TV Commercial Workout

TV Commercial Workout

Plethora of Polyphenols

Original Image by Mike Gifford via Flickr
Original Image by Mike Gifford via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Staying healthy isn’t a luck of a draw.  What one eats has a direct impact on health and looking at one’s current health is a reflection of what one consumes.  Staying healthy takes work, but it’s not impossible.  According to the American Cancer Society, polyphenols are believed to help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and/or heart disease.

Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant.  One can find polyphenols in red cabbage, red or green grapes, broccoli, radishes, onions, cacao, garlic, grape juice, apples, red wine, citrus fruit, berries, tea and soy.

Benefits of polyphenols:

  • Anti-inflammatory: useful for those with arthritis or other inflammatory problems
  • Heart Health: May improve cardiovascular system
  • Prevents cancer: polyphenols contain anti carcinogenic and anti tumor properties
  • Anti-aging:
  • Prevents heart disease: With moderate amounts of red wine, may keep heart disease at bay

Hopefully,  you’ve incorporated some polyphenolic rich foods into your daily routine, but adding a few more items to your weekly grocery list could be great too!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s okay to indulge once in a while and Thanksgiving’s definitely a day I don’t hold back. I loved this picture as it’s a twist of MyPlate with portions for Thanksgiving essentials.

Hope everyone has a healthy, happy, yummy Thanksgiving!


The Stroke Belt


By: Nikki Nies

A culmination of factors raise concern for those located in the “Stroke Belt” region. The southeast region is composed of the the Stroke Belt, which refers to higher risk of heart disease and/or hypertension.  The term Stroke Belt started in the late 1950’s by epidemiologists compiled data showing a higher-than-average death rate from strokes.

The stereotypical consumption of fatty, fried foods is not the only culprit, but genetic, socioeconomic, cultural associations, lack of access to healthy food, and lack of physical activity contribute to the higher percentage of the overweight. It’s a shame MI and TN are limited in side walks since the thought of walking around the block isn’t easily supported. It’s no coincidence southern states are also tobacco producing states as well as smoking is more common in the south.With increased weight and higher blood pressure, significantly increases one’s risk of stroke.  The elderly, Native stroke-signsAmericans, African Americans and those with lower education levels are found to be more likely to be overweight.

It should not be overlooked there are some changes that have been put into place.  As of 2007, Mississippi created nutrition standards for schools lunches, Tennessee encourages schools to buy fresh ingredients from locally grown areas and Arkansas has a school BMI program, where screening results can be sent home to inform parents.  The impact of these implemented programs will take time, but I’m glad to see such changes have been gradually introduced.

As the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., living in the Stroke Belt, which consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee increases one’s risk of stroke.  It’s critical to know the warning signs of stroke, such as: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eye; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination and/or sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Although not all factors that contribute to being overweight, like genetics or ethnicity, but lifestyle changes can make a difference.  By lowering one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and weight and avoiding use of cigarettes, can help the situation and decrease chances of stroke.


Subway: Not Fresh


By: Nikki Nies

I just finished an episode of the Biggest Loser and a past season winner came to join current season participants bringing them food from Subway.  Getting passed the product placement and the fact that losing double digit pounds of weight a week is realistic or healthy, I like watching the emotional and physical transformation participants go through during the show with the help of the trainer’s help.  Getting back to the post, I couldn’t help, but stare at the contestants as they were eating Subway.  I couldn’t believe they were advocating to eat Subway on a regular basis, so I went to the Internet for concrete evidence to see if what I thought was true. So, keep reading!

During undergrad, I had an assignment to compare a food franchising company’s vision and mission and how well the corporation carried out said statement in their restaurants regularly  My group chose to do Subway and although evaluating the nutrition aspect of Subway wasn’t part of the project as it was more of a business class, I couldn’t help, but evaluate how “fresh” Subway really is.  Subway’s motto, Subway: Eat Fresh is a clever slogan and can be interpreted as one wishes.  Some may gravitate to Subway due to the thoughts that “fresh” ingredients are used, however, I want to take their slogan one step further and question how “healthy” and “nutritious” their sandwiches really are.

