge drank 2 six-packs of Pepsi every day. He was at least 50 pounds overweight.

So what’s the big deal?! I don’t want to drink milk or water all the time. They have no taste!

One 12 ounce soda typically has 9 teaspoons of sugar and 140 calories. Although diet sodas are low in calories data suggests that the artificial sweeteners may increase sugar cravings.

Just like with other products that we consume over time we have found out that there is a price to pay for that taste.

“There is an association between people who have high soda intake and risk of bone fracture. But that’s probably due to the fact if they have a high soda intake, they have a low milk intake,” says Robert Heaney, MD, FACP, professor of medicine at Creighton University.

Research has shown that adults and children who regularly drink beverages high in sugar tend to experience weight gain. As weight increases so does the risk of type 2 diabetes. A study in the journal Circulation found that adults who drank 1 or more regular or diet sodas had an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions which includes high blood pressure, excess weight gain, high cholesterol and insulin resistance.

Soft drink makers produce 10.4 billion gallons of soda each year. If we didn’t consume this much they wouldn’t be producing it!

One reason for our increased consumption is the container size. In the 1950’s the standard soda size was 6.5 ounces. Now we don’t think twice about picking up a 20 ounce bottle. In fact many stores will gladly sell you a 32 ounce cup full of this sweet drink. Not only are sodas contributing large amounts of calories and sugars, teenagers are now drinking twice as much soda to milk. This is a huge problem. Low calcium intake contributes to osteoporosis, which leads to fragile and broken bones. For girls 92% of their bone mass is built by age 18. If they’re not consuming enough calcium during this time there is no catching up later.

So what can you do? If you can’t stop drinking colas all at once start by slowly weaning yourself off by skipping one a day. As far as combatting the effects these drinks are having on your bones when you skip that soda have a glass of milk or calcium fortified orange juice instead. Consider this: fat-free milk has even more calcium than higher calorie whole milk, BONUS! And other than changing your diet, weight bearing and resistance exercises are highly recommended.

What is your beverage of choice? Now that you have some information, will it change what you reach for when you’re thirsty? I never condone lying, but my daughter has told her children that they’re allergic to colas. They never ask for one. How would you steer your kids away from these? And when you do will you consider that they learn from example?

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Eat My?!?!?!

April 9, 2012

Errr, I mean Eat Your Veggies!!

Your mother always said to eat your vegetables. What does this mean exactly? Can I just get a wedge of iceberg lettuce, throw some tomatoes in and smother it with creamy Italian dressing? That’s vegetables, right? Not exactly. In fact what I want to address here is dark green leafy vegetables specifically.

Greens are the number one food you can eat regularly to help improve health” says Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, a culinary educator in Northern California and author of The Veggie Queen. That’s because they’re loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Yet Americans are still not eating the recommended daily requirements of vegetables.

The latest dietary guidelines call for us to get 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (2 ½ to 6 ½ cups per day) depending on your calorie intake. For example a person who needs 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight should be eating  9 servings or 4 ½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables). And by the way in this case more equals better.

There is strong research that supports the premise that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The largest and longest study to date was done by the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals. This included 110,000 men and women whose health and dietary habits were followed for 14 years. The findings were that the higher the average daily intake the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. And although all fruits and vegetables contribute, green leafy vegetables make very important contributions.

In another large report by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research findings suggested that leafy greens and fruits “probably” protect against several types of cancers, including, mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus and stomach cancer.

Why aren’t you eating some veggies RIGHT NOW!!!!

Nussinow ranked the top 10 most widely-eaten greens from most nutritious to least. Here’s her top 10:

  1. Kale
  2. Collards
  3. Turnip Greens
  4. Swiss Chard
  5. Spinach
  6. Mustard Greens
  7. Broccoli
  8. Red and Green Leaf Romaine Lettuce
  9. Cabbage
  10. Iceberg Lettuce

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What Have They Done To Oatmeal?!?!?

February 28, 2011

Oatmeal – Known to be one the best choices for breakfast. Has recently been trumpeted by the fast-food industry as evidence of their attempts to present the public with “wholesome” food. Once gain, BUYER BEWARE!!

We all know oatmeal’s health benefits. It is known to

  • Reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol without lowering HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Fight heart disease
  • Have cancer-fighting properties
  • Slows down the digestion of starch which then prevents a sharp rise in blood sugar
  • Is a good source of protein

So when McDonalds recently started serving oatmeal it perked a few ears up. In a recent article in the New York Times, Mark Bitman attacks Mickey D’s pointing out how they took a natural meal item and added their own ingredients. This more than doubled the calorie, fat, carbs, cholesterol, sodium and sugar content in comparison to natural instant oatmeal.

