All Posts In Food and Nutrition Experts

What to Know About Functional Beverages

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 18, 2017

Ever since the juice bar craze, we’ve come to expect more from what we drink. Here’s a closer look at three popular functional beverage options, and the evidence behind their health claims.

 

Drinking Vinegar

While adding apple cider vinegar to your diet won’t cure cancer or the flu, it may be a secret weapon in keeping blood sugar levels under control. Unlike the more outrageous claims made by proponents of apple cider vinegar, there is enough evidence that consuming it may decrease the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. The high acetic acid content in vinegar inhibits the enzymes that help you digest carbohydrates, thereby producing a smaller blood sugar response after eating. As an added benefit, this undigested starch becomes food for the good bacteria in your gut, acting as a prebiotic that supports overall digestion and a healthier immune system. While there seems to be a big push in using apple cider vinegar, any vinegar will get the job done. Acetic acid, the carbohydrate-inhibiting ingredient, is present in all vinegars, so feel free to use whatever one you enjoy best. Additionally, you don’t have to drink the vinegar to get the benefits — eating your favorite salad with a vinegar-based dressing will work just as well. Read more

Myth or Fact? Artificially-Colored Foods Are Bad for You

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Is It Healthy?, January 17, 2017

Ever wonder how some of your favorite foods are made? And if they’re supposed to be that color? We’re cracking the code on some infamous colored foods to find out if they naturally occur that way or if they had some help.

Color Me Unhealthy?
Many beloved foods we eat everyday are doctored with colorings to improve visual appeal. In some cases these colorful enhancements are food based and therefore safe, but others have potentially harmful chemical infusions. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating these synthetic dyes may pose harm and cause behavioral problems, especially in children.

Highly processed foods like soda, commercial baked goods, candy, frozen treats, salty snacks (think cheese doodles) and kids’ breakfast cereals are some of the worst and most obvious offenders. Potentially dangerous yellow 5, red 40 and red 3 dyes are found in numerous foods, and have been linked to behavioral problems and allergic reactions. Europe has imposed strict bans on the use of these coloring agents, but in the United States progress has been much slower. Some U.S. chains and manufacturers including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Panera, General Mills and Nestle don’t sell products with dyes and/or are beginning to remove them from some of their products. Here are 4 foods that might raise a colorful flag. Read more

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

9 Nutritionists Share Their New Year’s Resolutions

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, January 5, 2017

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and eat healthier. So what about nutritionists whose expertise is to eat healthy? I was curious to find out what type of resolutions they make.  I asked 9 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) across the country to share their 2017 New Year’s resolutions, and it turns out even the food experts can always improve their healthy lifestyle in a variety of ways.

Preparing more meals at home

“While I eat healthy, nutritious meals and work out regularly, I often am so busy I don’t plan  evening meals for my family. Then we end up going out or picking something up to eat at home. I need to do what I advise others: create menus on the weekend, make a grocery list and go shopping so all the ingredients you need are right there ready to go. It doesn’t have to be something long and involved. It can be simple, fresh, nutritious and taste good!”

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, Dallas-based nutrition communications consultant

Separate screen time and meal time

“My #1 goal in eating is to be mindful and savor my food. In general, I do well, especially since I do not own a television. However, when I eat alone or eat out while traveling, I tend to use my phone or laptop at the table. As such, I plan to make desktop reminders for all my screens, encouraging me to put the screen away and focus on the deliciousness of my food.”

–Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, President, Nutrition for the Future, and Social Media Guru at School Meals That Rock. Read more

The Benefits of a “Dry January”

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, January 4, 2017

After a holiday season filled with overindulging, you might be ready to make some lifestyle changes. Are you willing to kick off 2017 with a hiatus from alcohol? The benefits may prove motivating!

Liquid Calories
Every alcoholic drink you toss back contains calories and these can add up – fast! Each bottle of beer, glass of wine, and shot of hard alcohol brings along a minimum of 100 empty calories. Pour in a few sugary mixers and the calories multiply, making many popular mixed drinks rack up more than 400 calories each. Two servings of alcohol a day for a year adds up to nearly 75,000 calories, and that’s not counting the mixers. That means saying bye-bye to these drinks could save you more than 20 pounds a year.

Drying Out
The concept of an alcohol-free January was sparked by a charity in the U.K. called Alcohol Concern. Part of the intention behind this program is to make social drinkers more mindful about their choices, fundraise for alcohol awareness, and reap the personal benefits. According to the organization, participants in the month-long challenge can lose weight, sleep better and save money.Weight loss aspirations aside, there’s science to back up additional benefits. Studies reveal that even just a month of cutting out alcohol can also spark improvements in liver function and blood sugar control for some people. Read more

Trend Alert: Pea Protein

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 2, 2017

Proteins derived from plants are getting more recognition as many folks strive to have a more plant-based diet. At the forefront of this trend is protein from legumes like peas. Find out if the newfound popularity is worth the hype.

