Browsing Category

Research

Research

Berries, Blood Sugar and You

August 31, 2016

Add berries to your shopping list this week.  Any berry will do: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, you can’t go wrong!  According to a new study, berry eaters may be at a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  Researchers reviewed data from over 400,000 folks and found those who consume berries may reduce their incidence of developing type 2 diabetes by 15%-18%!  This is HUGE.

So, what is it about these berries that make them so fabulous?  Besides fiber, vitamins and minerals, berries contain antioxidants.  One antioxidant in particular is center stage here: anthocyanin.  Anthocyanin has some fantastic anti inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce blood glucose levels and insulin resistance.  AMAZE.  Side note:  insulin resistance is the body’s inability to use insulin properly.  You would prefer to use insulin properly.  You don’t want any insulin resistance.  You want your body to use the insulin your pancreas makes to help get sugar out of the blood stream and into your cells where it can do it’s J O B.

Before you plant your backyard with berries galore, it’s super important to remember that not one food can be the be all end all in disease prevention.  Think of your friends who consume berries on the reg.  Chances are they probably already eat pretty healthy and are quite active (you know the girls who love to run and are crazy active on class pass or studio hop!).  I bet they don’t smoke either.  With that being said, this is a pretty exciting meta-analysis.

According to the CDC, 29.9 million people have diabetes and 8.1 million people don’t even know it.  Somethings we can’t control (like our family history of diabetes and our age….despite how much we botox we inject!).  The good news, some things you can control (your weight/waistline, diet, exercise and the decision to smoke).  The ball is in your court.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is nice to know that hard work can pay off.

Nutrition Research

Don’t feel the burn! Here’s the 411 with acid reflux:

August 15, 2016
Don’t feel the burn! Here’s the 411 with acid reflux:

We’ve all been there…that burning sensation in your chest after a big meal.  If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you might have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).  20% of Americans currently struggle with GERD and as obesity rates rise, unfortunately so will this disease.

Heartburn is a sign of acid reflux.  But it doesn’t always have to be heartburn.  Some people experience cough, hoarseness, clearing of throat and even difficulty swallowing.  Chronic acid reflux can not only be uncomfortable but it can be unhealthy.  Some symptoms of GERD can be predictors of esophageal cancer.  There are tons of OTC medications that can be taken for two wish then stopped to see if the symptoms come back.  (If they do, call your PCP).

Besides meds, what else can you do?  For folks with reflux, certain foods should be limited.  The “problem foods” include foods that are acidic or foods that  relax (or loosen) the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Acidic foods include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato products
  • Vinegar
  • Wine
  • Soda
  • Bottled iced tea
  • Canned or bottled foods (citric acid and or ascorbic acid)

Foods that relax the LES:

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

So what can you do?

1)       Watch your waistline!  Lose weight if you are overweight.  Excess weight can put pressure on your stomach and relax the LES.

2)      Avoid your “SPANX” (tight fitting clothing).  Loose fitting clothing is best.

3)      Stop those HUGE meals.  Smaller meals will definitely help you out.

4)      Try a sleep number bed?  Or place something under the head of your bed to elevate your head while sleeping (no more than 30 degrees).

5)      And don’t smoke!

Photo via Unsplash

In the Media Nutrition Research

What’s in Your Coffee? Guest Contributor: Andrea Hardy

August 11, 2016

Andrea is the most amazing dietitian.  She’s real.  She gets it.  Do you have a “bucks” addiction?  Check this out:  The Obesity Epidemic – What’s in your coffee, and is it contributing to obesity? A look at coffee and weight gain. Guest Contributor, Registered Dietitian Andrea Hardy 

I’ll admit it. I drink coffee. A LOT. Don’t tell my husband, but rather than trading my visa reward points for travel, I use them to get Starbucks gift cards.

While I have what one might term a ‘coffee addiction’ – I take special measures to make sure that I’m making a smart choice when I set off for my morning hit of caffeine. I order coffee, and I drink it black. So if you see me touting a Starbucks cup around town, I can guarantee it’s a grande americano, no room.

While I drink my coffee strong and black, that often isn’t the ‘popular choice’. What people call their ‘morning coffee’ is actually equivalent to a small meal, and a fistful of sugar.

While I hate to rat on my favourite place to get my coffee and work on this blog from – I have to share with you how YOUR coffee habit might be contributing to your weight. I’m just hoping to make you all informed, health conscious consumers. And not to pick on Starbucks alone – any joe-brew coffee shop pulling shots to make these fancy coffees are VERY SIMILAR in nutrition content – so listen up!

