Paleo ≠ ALWAYS Healthier


By: Nikki Nies

Many adopt the Paleo diet as a means to reduce risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease or Type II Diabetes.  The diet promotes a healthier, disease free life, while consuming fresh fruits, vegetables and sources of protein.  Also known as the Stone Age diet, Caveman diet, Hunter gatherer diet or Primal diet,  the Paleo diet emphasizes consumption of fresh vegetables & roots, tart fruits, nuts, wild fish, free-range poultry, grass-fed meats, olive and coconut oils. Many have adopted the diet as a means to eliminate refined foods and reduce his or her risk of chronic diseases.

The Paleo diet is compatible with other diets, such as the Gluten Free diet, Low carb and cross fit diet.  However, the Paleo diet has reemerged as a popular diet with the expertise and explanation of Dr. Loren Cordain,

our ancestors were omnivores, eating a hunt-and-gather diet of fresh wild fruits, vegetables, and animals, depending upon the climate in which they lived. The major difference between their diet and our modern diet is the development of agriculture about ten thousand years ago, which brought us grains and legumes (beans).

Aspects of Paleo Diet:

  • 100% whole ingredients that could be found in the wild before the time of agriculture or domesticated animals
  • Opt for healthy fats (i.e. coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, tallow oils,etc)
  • All types of vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Nuts–unsweetened, pecans, coconut, etc.
  • No processed or prepackaged foods
  • No artificial, added or refined sugars
  • No grains or gluten–can use coconut or almond flour if desired
  • No legumes, including peanuts or soy
  • No white potatoes, but sweet potatoes are fine
  • Limit dairy to fermented or raw grass fed dairy products
  • Opt for grass fed meats, pastured free-range chicken/eggs, wild fish and fresh organic produce

Health Benefits of Paleo Diet:

Original Image by zsoolt via Flickr
Original Image by zsoolt via Flickr
  • Burn off stored fat
  • More efficient workouts
  • Balanced energy throughout the day
  • Stabilize blood sugar
  • Low in Sodium
  • Improved Sleep Patterns
  • Alcohol consumption in moderation
  • Provides natural balance of healthy fats, which creates healthy brain cells
  • Limits fructose
  • Very filling through constant consumption of protein and fiber

As with any major diet overhauls, if you’re interested in adapting aspects of the Paleo diet or adopting the entire Paleo diet, consult your physician beforehand.  By cutting out dairy products, one is at risk of developing nutrient deficiencies.  When choosing meats, opt for lean meats, otherwise one can develop heart problems over time.  It’s good to know what’s acceptable in the diet and what is eliminated before a huge overhaul.  Keep in mind, “if the caveman didn’t eat it, it’s not part of the diet.”

Sources:http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/paleo-diet

http://thepaleodiet.com/about-the-paleo-diet/

http://www.multiplydelicious.com/thefood/what-is-paleo/

What’s the Paleo Diet?

Galactosemia


By: Nikki Nies

Galactosemia occurs when one the body does not metabolize galactose, a simple sugar.  As an inherited disorder, it’s important to review family history and consult your doctor for further information if needed.

There are 3 forms that can be found:

  1. Galactose-1 phosphate uridyl transferase (GALT) deficiency: most severe and common form; one is missing GALT enzyme to convert galactose to glucose
  2. Deficiency of galactose kinase (GALK): caused by deletrious mutations in GALK1 gene; called Type II galactosemia; if left untreated, high levels of galactose and galactitol may accumulate in blood tissues; may be limited to juvenile cataract formation;
  3. Deficiency of galactose-6-phosphate epimerase

Symptoms:  Symptoms can occur within a few days of an infant’s life. Symptoms can be due to a blood infection of E. coli

  • Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Vomiting
  • Poor weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Opacities in the lenses
  • Irritability
  • Convulsions
  • Poor feeding–not consuming enough calories or nutrients

Signs:

  • Hepatomegaly–enlarged liver
  • Hypoglycemia–low blood sugar
  • Mental retardation
  • Ascites–fluid accumulation in abdomen
  • Cirrhosis
  • Aminoaciduria–amino acids in urine

Further complications that should be considered: cataracts; cirrhosis in liver; intellectual disability; delayed speech development; tremors and uncontrollable functions; severe infection with E. coli; irregular menstrual periods and/or reduction function of ovaries

Tests for Galactosemia:

  • Blood culture from E. coli
  • Enzyme activity in RBC
  • Ketones in urine
  • Prenatal diagnosis measuring galactose-1-phosphate uridyl transferase

Diagnosis of galactosemia is often based on the absence of the enzyme GALT in red blood cells.  Diagnosis usually occurs within the first week of birth by a blood test.

