Monthly Archives: September 2010

Are you Making These Common Nutritional Mistakes?

Though our patients are of all ages and walks of life, and come to us for many various acute and chronic health conditions, there are some bad health habits to which most of us succumb.  These are the most common nutritional mistakes we see our patients making.  Check them out and see if they resonate with you.  There is no time like the present to change your family’s eating and lifestyle habits.

1) Too many diuretics, and not enough water. At Longevity, we are always stressing to our patients the importance of staying well hydrated and the many crucial roles of water in the body.  We should all be drinking half of our body weight in ounces every day.  Add 12 ounces to this number for every 8 ounces of diuretics (sodas, coffee, caffeinated teas, alcohol and packaged fruit juices) that you drink.  The majority of our first-time patients come in with symptoms of fatigue, irritability, anxiety, cravings, cramps and headaches, all of which are signs of dehydration!  One of the most basic but important part of a new patient detox protocol is to SIP water throughout the day (No need to guzzle it.  It just puts stress on the kidneys and has you running to the bathroom all the time!).  So if you don’t carry around a trusty water bottle with you every day, it’s time to start!

Find a sturdy water bottle that you love, and take it everywhere you go!

2) Skipping meals, and going long periods without eating. Even though it’s beaten into our heads from a young age that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you wouldn’t believe how many people are still skipping it.  Even if you can’t do a full meal, try to at least eat a little something within an hour of waking to get your brain and metabolism going for the day.  Many people are going as long as 12-14 hours between meals, and then they wonder why their metabolism is sluggish and they have no energy!  Try to eat every 3-4 hours, or three balanced meals and nutritious snacks in-between.

3) Too many starchy carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat and protein. Many people who are making a point to eat breakfast are choosing simple carbohydrates (scones, donuts, cereals, pancakes, toast, etc.) that turn straight to sugar in their bodies, leaving them starving again a couple of hours later.  When comparing low glycemic index breakfasts to high glycemic breakfasts eaten by 9- to 12-year-old children, research shows that children who eat high glycemic breakfasts (sugary, starchy carbohydrates) tend to eat more at lunch.  When it comes to breakfast, it’s all about the protein.  Go for an egg, some turkey sausage or even a protein shake, and it will keep you going so much longer than the simple carbs do.

This breakfast isn’t getting the job done.

And it’s not just at breakfast that we’re overloading on carbs.  It’s lunch, dinner and snacks too.  If you have cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta or baked potato for dinner, plus cookies and cracker-type snacks, that’s way too many starchy carbs for a single day.   Starchy carbs should only make up 10-15% of our total diet, and healthy proteins and fats should make up 30% each!   Many people get on a low-fat diet, and as a result they are deficient in the healthy fats and proteins that fuel our muscles and provide long-burning fuel, and they’re eating more fake, processed and starchy foods.

4) Eating the same foods every day. We’re all creatures of habit, and as a result many of us have been eating the exact same foods every day for years!  Our bodies like variety, and when we overload on the same types of foods time and time again, food allergies and sensitivities can develop as our system works to keep processing them.  One way to keep things fresh is to eat what’s in season.  As we move into fall, it’s a great time to start eating sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, pears and brussel sprouts, while spring is the time for berries, melons, corn and asparagus.  If you eat salmon every week, mix it up and get the tilapia or mahi mahi from time to time. Try to incorporate at least five colors of food into your diet each day – red peppers, purple cabbage, green onions, blueberries, lemons, sweet potatoes – the more colors the better.  Hint: WHITE IS NOT A COLOR, so refined breads and pastas and french fries don’t count!

Taste the rainbow!

5) Focusing on quantity, and not on quality. It’s really easy to get focused on the amount of food we’re eating, especially when we’re watching our weight.  While portion control is a good thing, we have to remember to also pay attention to the quality of our foods.  Our goal is to eat a properly prepared, nutrient dense, whole food diet.  We Americans are the worst about taking a highly nutritious food and cooking all the life out of it.  By the time we fry it up in hydrogenated oils or process it with all kinds of chemicals, like high fructose corn syrup and MSG, it’s of no nutritional worth whatsoever!  Eat your foods in the most whole form possible, and buy organic, hormone and antibiotic-free, grass-fed and non-GMO foods whenever possible.

