Sorry for my delay in blog posts! Not only have I been busy at work, but I had the misfortune of acquiring some sort of terrible stomach virus. Fortunately, I felt well enough to speak at the WECAN event at Harvard this afternoon on the topic of "Becoming Your Own Nutrition Expert."
One of the attendees was curious to know about natural, nutrition based remedies. And I had a great recommendation based on my recent stomach upset. It is the perfect "natural" antidote to a queezy stomach. It's called a Ginger Steamer from Crema Cafe' in Harvard Square. They use a ginger broth and add fresh lime juice and honey. Not only is it delicious, but totally warm and soothing. If you are on the verge of getting sick, have a bit of an upset tummy, or just want a feel good kind of drink- I highly recommend it!
Here's some reliable information from WebMD on ginger as an anti-nausea remedy.
Christie Christensen of Lake Elsinore, Calif., is seeking class-action status for the case she filed Tuesday in Los Angeles. Michaels is a hard-charging, no-nonsense trainer best-known as one of the stars of NBC's hit reality show, "The Biggest Loser."
Christensen's lawsuit claims she bought a product called "Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control" last month and that it has failed to lessen her appetite or cause her to lose weight as advertised.
Michaels' picture and endorsement appear on the packaging, touting her as "America's Toughest Trainer." The product and a Web site advertising include the claim, "Two Capsules Before Main Meals and You Lose Weight ... That's It!"
"Ms. Michaels knows better - taking two pills before eating does not miraculously cause weight loss," the lawsuit states.
Bet you never expected to find an article on bowel health during the holidays! But let's be honest, at this time of year, most of us are thrown from our regular routines and this can affect how things are going (or not!) in the GI department. Here are a couple of ideas:
1.) Move your body. Evening parties and social gatherings may interrupt your exercise regimen. Regardless of your current commitment to physical activity, you may need to shift your schedule and make an even greater effort stay physically active. This will help your stress levels and your bowels.
2.) Don't forget to include whole fruits and vegetables at every meal. Fruit on cereal, chili for lunch, and roasted veggies at dinner are essential to keeping things flowing as they ought to. :) Too many baked goods and processed sweets will have you backed up in no time.
3.) Drink plenty of fluids. Keep a water bottle with you and try to avoid caffeinated beverages. They may give you the burst of energy you need to make it through the day but can also be dehydrating. Hot herbal tea in the evening can be particularly helpful if you are feeling constipated.
4.) Try Magnesium. If a healthy diet and exercise isn't doing the trick, you may want to consider 250 mg of magnesium in supplement form. Just don't go overboard or you may find yourself racing for a bathroom at an inopportune moment. Now that would be a bummer for your holiday shopping...
As a nutritionist in Cambridge, I refer my clients to check out Cambridge Naturals for their supplement needs. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and they have just about everything under the sun.
Here's to wishing you a holiday season that is nothing but smooth sailing!
On Saturday I had a great time teaching a workshop at Wu Dao Kung Fu on fueling for exercise and everyday living. One of the things we discussed was using sports drinks for hydration, a topic that I thought others might be interested in as well.
I see people sipping on powerade, gatorade, vitamin water, etc. all the time. One thing to consider is that the purpose of the extra sugar and electrolytes is to replenish what is lost during extensive and very vigorous exercise. So I typically recommend using those types of drinks if you are exercising vigorosly for more than an hour. If you are exercising less than that, plenty of water along with a diet rich in whole fruits and veggies is likely sufficient.
Turns out that October 20th, 2009 is World Osteoporosis Day. Additionally, the National Osteoporosis Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary. They've developed several useful handouts:
25 Facts about Your Bones & Osteoporosis
25 Calcium Rich Foods
25 Ways to Improve Your Bone Health
25 Ways to Prevent Falls
While you might not be able to control some of the risk factors for developing osteoporosis (being female, Asian/Caucasian, and getting older) there are a handful of really important things you can do NOW to prevent osteoporosis.
You may already know this but consistent exercise is one of the best things you can build healthy bones. And the National Osteoporosis Foundation has a great article on their website. Below is a basic run down of the types of exercises and their effectiveness in improving bone health.
Weight-bearing, High-Impact Exercises are best for building bones in people who do not have low bone mass, osteoporosis or are frail.
Some of these exercises include:
Weight-bearing, Low-Impact Exercises can also help to build bones and are safer for people who cannot do high-impact exercises.
Some of these exercises include:
Elliptical training machines
Low impact aerobics
RESISTANCE AND STRENGTHENING EXERCISES
These exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity.
Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes
Using elastic exercise bands
Using weight machines
Lifting your own body weight
NON-IMPACT ACTIVITIES (BALANCE, FUNCTIONAL AND POSTURE EXERCISES)
These exercises can help you to improve balance, posture, and how well you move in every day activities. These exercises can also help to increase muscle strength and decrease the risk of falls and broken bones.
Some of these exercises include:
Balance exercises. Exercises that strengthen your legs and challenge your balance, such as Tai Chi, can decrease your risk of falls.
Posture exercises. Exercises that improve your posture and reduce rounded or “sloping” shoulders can help you decrease the risk of fractures, especially in the spine.
Functional exercises. Exercises that improve how well you move can help you in everyday activities and decrease your risk of falls and fractures. For example, if you have trouble getting up from a chair or climbing stairs, you should do these activities as exercises (try standing up and sitting down several times until you are tired).
Yoga and Pilates can also improve strength, balance and flexibility; however people with low bone density or osteoporosis should avoid certain positions to prevent fractures. These include forward-bending exercises. A physical therapist should be able to help you learn which exercises are safe and appropriate for you.