Treatment:Since galactose is a compound made of glucose and lactose, those with galactosemia can not consume any milk–animal or human form.   Often times, new mothers will use nonmilk formulas for their new infants as tolerance of milk is not known yet and is not worth the risk.  A buildup of galactose in one’s immune system can cause damage to liver, brain, eyes and/or kidneys.

One must read nutrition facts label thoroughly as there can be hidden sources of milk in unforeseen food products.

An alternative to milk consumption can include a soy formula, Nutramigen,which is a protein hydrolysate formula or a meat based formula.

Check out the entire list of “unacceptable” ingredients to avoid for a galactosemia diet.  Are you surprised by what items made the list?

Sources:http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/galactosemia

http://www.healthcentral.com/diet-exercise/h/galactosemia-diet.html

http://galactosemia.org/Understanding_Galactosemia.php

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/newborn/galac_1.shtm

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=18068

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001405/

http://lactosesintolerances.blogspot.com/2012/12/enfamil-lactose-free.html

Staples I Live By


Original Image by PROSteve Johnson via Flickr
Original Image by PROSteve Johnson via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

It’s occurred to me that I’m always promoting healthy eating, explaining  the health benefits of certain foods while suggesting what one should limit in one’s diet.  However, I’ve never really shared what I like to eat.  By providing an overview of some of the go-to foods I eat will hopefully give you a better understanding of where my nutritional views derive from and perhaps inspire you to add one or two of my staples into your daily life if you haven’t tried them already.

As a protein person, I opt for protein over carbohydrates every single time.  When dining out, while my friends devour the complimentary bread on the table, I am able to sit there without a flinch.  However, if ice cream was the appetizer, I don’t know if I could hold back.

If you ever looked at my food diary, you’d notice a lot of my foods are rich in protein.  I’ve joked that I might have proteinuria, which is an abnormal amount of protein in one’s urine, but I seriously hope that’s not the case.

So, onto my list!

  1. Peanut butter: while peanut butter is high in fat, with 2 tablespoons, it covers about 25% of your Daily Value (DV) of fat.  It’s so versatile, I actually keep it in my car when I’m running low on protein in my system.   For snacks, I’ll dip my carrot sticks or apple slices in some peanut butter for extra creaminess.  I’ve also been known to be called the PB&J girl because I have the tendency to eat PB&J daily.  It’s so portable and scrumptious, I can’t resist
  2. Bananas: So portable and versatile, bananas are one of my favorite snacks.  It’s packed with vitamin B6, potassium, fiber and natural sugars.  If I’m in a rush, I’ll grab it as my breakfast for the go.  I also love to add bananas to smoothies.
  3. Hard boiled eggs: I often keep several hard boiled eggs in the fridge for future use.  If you haven’t noticed yet, I like easy, quick foods because I often don’t have the time in the morning for a sit down breakfast.  Or, if I’m not terribly hungry in the morning, I’ll still eat a hard boiled egg so I don’t have to wait until lunch time to eat, so I keep upstart my metabolism.  It’s recommended to limit hard boil egg intake to 3 times a week, as they are high in cholesterol, at 187 mg per egg.
  4. Sweet potatoes: Not only do these potatoes satisfy my sweet tooth, but they are a great alternative to regular french fries.  They’re a great side dish.  I recently made sweet potatoes fries dousing with salt, pepper and cinnamon and that really hit the sweet spot for me! These potatoes are packed with 377% of your DV of vitamin, a load of potassium, 4 g of dietary fiber and a good amount of B6.
  5. Brown Rice: I’m hoping to get a rice cooker in the near future so I can have rice on hand at all times.  However, my current system of making rice in the oven now works just as fine.  I love me some chicken and rice.  It definitely took some time for me to get used to the switch from regular white rice to brown, but I don’t mind cause of the added benefits of magnesium and fiber.

