Healthful Herbs and Spices
Many of us have eaten a variety of herbs and spices throughout our life without much thought about it. What you may not know is that in addition to adding flavor and making our food more interesting, some healthful herbs and spices have a number of health benefits. In fact, some of your favorite spices that you enjoy on a daily basis may be helping to fight illness, boost energy, and add years to your life!
Ginger has been used for centuries for its perceived medical benefits. It has shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory impact on the body, largely due compounds called gingerols. Individuals that struggle with rheumatoid arthritis have experienced a reduction in related pain when including ginger into their routine. In addition, ginger may have a positive impact on gastrointestinal distress and can help relieve symptoms associated with nausea. A simple and delicious way to enjoy fresh ginger is to make tea with it. Just place a small amount in a cup, pour boiling water over, and let steep for 4-5 minutes.
Garlic is used in numerous cuisines around the world and is something that almost everyone has tried at some point in their life. In fact, there is evidence that Ancient Egyptians cultivated garlic as far back as 5,000 years ago. When eaten regularly, it can have a dramatic impact on the cardiovascular system. The “stinking rose” as it is sometimes referred to helps to protect blood vessels and blood cells from oxidative and inflammatory stress. This can assist in reducing chances of atherosclerosis and heart attack. Fresh garlic can be enjoyed in a countless number of ways to add depth of flavor. It is the perfect addition to marinades, salad dressings, soups, and stews.
Cinnamon has a host of health benefits when eaten regularly, in large part due to a compound called cinnamaldehyde. This compound is also responsible for giving cinnamon its distinct flavor and aroma. Some research has shown cinnamon to have a positive impact on insulin resistance and may have an anti-diabetic effect when enjoyed consistently. It is able to help decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal by interfering with several digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates. Cinnamon is easy to include in your routine and makes a delicious tea when combined with ginger. Sprinkle some on sweet potatoes and roast in the oven for an incredible treat!
Turmeric has a distinct flavor and color and is used by a variety of different cultures in a number of different recipes. It contains a compound called curcumin that has been proven to contain powerful anti-cancer properties. In particular, it has been studied for its impact on cancers of the digestive tract. In addition, it is useful in the fight against Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Turmeric can be enjoyed in a variety of ways including salad dressings, tea, and other ethnic dishes.
Healthful herbs and spices not only provide delicious flavor to our meals and snacks, but also a host of health benefits. The inclusion of spices in cooking can also help to reduce the need for added salt or sugar. Find your favorite herbs and spices and include them regularly!Read more
Public Health Private Profits One Day Conference April 1, 2017
The Los Angeles District (LAD) of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics presents our first annual conference on April 1, 2017 at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The conference is titled “Public Health and Private Profits: A Dialogue about Critical Topics Shaping the Future of the Dietetic Profession”
We are beyond excited to host this event to discuss issues which we feel are of paramount importance to our profession, and are not being adequately addressed at the state and national conferences.
The event is approved for 5.5 CPEs for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
Learning Codes Covered:
Topics which will be discussed include:
Michele Simon, JD, MPH “Avoiding Conflicts of Interest When Working in the Public’s Interest”
Bonnie Y. Modugno, MS, RDN, CLE “Selling my Time, not my Integrity”
Andy Bellatti, MS, RDN “Public-Private Partnerships: A Political Slippery Slope”
Amanda Maxham, PhD “Why GMOs are a Good Thing”
Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RDN “GMOs: What Dietitians Need to Know”
Peter Pressman, MD “Food Addiction: Clinical Reality or Mythology”
David A. Wiss, MS, RDN “Food Addiction: What Dietitians Need to Know”
Register for the Conference HERE
Conference Website HERE
Health Benefits of Berries
When it comes to fruit, berries may just pack the largest nutritional punch. Not only do they come in a wide variety of delicious flavors, but they also have a enormous assortment of health benefits. So the question is, just how many different berries are you including in your routine regularly? The health benefits of berries cannot be understated.
Quite often, people associate oranges with vitamin C. While oranges are a wonderful source of this vitamin, did you know that strawberries contain a higher amount per weight? Vitamin C is critical to many of our body’s functions, including producing serotonin. This neurotransmitter plays an important role in the health of our nervous system, digestive system, and immune system.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps to block some of the damage that is caused by free radicals in the body. The buildup of these substances over time contributes to accelerated aging and conditions such as heart disease and cancer. It is one of the water soluble vitamins, which means the body does not keep it stored. Without a large amount in storage, it is important to continually supply the body with this important vitamin.
