Deli meat is one of those things you hear nasty rumors about but don't really know what to make of them because no one really seems to have facts other than that deli meat is "bad." Here are a few things to keep in mind when eating deli meat and then you can decide for yourself if it is good or bad
People ask me all the time for my opinion of various diet plans. "What do you think of the Paleo diet? Have you heard of the Atkins diet? Have you looked into the Alkaline diet? I'm on the cabbage soup diet, what do you know about it?" This list of diets goes on and on. Everyone wants to find the best diet but with so many out there its hard to know which one to follow. So, to everyone who wanted to know which diet I think you should follow, here is the answer: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet. Bet you haven't heard of that one! Well, maybe you have if you went to the doctor for high blood pressure. Its more commonly known as the DASH diet. I like this diet better than My Plate, Weight Watchers, Carb Counting, or the Mediterranean Diet (all of which are good diets to follow, I just don't think they are the best).
Why do you think DASH is the best?
After researching different diets it is my professional opinion that this diet best represents what the human body is designed to eat. It includes all the food groups and emphasizes low fat foods, eating less meat and eating more produce. After seeing the health benefits associated with this diet, and learning about our body's nutrient needs, I feel this is the best diet to recommend hands down. This really is what your body needs.
What do you eat on the DASH diet?
For a 2000 calorie diet you need:
It may sound simple, but I dare you to try it for a week. Getting 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day takes work and believe me, if you are eating like this you won't have room for sweets.
What makes it so beneficial?
This diet was originally designed to help combat high blood pressure. It is high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium which are important for regulating blood pressure (and bone health). It is also low in fat which is good for your heart. It is high in fiber which helps protect you agains things like diverticulits and colon cancer. It is low in calories which helps with weight loss but it is also large in volume which keeps you full. It helps you maintain a healthy weight which protects agains type 2 diabetes. It is high in phytonutrients and antioxidants which decrease your risk of cancer. I could go on, but you get the point. Pretty much every disease plaguing America today can be prevented by following the DASH diet. Now when you are talking about diets with your friends you can tell them that you know which diet is the best, hands down, and you can tell them why.
Let me know how it goes trying to follow this diet for a week!
Ever wondered what is the hype about vitamins all about? Supplement companies, nutritionist, doctors, and your next-door neighbor all have something to say about them, but why should you care? Simply put vitamins are compounds that help your body function. Different vitamins help your body in different ways, and you need all of them for your body to work well. Actually the name vitamin came from combining "vital" and "amine" aka vital organic compound. Vitamins are vital, but what do they do that is so important? Let me tell you.
Vitamin B1 aka Thiamine
Vitamin B2 aka Riboflavin
Vitamin B3 aka Niacin
Vitamin B5 aka Pantothenic Acid
Vitamin B6 aka Pyridoxine
Vitamin B9 aka Folate aka Folic acid
Vitamin B12 aka Cyanocobalamin
Vitamin C aka Ascorbic Acid
Basically you need to make sure you are eating vitamins so that your body has what it needs to get energy from your food, allow your brain to function, allow your DNA to build your body, and to not get freaky deficiency diseases. If you enjoy living a relatively normal, happy, healthy life you should care about vitamins
Do I need a supplement then?
Odds are no. Because you live in a developed country and have access to an abundance of different foods, including fortified grains and dairy products, you'll most likely be fine. I do recommend that women who trying to get pregnant take a prenatal multi-vitamin. To make a very long story short, this is because a growing fetus needs vitamins and minerals right from the start, and if it doesn't have them when it needs them it can cause major birth defects. If a soon to be mom is pregnant and not feeling well, she likely isn't eating as well which means she could be lower in some vitamins and minerals. This is a bad combination that could have a very sad outcome. Don't risk it; take a prenatal vitamin.
Is more better?
Not really. Enough is enough. There is a 100% for a reason. If you take more than you need of water soluble vitamins they are simply excreted (you pee them out) and if you take more than you need of fat soluble vitamins they can be toxic. So stick with a multivitamin that has only 100% of what you need.
Check out this video. It makes me laugh every time I watch it.
Knowing if nutrition information is credible is difficult for several reasons. First, nutrition is a new science. Isolated vitamins were discovered just over 100 years ago and we are just barely scratching the surface when it comes to things like phytochemicals. Because the science of nutrition is new sometimes it is easy to fill in the gaps so to speak before actual evidence is available. Or in other words, draw conclusions before all the data is in. This doesn't necessarily happen intentionally, some times it is an honest mistake made because we don't know everything yet. Other times I honestly believe people make things sound like more then they really are because they are trying to sell you something. Those people make me angry.