    Original Image by Sarah C via Flickr
    Original Image by Sarah C via Flickr
  6. Carrots: I sometimes use carrots as a appetite suppressor.  Do you ever want to have something to chew on?  As stated before, I often snack on carrots and will use them as a delayer to eat other foods.
  7. Greek yogurt:   While in the supermarket, you may be appalled by the price difference of Greek yogurt vs. regular plain yogurt, but if you buy the largest container, you usually pay less per oz. for the larger container than buying individual 6 oz. container.  Also, if brands don’t make a difference, opt for store brand Greek yogurt versus Chobani, Dannon or Fage.  I often eat Greek yogurt in the morning for breakfast with agave and fresh fruit.  A great way to reduce your fat intake during the day is to use Greek yogurt in recipes when it calls for sour cream.  I have used Greek yogurt in substitution for sour cream while making bean dip and you couldn’t taste the difference.  I didn’t feel as guilty eating the delicious dip because I knew I was eating a healthier dairy product.

It’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m definitely a sweets person, but I’m confident that consuming these staples on a daily basis keeps my metabolism going and I stay fuller longer. What’re your suggestions on foods I should incorporate into my everyday diet?  What foods do you always have on hand?

Simple vs. Complex Carbs


Original Image by DAVID HOLT via Flickr
Original Image by DAVID HOLT via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Not all carbohydrates are the same.  Don’t believe me?  Well, there are some carbohydrates that have been deemed to be more favorable than others.  When choosing carbohydrates, opt for complex instead of simple.

A misconception is that carbohydrates are only found in bread.  While bread products are a major source of carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, cookies, cakes, pastries, milk and sweetened milk products are all included in the carbohydrate category.

Simple carbohydrates are sometimes considered empty calories as they add calories, but do not bring much nutrition to one’s diet.  It’s good to be aware of sources of simple carbohydrates, such as table sugar, products with white flour, honey, milk, yoghurt, candy, chocolate, fruit, fruit juice, cake, jam, biscuits, molasses, soda and packaged cereal.  It’s advised to limit consumption of simple carbohydrates as they are known to have limited nutritional value and be composed of either 1 or 2 sugars (i.e. glucose+fructose).

The 2 types of simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides and disaccharides.  Since they are not complex in structure they are digested through the body quicker than complex carbohydrates.

Complex carbohydrates are composed of at least two or more of sugar strung together.  The two major types of complex carbohydrates are starch and fiber.  Starch must be broken down through own’s digestive tract before one can use it as an energy source.  Fiber can either be insoluable or soluable.  Insoluable fiber can be find in whole wheat bread, barley, brown rice, couscous, bulgur or whole grain cereals, wheat bran, seed, most vegetables and fruits. As a gel,  soluable fiber delaying gastric emptying and helps maintain a healthy weight as sources of soluable fiber keeps one feeling full longer (i.e. oatmeal, apples, pears, peas).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Original Image by Kenneth Leung via Flickr

Sources of complex carbs:

  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Peas

Complex carbohydrates have an added bonus of fiber, without added sugar and contains whole grains.   Since they are composed of more than 2 or more sugars, it takes longer to digest and stabilizes blood sugar longer than simple carbs.

To avoid added sources of sugar, look out for these key words on the ingredients list of food products: glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, fruit juice concentrates, corn syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, raw sugar, sucrose, molasses, maltose, lactose, invert sugar, syrup, etc.

So, eliminating carbohydrates completely can deprive one of essential nutrients.    Your body needs carbohydrates to make glucose which is used to fuel your body throughout the day.  If not used immediately, glucose is stored in one’s liver and muscles for later use.

Photo Credit: All Refer

Sources:http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002469.htm

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/carbs/simple-vs-complex-carbohydrates.html

http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/carbs_versus.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/fiber-health-benefits-11/insoluble-soluble-fiber

Stay Energized All Day!


By: Nikki Nies

Having a hard time getting through the day without your afternoon jolt?  Waiting for the minute you can get home for a nap?

It’s been found that it’s not uncommon for many people to complain of tiredness.  There’s a new term that has been coined that can explain a lot.