Behind strawberries, blueberries are the second most popular berry in the United States. In terms of their nutritional benefits, they are certainly close to the top. These tasty berries are high in vitamin K, which is best known for its important role in blood clotting.
In addition to blood clotting, this important vitamin is also vital for bone health. In fact, individuals that are vitamin K deficient have been shown to have a higher risk of bone fracture. People that have higher levels of vitamin K in their bodies have greater bone density, and some studies have shown that osteoarthritis is associated with low vitamin K levels in the body.
Blueberries are easy to enjoy in a variety of ways. They are a perfect topping for yogurt and kefir or are the perfect addition to any smoothie. Throw some on top of a salad with balsamic vinegar and you have a real treat!
Raspberries are delicious and packed with a large amount of healthful compounds called phytonutrients. These naturally occurring chemicals are found in plants and perform a variety of functions including protecting them from harmful UV radiation and insect attack. In short, the same compounds that help to keep plants alive help to keep you alive and healthy as well!
Some of the phytonutrients and antioxidants in raspberries may have anti-cancer benefits. In animal research, the compounds found in these berries have been shown to have a positive impact on cervical, breast, and prostate cancers. In an almost science fiction-like finding, it is thought that raspberry nutrients may decrease cancer cell numbers by sending signals that tell these types of cells to begin the process of apoptosis, or programmed death. This is exciting news in the fight against cancer.
What Are You Waiting For?
The truth is, you should be eating more berries than you probably are. The health benefits seem almost endless, and with almost no down side, they should be a staple of your food plan. When it comes to these powerful foods, there is quite a wide variety of taste and texture to choose from. Try as many different kinds as you can and find a favorite. Your body and mind will thank you for adding the health benefits of berries.Read more
Foods For Brain Health
The human brain is the central command center for our nervous system. It contains close to 90 billion nerve cells and communicates with all of the organs and muscles in the body. Our brains are the most complicated part of our bodies and are responsible for language, learning, memory, emotions and social interactions. It is easy for us all to agree that brain health is incredibly important, and without it we don’t have much else!
With that being said, the health of this critical organ is closely related to our lifestyle choices, environment, and the foods that we choose to eat or avoid. This is exciting news, because it means that we can all be proactive in improving our brain health. So just what should you include in your diet to boost your brainpower?
Whether you are interested in biochemistry or not, chances are that you have heard the term omega-3 used in relation to food. This type of dietary fat has received an enormous amount of attention in recent years, and rightfully so. Omega-3 fats have a host of benefits including lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and improved blood vessel function, but can also have a healthful impact on the brain.
In a recent study, researchers found that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may improve the function of the glymphatic system. This system is responsible for clearing waste from the brain and this could help to reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are a variety of plant and animal sources of omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, and chia seeds are all great plant sources of this healthful fat. If you are looking for animals that are high in omega-3, seafood such as salmon, sardines, and tuna are all wonderful choices.
Blueberries have been known to be hugely beneficial to our health for years, but recent research is also pointing to their ability to positively impact brain health. These delicious berries are high in antioxidant nutrients and may help to protect nerve cells that have a high risk of oxidative damage.
A recent study of blueberries showed individuals improve their memory as well as cognitive function and access to concepts and words. Using an fMRI, researchers were able to see an increase in brain activity in a group that included blueberries in their diet. Blueberries may also help memory in the short term, and can assist in a person’s ability to concentrate. Just a small amount of these or other flavonoid containing berries can make all the difference!
Leafy green vegetables have a wide range of health benefits, but new evidence shows that these types of plants may help with brain function as well. The vitamin K found in spinach and other greens can help you to be more mentally sharp and may help slow the process of age-associated cognitive decline. This is great news, because it offers us a way to potentially protect our brains from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you don’t like spinach, don’t worry! Kale, collard greens, and mustard greens are high in this beneficial vitamin.
Boost Your Brain Power
There are no foods that are a cure all for brain conditions or that can singlehandedly protect the brain from damage. The best thing that you can do to be proactive about your health is to eat a wide range of foods that contain the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function properly. Including foods that are high in omega-3 fats, are antioxidant rich, unprocessed, and closest to their natural state is an excellent place to start!
Health Benefits of Seeds
If you are looking to add some quick and easy items to your routine that pack a supercharged nutritional punch, head to the bulk bin or seed section at your local grocery store. There are a number of healthful seeds readily available, and there are a variety of ways to enjoy them. So which types should you be looking for, and how should you include them? Let’s find out!
