by Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB & Wendy Midgley,MED, RD, CDE
“What is at the tip of your fork is more powerful than what’s at the bottom or your pill bottle.” —by Mark Hyman, MD—
March is national Nutrition month. It is also ushers in the first week of Spring, a time to appreciate Nature and its power.
Spring is a season of new beginnings, and new growth. It is a time to cast out “winter residues,” clean out our closets, remove the clutter from our personal lives, and raise our vibrations.
***It is essential that we restore our most vital asset, our human energy.***
Spring invites us to assess our diet and lifestyle habits and re-balance what needs attention. Many individuals are drawn to doing “a diet cleanse” to kick off Spring.
The best cleansing program is: to eat well most of the time, avoid toxic foods and chemicals as much as possible, and stay well-hydrated. It is not necessary to do elaborate cleanses; and it is not ‘health-ful’ if a person resumes old eating habits, soon after a cleanse!
NOTE: If you are planning a serious cleanse and have medical issues and/or are taking regular prescription medications–follow a program under medical supervision.
Nutrition topics are all over the news these days!! Our patients are constantly asking us about hot topics such as the dangers of “pink slime”, high fructose corn syrup, BPAs, GMOs, arsenic and juice–as well as the virtues of prebiotics/probiotics, phytonutrients, coconut oil, and grass-fed beef.
In this BLOG, we will provide insights and practical suggestions to help you answer these questions for yourself! We will also address: “Top foods to avoid”–as well as “CLEAN FOODS” to choose.
- Pink Slime: Pink slime is a food additive/filler made from spare beef trimmings and connective tissues left over from other beef cuts. These scraps are heated to remove most of the fat and then treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill of dangerous E.Coli, salmonella, and other possible harmful bacteria. It is used as a processed “meat filler”, mixed into conventional ground beef and sold in grocery stores, cafeterias, school lunch programs, and restaurants across the nation. Pink slime is referrred to as “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB) by the meat industry.
ABC recently quoted a former US Department of Agriculture scientist as saying: “70% of supermarket ground beef contained pink slime.” (from www.MomsRising.org article: “Green Eggs and Pink Slime” 3/15/2012)
As of Fall 2012, school districts will be able to choose whether or not they allow pink slime into their school lunch programs. In the past, schools haven’t known what they were getting. Pink slime was not required to be listed as a separate ingredient on labels of ground beef because it was made from beef. SEE: Chicago Sun-Times, 3-16-2012: “Taste Test: Pink Slime Sounds Gross. But How Does it Taste?”
In the Worcester Telegram (Worcester, MA, 3-21-12), Pink Slime made the front page news: “Where’s the beef? Schools face slime-or-no-slime dilemma.” Worcester city school officials have decided to no longer use pink slime beef, starting immediately. Other towns and cities in Massachusetts may follow suit. But to use or not use pink slime is still an individual choice. (Pink slime beef is considerably cheaper than 100% ground beef.)
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there is no health risk with pink slime. There is, however, a big “eeeoooowwh factor!”
Stop and Shop supermarkets, (a large chain in MA) have decided to not sell any “pink slime beef.” (FOX NEWS, 3-22-2012)
On another note, there is the question: “How healthy is it to eat beef in general?” Dr. Walt Willett of Harvard School of Public Health recently reported the findings of a 20 year study: Eating higher amounts of red meat intake is related to a rise in premature death. Dr. Dean Ornish believes that cutting out red meat is not only good for individual health but also for the health of the planet. He advises skipping beef and choosing plant-based foods rich in phytochemicals, and other protective substances. The recommendation is: If you eat beef—choose grass-fed beef (vs grain-fed), and beef that is free from hormone treatments.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup. High fructose corn syrup, sometimes called corn sugar, has become a popular ingredient because it mixes easily and can extend shelf life, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is also widely available from abundant corn harvests in the USA; and so it is relatively inexpensive. It is the most common added sweetener in processed foods, and has become a popular ingredient in sodas and fruit-flavored drinks.