First off – and I say this time and time again – you should rarely, if ever DRINK your calories. Liquids have this tricky little effect on satiety (the feeling of fullness). While you may be consuming 300+ calories in that vanilla latte with extra whip, your body just doesn’t compute. You won’t get that same hormonal response that solids trigger, making you feel like you’ve just had something calorie-containing. Despite consuming a mini-meal in the form of a latte, you won’t feel full and might even still be hungry!

Secondly – you can’t really count a ‘venti vanilla latte, extra pump caramel with whip’ as coffee. Yes, coffee is touted to have health benefits – but add on the syrup, whipping  cream, and artificial colours and flavours? Completely negates the effect – and then some! If you are consuming coffee for health benefits, you should be having it straight up – (a bit of milk and sugar is ok).

Coffee’s Health Benefits:

  1. Coffee is Antioxidant-Rich. Coffee is a rich source of a variety of antioxidants. These powerful little molecules can help protect your cells from damage and scavenge free-radicals in the body. Of course, fruit and veg should be your ‘go-to’ for your anti-oxidant fix, but a little extra help from your daily cuppa joe is a perk! These antioxidants may be the mechanism as to why those who drink coffee regularly are protected against inflammatory diseases such as cognitive disorders, and liver disease.
  2. Coffee can make you happy. In so many words – coffee acts on your neurotransmitters to leave you feeling alert, focused, and happy. 
  3. Coffee can enhance an athletes performance. Because caffeine is a stimulant, research has shown that athletic performance can benefit from caffeine intake in moderate amounts. Caffeine tricks your body into releasing extra epinephrine – your ‘fight or flight’ hormone – thusly getting you ‘pumped up’ for whatever action lies ahead. Beneficial for athletes – but this effect is also what causes you to feel anxious, paranoid, and clammy after drinking one too many doppio espressos.

Who is coffee not so good for?

Those who are caffeine sensitive – Consuming caffeine at any level in these individuals can increase blood pressure, cause heart palpitations, and severe jitteriness. Coffee should be avoided by those people.

Those with psychiatric disorders – Because caffeine futzes around with your neurotransmitters, those with mental health issues can be especially sensitive to caffeine, and its negative effects. It’s recommended you discuss this in detail with your family doctor to determine if coffee is safe for you to drink.

So, whats the skinny on Starbucks drinks?

Back when I did a bit of work with school nutrition, there was a game called ‘Sugar Shocker’. Have you heard of it?

Here is the Starbucks version of what I used to teach kids about the amount of sugar in their favourite sugary drinks. Consider it adultified.

-Grande caramel macchiato 240 kcal and 32g sugar (13 sugar cubes)

-Grande chai latte 240 kcal and 42 g sugar (17 sugar cubes)

-whipped cream 70 kcal 2g sugar (~1 sugar cube)

-white chocolate mocha 400 kcal and 58 g sugar (plus whip!) (23 sugar cubes)

-Java chip frappuccino 340 kcal and 62 g sugar (25 sugar cubes)

Let’s just, for interests sake, look at adding a snack onto that. Your morning coffee break of a caramel macchiato, plus a birthday cake pop is setting you back 410 calories! You decide to go for the oh-so virtuous banana loaf instead? 670 calories! Thats more than a THIRD of what you likely need in a day – and I don’t see anyone skipping any meals because their counting their morning coffee as one. (Ahem – nor do I encourage that…)

Ways to Have Your Coffee (and drink it too!) 

  • limit your specialty coffees to less than once a week, and order a tall
  • order drink half sweet
  • choose skim milk
  • add milk instead of cream to your coffee
  • enjoy a lower calorie, portion controlled drink:
    • a tall, skinny vanilla latte has 100 calories
    • a tall cappuccino has just 60 calories
    • Drink coffee like Andrea: I love my americanos. Paying the small amount more for an americano compared to drip coffee allows me to enjoy the luxury of espresso without having it in a latte or cappuccino. If your not a black coffee kind of person, add a splash of milk and top with some cinnamon to help cut the bitterness.
    • If you’re really hungry, and need a Starbucks snack, they sell yogurt, bananas, and nuts. The protein boxes are a fantastic go-to meal for those in a rush too!

So. Where does my vanilla bean frappuccino with caramel drizzle and extra whip fit?

Moderation. It is dessert. A special treat, really. A once and a while, splurge-worthy occasion. On the weekend, I will occasionally treat myself with a flat white or caramel macchiato. I suggest you save your elaborate drink orders for a weekend treat, and choose low-cal, coffee based drinks during the week to get all the coffee benefits, without the sugar crash afterward!

