Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is Celiac disease and how to take charge of your gluten-free diet!

Until I began studying nutrition, I had never heard of Celiac disease. Now it is more commonly known and discussed in the media for being more prevalent than ever. Even without this disease, many are taking on a gluten-free diet in hopes of weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. I don't see it as something that should be done, unless people suffer from this disorder. Whole grains are beneficial to those who can handle them, so please do not cut out grains unless medically needed!
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the villi on the small intestine when gluten is eaten and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from foods. It is considered an auto-immune disease, but it's cause and reasoning is still much a mystery to the dietary and medical world. We know it's genetic, but it can go unseen throughout one's life and suddenly become prevalent after a surgery, having a baby, or during a time of emotional stress. So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley. It is not limited to foods, there are also some medications, vitamins, and even lip balms! What happens to people with this disease if they eat gluten? Physiologically, the villi (which are the hair like things attached to your small intestine) are damaged and flattened when gluten is eaten. Over time if Celiac's goes undiagnosed, they can become permanently flattened. These villi are responsible for the absorption of nutrients from your small intestine into your blood stream, and when not working properly, this can be a big problem. The person can become malnourished no matter how much they eat or how much they weigh.
There is tons to be said about Celiac itself, BUT today I am here to talk about the great gluten alternatives there are out there for those that suffer.
Personally, I do NOT suffer from Celiac, but I have friends that do. As a frequent shopper of Trader Joes, I have tried tons of different things, including some gluten free peanut/granola bars and other products that I have found to be yummy. A main problem with gluten-free foods is that they tend to be more expensive, but if you do some of the cooking yourself, there are thousands of gluten-free recipes out there, just google it! :) When it comes to every day living, it is a very hard thing to adjust to. Wheat and wheat flour is in almost everything we eat on a daily basis, and don't even realize it!
Gluten is found in:
  • Pizza
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Bagels
  • Many cereals that contain barley, wheat, rye or anything that says the word "malt" or "malted"

On a gluten-free diet you can still eat:
  • Eggs and milk products such as cheese. Some cheese and cheese spreads may contain gluten, so check the labels for additives. You may need to avoid milk and milk products at the beginning of treatment.
  • Flours and starches made from rice, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, soybeans, or tapioca.
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned unprocessed meats. Examples of processed meats are hot dogs, salami, and deli meat. Read labels for additives that may contain gluten.
  • Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables, if they do not have thickeners or other additives that contain gluten.
  • Certain alcohol drinks, including wine, liquor (including whiskey and brandy), liqueurs, and ciders.

They do make gluten-free breads but, the costs can be outrageous and I hear it doesn't taste great. The sad reality is that most bread and pasta products will need to be cut out of the diet when the gluten-allergy is bad, unless strictly noted as gluten free.I recommend trying Whole Foods and Trader Joes and researching most affordable prices. Trader Joe's, like I said before, has really great gluten free peanut/chewy bar things! (In the granola bar section)
Here is a website that provides a list of brands that are gluten free for all types of foods.
I wish I could be more helpful, but there's not as many substitutes out there as I thought!!
Have a happy, healthy holiday!! <3

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today's Rant: "The China Study"- Why this fad is dangerous and uneducated.

The first I heard about "The China Study" was when I posted a topic on Calcium a couple months ago. I didn't bother researching it because it sounded so ridiculous, I wasn't about to waste my time. Now, the subject has been brought to my attention again, and I am finding out that some doctors and pediatricians are also following this fad, and although I am sure these professions are good at what they do, I can assure you they don't have a background in nutrition if they could possibly believe that this lifestyle could be "healthy" for adults and children. What is "The China Study"? It is a book written by T. Colin Campbell and his son, Thomas Campbell. Although T. Colin Campbell supposedly has a degree in biochemistry and has studied nutrition, there are too many errors, proven conflicts, and questionable theories for much of what he preaches to be true or not yet proven. He even states in his book that he makes "generalizations" and they have not yet been proven true. What does that tell you? Let's get to a few key things in his book that are proven to be false.