In terms of nutrition, flaxseeds are one of the best types of seeds that you can include. They are relatively high in omega-3 essential fatty acids. These healthful fats have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and can help to lower the risk of cancer, arthritis, and even heart disease. Omega-3 fats are also associated with brain health, and may even help to fight against anxiety and depression.
You can purchase flaxseeds in several different forms including whole, ground, or as oil. One important note when adding these to your routine, is that our bodies cannot digest whole flaxseeds completely. While no harm will come to you if you are to consume them whole, your body will not be able to extract all of the nutrients. This makes them an excellent choice to use in smoothies. Flaxseed oil is also a great choice, and is perfect for salad dressings.
Chia seeds have been growing in popularity over the last several years, and for good reason. These power packed seeds are loaded with a variety of minerals including calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, which are extremely important for strong bones and teeth. One serving of chia has close to 20% of the recommended daily intake for magnesium, which is necessary for preventing osteoporosis.
Chia seeds are also a wonderful source of protein. The combination of a high percentage of protein and fiber make these an excellent snack to help you feel full. This can help to reduce food cravings and the desire to snack on less strategic items throughout the day. Soak chia seeds in water for 30 minutes and sip slowly throughout the day.
When most people think of calcium, sesame seeds may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but maybe they should be! These tiny seeds are a great source of this vital nutrient, as well as many others. For the largest calcium kick, make sure to enjoy unhulled sesame seeds. When the hull is removed, it may also remove a large portion of the calcium.
Are you one of the many people that enjoy hummus? If you are, you may not have even known that you have been eating sesame seeds in some of the recipes. Tahini, a crucial ingredient used in making hummus is actually just ground sesame. These tasty seeds are also delicious as part or a stir-fry or anywhere you want a little extra crunch!
Pomegranates may be intimidating, but they are so worth it! The seeds that are waiting inside are not only delicious, but also packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Pomegranate seeds are a perfect snack by themselves or great sprinkled on top of a salad. If you haven’t tried these before, treat yourself!
There are a variety of seeds available with a wide range of flavors and uses. Find a way to fit more of these into your routine and start reaping the health benefits!
The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) is the largest nutrition conference of the year. This year FNCE 2016 was in Boston October 15-18. View the sessions from 2016 HERE and the exhibitors HERE. Mr. David Wiss attended this year, presenting his poster “Hands-on Nutrition and Culinary Intervention Within a Substance Use Disorder Residential Treatment Facility” with Kristie Moore MS RDN.
David also attended FNCE 2016 to carry out an important mission spurred by Dietitians for Professional Integrity, which is to elevate the public perception of the dietitian credential by severing ties with problematic food companies. Mr. Wiss wrote an important guide for fellow attendees HERE.This document highlights five 2016 FNCE sessions with conflicts of interest that concern us, particularly in regards to speakers who have industry ties that directly relate to the topics they are speaking about.
Mr. Wiss generated a report after the conference, stating: “We recommend a vetting process to ensure that the companies and trade groups at the expo hall are appropriate for a nutrition conference. Some may argue that the presence of purveyors of highly processed foods is necessary so dietitians can be aware of products our clients may come across. However, we can easily remain aware of that by visiting company websites or simply perusing the aisles of local grocery stores. At least that way we are not learning about a new product via a company rep that has been given talking points to specifically market the product.” Read the full recap HERE.
While at FNCE, Mr. David Wiss was interviewed by a member of the Associated Press who published an important article: Do Candy and Soda Makers Belong at a Dietitian Conference? Mr. Wiss states that conflict of interest has “been an important topic in the pharmaceutical world, and now it’s becoming a much more important topic in the nutrition world.” Other articles reporting on the conference discussed close ties between nutritionists and the food industry, and how many nutritionists want to sever those ties.
FNCE 2016 was a lot of fun! We networked, attended some great sessions, and continued to advocate for a future that is not riddled with industry influence. We are thrilled with the progress made in the last three years.
It is encouraging to see incremental changes at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference.
We have also identified the following areas for improvement:
1. Discontinue CPEs for industry-sponsored educational sessions
2. Implement a vetting process for expo hall exhibitors that examines companies not just by the products they sell, but also by their political actions (i.e.: what do they lobby for/against?)
3. Acknowledge well-researched and thoroughly documented issues surrounding bias and influence so we can address them cohesively as a profession.
Supplements vs. Real Food
It comes as no surprise that we all need vitamins for our bodies to function properly and to live a healthful life. A booming supplement industry has each vitamin, mineral, and amino acid neatly packaged up and ready to sell you. So, is there any difference in the vitamin C pill that you can take with a glass of water or the vitamin C that you would find in a fresh orange? This is important to know as you make decisions for yourself and for your family. It is important to distinguish between supplements vs. real food, as they are not the same thing!