– Andrea

References

  1. Winston, A. Hardwick, E. Jaberi, N. (2005). Neruopsyciatric effects of caffeine. BJ Psych. Vol 11 (6). DOI: 10.1192/APT.11.6.432
  2. Burke, L., Desbrow, B., Spriet, L. Caffeine for Sports Performance.. Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/
Nutrition Research

Salmon…it’s what should be for dinner

August 3, 2016

Y’all, salmon is totes having a moment.  Not that it ever left the spotlight, but ANOTHER study came out today reminding us all why we should be coming this fatty fish.

You know salmon is good for your ticker, but did you ever think about your brain…or your bum?  Yep, omega 3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel has been shown to be heart protective and prevent cognitive decline (see the study out of Rush University in Chicago).  But according to a new study, your favorite pinkish fatty fish is good for your colon.

In addition to lowering your risk for colon cancer, fatty fish consumption has been shown to lower your risk for breast cancer and liver cancer.  While more research is still needed, all eyes are on DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid).  These babies cut down on inflammation which is associated with cancer.

But, Caroline!  What about mercury??  Dr. Oz needs to shut it.  The benefits of consuming fatty fish outweigh any risk.  Oh, and remember, all of these studies have been done on actual fish consumption; not supplements.  Remember, the best rule of thumb is FOOD FIRST.

Nutrition Research

Think you’re safe from prediabetes? Think again.

August 1, 2016

You watch your weight.  You have a class pass to hit up all the hot studios.  You limit you tex-mex intake and eat lots of fruits and veggies.  You’d never be at risk for prediabetes, right?

Wrong.  Womp, womp!  According to a new study published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, nearly one in five healthy-weight Americans have prediabetes.  One in five!

How is this possible?!  Researchers pulled info from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1988-1994 (please feel free to sing some Mariah Carey as you read on).  Researchers also pulled data from 1999-2012 and compared the two.

What did they find?  1988-1994 survey: 10.2% of folks in a healthy weight range (BMI between 18.5-24.9) had prediabetes while in the 1999-2012 survey, 18.5% of folks had prediabetes.  The other scary find, as you age, the likelihood of prediabetes rose.  EEK!

A size 2 or a healthy BMI does not necessarily mean you are healthy.  Just as diabetes or prediabetes does not mean you are overweight or obese.

What can you do?  I recommend that everyone follows a diabetic diet, regardless if you have diabetes, prediabetes or not.  It addresses serving sizes and educates folks on macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat).  The best thing you can do for your blood sugar is pair a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein at every meal and snack.  Here are some ideas (complex carbs listed first followed by lean protein):

  • whole wheat toast with 1 Tbsp nut butter
  • whole wheat crackers with 1 ounce cheese (like string cheese)
  • brown rice with 3 ounces of salmon
  • baked potato with 3 ounces grilled chicken
  • fresh fruit with 1 ounce of nut butter or cheese
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta with 3 ounces of lean meat
  • whole wheat bread with tuna or chicken salad

The possibilities are endless!  You want to avoid the obviously pitfalls like just pizza or just pasta or just a salad.

Move more, watch what goes in your mouth, and don’t forget you annual wellness visit with your primary care physician!

Nutrition Research

Oh, hey there GLUTEN!

July 11, 2016
Eating Pasta Does Not Cause Obesity

According to a recent study from Italy published in the July issue of Nutrition and Diabetes, people who consumed pasta had lower BMIs.

In fact, noodle consumption wasn’t just linked to lower body mass index, but also lower waist circumference and waist to hip ratio, both indicators of heart disease.

You will never see a woman order pasta, especially in Dallas. Carbs are the devil!! Oh, bless those gals heart. Pasta, as it turns out might just be a fabulous part of your diet. Have I mentioned how much I adore gluten?

Before you high tail it to your favorite Italian restaurant (speaking of which, if you live in Dallas, you must got to Carbone’s immediately and order the spaghetti and meatballs; you’re welcome), remember that Italians generally walk WAY more than Americans.

In addition to walking daily, the traditional Italian diet highlights fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, fish and olive oil.

This study looked at 23,000 Italians, and focused one eating habits. One big notation here, this study is not a free pass for the endless helpings at Olive Garden. Like all things in life, overdoing your carb intake can equate to extra pounds.

So, take home message – you can totes consume pasta without gaining weight; just be mindful of your portions.

Pasta from unsplash