Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Don't Recommend You Go PALEO

If you pay any attention to diet fads, then you know that the Paleo Diet is totally hot right now.  The Paleo Diet, or “Caveman Diet”, is based upon eating whole foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten during the Paleolithic era. The diet encourages eating meats (preferably grass fed), fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and “healthy” oils. The diet does not include any dairy, grains, legumes, and refined sugars.
          The Paleo Diet definitely has some great qualities, especially since it encourages the consumption of real, natural, whole foods, and lots of fruits and veggies. However, my biggest problem with it is the part that discounts the importance of dairy, grains, and legumes in the diet. Through this diet, it would be incredibly difficult for any person to get in enough calcium, and they would be missing out on the fibers, phytonutrients, and antioxidants found in grains and legumes that have shown to be incredibly important for disease prevention and weight management. Beans and whole grains are especially important for regulating blood sugar and lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Another aspect of the Paleo diet I am not so keen on is the encouraged meat consumption. The most recent dietary guidelines emphasize the importance of a mostly plant based diet (and plant based proteins like beans), for optimal nutrition. The USDA recommends three cups of beans each week since they are a great way to get in plant based protein, various types of fibers, and nutrients like iron and potassium. The USDA also encourages incorporating other plant-based proteins like nuts and seeds as well as fish and shellfish. There are countless studies showing that people who eat the most red meat are at an increased risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stomach ulcers, and a whole array of other conditions. All the major health organizations (WHO, AHA, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), still encourage everyone to limit their intake of saturated fat, whether that comes from lard, grass fed beef, or coconut oil. The Paleo Diet says these saturated fats are fine, which is not consistent with what the experts recommend.
In a recent article in the Washington Post that I blogged about below (Paleo Diet Article Blog) an evolutionary biologist explains that the Paleo diet is flawed. He explains that we don’t really know what the cavemen actually ate since it was so long ago and the diets varied depending on which part of the world they lived in. Humans are able to adapt to their environment, just like some humans began to digest lactose where cow’s milk was prevalent. By developing the lactase enzyme to break down lactose, certain populations gained access to a high quality protein and tons of vitamins and minerals like calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium. The evolutionary biologist also makes the point that what you are buying the supermarket, whether it is fish, fruits, or grass fed beef, is incredibly different than it was 10,000-100,000 years ago. Just as genes in humans change, genes in agricultural products change. So, in today’s world it is impossible to eat just like the cavemen did no matter how hard you try.

MY RECOMMENDATION: Most people find they will lose weight on any diet. You may lose weight on the Paleo diet if you currently over-consume ice cream and snack foods and decide to cut them out. But, as most people know, the vast majority of people gain the weight back (plus some!) after any restrictive diet. If you tell yourself that any food or food group is off limits, you will most likely fail. Stick to the foods you know are healthy, and still don’t eat too much of them. The other reason you will most likely lose weight on the Paleo Diet is because diet encourages consuming more fruits and vegetables than most people are used to. I really like this aspect of the diet. For all of my clients, I have them eat more fruit and a ton of vegetables- the more veggies the better. Vegetables and fruits are low-energy density foods, filling, and contain lots of fiber, so they are fantastic for weight loss. However, you don't need to follow a "diet" to get these results! Choose mostly non-starchy vegetables, fresh fruits, non-fat or low-fat dairy, whole grains, and nuts, seeds, beans, seafood, and lean cuts of meat (in limited amounts). Try to limit the amount of processed foods in your diet- cook the grains yourself, eat fruit instead of juices, and cook a fresh turkey instead of buying lunch meat. I assure you that you won’t get fat from eating the proper serving sizes (appropriate for YOUR body) of barley, low-fat plain yogurt, and lentils. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington,                
DC: U.S. Government Printing Ofice, December 2010.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Post on Cancer & Diet by David Haas

Below is a guest blog post from David Haas who has a special interest in healthy eating for those battling cancer. For any questions regarding the post, please contact David directly at: david.d.haas22@gmail.com.