Although, Subway toots their own horn, stating all their food is fresh and healthy, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles have found contradicting evidence.  In actuality, Subway sandwiches are equally bad for consumers as McDonald’s.The study had 97 participants, ages 12-21 years old, comparing McDonald’s to Subway sandwiches.  Consumers were averaging 1,038 calories from McDonald’s while those eating from Subway were intaking 955 calories, considered statistically insignificant. article-2321877-19B2736C000005DC-684_634x323

While total calories from Subway was lower than McDonald’s, sodium content and average calories per sandwich were larger at Subway. Both fast food chains serve sandwiches that are 3 times the recommended IOM sodium intake.

Part of my research assignment in undergrad was to try the food, so I understand how tasty the food can be, I really did enjoy my sandwiches with chipotle sauce.  However, restaurants and fast food places that are deemed “healthier” can cause the “health halo”, where consumers don’t pay attention to how much is consumed as they assume they’re eating healthier anyways.

What alarms me is the celebrity and athlete endorsements for Subway.  I can see how celebrities can stand behind a product that pays enough for them to represent said product, but where’s the honesty and integrity? Eating Subway once in a while won’t kill you, just keep in mind, it’s high in fat, calories and sodium and it’s still fast food.  Of course, such information is omitted during advertisements and campaigns, but it’s true!


Food Babe Investigates: Is Subway Real Food?

The Weight of the Nation


By: Nikki Nies

The Weight of the Nation is a documentary created and produced by HBO.  This 4 part miniseries brings together health professionals, policy makers, researchers and partners that advocates of obesity strategies and solutions.
Although long, this documentary gives a good explanation of how we’ve gotten where we are now–with 2/3 of adults overweight.  The scary part, more and more children, America’s future, are overweight.


What to do Besides Watch TV


By: Nikki Nies

Sedentary Activities like watching TV and computer use aren’t your best friend. I love a good TV show, but one show can easily turn into several and it’s understandable.

Some notable suggestions from

  1. Go to bed earlier
  2. Take a nice relaxing bath
  3. Make a weekly family meal plan
  4. Take a family walk after dinner
  5. Take an art class
  6. Nap in the grass
  7. Host a dinner party
  8. Start a compost pile
  9. Write something
  10. Get involved in local politics

I, myself, have taken up juggling.  My hand eye coordination has improved drastically in just a few short days.  What skills or activities are you willing to learn?

Picture Source:

The Farm Bill

Original Image by USDA Agriculture via Flickr
Original Image by USDA Agriculture via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Typically renewed every 5 years, the Farm Bill is more influential in every day life than you may know. It’s a comprehensive piece of legislation that covers most federal government policies related to agriculture in the United States. Provisions of the Farm Bill are divided into categories called titles.  In 2008, the latest form of the farm bill contained 15 titles: commodity programs; conservation; trade; nutrition; credit; United States rural development; research; forestry; energy; horticulture; livestock; crop insurance and disaster assistance; commodity futures; trade and tax provisions; and miscellaneous. It usually makes revisions and suspensions to provisions of permanent law of preceding temporary agricultural acts, and puts forth new policy provisions for a limited time.

Initially created in 1933, the farm bill originally provided subsidies to U.S. farmers during the Great Depression.  The government paid farmers to stop the production of 7 main crops, known as “commodities”, with hopes decrease the supply and eventually increasing the prices of staple crops.


 Although there’s much collaboration among USDA, Congress and White House, Congress has the final stamp of farm bill content. Currently, there’s a debate on the national deficit, which has spurred billions in the next bill causes a failure of a full agreement.

Now, you may be asking how much the Farm Bill costs.  Well, approximately 67% of the funding’s supposed to be directed to nutrition, 15% to agricultural subsidies,  9% to conservation and 8% to crop insurance.

Currently, the top priority is cost cutting measures.


What Should I Do to Be a Nutritionist?

With Age, Change Comes


By: Nikki Nies

Many say “just wait until you’re older.”  That saying can be interpreted many ways, but for this blog post, that saying will mean “you won’t believe it until it happens to you.”  Change is inevitable, it’s the only constant we’re guaranteed in life.  How you handle change will dictate what path your life follows suit.

Listed below are some common physical, mental and social changes that are cited as common among elders.