As humans, most of us want to find the path of least resistance or the easiest way to do things. The supplement industry caters to our desire for “easy” thus many people are under the delusion that if they take a handful of vitamins, they are indeed healthy. This can be problematic, as it can lead to poor food choices. The example of a person that takes a variety of supplements and then chooses to eat nutrient-food convenience food too frequently throughout the week is far too common. The truth is that many people need to learn new habits surrounding food. Each time that you reach for a fish oil pill instead of cooking a piece of fish, you are not preventing yourself from furthering you relationship with food.
Whole, unprocessed foods that are close to their natural state are complex. They contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. When you eat a carrot, you get over a dozen vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. All of these work together to provide your body with what it needs to function properly. In addition, eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also provides fiber to the diet. This is an area in which most people struggle, and increasing fiber can have a tremendous impact on a person’s health. We believe fiber may actually be the key to good health. Not fiber supplements, fiber from plant foods!
Shockingly, the supplement industry is unregulated. This means that companies can make a variety of claims, which may not have been proven. Some studies have shown supplements to contain up to 80% less than the declared amount on the package! On the other hand, although vitamins are essential to our survival, there is level in which they become toxic to us. Although you have nothing to fear if you are eating real food, it is very easy to reach those levels in pill form.
While there is nothing wrong with including supplements or a multivitamin in your daily routine, it is important to remember what these products are meant to be – supplements. This means that they should be included along with whole foods and a well-rounded healthful diet. These products should be used to fill in the gaps during certain situations when it can’t be done with food. You can take a vitamin C supplement if you really want to, but it’s no replacement for a red bell pepper!
At Nutrition in Recovery the supplements we are most comfortable recommending are: multivitamin, fish oil, probiotic. There may be others depending on your personal needs!
Read more about our thoughts on supplements HERE
While we can all agree that nutritional yeast may have the least appealing name possible for a food, it is certainly something you may want to consider including in your diet. Never heard of nutritional yeast? You are not alone! Although it has been around for quite a while, it has just recently started to become more popular and a larger number of grocery stores are now carrying it. So just what is this mysterious product and why should you be eating it? Let’s find out!
WHAT IS IT?
Nutritional yeast differs from bread and other yeasts in that is deactivated. This means that it can’t be used as a substitute when making dough, and shouldn’t be confused with the type of yeast that is used in baked goods. The yeast is grown on a food source, in some cases molasses, harvested, then dried and finally broken into small flakes. This finished product has a wonderful nutty and cheesy flavor that is delicious with a wide range of foods.
WHY SHOULD YOU EAT IT?
While these yeast flakes may be small in size, they pack a supersized nutritional punch! Nutritional yeast contains protein, and in a ¼ cup serving, you get 8 grams or close to 16% of the recommended daily value. In addition, it is a great source of fiber. In that same serving size, you can get close to 12% of what is recommended daily. While it is true that not all brands are created equal, it is common to find high levels of B12 in most.
Are you ready for the best part? In addition to being a great source of protein, fiber, and B12, there is almost no downsize to nutritional yeast. There is zero sodium, zero cholesterol, zero sugar, and zero fat. There aren’t too many other foods out there that can make those types of claims!
So now your interest has been piqued, how exactly do you get nutritional yeast into your diet? One simple and tasty way to enjoy this is to sprinkle some on top of popcorn. Skip the buttery/salty variety and pick a plain flavor in which you can enjoy the naturally cheesy flavor. Another great dish to try this on is pasta. Instead of reaching for the overly processed green can of Parmesan, do yourself a favor and grab the yeast! If you are a little more savvy in the kitchen and want to try something new, nutritional yeast can also be used to make some delicious and creamy cheese sauces.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, just make sure you are including it in your diet. Try it tonight and see what you have been missing out on!
In recent years, chia seeds have been growing in popularity. Remembered by many as a plant ordered off a late night infomercial, these little seeds have been found to be extremely beneficial if included in the diet. So if you aren’t currently including them in your daily routine, you may just want to start. Here’s why:
Chia seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber adds bulk to the diet, and can make a person feel fuller, faster. This can help to control weight, and also helps to prevent constipation and aid in digestion. Foods that are high in fiber help to control blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption rate into the bloodstream. Fiber also plays a role in a healthy heart, as it helps in reducing blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol levels.