Research about what it does to our bodies is controversial and continues to evolve. Concerns have been raised because of how this product is processed. Some research studies have linked consumption OF ANY SUGAR–not just high fructose—to health problems such as weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition, and increased triglyceride levels–which can boost heart attack risks. While legal battles continue between the Corn Refiners Association and the sugar producers, the health controversy also continues.
“While there is some legitimate debate about the importance of differences in the metabolism of pure fructose, and table sugar or sucrose, there is no good reason to differentiate high-fructose corn syrup from table sugar.” This is according to David Katz, MD, MPH of Yale University. “This is a case where sugar is sugar and our problem is EXCESS. The dosage makes the poison–of either variety.” (SOURCE: ABCNEWS.com March 21, 2012 “Sugar Producers Say Corn Syrup Not the Same.”)
Are there any good sugars? The best ones are from a healthy piece of fruit or berries. There is also natural lactose sugar in milk, straight from the cow.
Avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible. More and more research points to increased neurological health issues for those who use aspartame frequently, on a daily basis, over many years. A better non-sugar choice is stevia. Stevia derives from a leaf. The product Truvia is part stevia and part sugar alcohol. Truvia is a processed product, but still a better choice over aspartame or Splenda (sucralose).
- BPAs. BPA is a synthetic estrogen used in everyday products ranging from canned food linings to paper products. BPA stands for Bisphenol A. It is added to plastics to make them more durable. It can be found in baby bottles, polycarbonate drinking bottles, as well as the linings of food and beverage cans, and even on store receipts.
BPA can wreak havoc with our hormone systems and is linked to serious health issues, such as early puberty, brain and heart problems, infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes, and prostate and breast cancers.
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has been active in BPA Research, since 2007. Findings indicate that BPA has leached “into more than half of the canned foods, beverages and liquids formulas (we) tested.” EWG and BPA references: http://www.ewg.org/bpa/tipstoavoidbpa; http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/chemicals/bisphenolA and http://action.ewg.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1965
Some major companies are working on the possibility of reconstructing their cans. These include: Campbell’s Soup, Eden Foods, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Muir Glen, Con Agra, Oregon’s Choice Gourmet, Eco Fish, Trader Joe’s, Vital Choice and Wild Planet (See EWG).
To limit BPA intake: Choose fresh foods when you can, non-canned items stored in glass (vs canned). If buying something canned, look for (hopefully more IN THE FUTURE) labeling that certifies a product is free of, or limited re: BPA effects. Pregnant women should be very careful to limit BPAs since the fetus is especially vulnerable to BPAs. Parents should avoid feeding infants formulas packaged in metal containers. Also check out the following resource: www.amazon.com/tag/bpafree/products (non-toxic product resource) and references in Jillian Michael’s book: Master Your Metabolism.
- GMOs. GMOs stand for genetically modified organisms. A wide variety of foods are created today using the GMO process. GMOs are a result of a laboratory process of: “taking genes from one species and inserting them into another one, in an attempt to obtain a desired characteristic.” There is controversy whether GMO crops will cause human health issues, as well as environmental problems. As is not uncommon in research studies–those researchers who cast GMOs in a favorable light are more likely to have a financial or professional conflicts of interest (according to Marion Nestle, PhD, Professor of Nutrition at NYU and author of Safe Food). Dr. Nestle reviews scientific Food Policy articles).
The eight top GMO food crops–according to April 2012 Prevention magazine include: corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and yellow summer squash.
Some food industry giants are being more choosey about what they offer customers, especially with their own brand labels. For example: Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s have banned GMO ingredients from their house brands. (Prevention, April 2012) Go to: www.nongmoshoppingguide.com for help in choosing non-GMO foods.
