Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Vegetarian Grilling

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics vegetarians have a lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and certain types of cancers including colorectal, ovarian, and breast.

Vegetarians are people who primarily eat fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. Vegans exclude all animal products from their diet including dairy products, eggs, and honey. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but avoid meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy and eggs but avoid meat, poultry, and fish. The lacto-ovo’s make up the majority of vegetarians in the United States.

People choose to be vegetarians for many reasons including economical, environmental, personal health, spiritual beliefs, and compassion for animals. A well balanced vegetarian diet can be sufficient in all essential nutrients including protein, but careful planning is  important; after all many processed foods such as chips and French fries are vegetarian but not healthy choices. Clean eating by targeting minimally processed wholesome foods   provide the essential nutrients the body needs for optimal health.

Top sources of vegetarian protein include beans, lentils, tofu, edamame, tempeh, hemp, seitan, nuts, seeds, eggs, low fat dairy products, textured vegetable protein, soy products, and whole grains. Numerous vegetarian protein powders are also an option, the most prevalent contain soy, brown rice, pea, hemp, whey, or seeds.

Summer grilling is most often associated with burgers and hot dogs, but vegetarians can enjoy so much more when grilling outside. Using the grill brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and seals in moisture for tender texture. Grilled vegetables do not develop dangerous carcinogens that meat does when cooked over high temperature, such as Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Vegetables are also high in fiber, rich in nutrients, low in calories, and provide antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body.

Whether you are a vegetarian or not we can all benefit from eating meatless meals during the week. Consider the delicious summer recipe below and consider adding a meatless Monday to your families routine to help increase the vegetables in your diet.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How Accurate Is Your Fitness Tracker?

A new study from Stanford University published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine evaluated the accuracy of seven fitness trackers on the market: Apple Watch, Fitbit Surge, Samsung Gear S2, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, Basis Peak, and PulseOn.

60 healthy participants wore the wrist watches or bands while sitting, walking, running, and biking while also having continuous cardiac monitoring and indirect calorimetry to measure metabolic rate. Results showed fairly accurate measurements of heart rate, on average within 5% of the gold standard 12-lead ECG. Apple Watch had the greatest accuracy with an average error of 2.0% and Samsung Gear S2 had the lowest accuracy with an average error of 6.8% from the gold standard.

Unfortunately none of the devices accurately measured calorie expenditure. The most accurate device, Fitbit Surge, was off by 27% on average, and the least accurate device, PulseOn, was off by 93% on average. Researches caution use of fitness trackers for assessing calorie expenditure and encourage greater transparency from companies to validate data.

Wearable technology, such as fitness trackers, do a great job motivating people to get moving, stay mindful of their goals, and foster healthier habits throughout the day. This study highlights the benefit fitness trackers have on measuring heart rate within a generally acceptable range of error. Unfortunately there are some limitations and fitness trackers should not be relied on for accurate calorie expenditure at this time.

If you have been tracking exercise on your fitness device and considering that…cheeseburger/glass of wine/ice cream treat at the end of the day you might want to reconsider. While everything in moderation is good...if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Probiotics For Depression

In our country depression is the most prevalent mental health condition. 80% of people do not receive treatment, and those that do face major side effects with medications. Could a change in diet alleviate symptoms for millions of sufferers? Scientists are optimistic it can happen with probiotics.

Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found a direct link between mental health and gut microbiome when they fed mice Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria found in yogurt resulting in a reversal of depression symptoms.

Scientists found when mice were stressed their gut microbiome changed and they lost Lactobacillus bacteria which then was  followed by depression symptoms. Feeding mice Lactobacillus bacteria with their food reversed their depression symptoms.

Lactobacillus bacteria in the gut also impacted the level of a  metabolite called kynurenine in the blood, which other studies have shown impact depression. 

The team of scientists plan to apply their findings on humans to study how the microbiome and probiotics could alter depression.  People with depression should not stop taking medications  without consulting their physicians, but including yogurt daily could be beneficial.

Yogurt begins with Lactobacillus cultures, but some products are heat treated which kills the good bacteria. The National Yogurt Association has a Active Cultures Seal on products that contain at least 100 million live and active cultures per gram. Look for the seal to ensure sufficient quantities of probiotics are in the yogurt you are eating.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Red Meat Risk

New research published in the BMJ looked at the association  between different types of meat intake and disease risk. Over the course of 16 years the diet and health of 536,000 men and women aged 50-71 was tracked.