Second, is the clash between personal/story based evidence and scientific evidence. This, in my opinion, is the most confusing of all because obviously it worked for one person, but we don't always know why, and therefore it may not work for you. Basically it happens like this; Man A runs marathons. He finds he is always tired and not running as well as he used to. Man A does some research online and decides he needs to supplement with mega doses of B vitamins, because B vitamins are credited with producing energy. Man A suddenly feels much improved and is running better than ever! He decides to make and sell a supplement to sleepy people everywhere, claiming to boost their energy 10 fold! Man A makes thousands of dollars selling the supplement to an unsuspecting public who do not realize that the only reason this supplement worked for him is because he had a B vitamin deficiency to begin with. Sadly for them, the supplement will not work because they do not have a deficiency. They just need to get some sleep. Really, this stuff happens. For example, change Man A to Dee, and supplement to cereal and marathons to diabetes...do you know what I'm talking? Incomplete claims like this happen in part due to the Dietary Supplement Act in 1994. Not that its a bad thing, it just means we need to be careful.
Third, is bad studies. I'll be honest, no study is perfect, but some are better than others. I'm not going to bore you with the details, partially because it brings back bad memories of statistics class, but results can be greatly impacted by the type of study, quality and quantity of data and the statistical testing done on it. I'll give you some key things to look for to determine the quality of a study.
If you don't want to get so technical when trying to decide if a sources is credible, use this easy acronym: CARS.
Credibility: Check the credentials of the author. Is it an RD, MD, or RN who had some type of education or emphasis in nutrition or is it a journalist turned nutritionist, a personal trainer with no nutrition education, or just someone who is interested in nutrition? Also watch out for nutritionist because nutritionist is not a protected title, just about anyone can use it with no problems (like me before I take my RD exam :P). Some are certified, others are not. Check their education and credentials.
Accuracy: Check to see if the information is current, based on facts, not stories, and looks at the big picture, not obscure details that aren't well supported.
Reasonableness: Check to see if the information is fair, balanced, and consistent. In other words is the author willing to admit what they don't know everything aka the limitations of their study. Or do they profess to know it all? Watch out for 100% guarantees.
Support: Check to see if the author has supporting documents or if other studies have been done and found the same or similar things. If a study can't be duplicated, or a similar thing hasn't been researched multiple times, it means we just don't know enough about the subject yet. Or, if the study can't be duplicated, it could mean the first one was a fluke.
I hope this helps you as you try and decipher nutrition information for yourself! If you ever have any questions about something you read somewhere else (or here for that mater), let me know! I'd love to do research for you and help you find the answers to your questions!
Over the summer David's 86 year old grandmother told me the funniest organic food story. Her friend was a farmer who grew produce for a vegetable stand in the summer. One day they were discussing the latest food fad of organic produce, which the farmer felt had been extremely good for business. "I mark half my tomatoes as organic and sell them for twice as much. I keep the others as non-organic and sell them at regular price. All my tomatoes are gone and I'm making more money than ever!" David's grandma thought it was pretty funny that people were willing to pay twice as much for tomatoes just because they were called organic. The question remains, is it worth it?
What does organic mean?
According to AND organic means "meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products [that] come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones" and "organic plant foods [that] are produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation." In addition "a government-approved certifier must inspect the farm to ensure these standards" are upheld and in addition "there are USDA standards for organic handling and processing." AND also clarifies that "organic foods aren't necessary grown without pesticides or fertilizers, but instead with those types found naturally in the environment, with substances on an approved list, or with insects that are natural predators."
What are the benefits?
The main benefits are that it lowers your exposure to pesticides and resistant strains of bacteria. According to an article written by David D Holzman for the Environmental Health Perspectives "organic produce had a 30% lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional produce." However, he goes on to explain that an organic diet "has not been proven to offer a clinically relevant nutritional advantage over a conventional diet."
Why is it so expensive?
What it boils down to is that farming organic isn't as effective as conventional methods. According to John Kearney in his article, Food Consumption Trends Drivers, the"higher price for organic foods (especially meat) can be attributed to reduced crop yields, higher cost of organic feed, lower animal stocking rates and higher labour requirements." It takes more time, money, and energy to grow organic and in the end you get less yield. To compensate farmers have to charge more for organic.
Is it worth it?
That all depends on why you are doing it. If it is important for you to decrease your exposure to pesticides by 30% then yes. If you think it is better for the environment, go for it. If you are doing it because it is more nutritious you aren't getting what you paid for. I personally don't "buy organic." When I can I do go for locally grown produce, but I rarely pay for organic. It just isn't worth it to me. If it is worth it to you, great, just realize organic does not mean more nutritious.
