All Posts By Natalie Rizzo

Here’s What Happened When I Took Probiotics For 30 Days

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, January 14, 2017

Probiotic supplements claim to improve digestive and immune health, but how can you know if they really do what they say? I decided to do a 30-day probiotic experiment to test out these claims.

The facts about probiotics

Your gut contains more than 100 trillion live bacteria, known as probiotics. Although bacteria are generally regarded as a bad thing, probiotics are considered “good bacteria” and are essential for a healthy digestive tract and immune system function. The body does a good job of maintaining its own probiotic levels, but certain things like an unhealthy diet, undue stress or a harsh round of antibiotics, can cause imbalances or disturbances in your natural “good bacteria”. That’s where probiotic supplements come into play. In one small capsule, you can reintroduce billions of live cultures with diverse strains to your gut.

My 30-day test

Although I eat a pretty healthy diet and exercise regularly, I decided to take a probiotic for 30 days to see what all the hype was about. Specifically, I paid very close attention to changes in my digestive tract or immune system. Although I had seen the research on the benefits of probiotics, I was pretty skeptical about taking any type of supplement (since they are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)). Yet, I did my homework and found that there was little to no downside to taking a probiotic. Before we dive in, I want to note that my experience is completely anecdotal and may not be the same for everyone.  Read more

Why Should You Care About the Microbiome?

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, January 11, 2017

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the term microbiome, which refers to a collection of microorganisms or “good bacteria” that live inside your gut. The microbiome is a relatively new term in the nutrition world, and it’s rapidly becoming an increasingly important field of study among scientists. Millions of dollars are being poured into research to reach a better understanding of the microbiome and its role in disease. Here’s what you should know:

 

About the microbiome

The human body contains 10-100 trillion microbial cells, which consist of about 1000 different strains of bacteria that make up the microbiome. It exists in the skin and mouth, but the largest and most diverse part of the microbiome is found in the gut. Beginning at birth, a human’s microbiome is formed with the microorganisms from the mother’s birth canal and skin. Breast milk is also rich with good bacteria that populate the baby’s gut. By two years old, the adult microbiome is almost fully established, but it can change throughout the lifetime. An individual’s microbiome is not just a random collection of bacteria; each organism works together to create a thriving healthy environment inside the body.

 

Are all microbiomes the same?

Studies suggest that an individual’s microbiome is unique to them. However, your skin microbiome will be similar to other peoples’ skin microbiomes, and your gut microbiome will be similar to others’ gut microbiomes. The Human Microbiome Project, funded by the National Institute for Health, was established in 2008 to characterize the strains in the human microbiome and understand their role in human health and disease. Read more

5 Root Vegetables You Need To Try

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, January 7, 2017

When you think of root vegetables, do you automatically picture potatoes, carrots and onions? While these veggies are classic favorites, they can also be a bit uninspiring. Luckily, the cold weather brings some delectable and underutilized root vegetables to the forefront. Try something new in your cold-weather cooking and branch out into turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, sunchokes or parsnips. These veggies are supremely nutritious and can be used in a variety of ways.

Turnips

A member of the cabbage family, turnips look like a mix between a radish and beet. Not only can you eat the bulb, but the turnip greens are edible too. Packed with vitamins and minerals, the greens have a taste similar to kale. The turnip bulb is a good source of potassium, a nutrient known for lowering blood pressure, and the greens contain calcium, vitamin K and vitamin A. Eating the entire turnip is a surefire way to get your daily dose of nutrients.

“Turnips are delicious when prepared simply,” says chef and registered dietitian Abbie Gellman, M.S., R.D., CDN. “Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until golden brown.”

Rutabaga

Also known as a yellow turnip, a rutabaga is slightly larger and sweeter than a turnip and pale yellow in color. The waxy outer skin prevents dehydration, and the flesh turns somewhat orange when cooked. Rutabagas are an excellent source of vitamin C to help ward off winter colds, and they also contain potassium and fiber.

This starchy vegetable lends itself well to a basic mash. Try swapping out half the Yukon golds for rutabaga in your basic mashed potato recipe. Read more

Diet 101: The Low FODMAP Diet

by in Diets & Weight Loss, December 28, 2016

Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held its annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, at which it shared the latest nutrition research and hottest new products with thousands of dietitians. One of the most-popular trends to emerge was the focus on gut health and low-FODMAP food products.

What Is a FODMAP?

Coined by researchers at Monash University in Australia, the term FODMAP refers to different types of carbohydrates in foods. With a “short-chain” chemical structure, these carbohydrates are not absorbed in people with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAP is an acronym for:

Fermentable, or carbs that are quickly broken down by bacteria to produce gas

Oligosaccharides. Humans do not have enzymes to break down and absorb these types of carbohydrates, leading to fermentation and gas.

Disaccharides, specifically lactose. Many IBS sufferers cannot digest lactose, which causes gastrointestinal discomfort.

Monosaccharides, or fructose, which is not well-absorbed if there is excess glucose present.

And

Polyols, or sugar alcohols. These are not completely digested by humans, and they are sometimes marketed as a laxative. Read more