NON-WEIGHT-BEARING, NON-IMPACT ACTIVITIES
These exercises can be part of a well-rounded exercise program, but do not help to build bones. If you like these activities, try to add in others that work your bones
Some of these exercises include:
Stretching and flexibility exercises
So get your body movin' today, your bones will thank you for it! You may want to check out an old posting I did on Vitamin D supplemenation. Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation is essential for healthy bones.
Yesterday I got a phone call from my friend. She had just been to her doctor, who informed her that her serum Vitamin D levels were very low. Consequently, he prescribed a pretty serious supplementation regimen for her to follow for several weeks in order to raise her levels back to a normal range. Naturally, my friend (who is a pretty darn health conscious individual) was pretty alarmed. Not only was she concerned that what she believed to be a healthy diet was resulting in a pretty serious vitamin deficiency, but she learned that a chronic insufficiency of Vitamin D put her at risk for developing all kinds of problems in the future.
For the past year, Vitamin D has been the major topic of research and discussion in academic/research circles. Researchers are discovering that low serum levels of Vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for osteopenia, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, asthma, and even a spectrum of mental health problems. Please note, these are ASSOCIATIONS, not known CAUSATIONS.
Additionally, reputable organizations (like theInstitute of Medicine) believe that the current DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) of 400 International Units seems to be way too low. Consequently, they are performing some pretty serious research and it looks like they will be making recommendations to significantly increase the DRI in the next year or so.
Interestingly enough, about an hour after I spoke to my friend, I received this article in my inbox. In short, Harvard recently issued a publication stating their rationale for recommending supplementation for Vitamin D. Typically, Harvard recommends obtaining vitamins and minerals from food, but Vitamin D seems to be an exception. The article states ' "Even a low-calorie diet can deliver all the vitamins and minerals you need, with one exception – vitamin D. So plan to take a vitamin D supplement.” ' It's actually a really great article and pretty short, so I recommend reading it.
Like Harvard, I typically recommend a well-balanced diet to get all of the nutrition you need. But Vitamin D is certainly one exception. I advocate for every adult to be taking a 1,000 IU supplement of Vitamin D3 every day. Both Vitamin D2 and D3 are sold over the counter. But research seems to indicate the D3 is more effective at raising serum Vitamin D levels and D2 is potentially toxic in supplement form.
One important thing to take note of is the fact that without adequate amounts of Vitamin D, our body is not able to use Calcium to effectively strengthen our bones. Sufficient Vitamin D is ESSENTIAL for bone health. So the next time you are in to see your doctor, ask him/her about testing for Vitamin D levels and pick up your Vitamin D3. It's one of the simplest things you can do for your health today.
Most of you have probably seen commercials for the over the counter weight loss pill Alli. Currently, it's the only FDA approved non-prescription weight loss pill. Back in 2007 the pill was approved and sales for the product sky rocketed...and I was skeptical.
According to the Alli website, the pill works by attaching to "some of the natural enzymes in the digestive system, preventing them from breaking down about a quarter of the fat you eat." As a result, fewer calories from the fat in the food you eat are absorbed. Additionally, eating a high fat meal results in some pretty unpleasant "treatment effects" so there is incentive to keeping your fat inake in check.
Since there is a history of ineffective and unsafe supplement options for treating overweight and obesity, I thought these pills were just to good to be true. On August 24th, USA Today released an article entitled "FDA probes weight-loss pill alli over liver damage reports." Needless to say, this is only an investigation and a direct relationship between the weight loss treatments and liver injury have not been established. However, the FDA is reviewing additional details about the suspected cases of liver injury submitted by manufacturers.
If you have or are currently taking Alli, please talk to your Dr. if you experience symptoms of liver failure including fatigue, fever, nausea, and vomitting.
While many are hopeful that Alli is the magic cure, it seems we ought to remain a bit more skeptical. Is 10 lbs really worth damage to your vital organs? Of course not.
I suppose I’ll start this blog post with a little self-disclosure. I don’t take a daily multi-vitamin. What can I say, I’m a registered dietitian and a huge proponent of getting nutrients from food. Plus, I can’t stand pills and can never seem to remember to take them. But during my relatively short career as an RD, I’m still taken aback when a client comes to see me and has a laundry list of daily supplements they take...only to be followed by an equally long list of problems which ail them.
Boy did I feel validated by a relatively recent article published in the New York Times. The first line states that “the best efforts of the scientific community to prove the health benefits of vitamins keeps falling short.” The rest of the article lists multiple supplement studies which failed to show benefits of supplement intake on the rates/treatment of various diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and bone health.
And the crazy thing is that despite these pathetic results, consumers are still willing to spend billions of dollars every year in hopes of a miracle! Yes, popping a pill is much easier than exercising and eating properly. Yes, the pills are relatively cheap. And yes, they are likely not doing you any harm.
Here’s what I have to say about supplements:
• The magical properties of nutritious food just cannot be replicated by a pill.
• For chronic disease prevention and optimal health, health behaviors such as walking 30 minutes a day and eating lots of fruits and vegetables is proven to be much more effective.
• There are some instances where a supplement may do you some good:
o 1,000 IU of Vitamin D per day for those living in areas of little sunlight (i.e. Boston)
o Calcium and Vitamin D for women
o Prenatal vitamins for women of child bearing age
o Omega-3s if you don’t eat them in your diet
So the next time you are looking to boost your health, consider peeling an orange rather than popping a pill.