RAISE your Nutrition AWARENESS!

 by Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB & Wendy Midgley MEd, RD, CDE

            “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”   


March is National Nutrition Month. In this BLOG, we share some important nutritional information that may impact your health.  

Nutritional AWARENESS is the first step to better food choices. 

***Choosing healthier foods– 80% of the time– will enhance one’s quality of life.***

 The following facts and information can guide you in your choices.


  • Buy only ORGANIC for the  “the Dirty Dozen” (now known as “the dirty 14”)

These foods are called “dirty” because they may contain large amounts of pesticide residues and chemicals.   The author JJ Virgin refers to these foods as “pesticide receptacles.”  They include: sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, cucumbers, apples, potatoes, green beans, spinach, lettuce, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), kale/collard greens, blueberries (domestic), and celery. Purchase these items certified organic.  SOURCE: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-dirty-dozen-  is-now-the-dirty-14.html

  •  CHOOSE  “the Clean 15″.

The following foods (lower in pesticide residue)–can be purchased as “conventional.”  i.e., organic is not necessary for:  asparagus, sweet corn, pineapple, avocados, cabbage, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, cantaloupe (domestic),grapefruit, watermelon, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions  Source: Environmental working group @   www.ewg.org

  • Eat more GREEN vegetables, and more vegetables in general.  Vegetables are high in fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants and lower in  carbohydrates (‘carbs’) and calories than most fruits.  They also promote more alkalinity in the body.  Bodies tend to have too much acidity.  A highly acid state is associated with inflammation, chronic disease, and acceleration of the aging process.

NOTE: According to Consumer Reports in early 2012, about 10% of 88 apple and grape juices sampled had levels of arsenic–mostly inorganic arsenic-above federal standards of water. Arsenic-based pesticides were once used in orchards and vineyards. Whole fruit is a better source of nutrients and fiber. Juices are high in sugar and calories. Most people should drink no more than one cup of juice daily, young children even less. You can dilute juice with water to reduce calories and exposure to any chemicals, or just drink water


Excess sugar can promote diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, inflammation of various kinds (like arthritis and heart disease) dental decay and gum disease.  Sugar comes in many forms: brown sugar, free flowing brown sugars, corn syrup, demerara sugar, dextrose,  fructose, galactose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt, maltodextrin, maltose, maple syrup, agave syrup, molasses, muscovado or barbados sugar, panocha, powdered or confectioner’s sugar, rice syrup, sucrose, sugar(granulated), treacle, turbinado sugar  Source:  http://www.diet-blog.com/07/25_names_for_sugar.php


People often eat more when they’re short on sleep.  That impulse to wolf down food when sleepy can cause rapid weight gain.  Sleep disorders are also associated with a lack of oxygen—which slows down metabolic processes. Most adults need 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night.    SOURCE: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/03/11/174028830


Magnesium is an important mineral responsible for building and strengthening bones and teeth, relaxing muscles, transmitting nerve signals, contributing to the integrity of the immune system, producing enzymes responsible for energy, metabolism, and regulating blood pressure and heart health.

  •  Standard recommended intake (RDAs) for magnesium for adults: Men–420 mg. of magnesium daily. Women–320 mg. of magnesium per day.            http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  • FOODS that contain magnesium include:  sunflower and sesame seeds, beans and legumes (e.g.: black beans, lentils), veggies, fish, bananas, whole grains (e.g.: brown rice, whole oats, wheat germ, wheat bran, quinoa, millet), spinach, kelp, dulse, almonds, peanuts, collard greens, tofu.    
  • If you are unable to get enough magnesium in foods, a magnesium supplement of 250-500 mg can be taken daily. It is best to take your magnesium after a meal or a snack to prevent stomach upsets and diarrhea. (some sources say it is also OK to take it on an empty stomach.)  If you tend towards constipation, magnesium citrate is the recommended form. If you are prone to diarrhea, or loose stools—magnesium glycinate is recommended.  SOURCES:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christiane-northrup/magnesium-calcium_b_509115.html  (Christianne Northrup, MD) and http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/20/magnesium-the-most-powerful-relaxation-mineral-available/

 CHICKEN (and other poultry):

Make sure the chickens you consume have never been given antibiotics, hormones or drugs. They should have been fed a natural diet consisting of insects, pesticide-free grass and non-genetically modified legumes and grains. This allows the chickens to have a healthy inner ecosystem and strong immunity. Make sure the chickens are humanely raised and free-range (allowed to run around outside with grass underfoot). Cage free is not the same as free range. Cage free chickens typically live on porches with no access to pastures.