When you first awaken, the parts of your brain associated with consciousness — the thalamus and brain stem — begin firing right away. But the prefrontal cortex, which handles problem solving and complex thought, is like a cold engine — it needs time to warm up.

Sleep inertia has been stated to last up to 2 hours, however being most severe the first 10 minutes of waking up.  Some compare the severity of sleep inertia to being intoxicated.

Suggestions to maintain optimal energy

Original Image by photogmateo via Flickr
Original Image by photogmateo via Flickr
  • Start day off with a  packet of instant oatmeal with 1/2 cup of skim milk.   Consumption increases alertness all morning and improves ability to process info
  • Grab a cup of joe, which can combat sleep inertia
  • A high carbohydrate meal increases one’s insulin levels and can cause one to crash, balance lunch out with protein and high fiber foods as well
  • Grab some rays–open the window, go outside, take a break and enjoy the sun, which translates to 15% less fatigue
  •  Have a small snack at least 1.5 hours before working out–ideal snack:  250 calories and consists of 25 to 35 grams (g) carbohydrates, 10 to 15 g protein, and up to 5 g fat
  • Turn up the music instead of the TV!

What tips best help you to stay energetic throughout the day?

Sources:http://www.today.com/health/afternoon-slump-how-have-more-energy-all-day-long-8C10990053

https://www.google.com/search?q=energy&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&authuser=0&ei=XqsaUt2XHuPhyQGnyYC4Aw&biw=1154&bih=739&sei=YKsaUqPSDsfwyAG25YDQDA#authuser=0&fp=13d6aa3a7d487f41&hl=en&q=how%20to%20stay%20energized&tbm=isch&um=1&facrc=_&imgrc=O327qKI3AUoiqM%3A%3BbKye3nOATv_ODM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Farticles.mercola.com%252FImageServer%252Fpublic%252F2008%252FDecember%252F12.16energy.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Farticles.mercola.com%252Fsites%252Farticles%252Farchive%252F2008%252F12%252F16%252Fthe-top-10-ways-to-stay-energized.aspx%3B350%3B233

Monthly Breakdown of Seasonal Foods


Original Image by PROJessica Spengler via Flickr
Original Image by PROJessica Spengler via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Eating “in season” fruits and vegetables, does not increase the likelihood of freshness,but can save you a couple of dollars at the register.  Also, when you’re trying to decide what dish to take to your next gathering or what to make for dinner, look to this list of “in season” fruits and vegetables and find a recipe that incorporates several of these foods.