There is one last point I need to make about organic produce to clarify why I get a little worked up when people say organic is so much healthier and encourage people to buy organic.
First, have you been to Whole Foods? I was greatly disappointed by that store. I expected to find great unique foods to add some fun variety to my diet. Instead I was bombarded with bogus marketing campaigns trying to make you feel good about getting ripped off by their prices. I was disgusted. Same brand of almond milk as Winco, but its $1.50 more. Don't even get me started about how all the produce was over $7.00/lb. No wonder people think they can't afford to eat healthy! I feel organic is often used as a marketing hype to take advantage of people who are trying to do the right thing. It makes me mad! Especially because my goal is to show people that everyone can afford to be healthy which is hard to believe if you think you have to shop at Whole Foods to be healthy.
Second is something called orthorexia. Basically orthorexia is when people are so health conscious they become unhealthy. No, really, healthy can be taken too far. Check out the link. It has been my experience that often the people most "passionate" about organic often suffer from orthorexia. You know who I'm talking about, the ones who get angry or are almost in tears when the can't eat their healthy foods? The ones who are so smug or nazi about health food you can't stand to be around them? I'm not saying all "health nuts" have orthorexia, I just feel organic is often used as a crutch for them and that is not healthy.
I do get frustrated by this organic hype. When I walked out of Whole Foods for the first time I called my husband and vented to him for 30 minutes. There are certain prominent fitness instructors that I really think take nutrition too far and it drives me crazy when people try to eat like them because it is "healthy." This stuff gets my blood boiling faster than anything else, but I want you to understand why. It isn't about being right or wrong, though many people think that.
I got into nutrition when girls at my junior high started to have eating disorders. It got me thinking about the relationship people have with food. So often eating healthy is a major stressor in peoples lives because of weight loss, organic food, eating disorders, or just worrying about if they are providing the best nutrition for their family. Hype and food fads bother me because it uses people, confuses people, and takes their money without giving them any real benefit. People who are just trying to do the best they know how with the knowledge they have. I started Natural Nutrition because I wanted to help people get out of the confusion and find real answers. I do it because it is something I'm passionate about. So if I ever roll my eyes at Whole Foods or the latest fad diet please don't be offended. Its not you, its the food fad.
Believe it or not this question came up not once, not twice, but THREE times in one week! And they weren't talking a cup of wine after dinner either. We are talking hard liquor on a regular basis potentially being good for you. Do you think it could possibly be good for your health? The arguments were 1) it provides you with important nutrients and 2) the metabolism of alcohol cleanses your system and boost your immunity. Is it true? You'll just have to keep reading and find out because I'm not going to telling you yet. :P
Nutrition of Alcohol
First we need to talk about what alcohol provides nutritionally. Alcohol has about 7 calories per gram. Just for a point of reference fat has 9 calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. In other words it is not a diet food. Now lets take a look at what specific nutrients are provided by alcohol.
Whiskey (86 proof 1.5 oz)
Basically there isn't a whole lot of anything in whiskey nutritionally speaking because it is distilled. If it wasn't in whiskey I left it off rather than put a zero which made the list really short. Lets try comparing it to beer. Beer is fermented instead of distilled. Everyone at health food stores is all about fermented foods and sprouted grains these days so maybe we'll find something more nutritionally significant there.
Beer (12 oz)
So it has a little bit of something in it, but trust me when I say it is nothing nutritionally significant. It doesn't even really put a dent in any of your daily nutrient requirements. The reason it has more nutrients in it is because it is made from fermented grains and retains some of the nutrients from the wheat it was made out of. But lets be honest, no one would look at this list and call beer a fermented-sprouted-grain super food. Clearly any health benefit would not come from the nutrients provided from alcohol. So lets look at another idea; alcohol metabolism detoxifies and benefits the immune system.
Metabolism of Alcohol
First it is important to know that the body cannot store alcohol (too bad we aren't talking about fat, hm?). Therefore, when alcohol comes in the body's number 1 priority is to get it out. It does this by metabolizing it into energy. When you drink just a little bit of alcohol 2 enzymes are used to break the alcohol down into something that looks like fuel for your body. The bad news is before it becomes fuel it becomes a toxic compound called acetaldehyde. This break down is mainly done in your liver which means something toxic is now in your liver which is essential if you want to live.