Several months ago Starbucks rolled out their oatmeal. After reviewing their nutritional information what we found was that as long as you don’t add any of the items they also give you (in separate pouches) then they are very comparable to the natural oatmeal you should be eating. The troubling part about McDonalds is that they don’t give you that option.

So as always. We all have decisions to make. What are you going to decide to put in your mouth for breakfast? What healthy alternatives have you found? How do you spice up your eating plan?

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Holy Guacamole!!!

February 5, 2011

The BIG game is upon us. What are you going to serve? There seems to be a misunderstanding about some of the foods involved. Yes there are plenty of BAD foods. But there is also the inevitable silver lining. Yes, I’m talking about Guacamole!

Guacamole in some circles gets a bad rap. Isn’t it high in fat? High in calories??

Let’s talk first about the nutritional benefits of Avocados. Avocados are the basic ingredient of guacamole.

  • About 75% of an avocado’s calories do come from fat. But most of that is monounsaturated fat.
  • Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and K.
  • Avocados are high in fiber.

High avocado intake has been shown to benefit cholesterol levels. Lowering LDLs and raising HDLs. And by the way this is due to its high level of monounsaturated fats.

Now the bad news. Yes the calorie count is something to take notice of. 1 tablespoon of guacamole dip has 94 calories while a whole cup (how can you eat just one tablespoon) has a whopping 1500 calories.

So if you’re going to indulge in dips while cheering on your favorite team. Pass the guac and the leave the other dips for everyone else.

A special thanks goes out to Al for inspiring this blog.

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Chocolate – Good vs Evil

August 17, 2010

In the last few years there has been a lot of talk about the health benefits of chocolate.

Coincidentally the International Cocoa Organization states that production has risen from 1.2 million tons per year in 1960 (I know a long time ago) to 3.2 million tons per year in 2004. Along with the rise in the production of chocolate so has the global rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Hmmmm?

So which is it? Is chocolate good for you or is it killing you? Oh, and don’t get me started on expanding waistlines.

Studies have surfaced that show that it is the plant sterols and cocoa flavonoids in chocolate that when used as part of a low fat diet support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improve blood pressure.

A review of studies conducted by members of the departments of Epidemiology, Nutrition and Medicine at Harvard University also agree that the flavonoids are likely protective against coronary heart disease.

Now we must remember that all chocolate is NOT created equal. Most candy bars that you find in the grocery store are high in refined (white) sugar and other fats that replace the healthy nutrients found in cocoa.

So, when shopping for chocolate there are a few things to consider. Does the chocolate product

  • Consist of at least 70 percent pure cocoa.
  • Contain cocoa butter instead of milk fats or hydrogenated oils.
  • Contains natural, low-glycemic sweeteners – such as raw cane – rather than refined sugar

What about you? Do you eat chocolate? Is it a guilty pleasure? Or do you like Nancy Clark, (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) who wrote in Sweat Magazine (July/August 2010) use it during a cardiovascular workout like a long hike or bike ride?

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Affects of Alcohol on Exercise

July 1, 2010

With alcohol being the most common drug of choice one has to wonder what effects it has on your athletic performance.

Sorry folks but this blog has to be written.

For the most part the people that I run into in the gym seem to have their acts together as far as their alcohol consumption is involved. But every once in a while during an early morning workout I’ll catch a whiff of someone’s partying the night before.

Now far be it for me to judge anyone on how they use their down time to kick back and relax. But if your goals include chasing your PR’s and pushing your body as far as it can go then realize that your nutritional intake includes EVERYTHING you digest including what you drink.

In a position statement issued by the American College of Sports Medicine, the ACSM states that “alcohol appears to have little or no beneficial effect on the metabolic and physiological responses to exercise. Further, in those studies reporting significant effects, the change appears to be detrimental to performance.”

Research at the University of Georgia states that-

Alcohol will not improve muscular work capacity and results in:

  • Decrease in overall performance levels
  • Slowed running and cycling times
  • Faster fatigue during high-intensity exercise

Adequate hydration is crucial to optimal performance. The diuretic property of alcohol can result in:

  • Dehydration and significantly reduced aerobic performance
  • Impaired 800 and 1500 meter run times
  • Increased health risks during prolonged exercise in hot environments

Ok so you don’t drink before you go to the gym or before your run. What about the day after. The same research as above showed that “drinking on the day or night before athletic activity hinders physical conditioning progress, and exercising with a hangover has been shown to significantly decrease performance capacity by as much as 11%”

So, ok I hear it now. “Hey I drink and I’m doing just great”. Well think about how much better you would be doing if you didn’t.

