Thursday, December 08, 2011

Question of the day: Should I try a detox?

Ever hear of the Lemonade Diet or seen the rows of boxes in the drugstore claiming to rid your body of toxins? I’m sure they make you wonder if they really are the magic trick to losing those few extra pounds or for cleaning your digestive system after all the food you ate last weekend. The answer is no. Our bodies are designed to do this naturally on a daily basis.

With the rare exception, we are all born with two kidneys that serve this purpose amongst many other functions. Each day they filter roughly 1600 liters of blood a day to create waste that is excreted as urine. These well-trained organs maintain the proper blood volume while ridding the body of electrolytes and other components that are no longer needed. This technique, along with many other internal systems, is involved in the body’s natural detoxification process.

Most of the detox diets available require restriction of foods for long periods of time. The Master Cleanse is based on the consumption of no solid foods and only a lemonade concoction for the entirety of the detox, which can be up to 2 weeks. During this time, several important nutrients are excluded from the diet and you consume inadequate calories and macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). Others suggest the use of laxatives, which can easily cause dehydration.

Instead of a detox diet, focus on eating a varied healthy eating plan. Start by cutting back on the amount of fast food and pre-packaged goods. Enjoy naturally detoxing foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.  Use the USDA "Choose My Plate" tool to determine the number of servings you need from each food group. The next time you think about testing out the latest detox diet, try eating a balanced diet that is full in fruits and vegetables and let your body do the work by itself.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Question of the day: What is coconut water?

When you think of coconut water, probably the first thing that comes to mind is sitting on the beach under a palm tree with a hairy coconut in hand and a straw popping out a tiny hole. That is actually coconut milk and provides a different set of nutrients than coconut water, which is the liquid that comes from young or green coconuts.

Coconut water is just that, water from coconuts, and is packed with potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium and carbohydrates. With this blend of nutrients, it can be the perfect post-workout fluid replacement drink or be used for those that are dehydrated due to an illness or disease. It is important to replenish lost fluids after exercising as well as replace the sodium and potassium that is sweat out. A study conducted in Malaysia showed that coconut water can provide the same benefits as a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage for rehydration and induces less stomach unrest for most individuals.

The water from green coconuts is high in cytokinins, which have been shown to function as antioxidants and possibly help fight the growth of cancer. B-complex vitamins are concealed within the water as well and help decrease inflammation and associated diseases.

Although coconut water is great after exercising, it does lack the necessary amount of carbohydrates required for energy during endurance exercise and for glycogen replenishment afterwards. It has a distinct flavor and some brands even contain coconut chunks to add a little extra kick to the drink. However, if you are looking for a new fluid and electrolyte replacement drink, give coconut water a try.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Chia for health

Remember those clay animals that grew grass. All you needed to do was soak the pottery, spread the seeds, keep it watered and soon your bear, dog or cat would be full of “fur.” The same seeds are becoming popular again, but this time due to their nutritional value and their mention in the book Born to Run.

Chia seeds are whole grains that have a high content of fiber amongst other nutrients. Even though the seeds are small and don’t appear to be nutrient dense, they are packed with protein, potassium, dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain roughly 8 times the omega-3 found in salmon, 5 times the calcium in milk and double the fiber of bran flakes.

A recent study conducted by St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada showed evidence that adding 37 grams a day of chia seeds to a patient’s diet that was previously diagnosed with diabetes and undergoing medical treatment could reduce their risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These findings are hope that this could hold true with those that are not diagnosed with diabetes and could be used in combination with a heart-healthy diet to lower the risk of the number one killer in the US, heart disease.

Not only are the seeds good for you, they are easy to incorporate into your diet. They can be added to a salad, yogurt, smoothies or cereal. They can even replace an egg when baking (see recipe below). They can also be eaten by themselves as a snack. A powerful energy drink that the Aztecs and Mayans drank is Chia Fresca and can be quite refreshing. These seeds are special because they absorb water and form a gel so make sure to keep that in mind when cooking or baking as to not change the desired consistency.

Try them out for yourself and start getting eating more whole grains without even noticing it!

To replace an egg in a recipe:
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
• 3 tablespoons water
 Combine the water and seeds and let sit for 5-10 minutes until the gel is formed and then add to the recipe of choice.

To make Chia Fresca:
• 10 oz of water
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
• 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
• Honey, agave nectar or sugar (to taste)
 Combine ingredients and add the sweetener of choice to taste. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the seeds have absorbed the water.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Yes, you can maintain and build muscle mass as you age.

Sedentary individuals lose muscle mass as they age.  This is dangerous for the heart, bones and quality of life. It increases your risk of falling which increases morbity and mortality. 

However, we don't need to lose muscle mass as we get older. This can be prevented by resistance exercise.  Resistance exercise is weight training, yoga, pilates, Zumba, walking, running, hiking, or any activity that puts stress on the body.  Unfortunately bicycling and swimming are not weight bearing exercises, but they are great cardio exercises and can be incorporated into a person's activities.  Make the exercise something you enjoy. And bring a friend or family member with you for motivation and inspiration.  Here is an interesting article that gives more information on aging and muscle mass.