"Eating foods that contain any cholesterol above 0mg is unhealthy"- FALSE - Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Because your body only synthesizes 80% of it's cholesterol without diet. Your body can use that additional 20% for the essential functions carried out by cholesterol in the body. 300-330mg of cholesterol a day is considered the average and not-to-exceed amount because of the heart disease that is caused by too much. This number gives you middle-ground, not too much, not too little. These are the things that cholesterol does in your body:

-Build the structure of cell membranes
-Make hormones like estrogen, testosterone and adrenal hormones
-Help your metabolism work efficiently; for example, cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D
-Produce bile acids, which help the body digest fat and absorb important nutrients.

Now we know that too much is very bad, but 0mg is not healthy, either, which is what the China Study states.

He also argues that calcium should not be obtained from dairy sources: FALSE
Because dairy sources contain Vitamin D which are necessary for the absorption of the Calcium they also contain. Without Vitamin D, calcium cannot do what it needs to do in the body, and without calcium, bones and teeth cannot grow, they will be brittle, break easily, and many more negative consequences to inadequate calcium. Calcium CAN be found in other foods, like some vegetables, BUT, look at the vitamin D discrepancy between the two:
An 8oz glass of 2% milk has 30% of your daily calcium, 25 mg cholesterol and 25% of your daily Vitamin D.
You would have to eat THREE cups of raw spinach to get only 8% of your daily calcium, with 0 Vitamin D to absorb it.
Do you get it now?

The China Study also talks about all natural living, vegan/vegetarian diets and how dairy and these types of foods are responsible for cancer, heart disease (only when eaten an EXCESS), and diabetes (not correlated at all, except with obesity). There are just as many vegetarians with cancer as those that eat dairy and calcium in moderation. Heart disease is decreased when vegan because you are getting no cholesterol nor animal fat, but the reverse health effects, like malnutrition and bodily function and sufficiency are prevalent. Vegetarianism is not unhealthy, because they can still have dairy products that offer Calcium. When you cut out dairy completely, there will be consequences. Please be wise and advise a nutritional expert before cutting dairy products and making other way out changes to you or your child's diet.

This is a GREAT website I found, written by Dr. Wilson, MD, with a list of errors found in the book. This is ridiculous, I don't even have my bachelor's degree yet, and I know the difference between all of these mistakes. He also talks about the fact that better food choices are not discussed. Please take a look at this website, it will very clearly put your curiosity about the China Study to rest.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trans Fat- JUST SAY NO! Trans Fat # 1 Heart Offender!

Yes, this is me in a Shirt I bought :)

Many of you have heard of it, but i can bed a majority don't quite know what it is, and that's why I'm here! Trans fat, also known as trans fatty acids are made through the chemical process of hydrogenated oils. They are occasionally found in small quanities of some meats and dairy, but these do not have the negative health effects like those trans fats formed by the process of hydrogenation. Why hydrogenate? Well, it includes the shelf life and taste of many foods, but do you really think it's work the risk? I think not. It is even secretly hidden into many of your favorite snacks you think may be healthy, like wheat thins and many granola bars. If you look on the back of your foods, they may still say "0g trans fat", because the FDA doesn't require them to include it if there is under 0.5 g in a serving. So how do you tell if the foods you are eating contain trans fat? Look in the ingredients list, does it say "partially hydrogenated ________ oil", yup! That's trans fat. Don't be fooled by the "0g" trans fat in the nutrition label, look deeper, they are out to fool you with one of the most unhealthy and toxic things produced by the food industry. Other common things that contain trans fat include coffee creamers (powdered and liquid), cake frosting, vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and many others. There is currently a petition out there to ban trans fatty acids from all foods,and California was the first state this year to ban trans fatty acids in restaurants and fast-food chains state-wide.
This is a great website for all sorts of facts and insight to the world of trans-fats.
"Trans fats wreak havoc with the body's ability to regulate cholesterol. In the hierarchy of fats, the polyunsaturated fats which are found in vegetables are the good kind; they lower your cholesterol. Saturated fats have been condemned as the bad kind. But trans fats are far worse. They drive up the LDL ("bad") cholesterol. which markedly increases the risk of coronary artery heart disease and stroke. According to a recent study of some 80,000 women, for every 5% increase in the amount of saturated fat a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by 17%. But only a 2% increase in trans fats will increase her risk of heart disease by 93%!"

Trans fats have been linked to 30,000 deaths in the United States each year, and millions of premature deaths nation-wide.