These healthful fats are an important part of cell membranes throughout the body. They play a critical role in blood clotting and help to control inflammation. In addition, this type of dietary fat supports brain health and may assist with depression. The many benefits of Omega-3 fats are also linked to heart health. This type of fat can help to improve blood vessel function and may help to lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Vitamins and Minerals
Chia seeds are a great source of a number of different micronutrients. In particular, they are a wonderful source of the fat-soluble vitamin E, which helps immunity levels in the body. They are also a source of calcium, which the body needs for proper heart, muscle, and nerve function. Along with vitamin D, vitamin E can help to protect against cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
How to Enjoy
Including chia seeds in your diet is a great habit to start, and it couldn’t be any easier. You don’t have to become a super chef or spend any extra time in the kitchen, all you have to do is add them to some things that you may already be eating. One simple way to incorporate them is by adding a 2 Tablespoons to a 16 or 20 ounce bottled water. After about 20 minutes, the seeds will absorb some of the water and expand. You can sip on this throughout the afternoon, and it will help to keep you full and energized until dinner. Other ways to enjoy include sprinkling on top of a salad, eating with yogurt, or as part of a smoothie.
One important thing to keep in mind is to integrate them into your diet slowly. If your diet is relatively low in fiber, it is ideal to increase the amount of chia in your diet gradually to decrease the chances of any gastrointestinal discomfort. If you want to do something great for yourself, start adding these powerful seeds daily. Your body and mind will thank you! Try white chia seeds! Black chia seeds are sooooo last year.
Have you ever wondered why you choose to eat the things that you do? For many people, the answer to that question is no. The majority of the population will move through life selecting foods that are pleasurable to them in that brief moment without a second of thought about it. What if it was more complicated than that, and there were a host of things operating behind the scenes that were driving you to pick certain foods? The truth is that there are a variety of things that you may have never considered that influence the choices that you make every day in relation to your diet. Below are some less known influencers of our eating habits.
A food environment is defined as biological, physical, or social factors that affect a person’s eating habits and patterns. Examples of different environments include your home, neighborhood, or break room at work. This could also encompass different settings like Thanksgiving dinner, lunch meeting with friends, or going to a baseball game. All of these places have their own built in characteristics that may influence the types of foods that a person chooses to eat. Some of these are more obvious, like a ball park serving processed hot dogs, but others may be more subliminal. Take for example, your neighborhood. If you live in a location that has fast food restaurants on every corner but the nearest grocery store is 5 miles away, you are far more likely to eat fast food than you are to shop for fresh food.
While you may not be able to control every food environment that you enter each day, there is one that you are in complete control of – your home. The foods that you choose to keep in your house are likely to be the foods that you will eat. If you possess a freezer full of frozen pizza and processed food, you will likely eat frozen pizza and processed food. If you keep a bowl of fruit on the counter that you walk by 20 times a day, you are far more likely to grab an apple at some point. This may seem simple, but the foods that you see regularly and are easily accessible are the ones that you will eat habitually.
The human digestive tract is home to tens of thousands of different species of bacteria. These types of bacteria are helpful to the human body and assist with many functions including breaking down food and keeping harmful bacteria out. Just like no two humans are identical, the same thing can be said about the types of bacteria that live in each person’s gut. For example, the microscopic creatures that live in the gut of someone that eats a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein may look radically different than someone that eats a diet high in processed and fast food. It is important to keep in mind that these bacteria are living beings and carry out certain functions to ensure their safety and survival. What does this mean? The type of bacteria that you have living in your gastrointestinal tract right now may influence taste receptors in your brain to make certain foods taste better to you or can release hunger inducing hormones to control your eating behaviors. So, are you hungry or is it your gut bacteria? Learn more about the microbiome HERE.
We all know that our eating habits are shaped from an early age, but did you know that it is possible that they may have been formed while we were still in the womb? Some studies show that babies born to mothers that eat a diverse diet full of a wide variety of different flavors may pass those preferences onto their child. For example, mothers who eat processed and sugary foods have shown that their offspring are desensitized to sweet and fatty foods. This altered pathway in their children is similar to a person that is addicted to drugs, in that they require a higher dose to get the same reward as someone else. This is important information to consider, as a mother’s food choices while carrying the child and subsequently breast feeding may have lasting effects long into the child’s life.
What Does This Mean?
All of this information means that there are many things going on behind the scenes that drive a person’s dietary preferences. Things are not as clear-cut as we may of once thought, and the foods that an individual likes are not random, but more so developed due to a range of different influences. If we start to learn why we eat in a certain way, we can then be more proactive about changing some of our habits. If we can step back and look at the bigger picture, it may just help us make the changes that we need.