- Arsenic in fruit juice. According to a recent Consumer Reports study, apple juice and grape juice may have arsenic levels high enough to increase your family’s risk for heart disease, bladder, lung and skin cancer, immune problems, Type 2 Diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Of course, juice products vary in content. Arsenic can also be found in processed foods such as rice, baby food and cereal bars classified as “high energy bars.” Researchers conclude there is environmental contamination in places where we grow food, both conventional and organic. Some experts are calling for mapping soil and ground water arsenic levels in farm areas and creating guidelines for what areas to avoid for crops known to take up arsenic. For more information, see: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/consumer-reports-magazine-january-2012/arsenic-in-your-juice/index.htm
- Coconut Oil. Former teachings on coconut oil claimed that: it was “bad” for cholesterol levels due to its high saturated fat content. However, a new look explains that coconut also contains healthful medium chain triglycerides, which are easier to digest and may be helpful in treating inflammatory gut disorders. (Mullin and Swift book: The Inside Tract).
According to Donna Gates (The Body Ecology Diet), the lauric acid in coconut oil has an anti-viral effect. She also claims it does not raise cholesterol levels when one consumes a diet that is also rich in essential fatty acids (flax, fish, fish oil). Some sources say coconut oil may actually raise “the good cholesterol”, HDL. Gates states that coconut also contains caprylic acid, a potent antifungal, which may be helpful in Candida overgrowth.
Coconut oil is also safer for cooking at higher temperatures (as opposed to olive oil which has a lower smoke point.)
See Donna Gates website for recommendations re: purchasing coconut products: www.bodyecology.com
- Probiotics/prebiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in our intestinal tracts. When we are out of balance from illness, food allergies, or chronic use of antibiotics–the healthy balance of these organisms in the gut is disturbed. This state can be called dysbiosis (dys-biosis). Probiotics can be taken as a supplement in powder form or capsules, or in fermented drinks such as kefir. Typical healthful probiotic strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidus. Healthy bacteria are also used to make yogurts. Prebiotics are substances that help sustain the growth of the healthy probiotics in the gut. Prebiotics are found in foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, onions, almonds, and leeks. They can also be added to probiotic products in the form of FOS, or fructooligosaccharides. The dosage can vary anywhere from 3 billion to 80+ billion CFUs! (CFU = colony forming organisms). Refrigerated forms are considered more potent, although users of both refrigerated and non-refrigerated types report benefits. (Sources. Books: The Inside Tract by Mullin and Swift and the Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates. Websites: www.livestrong.com/probiotics/ and www.nutrition.about.com/od/therapeuticnutrition1/p/pro_prebiotics.htm
- Top FOODS to AVOID and BEST FOODS to CHOOSE
—7 Tops Foods To Avoid according to Prevention magazine on-line (12/11), include: canned tomatoes, conventional apples, corn-fed beef, microwave popcorn, nonorganic potatoes, farm raised salmon, and milk-produced with artificial hormones.
—Some foods are worth buying organic (fewer pesticides and harmful residues). Known as “the DIRTY DOZEN”, they include: apples, blueberries (domestic), celery, grapes (imported), kale/collard greens, lettuce, nectarines (imported), peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ (the EWG Shoppers Guide.)
—Known as “the CLEAN 15″ (EWG list) these foods can be bought non-organic OR conventional and include:
asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe (domestic), eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, mushrooms, onions, pineapple, sweet corn, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, watermelon.
NOTE: When you can, buy local produce in season–especially from respected farms.
POSITIVE NUTRITION ADVICE…Be Pro-ACTIVE!!!
- How SHOULD we eat? With so much to avoid, how can we develop a healthy way of eating amidst all the No-No’s?
It IS worth trying to eat well because long-term bad habits will eventually effect our health in deleterious ways. On the other hand, positive long-term eating habits can effect our long-term health potential to our advantage.