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Red Wine vs White Wine

June 1, 2010

Red wine or white wine? Every now and then I am asked this question by those who imbibe. In fact one time I was asked in a very unscientific manner, “I’m going out tonight drinking, which would be better for me to drink, red or white wine?” My answer was “if you’re going out “drinking” does it really matter?” I don’t think the person got the answer they were looking for.

Further examination does show however a possible benefit to drinking red wine. Doctors do agree that “something” in red wine appears to help the heart. Researchers feel that a substance called resveratrol has promising heart-healthy benefits.

Resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grapes longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol.

Some research has shown that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting……But KNOW THIS, research has been done on mice only NOT in people. AND the amount used on mice would equal that of 100 to 1000 bottles of red wine a day!!!

Now DON’T even think about it! Drinking too much can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, and obesity. And the list goes on and on.

So if you’re looking for an excuse to drink or justify it, then this isn’t the answer. Go do what you’re going to do and at least take responsibility for your actions.

If you already drink red wine then do so in moderation. Moderation is defined as an average of two drinks per day for men and one for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits.

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Protein & Carbs – How Much Should I Be Eating?

March 16, 2010

There is a lot of confusion about how much protein and carbohydrates to eat.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health adults should get a minimum of .8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day. That’s about 64 grams for a 160 pound adult.

In the U.S. adults get an average of 15 percent of their calories from protein. Replacing the sugar in our diets that we get from refined carbohydrates such as white bread or drinks filled with sugar by increasing our protein intake to 20 to 25 percent could actually reduce the risk of heart disease.

And if your taking that amount of sugar out of your diet. Can you imagine what it will do for your waistline?

Good sources of protein include chicken, fish, eggs and lean meat.

Carbohydrates. Wow! What a bad rap this food group has gotten.

Man cannot not live a healthy lifestyle without carbs! So how much?

The AMDR (Acceptable Micronutrient Distribution Range- amount that the FDA considers healthful) is 45 to 65 percent of total calories.

Before you get all excited about this know that we are not talking about foods that have added sugars.

The carbohydrates you should be eating are fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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H1N1 vs Obesity

November 29, 2009

With all the attention these days given to the H1N1 flu you would think that this is the only danger lurking out there. Yes, this flu can be horrible to go through and several million people are estimated to be infected by it.

In the United States experts estimate that 4,000 people have died from this virus and its complications. The number of deaths worldwide is 8000. Proper precautions should be made.

But let’s look at some other numbers. In the past month the American Institute for Cancer Research reported that 105,000 new cases of cancer are caused by obesity every year.

Side note: You are considered overweight if you are 15lbs over your recommended weight. And you are considered obese when you are 30+ lbs over.

Among the types of cancer linked to excess body fat:

  • Breast – 33,000 cases a year
  • Endometrial – 20,700 cases a year
  • Kidney – 13,900 cases
  • Colorectal – 13,200 cases
  • Pancreas – 11,900 cases
  • Esophagus – 5,800 cases
  • Gallbladder – 2,000

I need not tell you that these numbers reflect a much higher mortality rate than H1N1.

So yes, get your flu shot, wash your hands, teach your children to do the same so that they’re not assisting in the spread of this flu.

But let’s also start teaching them proper nutrition. And that running around outside instead of staring at their computers will also help begin a lifestyle which will prevent even more devastating outcomes.

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To Eat Or Not To Eat

November 26, 2009

Today is Thanksgiving. How will you spend it? Most of the people I spoke to this week told me of spending time with their families and sitting down to a traditional holiday meal.

When my clients ask me how they should eat in times like this I tell them that these days are the reasons that they are good all year. My usual answer is that if you’re strict all year with your nutrition goals then on times like vacations, birthdays (yours, not everyone you know) and holidays they can then let loose.

On the other hand if you want to lose weight but all you do is play at your goals while you watch the scale go up and down. Then what makes it alright to eat on “special” occasions?

So if you have done well, enjoy all the trimmings that are offered, of course within reason.

If this has been a year of challenged focus? Put the fork down and enjoy the social aspects of the day. There are plenty. The good news is that you have a few weeks to get right with your goals before the annual Christmas dinner.

And if not, then I’ll see you on January 1st as we discuss getting rid of those “holiday” pounds.

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