If you drink lots of alcohol (lots being more than 1-2 drinks) your body can no longer metabolize the alcohol with the 2 enzymes like we just talked about. This causes your liver to treat alcohol as a foreign substance and turns on your body's MEOS system ("microsomal ethanol oxidizing system" which is just a scientific term for "liver cells breaking down alcohol quickly" system) to help get rid of the alcohol asap. Basically you don't want this system to get too revved up because it can lead to drug toxicities because of the way it impacts your liver.
Not everyone metabolizes alcohol the same. For example Asian's don't have as much of the 2nd enzyme needed for alcohol breakdown so they are at more likely to have a build up of the toxic acetaldehyde. Women produce less of these enzymes all together which means they absorb 30-35% more of the unaltered alcohol directly into their blood which is why it is recommended women drink less. Too much alcohol in your body leads to your liver not being able to keep up, and when too much alcohol gets into your blood it can poison you. Alcohol is also a narcotic which means it depresses the central nervous system, aka it reduces your brain function which prevents you from feeling and may cause loss of consciousness. This is why people act weird and/or pass out when they drink too much; their brain just isn't working.
Health Benefits of Alcohol
You'd better not have skipped over the other sections just to get to the answer. You'll be lost if I start throwing around words like acetaldehyde and MEOS. Now back to the health benefits. It is thought that possibly alcohol can lower LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and rase HDL ("good" cholesterol) and help reduce the risk of heart disease (notice it does not boost your immune system). However, they currently think that has more to do with phytochemicals, specifically resveratrol, which are found in red whine, not beer. But basically what it comes down to is they don't really know yet if it has a benefit.
Which brings us back to this whole acetaldehyde and MEOS thing. Basically alcohol is a mild, toxic poison. Acetaldehyde is toxic, if the MEOS system can't keep up with the alcohol it causes a build up in your blood which poisons you, and it decreases your brain function. If that isn't a mild, toxic poison I don't know what is. What does this mean for potential health benefits? If there are any (which I highly doubt) they do not outweigh the risk. That really is the bottom line. Why do all the alcoholic Mexicans you know never get sick? (Really, that was a question). I don't know. Maybe they do get sick but are just too drunk to notice? Or maybe a little virus is a cinch to get rid of compared to trying to get rid mild, toxic poison day after day and therefore it feels like you are giving your body a break.? Or maybe you know your are slowly poisoning yourself but are looking for a way to justify your self destructive behavior because you like the narcotic aspect? I don't know. But I can tell you nutritionally alcohol has nothing to offer but 7 calories per gram.
I get asked this all the time. Whether you are trying to build muscle, talk your daughter out of being vegetarian, or simply curious, this article will tell you what you need to know. If it doesn't, shoot me an email and ask! I'd love to answer your question!
How much protein do I need to eat each day?
Obviously this will be different for everyone because, as you well know, our bodies and lifestyles are different. I will now give you the all knowing formula to calculate protein needs!
This will give you the grams of protein you need in one day if you are a fairly average person who is more on the sedentary side. In this case it is 55 grams each day. Really easy to calculate, right? If you are building muscle, a growing teenager, very active, pregnant etc. obviously you would need more because protein is what your body uses to build and repair. In that case multiply your weight in kilograms by 1, 1.1, or 1.2. But don't let that confuse you! Just keep it simple and don't stress if that doesn't make sense. Just stick with the basics of .8 for now.
What do I need to eat to get enough protein?
There are a lot of sources of protein, the most obvious ones being meat, nuts, eggs, beans, tofu, and dairy. But how much do you need to eat to make sure you are getting enough? Surprisingly, not a lot. Let me give you an example.
First take a look at how much protein are in the following foods.
Okay, you get the picture. There is a lot more protein in chicken than there is in broccoli. To get 55 grams of protein you would have to eat some chicken, 3 cups of milk, and 1/2 a cup of black beans and then you would be good for the day. If you decided to not eat meat you could replace the chicken with yogurt and meet your protein requirements easily. If you decided to go vegan and skip out on the chicken and the yogurt you would need to eat 1 cup black beans, 3 cups soy milk, 3 cups broccoli, 2 potatoes, 1/4 cup almonds, and 2 cups of spinach. It is easy to get enough protein on a regular and vegetarian diet, it takes a lot of work and planning to get enough protein on a vegan diet.
If I eat extra protein will my body use it to build more muscle?
No. Your body only uses the protein to build more muscle if you are doing something that would require it to build muscle. Using muscles through exercise and physical activity signals to your body that it needs to keep muscle built up or build more muscle; however, if you eat more protein than your body needs to build or maintain muscle that protein will be stored...as fat. In fact if you eat more carbohydrate, protein, or fat than you need they will all be stored as fat...at least thats the simple answer for now.
Should I take a protein supplement after working out?