It has been deemed the largest dietary danger and without complaints and continuing the petition to the FDA, it won't be stopped. I am guilty of consuming it myself, I have been tricked by the "0 gram" label and have not read the ingredients in many of the so-called "healthy" foods i've eaten, but now being as heavily involved in nutrition as I am, I am conscious and aware of my dietary surroundings.

Read the labels carefully, and if you suspect you are eating something that isn't healthy for you, you are probably right. Food is like your friends, choose wisely, and it will benefit you in the long run. <3

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cholesterol: What is it, and why is too much so bad?

Today's topic is all about one of my favorite things to "preach" about, and that's CHOLESTEROL! Until I found out that my fiancee's was so dangerously high, I didn't know too much about it, but when I found out, I changed every aspect of our daily lives when it came to food. You may be asking "what kind of foods contain cholesterol?"Well, your liver is what synthesizes cholesterol, and it is made by the liver from saturated fats. We've talked about saturated fats before, and why they are so bad. The number one offender when it comes to cholesterol is MEAT. The more fatty the meat, the more cholesterol. The ADA (American Dietetics Association) recommends that you don't consume red meat more than once a week. That is pretty hard to swallow for all you meat-eaters, so I say twice a week is acceptable. Now don't think that just eating a lot of chicken is going to be the better choice, chicken thighs and wings and dark meat of poultry contain just as much, if not more, cholesterol than red meat. When it comes to choosing meat, be wise. Pick lean, skinless, chicken/turkey breast, remove fat. If you are going to treat yourself with some red meat, lean toward filet mignon or other lean red meats, the less white fat running through it, the better on your heart. EGGS are another horrible cholesterol-heavy food. The average large egg contains about 212 mg cholesterol. If you eat two eggs you are already over the daily recommended intake for cholesterol. One egg contains Other offenders of cholesterol include dairy products such as milk, cheese, cream. Switch to 1 or 2% or soy milk, limit cheese to an occasional snack, and you will reasonably stay within the limit. Now what's the norm for how much cholesterol you should consume in your diet? The number stands at about 300mg a day. And if you look on the back of your food labels you can see what qualifies as a serving and how many mg are in each serving. Believe it or not, your body actually synthesizes 80% of it's cholesterol on its own and that is why you only need to consume 20% from your diet. You don't want to little, because cholesterol does benefit the body in many ways. It produces bile salts, hormones, and vitamin D, but you don't want too much because of it's negative effects on the heart, and that 300mg is the healthy balance for this.
There are three types of cholesterol: LDL (Low-density lipoprotein, aka BAD cholesterol), HDL (High-density lipoprotein, aka GOOD cholesterol), and Triglycerides. These three make up your overall cholesterol numbers which can be tested in your blood.

Here is some information obtained from on the positive and negative effects of each of these cholesterols.

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol
When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.

HDL (Good) Cholesterol
About one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol, because high levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack. Low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) also increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's passed from the body. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup.

Triglyceride is a form of fat made in the body. Elevated triglycerides can be due to overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates (60 percent of total calories or more). People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL (bad) level and a low HDL (good) level. Many people with heart disease and/or diabetes also have high triglyceride levels.

My fiancee gave me permission to share his story and cholesterol numbers with you for the purpose of my educating people on how diet CAN improve cholesterol significantly, and it doesn't take too much time, either. He went to the doctor, and the next day received his blood test results. Everything was normal but the doctor was very, VERY concerned about his cholesterol numbers. They were extremely high and the doctor pretty much told him he was at a very high risk for heart attack if he didn't change his diet. He has 6 months to do it on his own or he was going on medication. We had been together about 2 years at this point, and I hadn't focused too much on cholesterol because I know I cooked pretty healthy at dinner, but I wasn't looking at the big picture, because I didn't know that the problem existed. BIG mistake. Whether there's a problem or not, you need to watch your cholesterol intake to keep it under control before the problem begins. I changed EVERYTHING. From the way I cooked dinner, the amount of red meat I let him eat a week, to limiting his egg and cheese intake, and started making his lunches every day for him. It sounds like a lot of work, but when you see the difference 6 months made, this was such a worth-while change. Now it's the normal routine. I let him have his red meat a couple times a week, 2 eggs on the weekend, and continue to make his lunch. I substituted all butter with substitute (except in baking, of course), all foods were fried or basted in olive oil, and cheese was limited. His good cholesterol was also very low, which is not good. There are heart-healthy foods that can raise this number, and these include: whole grains (pasta, bread, etc.), increasing monounsaturated fats (olive oil), and exercise. I switched all the pasta and bread to 100% whole grain/wheat, as I mentioned before, everything was cooked in olive oil, and increased the fresh fruits and vegetables served with dinner and in lunch. An HDL number above 60 is actually proven to reduce heart disease! It's amazing that the food you put into your body could have such an influence on your heart and overall health.
So after the astonishing and scary high numbers tested prior, six months later he went in for the cholesterol check-up, and his doctor couldn't believe it. Although a few of the numbers were still slightly elevated, the amount they changed for the better was astounding. His words were along the lines of: "I don't know how you did this, but keep doing it and you won't have to go on medication, this is great!" To show you the shift after the 6 month change in diet, here are the before and after numbers:

Before, After, Normal 

Cholesterol:   273, 197, <200
Cholesterol/High Density Lipoprotein (ratio):   8.5, 5.5, <5.0
LDL: 175, 117, <100
HDL: 32, 36, >/=40
Triglycerides: 329, 222, <150

It hasn't been check again, but I'm sure because we continue the healthy living lifestyle in our house and having changed his lunch from greasy fast food/roach coach to healthy sandwiches on whole wheat, it is continuing to stay on the right path and improve. There are still a couple areas of improvement, but you can see that in 6 months, with a healthy diet, the numbers significantly improved. Once eating healthier, he even told me that he didn't get that disgustingly full and slugging feeling after eating anymore, and he had more energy. Diet is everything, guys, for your heart, your mind, and your entire body!

Cholesterol is the number one offender of the heart, be smart and choose heart-healthy foods to improve your HDL and decrease your LDL. Any questions? Feel free to leave me a comment, and follow me on twitter!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Have you and your children had your fruits and veggies? PLUS fun and easy ways to get your kids to eat their's!! Childhood obesity is equivalent to poisoning your child, don't kill your kids!!!

If you know me, you know I'm extremely passionate about stopping obesity, and even more so about childhood obesity. Obesity is the single most preventable problem there is, and one primary reason for it is the lack of fruits and vegetables in the average diet. And for all you fast-food-goers, FRENCH FRIES ARE NOT A VEGETABLE! Can I make that any more clear? Greasy, fried, oily, sodium-saturated, crust-covered potatoes are NOT a vegetable. By the time they are frozen and deep fried, the very few, un-starchy, nutrients that were once in the poor little potatoes are gone. NOW, let's talk about the good stuff. Getting a colorful variety of fruits and veggies is very important. The more colorful array you choose, the more nutrients and vitamins you're getting. It is proven that people who on average eat more fruits and vegetables daily (incorporated into daily calories), weigh less and, are less-fatigued, and function better overall than those who don't. Let's start with getting your "5 a day the color way!" and the daily recommended servings of both fruits and vegetables for both children and adults.

Age                                 Fruits (serving)        Vegetables
Less Active:
2-3 yrs                              1                                  1
4-8                                    1                                1.5
9-13                                 1.5                                2
14-18                               1.5                              2.5
Moderately Active:
2-3 yrs                              1                                 1
4-8                                  1.5                              1.5
9-13                                1.5                                2
14-18                                2                               2.5
2-3 yrs                              1                                 1
4-8                                  1.5                              1.5
9-13                                1.5                              2.5
14-18                                2                                3

Age                                 Fruits                     Vegetables
Less Active:
2-3 yrs                                1                                1
4-8                                    1.5                             1.5
9-13                                  1.5                             2.5
14-18                                  2                                3
Moderately Active:
2-3 yrs                                1                                1
4-8                                    1.5                             1.5
9-13                                  1.5                             2.5
14-18                                  2                                3
2-3 yrs                                1                                1
4-8                                    1.5                               2
9-13                                    2                               2.5
14-18                                2.5                              3.5

Age                                 Fruits                     Vegetables
Less Active:
19-30                                 2                                2.5
31-51                               1.5                               2.5
51+                                  1.5                                2
Moderately Active:
19-50                                 2                                 2.5
51+                                  1.5                                2.5
19-50                                 2                                   3
51+                                    2                                 2.5