January Asparagus, avocados, beef, broccoli, cabbage, caramola, cauliflower, celery, chard, cherimoyas, citrus—blood, orange, grapefruit, green onions, kumquats, lemons, navel oranges, tangerines, dates, kale, kohlrabi, mushroom, mustard, onion, green passion fruit peas, strawberries
February Asparagus, avocados, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, citrus—blood, orange, grapefruit, collards, dates, kale, lettuce, mushroom, mustard, green onions, pass fruit peas, green spinach, strawberries, turnips
March Asparagus, avocados, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, citrus—blood, orange, grapefruit, collards, dates, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mushrooms, green spinach, green passion fruit peas, strawberries,turnips
April Asparagus, avocado, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, cherries, citrus—blood, lemons, tangerines, kumquats, orange, grapefruit, collards, cucumber,  dates, kale, lettuce, mushroom, mustard, nectarines, green onions, passion fruit peas, green spinach, green peas, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, turnips
May Apricots, asparagus, avocados, basil, green peas, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, cherries, citrus—grapefruit, kumquat, lemons, naval oranges, collards, corn, cucumber, dates, eggplant, fig, kale, kohlrhabi, lettuce, mushroom, mustard, nectarines,okra, dry onions, green onions, passion fruit, peaches, asian pears, black eyed peas, green peas, plums, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, summer squash, strawberries, tomatoes, turnips
June Apricots, asparagus, avocados, basil, green beans, beets, broccoli, cherries, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, citrus—grapefruits, lemons navel oranges, Valencia oranges, kumquats, Collards,Corn
Cucumber, Eggplant , Figs, Grapes, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Melons
, Mushroom, Mustard, Nectarines, Okra, Onion, dry, Onion, Green, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Pears, Pears, Asian, black eyed peas, Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Raspberries, Spinach
Squash, Summer, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Turnips
July Apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, basil, green beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, citrus, collards, corn, cucumber, eggplant, figs, grapes, kale, lettuce, melons, mushroom, mustard, nectarines, okra, onion, green onions, passion fruit, asian pears, black eyed peas, peppers, plums, potatoes, raspberries, sapote, spinach, summer squash, strawberries, tomatoes, turnips
August Apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, basil, green beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, citrus, collards, corn, cucumber, eggplant, figs, grapes, kale, lettuce, melons, mushroom, mustard, nectarines, okra, onion, green onions, passion fruit, asian pears, black eyed peas, peppers, plums, potatoes, raspberries, sapote, spinach, winter squash,  summer squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips
September Apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, basil, green beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, citrus, collards, corn, cucumber, eggplant, grapes, guava, kale, lettuce, melons, mushroom, mustard, nectarines, okra, onion, green onions, passion fruit, asian pears, black eyed peas, peppers, persimmons, plums, potatoes, raspberries, sapote, spinach, winter squash,  summer squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips
October Apples, asparagus, avocados, basil, green beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, carambola, cauliflower, celery, citrus, collards,chili pepper, corn, cucumber, eggplant, figs, grapes, kale, kiwi, lettuce, melons, mushroom, mustard, nectarines, okra, onion, grapes, guava, , passion fruit, asian pears, black eyed peas, peppers, persimmons, pomegrantes, plums, potatoes, raspberries, sapote, spinach, winter squash,  summer squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips, yams
November Apples, artichokes, asparagus, basil, green beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carambola, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili pepper, chard, cherimoyas, citrus, collards, corn, cucumber,  eggplant, figs, grapes, kale, kiwi, lettuce, mushroom, mustard, nectarines, okra, onion, green onions, passion fruit, asian pears, black eyed peas, peppers, plums, potatoes, raspberries, sapote, spinach, winter squash,  summer squash, strawberries, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips
December Artichokes, basil, green beans, beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili pepper, citrus, collards, corn, cucumber, eggplant, grapes, guava, kale, kiwi, lettuce, mushroom, mustard, okra, onion, green onions, passion fruit, asian pears, black eyed peas, peppers, pomegrantes, potatoes, spinach, winter squash,  summer squash, tomatoes, yams

Also, a lot of the time you can check out local farmer’s markets, which highlight some of the freshest foods.

Sources:http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/whatsavailable

http://www.sfma.net/consumer/inseason.shtml

Bob says diet trumps exercise


Bob says diet trumps exercise

“It is all about your diet,” Harper, 48, said during a break from filming Season 15 of the long-running U.S. show. “I used to think a long time ago that you can beat everything you eat out of you and it’s just absolutely not the case.”

I’m glad to see that a celebrity trainer shines more light on the needed emphasis of diet.

By: Nikki Nies

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead


By: Nikki Nies

I was perusing’s Hulu’s documentaries and stumbled upon this particular documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead that was produced in 2011.  It follows the life of Joe Cross, who wants to revamp his unhealthy lifestyle.  Taking a handful of prescriptions is part of the wake up call that helps Joe want to finally change his life around.

He begins his change fasting, completely cutting himself off from food, which seems crazy.

He consumes fruits, nuts, beans and vegetables for 60 days. It chronicles a 60 day period of He first spends the first 30 days in NYC and then drives across the country for the second half of the 60 day period.

I like that Joe Cross admits he was focused on accumulating wealth in the form of food, not on maintaining his health.  I don’t necessarily support Joe’s act of fasting, but I found it interesting how he was mentally able to rewire his brain and choose healthier, fresher versions of different foods.

What I found most interesting was when Joe polled various people around the country asking if he could guarantee extra years on their life if they stopped eating junk, would they stop eating fast food?  A lot of them stated they’d probably eat the fast food anyways because they’re going to die someday and they want to enjoy the bad food.  So, what’s going to take for people to want to live longer to see their children and grandkids grow up?  Why are people willing to trade years off their life for a few quick bites.  One of the pollers didn’t mind being called “the fat guy.”  I’m sure he doesn’t mind too much, but how can we get the general public to understand that small changes can make a difference?

I recommend watching this documentary for inspiration as well as for some tips on eating healthier.