- “EAT CLEAN!” is a current dietary command! What does this mean? “Clean eating” means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Eating “cleaner” and fresher may help accelerate healing. It can contribute to better energy, fewer aches and pains, less degenerative disease. Adding fresh herbs to our foods can enhance the “eating clean” approach. Limit or eliminate refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup. Eliminate or limit alcohol. Eliminate or limit foods with GMOs and BPAs.
- Visualize yourself eating whole, clean foods that will nourish YOU and all your cells. Eat small balanced portions 5-6 times/day. Don’t skip breakfast. Choose to do more home cooking. Take home-cooked foods to your work site.
- Create colorful, HIGH PHYTOCHEMICAL meals, pleasing to the eyes and the palate. Phytochemicals such as lycopenes and anthocyanins are compounds found in fruits and vegetables. They protect the plants themselves from danger, as well as protect US! Some serve as anti-oxidants that protect us from cell damage. Others boost our immune systems. Phytochemicals are important for a life full of vitality and to help slow down processes of aging and degeneration. They are found in colorful fruits and vegetables. (see article: “Eating Well by Color” in HEALTHY LIVING Magazine, Fall 2011)
- 7 Rainbow Colors that should be on your plate everyday include RED (tomatoes, red peppers, guaa, watermelon, pink grapefruit), ORANGE (apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, oranges, papaya, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tangerines, winter squash), YELLOW and GREEN (artichokes, lettuce, summer squash, wax beans, arugala, chard, collards, mustard and turnip greens), GREEN (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green cabbage, kale). BLUE (blueberries, blackberries), PURPLE (grapes, eggplant, plums), and DEEP RED (raspberries, strawberries, radishes, cranberries). from BOOK: Eating Well in Season: The Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Eating Well, Inc.
***The USDA recommends 5.5 cups per week or orange and red foods and 1.5 cups per week of dark green produce.***
***NOTE: Although fruits are very beautiful this time of year, it is best to eat 2x as many vegetables as fruits—since fruits (in general) are much higher in sugar.***
- Try FOOD ROTATION PRINCIPLES. This means rotating food choices every 4th day–to ensure more nutrient variety and healthier intestinal tracts.
- Be careful with PORTION SIZES, especially with the calorically dense foods such as starches, sugars, proteins, nuts and fats. Examples of classic portion sizes are: 3 oz cooked chicken or fish (the size of a deck of cards); 1/2 cup portions of starch: e.g. 1/2 cup cooked peas, corn, starchy beans, potato, sweet potato, rice, quinoa, winter squash, pasta. (1 cup may = the size of one’s fist–but this depends on the size of your hand!!) Use smaller plates for meal-time (9″ across) and smaller glasses for beverages with calories. Classic FRUIT PORTIONS can be found on Diabetic Exchange Lists.
- Stay Well Hydrated. Staying well hydrated (adequate fluids in the body) is important for overall quality of health and for Life itself. Mild dehydration symptoms include: headache, weakness and fatigue. Exercise performance level and stamina can also be effected. Moderate dehydration symptoms may include: dry mouth, increased fatigue, lack of skin elacticity, and scant urine output. Such conditions can lead to urinary tract infections.
—ADVICE: We are all familiar with the old Rule of Thumb: “Drink 6-8 cups of water per day.” However, we can also be hydrated from leafy green vegetables, fruits, juices, soups, yogurt, yogurt drinks; some tea and coffee can count, too. If we are doing intense exercise, or are ill, or sweating more than usual: we need more fluids than usual.
- What about coffee? Coffee is another controversial topic. 1-3 cups coffee per day is acceptable for the general population. (1 cup = 5 oz. of brewed, caffeinated coffee). Coffee effects everyone differently.
—Some studies are indicating that coffee may help delay certain neurodegenerative health issues such as Alzheimers disease.
—Many functional holistic physicians recommend limitation of coffee in general–and if you drink it, limit to 1 cup (5 oz cup) organic coffee per day.
NOTE: If coffee causes heart palpitations, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, urinary tract issues, or chronic intestinal complaints–it should be limited or avoided altogether. Also limit or avoid during pregnancy.