Physical Changes
  • Skin—with age, skin becomes less elastic and more wrinkly; nail growth slows; glands start to produce less oil–>makes skin drier than before
  • Hair—Normal for hair to thin gradually on scalp, pubic area and armpits; with a decline in hair pigment cells–>gray hair growth increases
  • Height—by 80 years old, common to lose 2 inches in height; related to changes in spinal bones, spinal discs, compression joints and posture
  • Hearing—changes in one’s ears makes high frequency sounds harder to hear and changes in tone/speech less clear; tends to accelerate after age 55
  • Vision—eyes become less flexible; normal for night vision and visual sharpness decrease; can impact ability to drive safely
  • Bones—gradually lose mineral content in bones–>less dense and strong
  • Metabolism and body composition: With a need of less energy, metabolism slows; contributed to changes in hormones
  • Heart and blood circulation: heart becomes less efficient as it ages; makes heart work harder during regular activity; gradual decline in energy and endurance
  • Lungs: becomes less efficient over time; supplies body less oxygen
  • Kidneys: declines in size and function; don’t clear wastes
  • Urinary incontinence: increases with age
Mental Changes
  • Depression: neurobiological changes associated with age are associated with an increased susceptibility to become depressed; factors include being retired/unemployed, widowed/divorced; loneliness/isolation; physical disability and illness
  • Dementia: decline in mental ability; impacts memory, thinking, problem solving, concentration and perception; occurs as result of death of brain cells or damage in brain that deals with thought process; often times confused; may seem irritable, tearful or agitated
  • Alcohol Abuse: more likely to go unrecognized in older people; reasons can include loneliness, physical ill-health, disability/pain, loss of independence, bereavement, boredom, depression, retirement, etc.
  • Medication: can cause side effects, such as confusion
Social Changes
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Withdrawal
  • Physical restrictions
  • Limited interaction with friends

The intention isn’t to get one down about possible physical, mental and/or social changes that may occur with age, but to be aware of the possible changes and to prepare people for possible questions posed to physicians.



Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr
Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Solid Fats and Added Sugars (SoFAS) is the fancy word for empty calories. The question isn’t do you consume empty calories, cause we all do.  The real concern is how much and often do you consume SoFAS.  Approximately 35% of the American diet is due to SoFAS consumption, also considered as 800 calories for the day.

A common misperception is that all calories are the same, however, the concept and consumption of empty calories prove otherwise.  Empty calories derive from from SoFAS and do not possess and vitamin, mineral or nutritional value to one’s diet. Eating too many SoFAS can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, deficiency of nutrients and/or insufficient insulin production in the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes.

It’s evident it’s hard to say no to empty calories with many struggling with weight.  The top culprits of empty calories include grain desserts (i.e. cookies and cakes), pizza and soda. Solid fats come from saturated and trans fats that are solid at room temperature.  Added sugars are added during processing and/or prep. Added sugar has many names, so look out on the ingredient list on nutrition labels for: cane juice,anhydrous dextrose, fructose,maltose, fruit juice concentrate, fruit nectar, peach nectar, pear nectar, glucose, corn syrup solids, honey, glucose, syrup–corn, high-fructose corn, malt, maple or pancake, lactose, crystal dextrose, dextrin, sugar cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener and/or sugar–brown, invert, raw or white granulated.

Suggestions for limiting SoFAS intake:

Original Image by Comrade Foot via Flickr
Original Image by Comrade Foot via Flickr
  • Trim fat from meat
  • Replace sugary drinks with water
  • Opt for cooking with canola, vegetable, olive or coconut oil instead of solid fats, such as margarine, butter and/or shortening
  • Use fruit as a topping on oatmeal instead of brown sugar
  • Skip whole dairy products for low fat or skim
  • Instead of using honey or agave, mix fresh or frozen fruit with plain greek yogurt for a great snack and/or breakfast

There’s no specific numerical allotment of how many empty calories, aka discretionary calories one can eat, but with moderation and physical activity, a few empty calories won’t harm any one.Reading nutrition fact labels is key in discerning if product is SoFAS or not as well as being aware of what you’re eating on a regular basis.  Moderation is key!

Sources: Engaged Health Solutions