Nutrition and Cancer: Eating Well with Eating Challenges

From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation, cancer treatments are harsh and aggressive. They are designed to kill hostile cancer cells. In the process, they also damage healthy cells. This produces unpleasant side effects that can cause eating problems.

Good nutrition is extremely important for cancer patients, whether they are facing a mesothelioma diagnosis or breast cancer surgery. Cancer nutrition looks different than traditional healthy eating, though. People with cancer have different dietary needs, and their meals contain other than normal, healthy foods.

For most people, healthy eating means fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and limited meat, dairy, fats, sugars and salt. People with cancer eat to keep up their strength. It is the only way to deal treatment symptoms. However, since this includes eating problems, good nutrition is challenging for most cancer patients.

Common Eating Problems During Cancer Treatment

Appetite loss is a common problem during cancer treatment. Nausea is another common side effect. They make it nearly impossible to eat enough food to stay healthy. Vomiting and diarrhea complicate things because they cause dehydration.

Some cancer treatments cause dry mouth, sore mouth, sore throat and swallowing problems. This can make it hard to eat certain types of food. Most patients are also concerned with weight maintenance since treatments can cause severe weight loss or gain.

Common Nutritional Needs During Cancer Treatment

Cancer patients require extra calories and protein. This applies to people with breast cancer, mesothelioma symptoms and other complications. They may need to add more eggs, milk and cheese to their diets. Unfortunately, lactose intolerance is a common treatment symptoms, so dairy foods are not always advisable.

People with mouth and throat problems often benefit from gravies, sauces and other soft, wet foods. Those who struggle with diarrhea may need to exchange their fiber-rich foods for low-fiber alternatives. Dietitians and nutritionists can help cancer patients make appropriate changes to their diets.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutritional Supplements

Some cancer patients may require supplementation to get the nutrients they need for good health. Taking vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements are a common practice in holistic medicine. No studies prove that these products prevent, cure or treat cancer. However, they may be good complementary therapy for some patients.

Herbs and nutritional supplements may interact with cancer drugs and prescription medications. In some cases, they may actually change the way certain cancer treatments work. Therefore, they should only be used under doctor supervision.  


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paleo Diet Article from the Washington Post

I am not an advocate of the Paleo Diet specifically because it cuts out grains and dairy and emphasizes lots of animal protein. However, I do like the nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies part! Whole grains are incredibly important for disease prevention and for those looking to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Non-fat and low-fat dairy are excellent ways to get in high quality protein, calcium, vitamins A & D, phosphorus, calcium, and riboflavin. Cultured dairy is also fantastic for gut health and building up those probiotics ;-)

Here is a good article on the Paleo Diet I was sent today from the Washington Post with the opinion of an Evolutionary Biologist: The paleo diet isn’t necessarily ideal, an evolutionary biologist says

Friday, April 19, 2013

Food Recommendation of the Week: Try Nutritional Yeast Flakes!

Picture Source: http://creativebioscience.com/blog/healthy-flavorful-cheese-substitutes-and-alternatives/

It may not sound too appetizing, but nutritional yeast is actually a quite flavorful and super nutritious “seasoning.” For vegans, nutritional yeast is really the only source of Vitamin B 12 since that vitamin is typically only found in animal products (yeast is a fungi). This yeast tastes kind of cheesy and salty, so it acts as a great seasoning to flavor pasta dishes, eggs, even popcorn! If you Google nutritional yeast, I guarantee lots of faux-cheese and macaroni and “cheese” dishes will come up.

Why do I love it? I love the stuff because it is a great way to cut sodium out of your diet, by using this to flavor food instead of salt and/or cheese. It is also LOADED with B vitamins, so no need to take that supplement- just add a tbsp of this stuff to your diet! It is also a very dense form of fiber (4 g) and protein (8g) per 2 tbsp serving. This stuff is definitely a super food that everyone should try.