What exercise are you doing today?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tommorow is Pi Day

Tomorrow is Pi Day & my son's teacher asked the kids to bring in a treat that is related to Pi. I thought, what could he bring in that is round and healthy? apple slices, cucumber slices, vegetable pie. Nutritious but not a treat. How about a cookie? Throw in some dark chocolate chips, oatmeal & walnuts, & you have a tasty cookie with some healthfulness inside. Yum!

Here's a tasty chocolate chip, walnut, oatmeal cookie recipe:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fight chronic diseases with curcumin

Cook with tumeric tonight and take advantage of curcumin's anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidant properties that reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. How about curry vegetables with tofu?

Here is a link to a summary of a recent study that found that curcumin reduces the risk of cancer: Fight cancer with curcumin

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gain weight healthfully

The question of the day is "how can I gain weight healthfully?" I don't get this question often, but when I do, it needs to be taken seriously. The answer is usually not eat a pint of ice cream. Instead, we want to add healthy foods that are calorically and nutrient dense (meaning many calories and healthy nutrients). Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you eat 3 meals a day plus healthy snacks between meals.
  • Enjoy nuts and nut butters at meals and snacks. These contain good monounsaturated fats.
  • Add avocado to salads and sandwiches. This is another good monounsaturated fat.
  • Add olive oil to salads and use canola oil with cooking.
  • Add flaxseed to yogurt, cereal, salads, pasta and rice.
  • Add dried milk powder to foods for additional protein, calories and calcium.
  • Before bed, have a scoop of whey protein with water.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Happy Registered Dietitian Day

Here's a shout out to all my RD colleagues and friends.  Isn't it wonderful sharing healthy and fun eating and exercise?  Keep on fueling right and take your exercise to the next level.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

True or False: Fidgeting burns calories

True:  Have you ever noticed the person that can't sit still is usually at a healthy weight?  Studies have shown that fidgeting burns more calories than sitting still.  So take some cues from your fidgety friend, significant other, family member or co-worker: 
- Instead of sitting during a meeting, stand up.
- Don't sit still when talking on the phone.  Get up and walk around while chatting on the phone (the beauty of cordless phones).
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk up or down escalators.
- Get up from your chair every 15 minutes.
- Instead of calling or emailing your coworker, take a walk to his/her desk.
- When watching TV, get up during commercials. Better yet, exercise or stretch while watching TV.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

True or False: Your body burns more calories digesting ice cold beverages

• Your body burns more calories digesting ice cold beverages and foods (T/F)

True. But the amount of calories burned drinking ice cold beverages is very low. Don't expect to lose tons of weight by only drinking cold water.  A variety of studies have indicated that drinking five or six glasses of ice cold water could help you burn about 10 extra calories a day. What does this mean for your weight? That would equal about 1 pound of weight loss each year.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Delicious and Healthy Desserts: Baked Apples

Try this simple recipe for a tasty and healthy dessert:

■Core apples, skim around the top for wider opening.

■Add in each apple:

     ■1 tsp Orange Juice


■Place in microwave safe bowl with 1 tbsp of water. Cover with lid or saran wrap leaving it slightly open. Microwave on high 2 minutes, rotate dish, microwave 2 minutes more. (Microwave times may vary)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Cranberry and Urinary Tract Health

     Many of us have heard about the health benefits of cranberries and the urinary tract. But have you ever wondered how beneficial it actually is? Or whether it is just an old wives tale? A study published in the Molecular Nutrition Food Research Journal analyzed the effects cranberry juice cocktail has on urinary tract health and the results were a positive surprise.
     Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can affect both men and women and are one of the most common bacterial infections in adults today. The infection occurs when hostile bacteria contaminates the urinary tract. Typically, the bacterium attaches itself to the uroepithelial cells in the urinary tract via an adherence mechanism on the bacterial cell, known as fimbriae. 90% of acute UTIs are strains of the bacterium E.coli. Therefore, the researchers for this study used E.coli as the bacterial component.
     Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail (which contains 27% pure cranberry juice by weight) was the product chosen for this study. The researchers tested and observed the interaction of the E.coli strain and the uroepithelial cells in the presence of cranberry juice. What they found was that specific molecular compounds in cranberries known as proanthocyanidins (PACs) have anti-adhesive affects on uropathogens, such as E.coli. Under microscopic view, the fimbriae were not observed at all on the E.Coli strain when cranberry juice was present. Therefore, E.coli was not able to attach itself to the urinary tract wall and contaminate cells, leading to infection. These results display that the consumption of cranberries (even cranberry juice cocktail) can in fact reduce the risk of obtaining a UTI. It is important to be aware, however, that this does not mean cranberries can cure a preexisting infection. Once bacteria attaches itself to uroepithilial cells, cranberry compounds cannot remove it. Also, the study found that these anti-adhesive effects lasted approximately 10 hours after consumption of cranberry juice. Some people are more prone to UTIs than others. For those who are, it may be worth adding more cranberry, even cranberry juice cocktail, into your daily diet.