Age                                 Fruits                     Vegetables
Less Active:
19-50                                  2                                  3
51+                                     2                                2.5
Moderately Active:
19-30                                  2                                3.5
31+                                     2                                 3
19-30                                2.5                                4
31-50                                2.5                              3.5
51+                                     2                                 3

What is classified as "One" serving? These vary from fruit to fruit and veggie to veggie, but this should give you a general idea. A serving is about a cup and here are some ideas for 1 cup and 1/2 cup servings so you know how much you're getting.
A small apple- 1 cup
1 large ear of corn- 1 cup
1 large orange- 1 cup
16 grapes- 1/2 cup
A small banana- 1/2 cup
6 baby carrots- 1/2 cup
or most chopped or easily measured fruits/vegetables in a measuring cup or half cup is accurate.

What is the importance of fruits and vegetables?
Both include many essential vitamins and nutrients that the body needs. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables and improve overall health. A diet lacking color variety of these foods is usually vitamin deficient, and replacing some of those bad calories with the right ones will help you lose weight and maintain more balance in many physiological aspects.
There are a ton of fun and tasty recipes out there than incorporate fruits and veggies and are easy and cost-effective. Broccoli with a little cheese on top is one of my favorites, spinach (raw in salads), purple grapes, 100% orange juice, and gala apples are some of the ways I daily incorporate these yummy and healthiful foods into my life!
When I was growing up, you couldn't get me to eat a vegetable if you paid me, now you couldn't pay me NOT to eat them. One thing I hear from a lot of parents is that it is difficult to get their children to eat there fruits and vegetables, but if you knew the risks and deficiencies associated with NOT eating them and the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes, you might think twice. I am one that personally believes obese children's parents should be forced to take parenting classes in nutrition and interaction. I think that allowing your children to gain weight and become obese should be considered child endangerment. It is no different than slowly slipping them cyanide every day and poisoning them, literally. This is my opinion, and you are free to have your own, but I feel that if I express it this way, parents might understand why it is so crucial to teach your children healthy living and physical activity. If your child is already overweight, it is NOT too late. This is one common misconception about overweight children [and adults], but it is never too late, and you can reverse the damage you've done. It at times is a long and rough road, but it will be worth it when you and/or your kids are healthy.

Snacks to help sneak in those good things:
Carrots and Ranch: Easy on the ranch, maybe even buy light ranch if you're child does have a weight problem, but this is a fun and tasty way to trick your kids into getting those veggies.
100% Fruit Juice: Not a substitute for 100% of the time, but for one of those fruit servings, it's a great way to sneak it in. (Unless diabetes is a factor, then please advise a doctor, because juices contain high amounts of sugar)
Celery and Peanut Butter: Easy on the peanut butter (Try to limit the serving to about 2 TBSP which is 190cal [180 reduced fat]), but another yummy way to mask some of the veggie-ness of celery. It also has protein from the peanut butter, it's a win-win.
Apples and Caramel: Again, don't let them eat the whole jar of caramel, but I think you're getting the idea.
Broccoli with some cheddar or jack cheese sprinkled on top: It takes away some of the broccoli part of it, and you also get the calcium and good stuff from the cheese!

There are tons more, but those are my most simple and easy ways to help incorporate fruits and vegetables into your child's (and maybe even your) diet! :) If you google ways to help kids eat healthier, there are tons of recipes and options, whether you have an hour or fifteen minutes, there are options out there for healthy dinners for you and your family.

Remember, the greater variety in color, the better. The more the vitamins and minerals will vary, colors are generally associated with different vitamins and benefits.

Red Fruits and Vegetables
Contain nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin, to name a few. These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support join tissue in arthritis cases.

Orange and Yellow fruits and vegetables
Contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These nutrients reduce age-related macula degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones.

Green vegetables and Fruit
Green vegetables contain chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. The nutrients found in these vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free-radicals, and boost immune system activity.

Blue and purple fruits and vegetables
Contain nutrients which include lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. Similar to the previous nutrients, these nutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as an anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells.

White fruits and vegetables
Contain nutrients such as beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. These nutrients also activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers

Enjoy food, do not fear it. It is your friend and your health and well-being rely on it. It's about incorporating the good with the occasional "bad" and letting yourself enjoy a little bit of everything.

Don't forget to tell your friends about "Living Healthy with Jillian!" My goal is to hopefully have 100 followers by January 1st, and I know with your help, it can happen. Thanks! <3