No. You can easily get enough protein through food. Which would you rather have, a nasty protein bar or some nice grilled chicken? To me the choice is easy. Protein supplements are not necessary and therefore a waste of money. A better post workout supplement could be a glass of milk, toast with peanut butter, or yogurt within 30 minutes after the workout. However, if you are vegan and having difficulty meeting your protein requirements a good protein powder in a smoothie may be in order. But, if you are a healthy individual eating a well balanced diet, you don't really need to spend money on protein supplements.
If I didn't answer your question contact me here and ask! I'll get back to you as soon as I can!
Sugar is often one of those hard to pronounce I-have-no-idea-what-the-heck-this-is items on the nutrition label. Because of this it often gets overlooked or "hides" on the ingredient list.
By Any Other Name...
Generally speaking sugar is sugar. There are 2 categories of sugar you are probably already very familiar with: Nutritive and non-nutrative sweeteners. In other words regular sugar and calorie-free sweeteners. Both of these types of sweeteners have a myriad of names that you might see on a nutrition label.
Nutritive aka regular sugars include:
Quite a list, right? Basically all these terms mean one thing: Sugar! Some are higher in fructose than others , but basically they are all sugar.
Side Note on Fructose: Pretty much all of these sugar have fructose in them. Fructose may possibly lead to more fat storage and for some in large quantities can cause stomach upset, but it is not the evil health killer its been made out to be. It is actually a building block used to make lots of sugars, even the natural sugar found in fruit.
Non-nutritive aka calorie-free sweeteners include:
Recognize any of these? Most of us don't use the names of these sugars regularly, but you probably eat them daily without even knowing it, especially if you use sugar free foods.
Side Note on Calorie-Free:
These are often sweeter than regular sugars because of their molecular shape. In other words, you need less of these to get the same sweetness of regular sugar. They have less calories because 1) your body can't absorb them and therefore cannot use them for energy/calories or 2) they provide so few calories and you need so little to sweeten a food it comes out to be less than 5 calories per serving.
What Does This Mean?!
Most people I talk to who are trying to eat little or "no" sugar want to pull their hair out when trying to read labels. Its confusing, no doubt about it. Make it easy on yourself by using these tips:
Questions? Feel free to ask! I love hearing what you want to know more about!
In conjunction with our facebook giveaway of NuNaturals stevia no calorie sweetener (isn't that a mouthful!) I've been getting a lot of questions about stevia, so I'm going to answer the most common questions here.
What exactly is stevia? Stevia sweeteners are extracted from a plant native to South America. The extract is sweeter than sugar, all natural, has no calories and can be used to replace sugar. Why do you use stevia? I like it because it is plant based instead of being chemically engineered, it does not have that nasty after taste I've found in other low calorie sweeteners, it is better for your teeth and has no calories. I've really enjoyed playing around with the NuNaturals samples that were sent to me and using them to flavor water, make lower calorie desserts, and I even have some plans to use them to make lower calorie main dishes. Check out some recipes here. Why is it low calorie? No or low calorie sweeteners are not able to be absorbed by your body. Because of this they don't raise your blood sugar and don't provide calories. However, one down side is eating too much low calorie sweetener can cause diarrhea and other side effects. As with all things, use in moderation. If you have other specific questions please let me know. I'd be happy to answer them for you in a personal email!
Detox and cleansing have been all the rage as of late. Anything from detoxing baths, workouts, diets, juice cleanses, and mud-wraps have been claimed to help detox your body and get you feeling great. Do they really work? Bottom line is, no.
Plain and simple your body was made to detox itself from anything short of poison. But isn't some of our food so bad it is basically poison? While processed food may not be the best for you, there is no evidence suggesting they are toxic to your body (alcohol on the other hand is). Why do people feel so great after a detox or juice cleans? It is actually a euphoria caused from starving your body. Marjorie Cohn, a registered dietitian and spokes person for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics compared detoxing to anorexia. She stated that "at some point your body shuts down that feeling of immediate hunger, you become lightheaded and dizzy, and that euphoric feeling starts to come on,” she says. “I work with a lot of anorexics, and they feel euphoria, too.” Detoxing diets that cause you to starve yourself are not healthy and may have a negative impact on your health. Still feeling the fatigue, headache, bloating or other symptoms you were hoping to cure with with a cleans? Contact me for more information on diet and lifestyle changes that can help.
Borgan, J. Juice Cleansing is Going Mansteam. Accessed December 17, 2012. Available at http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/12/17/juice-cleanses-commercial-companies-sell-and-ship-fresh-juice-those-eager-fast/C09bxd7IyT8nYpTtSKtJZM/story.html.