Chickens that are pasture fed with the above farming standards offer by far the most health benefits including: higher in minerals, higher in fat-soluble vitamins (ex: 50% more Vitamin A), 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat, and a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids (100% more omega-3 essential fatty acids than conventional chicken).  Source: http://bodyecology.com/articles?healthy_chicken.php

 ONIONS and GARLIC not only add taste to your food, but they also are a good source of quercitin, a potent antioxidant that can help fight inflammation.  SOURCE: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-294-QUERCETIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=294&activeIngredientName=QUERCETIN


When your body eats a carbohydrate (especially the processed carbs in white flour products, pasta, baked goods, sugars, white potato, white rice) without fat or protein–your body quickly absorbs this nutrient and your blood sugar will spike.

The body stabilizes your blood sugar by a large release of insulin. Try your best never to eat ‘carbs’ alone– if you want to burn fat all day long. Fruit is an exception. Since fruit is high in fibers, fruit sugars will be absorbed in your bloodstream slowly.  Low carb vegetables are also the exception.  Broccoli, and salads, for example, will not raise your blood sugar any appreciable amount!!!


The foods we eat can affect blood fatsalso known as triglycerides. Excess triglyceride in the blood (hypertriglyceridemia) is associated with atherosclerosis and in extreme cases: acute pancreatitis.  

 To lower your triglycerides: Eat fruits which contains fiberwhich slows the rate at which the fructose (fruit sugar) is broken down, rather than drinking fruit juice. Decrease your carbohydrate intake especially from foods that contain simple and processed carbs.  Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for women, two per day for men.  Excess alcohol consumption can raise triglycerides.   Excess fat intake, and excess calories in general, can also contribute to hypertriglyceridemia. Maintain a healthy weight.  Include moderate intensity aerobic exercise 30 minutes per day, at least five days per week.  SOURCE: http://www.joybauer.com/high-triglycerides/about-high-triglycerides.aspx


Foods to avoid for oral health include:  sugars of all kinds, and processed flours (like white flour crackers). Plaque (a sticky deposit on teeth in which bacteria proliferate) thrives in an environment bathed in sugars and starches; this is how teeth decay. 

NOTE: It is not wise to send an infant or child to bed with juice or other sweetened beverages, including a bottle of milk. (Milk contains sugar called lactose.)  

Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice) cling to an infant’s teeth for long periods of time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and produce acids that attack the teeth.At risk are children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in sugar or syrup.  Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap or nighttime is particularity harmful, as the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.”   SOURCE: http://www.webmd.com/oral- health/guide/what-is-baby-bottle-tooth-decay

Foods that are healthy for teeth and gums includefresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and cheese—which help prevent plaque adhering to the teeth.   Some believe that cheese (LOW in lactose) can actually help build tooth enamel–on the spot.   Celery, carrots and apples can help clean teeth–due to their abrasive action on the teeth.  

 AVOID FOOD-BORN ILLNESSES by following these simple guidelines:

Run produce thoroughly under water and peel off outer layers of leafy vegetables. Refrigerate fresh produce within 2 hours of cutting or peeling, Buy pasteurized juice whenever possible because pasteurization kills harmful bacteria. If you have a weakened immune system– consider eating only cooked produce.

NEVER use the same utensils or cutting surfaces for preparing meats and veggies. Wash off eggs before cracking–bacteria can be on the outside of the shell and enter the egg when it’s cracked. Always cook eggs and poultry thoroughly. Don’t defrost meats on the counter, use the refrigerator or microwave.

FOOD is MEDICINE!  Your number one Pharmacy is in your own kitchen! Food affects your feelings, thinking, health, sleep, lab values, and energy levels. People are more satisfied and have fewer food cravings when they eliminate processed, and chemical filled (so-called foods) and eat seasonal, local produce (when possible), nutrient-dense food that include the taste senses of: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and pungent.

 “Don’t eat anything your great great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food; there are a great many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food…stay away from these!”  

                                           –Michael Pollan–

Here’s to Good Nutrition and a Happy Spring!!
The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!
Wendy and Deb


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