Nutrition info: Serving size= 2 heaping tablespoons
60 calories, 1 g fat, 5 mg sodium, 7 g carb (4 g fiber!), 8 g protein, 4 % DV iron, 640% DV Thiamin, 565% DV Riboflavin, 480% DV Vit B6, 60% DV Folate, 133% Dv Vit B12, and a good source of phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and biotin. Source: http://www.bulkfoods.com/nutritional_yeast.htm

My recommendations: Purchase nutritional yeast in the bulk bins at Whole Foods- that is where you will find the cheapest version. You can also buy it packaged or online, but it will be more expensive. In bulk, it is very cheap and you don’t need to use much to get major health benefits. So, I recommend on your next shopping trip to pick up a little baggy of this stuff and try it on something that you might normally sprinkle parmesan cheese on.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The FIRST ingredient should start with “Whole” when it comes to grains!

Food manufacturers are really good at tricking the public into thinking that the food they are eating is healthy, especially when it comes to grains. In particular, snack manufactures trick those people trying to make health conscious decisions by calling products “multigrain” or even “whole grain” crackers or chips, when they are not even close! For example, Stacy’s Multigrain Pita Chips, “Whole Grain” Ritz Crackers, and Lance Whole Grain Peanut Butter crackers all have “Enriched Wheat Flour” (i.e: white, refined flour) as their FIRST ingredient. Rye is technically a whole grain, but good luck finding a whole grain rye bread at the supermarket. Every sliced rye bread I have found on store shelves has “enriched wheat flour” as the first ingredient. The only true rye bread I have found at a grocery store is the Mestemacher brick of a bread loaf. 

Whole grains are incredibly important to health because of their antioxidant, phytonutrient, fiber, and vitamin and mineral makeup. Whole grains are essential to expedite weight loss and for people looking to maintain weight loss. Eating refined grains won’t do you any good, so do your best to make it a habit to look at the ingredients when purchasing products. Don’t fall into the marketing tricks!

My recommendation: Try new grains! Get more adventurous than just whole wheat flour, whole grain corn, brown rice, and wild rice- though they are all very nutritious. Try quinoa, farro, oats, barley, bulgur, spelt, teff, amaranth, millet, etc- many of which are found in the bulk bins at Whole Foods! I also recommend making your own bread. It really isn't that difficult to do. Try making your own homemade roti, which requires no yeast and can be made in a matter of minutes. Whole Wheat Beer Bread is also a crowd pleaser, and very easy to make (I recommend using ALL whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour). Becoming more domestic will make you a healthier, richer person!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Make Vinegar Your Favorite Condiment!


         Last year I went to an oil and vinegar tasting in Napa Valley that changed my life. Who knew that vinegar is good on its own? There is no need to add oil or anything else if you have a high-quality, well-aged vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is made from white grapes that are boiled down to concentrate the sugars then fermented in wooden casks, similar to whisky or wine. Typically, the longer the aging process, the sweeter the vinegar.
        You should look for vinegar where the only ingredient is vinegar. Many cheaper varieties add some form of sugar through fruit concentrates and/or caramel coloring. 1 tbsp of vinegar has anywhere from 0-25 calories/tbsp… the more concentrated the sugar, the more calories it will have. However, the sweeter the vinegar, the better it tastes, and the less you need.
        My Recommendations: Try finding balsamic vinegar that is aged at least 20 years and attempt to use that on salads without oil (you can use avocado to get in your healthy fats & creaminess!). Aged balsamic is more expensive, but it is definitely worth it for the fabulous flavor it brings to food. Add balsamic to eggs, salads, pasta, whatever needs more flavor! Doing this is a great way to add flavor to food without adding fat, salt, or artificial ingredients. You can also experiment with other types of vinegars such as white balsamic, apple-cider, orange-muscat and more! I do not recommend experimenting with vinegar if you have issues with reflux or IBS, as vinegar (acid) will just irritate those conditions.