The study compared total meat intake of processed red meat (bacon, sausage, etc.), unprocessed red meat (beef, pork, lamb), white meat (poultry, fish, seafood), heme iron (type of iron found in animal protein), and nitrate/nitrite consumption (additive in processed meats such as bacon and sausage.)
Results showed 26% increased risk of death from 9 different diseases (heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, infections, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and liver disease) in the group who ate the most red meat and processed red meat.
High intake of heme iron and nitrate/nitrites from processed meat was also associated with an increased risk in death, although researchers found a stronger tie with nitrate/nitrite consumption than from heme iron consumption.
Interestingly higher white meat intake resulted in a 25% reduced risk of death from diseases.
Many organizations such as the American Heart Association recommend limiting intake of red meat, especially processed red meat, to promote greater health. The Mediterranean Diet which as been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer recommend limiting red meat to about once or twice per month.
If you are a red meat lover consider eating it less often, reducing your portion size, and selecting leaner cuts such as  bison, lean pork loin, 95% ground beef, eye round roast, and top sirloin steak.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Serves: 4

295 calories per serving



4 Portobello mushroom caps                         

2 tbs balsamic vinegar                       

1 tbs low sodium soy sauce              

1 tbs olive oil                                  

1 tbs chopped rosemary                                   

1 1/2 tsp steak seasoning                

4 red onion slices  

4 thin slices of reduce fat Swiss cheese

 4 tomato slices

1/2 avocado, sliced thin
2 handfuls of baby spinach
4 whole wheat low calorie buns

Directions: Whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, oil, rosemary, and steak seasoning. Toss with mushroom caps and let stand 30 minutes to marinate. Grill mushroom caps over medium heat for 5-7 minutes each side until tender; brush with marinade frequently. Grill onions for 1 minute each side and grill buns until toasted if desired. Top each mushroom cap with cheese during the last minute of cooking. To assemble place one mushroom cap on each bun and top with onion, tomato, spinach, and sliced avocado.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Beat the Common Cold with Zinc Lozenges

A new study from the University of Helsinki in Finland found promising benefits of zinc lozenges reducing length of colds.

A meta-analysis of three randomized controlled   trials on zinc acetate lozenges found 70% of patients had recovered from colds by the fifth day; three times faster than control groups.

The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11mg/day for men and 8mg/day for women. In the three studies 80-92mg/day of zinc was given, and while long-term zinc supplementation is not recommended none of the three analyzed studies observed negative side effects. Authors concluded it seems highly unlikely that 80-92mg/day of zinc for one to two weeks starting at the onset of cold symptoms might lead to long-term adverse effects.

Many zinc lozenges on the market have little zinc contents or they contain citric acid or other substances that bind to zinc and prevent absorption. It is best to compare labels to find the best options available.

Foods naturally rich in zinc include oysters, pumpkin seeds, lentils, sesame seeds, garbanzo beans, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, cashews, quinoa, turkey, and shrimp.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Therapeutic Benefit of Massage

More than just pampering, scientific research has concluded massage is an effective treatment for chronic lower back pain. In the first study of its kind researchers analyzed data from primary care physicians who referred patients with chronic lower back pain for 10 massage sessions with licensed massage therapists in their community.

Over half of study participants had clinically significant improvements in their lower back pain. The best results were seen in patients over 49 years of age.

Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. With 31 million Americans experiencing lower back pain on a daily basis, massage could provide therapeutic relief while reducing disability and absenteeism from work.

Some studies have also found massage to be therapeutic for treating fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, GI disorders, insomnia, joint pain, sports injuries, and headaches. Some research has even shown temporary reduction in blood pressure and heart rate after treatment.

Various types of massage provide different benefit, for example Swedish massage uses gentle kneading and long strokes to move muscles and tendons for relaxation, while trigger point massage uses deep pressure to reach tight muscles after injury.

While massage is beneficial and safe for most people, some people should discuss treatment with their doctor first. This includes people with bleeding disorders or taking blood-thinning medication, DVT, fractures, osteoporosis, thrombocytopenia, or injury to skin such as burns or wounds. Look for licensed massage therapists to ensure proper training and safety.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Are You Hangry?

Have you ever snapped at someone, then realized you are probably just hungry? Hangry describes the feelings of anger or irritability as a result of hunger. While hunger is a natural instinct, some people have stronger reactions than others when it comes time for a meal.

Glucose is the main source of fuel for your brain and central nervous system. After a meal blood glucose levels rise and then start to fall. Hormones such as ghrelin play a role in producing a feeling of satiation after eating. As time passes ghrelin decreases and you start to feel hungry again. If you wait too long between meals your blood glucose will fall too low and you will start to feel changes in your mood and mental function.

Serotonin, the feel good chemical, can also decrease when you are hungry which could contribute to feelings of irritability and anger. Sleeping less than 7 hours each night can impact the hormones that regulate appetite and hunger, making hunger more difficult to manage. Sleep deprivation can also impact someone's mood.

Waiting too long to eat and feeling hangry often leads to picking the wrong foods out of desperation. It might also lead to binge eating. Blood sugar spikes after eating too many refined carbs and junk food causing a rollercoaster of blood glucose throughout the day.

The best way to prevent feeling hangry is to plan 4-5 small well-balanced meals/snacks throughout the day. Carry healthy portable options when you are on the go. Don’t skip meals or crash diet. Pair fiber with protein to keep you satisfied longer.

Some healthy snack ideas are:

  • 100 calorie pack of almonds and 1 piece of fruit
  • KIND bar, Balance bar, Kashi granola bar, Simple Protein bar
  • 1/4 cup hummus with baby carrots
  • 1 low fat string cheese and 1 pear
  • 1 brown rice cake with 1 tbs natural peanut butter