If you’ve never kept a food journal, we challenge you to do so for about 3-7 days.  Don’t just write down what you’re eating and drinking, but record the time of day as well as how you feel afterward.  This will allow you to see patterns of how certain foods affect your energy, mood and digestion.  Be as specific as possible, writing down both the quantity as well as the quality of your food choices.   Then step back and take an objective look at your diet, and look for the nutritional mistakes mentioned here.  You might be shocked to see how long you’re going between meals, how often you’re consuming starchy carbohydrates, or how little quality fat you’re getting on a daily basis.  Or you might be pleased to see how well you’re doing with drinking water and selecting high-quality foods.   Either way, it’s a valuable exercise that can only improve your diet and overall health.

What bad nutritional habits are keeping you from living your healthiest life?

 

The Down-Low on D

Now that we are in the heart of the fall season and soon entering winter, it’s the perfect time to talk about Vitamin D.  Most people know a little something about Vitamin D, but despite all the press it’s been getting in recent years, there are still a lot of misconceptions about this nutrient.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble nutrient.  Although it’s called a vitamin, dietary D is actually a precursor hormone, the building block of a powerful steroid hormone called calcitriol.  Although there are five forms of D, D2 (ergocalciferol, synthesized by plants) and D3 (cholecalciferol, synthesized  in skin with ultraviolet ray exposure) are the most important for humans.

Just do a quick Google search on Vitamin D and you’ll find pages and pages of articles listing its many benefits.  Our bodies’ immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems require it for healthy function.  It also helps reduce the risk of serious illnesses such as breast cancer and osteoporosis and aids in weight loss and strong teeth and bones.  But despite Vitamin D’s many benefits, approximately 85 percent of Americans are deficient!

The latest research cites D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 types of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

How do we get Vitamin D?

There’s no need to stay in the sun for long periods of time to meet your body’s daily Vitamin D needs.  Just 20 minutes a day will be sufficient, but the trick is do get outside when the sun is directly over head, or when your shadow is shorter than your body.  You’ll get the most exposure between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Don’t shower off or apply lotions and makeup after sitting outside, but rather give your skin some time to absorb the Vitamin D into your system.

According to a recent article in Alternative Medicine Review, the economic burden of D deficiency in the U.S. is between 40 and 53 billion dollars per year!

If cold and gloomy weather, a hectic schedule or that darn job or yours prevent you from sunbathing for 20 minutes each day, you may need to find another means to get your daily dose of Vitamin D.  Although you can find Vitamin D fortified milk products, the negative impacts of getting too much dairy far outweigh the positives of receiving the vitamin in this form.  Oftentimes foods that are fortified with D are also processed, and it’s best to steer clear!

You’d have to drink approximately 200 glasses of milk to get the same amount of Vitamin D you receive with just 20 minutes in the sun!

So your best bet is to take a Vitamin D supplement.  As a general rule, an adult of average weight should ingest about 4,000 to 5,000 international units of supplemental D3 a day, and children should take a daily dose of 1,000 international units per every 25 pounds of body weight.  This varies depending on the season, where you live, your age, skin tone,  etc.

As the days get shorter, it’s important that we bump up our Vitamin D intake, so consider getting on a good supplement.  Feel free to contact us for suggestions from our nutrition shoppe.  We also have a Vitamin D sun bed in our office.

What foods should we eat to boost my Vitamin D levels?

Oily fish is the primary food source of Vitamin D.  A filet of salmon contains about 360 IU of D.  The trouble with fish is that eating too much fish can lead to mercury poisoning.  An egg contains about 20 IU.  Cod-liver oil is a very rich source of D3, containing about 1,360 IU in just a tablespoon.  Although these foods are helpful, they don’t contain sufficient amounts of D to get us our 5,000 IU without sun exposure or a supplement!

Since D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s imperative that we maintain a healthy balance of fatty acids.  In other words, there is no point in trying to boost your D levels while you’re on a fat-free diet, because we need plenty of good fats to absorb it.  The same goes with magnesium, you gotta have one to have the other, and that’s why many Vitamin D supplements are a magnesium/D combo.