Camesano, T.A., Gallardo-Moreno A.M., Pinzon-Arango, P.A., & Liu, Y. (2010). Direct adhesion force measurements between E.coli and human uroepithelial cells in cranberry juice cocktail. Molecular Nutrition Food Research Journal. 54, 1-9.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another reason to eat blueberries

As science has proven, blueberries have considerable health benefits. Blueberries’ high antioxidant properties help prevent disease as well as assist in memory function.  On top of all this, a recent study has found yet another reason to praise the tiny berry. They may play a role in decreasing the risk of diabetes. Researches in Louisiana were curious to see if blueberries assisted in improving insulin sensitivity in a group of people at a high risk for diabetes. Insulin sensitivity is chosen because it’s a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

The study consisted of participants who were all obese and not diabetic. The participants were split into 2 groups. One group received a smoothie with blueberry powder to be consumed with breakfast and dinner. Another group received a smoothie identical in taste, smell, and color to also consume with breakfast and dinner, but without the blueberry powder. Participants were informed to abstain from any other berries, grapes, and wine throughout the study as this may alter the outcome.

At the completion of the study, participants’ blood glucose levels and their sensitivity to insulin were tested. After the evaluation, the researchers found that 67% of the participants in the blueberry group had a 10% or greater improvement in their insulin sensitivity, compared to only 41% in the control, “non-blueberry” group. This is exciting news especially since blueberries are such a versatile fruit. They taste great in breads, on top of cereals, in smoothies and are just as delicious when eaten alone. Whether you are at risk for diabetes or not, here is another reason why adding blueberries to your healthy eating plan can have a positive effect on overall health.

Cash, K.C., Cefalu, W.T., Champagne, C.M., Johnson, W.D., & Stull, A.J (2010). Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition: Nutrition and Disease, 1764-1768.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Myth #8: Acai berries can help you lose weight.

• Grown in the Amazon River basin in Brazil, acai is a deep purple berry that tastes like a combination of wild berries and chocolate.

• Some web sites selling acai products claim that acai's fiber and essential fatty acid content help it burn fat more efficiently, process food more quickly, cut down on cravings, and boost metabolism.


• Companies can make these claims because over-the-counter supplements are not closely regulated, so manufacturers can over-sell the health benefits of their products.

• The acai berry does have antioxidants, but so do many other fruits, including blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries.

• Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules in the body called free radicals, and may possibly help against diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

• When it comes to weight loss, there is not enough research to state that acai berries can help.

• No single food has the key to weight loss. To lose weight, you need to control calories with a healthy lifestyle approach that includes plenty of physical activity, nutritious foods, and adequate rest.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Myth #7: Certain foods can burn fat

• Many people believe that certain foods like grapefruit or cabbage soup will help you burn fat.


• No specific food makes you burn fat.

• If you want to lose fat, you have to give your body less calories than it needs, ideally about 500 calories below maintenance level each day. If your body needs 2500 calories each day to stay at your current weight, you will lose weight by eating 2000 calories per day.

• The other option to lose weight would be to exercise so that you are burning extra calories.  A minimum of thirty minutes, five times a week is recommended. Ideally, one should exercise sixty minutes, five times a week for weight loss.  Remember, you don't need to do all that exercise at one time (see Myth #6).

• For optimal fat burning, weight loss and wellness, enjoy both exercise and healthy eating.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Myth #6: You need to exercise 30 minutes at a time for the full benefit.


• Physical activity does not need to be vigorous. Moderate-intensity activity can produce health benefits.

• Adults should engage in physical activities for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week.

• Research has shown that the activity does not need to be done all at one time.

• The recommended 30 minutes can be split into 2 - 15 minute intervals or even 3 - 10 minute intervals and will provide the same benefits.

• Regular physical activity can be fun - join a sport, go dancing, take a brisk walk with a friend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a new year for wellness

2010 ended with snow and it looks like we are headed into more snow.  Snow can be disruptive.  It is more difficult getting around.  There are cancellations in business and school.  However, fresh snow can be exciting.  First, you may need to shovel the driveway. Be careful!!!  If you need to shovel, breath. Don't hold your breath while shoveling! When one holds their breath while lifting, it is called the Valsalva Maneuver.  This will increase your blood pressure, cause dizziness, fainting, decreased blood flow to the heart, and even stroke.  If you have heart disease, high blood pressue, had a stroke in the past, live a sedentary life, or smoke, hire someone to shovel for you. If you plan on shoveling as I did in December, dress warmly in layers, warm up your muscles beforehand, bend your knees to lift (not from your back), go slowly and take breaks.  If you feel any pain, stop. 

Once you can get out of your house or apartment, it is time to enjoy the snow. Go for a walk, cross country ski, go sledding. Enjoy the peacefulness of the fresh white powder.

A foot of snow is expected for tomorrow in New York City.  If that happens, I am ready to cross country ski in Central Park.  I hope to see you there.