- Watch Sodium Intake. Sodium comes from table salt (sodium chloride), MSG (monosodium glutamate) and other sodium compounds added to processed foods. Excess salt contributes to a strain on the heart and kidneys. Salt promotes fluid retention in some individuals. Recommended amounts of daily sodium for the general population are: 2300 mg/day. This is = to: 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/3 less than what the average public consumes each day. For the elderly or those with serious medical conditions: 1300-1500 mg/day are recommended.
- Be aware of Drug and Food Interactions. (prescription medications, over the counter products such as antacids). Also: vitamins, iron, herbal formulas and food interactions. Always read the label on a container. If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor or pharmacist. For more information visit: www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm096386.htm
- Shopping Advice. Buy more whole foods, less packaged products. Avoid nitrates in processed meats and chemical additives. The fewer chemicals the better! Look for certified organic, non GMOs food labeling.
- More on Food Labels. It would be ideal to purchase an “all whole foods diet”–not in packages! However, we all buy some packaged foods, so we need to know how to read labels more carefully. There is a saying: “If you cannot pronounce the ingredients in the product, don’t buy it!”
—On the positive side, labels do tell us how many carbohydrates, proteins, fats and calories are in an item. They may give us percentages of nutrients present, or percentages of nutrients added to the food. Gary Hirshberg, cofounder of Stoneyfield yogurt, is participating in the Just Label It Campaign. He states: “without labeling, we are all involuntary participants in this giant experiment with our bodies and our planet.”
- Feed and nourish oneself in other ways—- beyond food. Get out in Nature, listen to music…whatever FEEDS your SOUL!
OUR BOTTOM LINE ADVICE: Good Nutrition doesn’t stand alone. It works best when joined together with regular physical activity, relaxation, adequate sleep, connection to others, and living one’s life on purpose.
Choose to eat well and make your best efforts! Practice eating mindfully. You don’t have to be perfect! If you EAT CLEAN and well 80+ % of the time, you are on the right track!
“Often Nourishment of the Spirit begins with the Nourishment of the Body.” —–anonymous—
Wishing you nourishing eating and good health,
The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!
Deb and Wendy
- Bauer, Heather, RD, CDN. Bread is the Devil and The Wall Street Diet
- EatingWell.com editors: Eating Well by Color and Eating Well in Season: The Farmers Market Cookbook
- Fuhrman, Joel, MD: Eat for Health: Lose Weight, Keep it Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2-book set); Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustainable Weight Loss, and Super Immunity: The Essential Nutritional Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Long, Stronger and Disease-Free
- Gates, Donna: The Body Ecology Diet and The Baby Boomer Diet: Body Ecology’s Guide to Growing Younger
- Hauser, Anne. The Hauser Diet: A Fresh Look at Healthy Living (individualized to one’s unique physiology)
- Hyman, Mark, MD. The Blood Sugar Solution (NEW), UltraMetabolism, The UltraMetabolism Cookbook. and UltraPrevention (written together with Mark Liponis, MD)
- Junger, Alejandro, MD. The Clean Diet
- Michaels, Jillian, Master Your Metabolism (full of nutrition tidbits)
- Teitelbaumj, Jaco, MD Beat Sugar Addiction Cookbook
- Zinczenko, David with Goulding, Matt. Eat this, Not That: The Supermarket Survival Guide.
http://nu-train.com Click on: “Are Detox Diet Healthy?” (Heather Bauer, RD)
www.bodyecology.com (Donna Gates) can sign up for The Body Ecology Newsletter
www.eatwellguide.org (guides and maps to hormone-free dairies, farmers’ markets, food coops, and more
www.ewg.org (The Environmental Working Group)
www.forksoverknives.com helpful quotes and DVD available
www.healthychild.org Information and resources for parents to create healthy environments for all
www.livestrong.com numerous well documented nutrition and health articles
www.organicconsumers.com (foods, cleaning and building products)