Take measures to maintain good Vitamin D levels this fall/winter season, and enjoy better health for years to come.

All About Eggs (And a breakfast pizza recipe too!)

Here at Longevity, we get a lot of questions about eggs and whether they are really the health villain they are made out to be.  We think eggs are a great way to get high-quality fat and protein, and they’re jam-packed with all kinds of other vitamins and nutrients.  Check it out:

As you can see, eggs are a wonderful source of B vitamins.

Need more reasons to eat eggs?  Well alright then!

  • Eggs are a low-cost way to get your protein, which should make up 30% of your diet.  It’s much cheaper to buy a dozen eggs than a steak, no?
  • Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that supports healthy brain, nerve and muscle function and reduces inflammation.  More than 90% of Americans are choline-deficient!
  • Those who eat eggs for breakfast experience greater rates of weight loss and report having higher energy levels than people who start the day with a bagel or other simple carb!
  • Eggs are a great source of healthy cholesterol, which fuels the heart and the cells (All the cholesterol is located in the yolk!).
    In fact, research suggests that eating whole eggs may actually result in significant improvement in a person’s blood lipids (cholesterol) profile.
  • Eating eggs helps lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke by helping to prevent blood clots.
  • According to studies published in the Journal of Nutrition, egg yolks are a rich source of vision-protecting carotenoids.

Here are a few tips for buying, storing and preparing eggs:

  • Eggs are often classified by the USDA grading system, with a label of AA, A, or B. This is an indicator of quality and freshness, with AA being of the most superior.
  • Select organic, cage-free eggs.  Look for the words antibiotic and hormone free too.  (This is one of those cases where it’s well worth it to pay more for higher quality!)  It’s even better if you can get your eggs from a local farm through a co-op or CSA.
  • Eggs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one month.  Washing them can remove their protective coating.  Keep them in some kind of container so they don’t absorb odors or lose moisture.
  • Don’t store eggs in the refrigerator door since this exposes them to too many changes in temperature when the door is opened.

To see where we got this information and learn more about eggs, click here.

Another word on eggs – DON’T SKIP THE YOLK!  So many people have switched to egg whites or egg beaters as our country gets on the fat-free diet bandwagon.  Remember , your body needs good fats!   Most of the nutrition in an egg is contained in the yolk.

Feel free to cook your eggs in real butter or coconut oil too…none of that fat-free PAM spray for us!

Here is a great back-to-school breakfast pizza recipe from everydaypaleo.com.  The cool thing about this recipe is that the crust is made out of eggs, so you can avoid using starchy carbs and focus on bulking up on your protein and veggies.  It’s a healthier alternative to a breakfast casserole.  This would be a great dish to serve for a brunch, or on those days when a common scrambled egg just won’t get the job done and you’re craving meat and veggies as well.  We tweaked the original recipe a bit to give it a Mexican flair.  Feel free to play with the ingredients to give your pizza the flavor you want!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need (1 pizza, 4 Servings):

Crust: 8 eggs, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1 tbsp dried basil, pinch of sea salt, black pepper to taste

Toppings: 1/3 cup of salsa, 1 lb of ground turkey or chicken sausage, 1/4 yellow bell pepper chopped, 1/4 red bell pepper chopped, 2 roma tomatoes chopped, 3 green onions sliced, 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese (optional)

In keeping with the Mexican theme, you could also add fresh cilantro and black olives to the toppings, and use avocados as a garnish.  If Mexican isn’t your thing, use spaghetti sauce instead of salsa and switch out some of the toppings (mushrooms, fresh basil, whatever you want!)

A quick, nutritious and delicious take on breakfast!

Preparation Instructions:

In a medium-sized skillet, brown the meat and set aside.  Mince the garlic and chop the vegetable toppings and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and add basil, salt and pepper.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat, add the minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes.  Pour the egg mixture over the garlic, turn heat to medium and cover and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom of the eggs are firm.  Do not stir or disturb the eggs while cooking.  Remove the lid and transfer the skillet to the oven and broil for another 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and evenly spread the toppings.  Place the pizza back in the oven and broil for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle cheese on top, slice and serve.

A delicious and nutritious breakfast can be yours in just 15 minutes!