 

Peas As a Protein Source

One cup of raw green peas contains 8 grams of protein. Yellow or green split peas are also often used for pea-based products; this dried version contains 48 grams in the same 1 cup portion. Depending on the product, you might find either of these options added so check ingredient lists for clarification.

The type of protein found in peas is different than animal derived sources. As with most plant-based foods, some amino acids are missing, but peas do contain three important muscle building “branched chain” amino acids, leulcine, isoleucine and valine.

Pea protein powder has become a popular additive in snack foods and bars. Extracting the protein from food to powder does require some processing so the nutrient profile will differ slightly from the whole food version. Pea protein does have an advantage compared to some other popular protein supplements (like whey or casein) as it contains more hunger fighting fiber.

Read more

Healthier Cocktail Mixers

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, December 24, 2016

Do the holidays bring out your inner mixologist? Do you wish there were better options than all those sugary syrups for mixers? You’re in luck – these three options will immediately upgrade your cocktails.

 

Alcohol Nutrition Facts

A serving of alcohol is equal to 12 fluid ounces of beer, a 5 fluid ounce glass of wine or

a 1.5 fluid ounce shot of hard alcohol. While there is some science that supports the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, booze contains oodles of empty calories. To make matter worse, the increased calories in most popular mixed drinks comes from high sugar mixers like soda, juice, and fake bottled mixers. Read more

5 Foods That Will Help You Age Gracefully 

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, December 9, 2016

While the fountain of youth isn’t actually a thing, what we eat can help slow down the aging process — or at least keep us feeling healthier and thinking sharper as we get older. Give these five foods a try.

Eat Eggs to Help Your Eyes
Cook up an omelet for breakfast, and you could help your eyes. The yolks contain nutrients that may help decrease your risk of age-related macular degeneration, as well as cataracts. “Unfortunately, eyesight is one of the first things to go as we age,” says Emily Kyle, M.S., RDN, owner of Emily Kyle Nutrition. “Thankfully, a diet rich in farm-fresh eggs can help combat the loss of vision through two powerful nutrients: lutein and zeaxanthin.” Additionally, the amino acids found in eggs help rebuild and repair tissues that may deteriorate as you get older.

Start Your Day with Raspberries to Help Mind Health
This fruit gets its red color from antioxidants, which may help slow down the aging process. “Short-term experimental studies have shown that berries improve cognition — perhaps because they’re high in flavonoids, especially the kind called anthocyanidins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions,” explains Maggie Moon, M.S., RDN, author of The MIND Diet. In a Nurses’ Health Study, people eating a large amount of flavonoids, including anthocyanidins, saw a decrease in the cognitive aging process by an average of up to two and a half years. Add raspberries to a Greek yogurt parfait, along with slivered almonds and cinnamon. Read more

How to Combat Holiday Weight Gain

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Healthy Holidays, December 7, 2016

Merry as they may be to many, for those of us who try to eat healthy and keep our weight under control, the holidays can be brutal. We step on the scale, cookie crumbs barely brushed from our lips, and watch as the pounds tick up into the danger zone. Ho-ho-how did this happen to us again this year?

Of course, we know how it happened. We made a few too many trips to the snack table, drank more eggnog than we knew was good for us and indulged a little too enthusiastically at family dinnertime. The good news is that it all tasted delicious and we enjoyed it in the company of family and friends. The bad news is that feeling festive as we eat those holiday delicacies doesn’t make them any less fattening — for proof, just look at Santa.

Sure, we’ll resolve to be better next year: “Lose weight and eat healthier” is penned in at the No. 1 spot on our New Year’s resolution lists every year. But what if we could do something to start the year without all the disadvantages of those holiday pounds?

Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Jae Berman offers 11 (count them!) tips for keeping the pounds at bay over the holidays. Her suggestions include eating a small balanced meal before you go to a holiday gathering and eating your vegetables and drinking water once you’re there. Savor every bite, don’t drink too much alcohol, bring snacks in your bag to make sure you don’t get super hungry between meals (and then go crazy heaping your plate when dinner is served), she advises, and don’t forget to exercise.

Possibly Berman’s most-important piece of advice? Don’t beat yourself up for the moments you fall short. “Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break,” she writes. “Acknowledge the successes.” Read more

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