4 Ways To Make a Good Diet Better
Even if you think you eat pretty good, it’s likely you could make some improvements. You needn’t switch to brewer’s yeast smoothies or bowls of wheat germ to tip the nutritional scale. Sometimes just a few simple steps can be the key. Subtle changes, such as adding one or two colorful fruits or vegetables to the daily routine or switching from cookies to baby carrots as a pre-dinner snack, can lead to big effects over the long haul. Here’s four simple tricks to turn your good diet into an even better one.
1. Cook in cast-iron pots: Up to 80% of women during the childbearing years are iron deficient, the pre-anemia stage where you are tired, more susceptible to colds and infections, and can’t think clearly. Throw out that expensive cookware and return to Grandma’s cast iron. The iron leaches out of the pot into the food, boosting iron content several fold, especially in acidic foods, such as spaghetti sauce and tomato-based soups.
2. Toss the dried herbs and go for fresh: According to a study from the University of Urbino in Italy, adding fresh herbs such as lemon balm and marjoram to salads increased the antioxidant content by up to 200%. Fresh marjoram alone added to a salad correspondded to an intake of 200 milligrams of antioxidant-rich phytochemicals. Fresh caraway, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, ginger, rosemary, and just about any fresh herb or spice studied also packs a high antioxidant punch.
3. Add orange sections to your meals: Besides the vitamin C (one orange has more than your entire day’s allotment), oranges are excellent sources of other nutrients like fiber and potassium, and a study from Texas A&M University reports that the phytochemicals in citrus are potent antioxidants. Add chopped orange sections to guacamole, rice dishes, tossed salads, and smoothies.
4. Drink tea and coffee between, not with, meals; Compounds called polyphenols or tannins, in these beverages block iron absorption by up to 94%, increasing the risk for iron deficiency, especially in women. This holds true for caffeinated and decaffeinated and for black, green, and herb teas. No need to forego your caffeine fix, just drink these beverages between meals. Photo credit: berkeleyside.com
Just Do This Today
1. Include 2 servings of colorful fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and at least one serving at every snack.
2. Get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour, along with your normal exercise routine.
3. Drink 8 glasses of water throughout the day and see if that affects your thinking, energy, and mood.
4. Toss out 3 junk foods stored in your kitchen.
Hot Off the Diet Press
1. Put An End to Diabetes: Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have put the dietary guidelines to prevent diabetes into a simple, not frills nutshell. They conclude that diets rich in 100% whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol; and low in refined grains, red or processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages reduce the risk of diabetes and improve glycemic control and blood lipids in people with diabetes. With an emphasis on overall diet quality, several dietary patterns, including the Mediterranean, low glycemic index, moderately low carbohydrate, and vegetarian diets, can be tailored to personal and cultural food preferences and appropriate calorie needs for weight control and diabetes prevention and management. That’s settled, now the 29 million Americans with diabetes just need to follow that advice. Ley S, Hamdy O, Mohan V, et al: Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Lancet 2014;383:1999-2007.
2. Fish Oil Saves Memory: In the first of its kind, a study from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island concludes that fish oil supplementation improves memory throughout the spectrum of normal aging and neurogeneration in older adults. Older adults (229 cognitively normal, 397 with mild cognitive impairment, and 193 with Alzheimer’s disease) were assessed at baseline and every six months following for cognitive abilities and cerebral cortex and hippocampal (the memory center of the brain) volumes. The group consisted of 117 seniors who took fish oil supplements at the start and throughout the study and 682 seniors who did not. Those that started taking fish oil supplements during the study were eliminated from the final analysis. Results showed that fish oil supplementation was associated with less cerebral cortex and hippocampal atrophy, as well as better performance on tests for cognitive function in all the groups compared to those who did not supplement. While dosages were not discussed in this article, previous studies show that between 220mg and 900mg of the omega-3 fat DHA are associated with improved cognitive function. Daiello L, Gongvatana A, Dunsiger S, et al: Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 2014; June 18th.
3. Weight Loss Scam? The herb garcinia cambogia has gotten a lot of press for its potential weight-loss effects. Is this a scam or for real? A handful of small studies, including one from InQpharm Europe Ltd in the U.K., and published in obscure journals conclude that this extract might have some merit for weight loss. More than 90 overweight adults were given either placebos or a combination supplement that contained several extracts, including garcinia cambogia, camellia sinensis, and unroasted coffea arabica, for 14 weeks while following diets that had cut calories by 500 calories a day. Results showed a 2.26kg weight loss in the supplemented group compared to only a 0.56kg weight loss in the placebo group. There also wasa greater loss of body fat mass, waist circumference, and hip circumference in the supplemented group. That’s not big news for weight loss! The 5 pound weight loss during a 14 week study is not a miraculous effect, since cutting 500 calories a day for that length of time should result in more than twice that level of weight loss. It is more likely that both groups ate more than they reported, with the placebo group fudging the numbers more than the supplemented group. In addition, previous research found that garcinia cambogia might increase liver damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress,
Chong P, Beah Z, Grube B, et al: IQP-GC-101 reduces body weight and body fat mass.Phytotherapy Research 2014;May 2nd. Kim Y, Choi M, park Y, et al: Garcinia cambogia attenuates diet-induced adiposity but exacerbates hepatic collagen accumulation and inflammation. World Journal of Gastroenterology2013;19:4689-4701 Photo credit: fitnationmag.com
Mood Tip – You Are What You Eat
There is nowhere else for your brain to get its building blocks than from the diet. Food influences brain structure and function, influencing neurotransmitter pathways, synaptic transmission, membrane fluidity, signal-transduction pathways, and more. All of this has profound effects on mental health, cognitive capacity, memory, sleep habits, ability to handle stress, symptoms of PMS and winter blues, and even aging. To remain healthy, the brain must remain free from structural and metabolic abnormalities, including loss of neuronal synapses, atrophy, small vessel disease, and amyloid deposits. Fortunately, much of this is within our control by eating well, exercising daily, not smoking, and keeping risk factors low for diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease – in particular staying lean and fit. The sooner we start to take care of our brains, the better our chances of living long, happy, and smart lives.
Mood-Boosting Recipe of the month –
Plum Nuts Oatmeal (From Eat Your Way to Happiness by Elizabeth Somer)
1 2/3 cups 1% low-fat milk w/ DHA
3 cups pitted dried plums, chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Splenda
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk w/ DHA
1 Tablespoon sliced almonds
1) In a medium saucepan, bring milk, plums, brown sugar, and Splenda to a gentle boil. Add oats and extract. Stir to coat. Return to simmer, lower heat, and cook uncovered for 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
2) Portion into two bowls, pour half &half over top, and sprinkle with almonds. (Makes 2 servings.)
Nutrition Analysis per serving: 365 Calories, 16 % fat (6.5 g, 2 g saturated), 67 % carbs (61 g), 17 % protein (15.5 g), 6 g fiber, 332 mg calcium, 27 mcg folate, 2.6 mg iron, 124 mg sodium.
Answers to “Do you know?” from last issue:
1. A raw foods diet provides essential enzymes that help with digestion. Raw foods, if they are super fresh, might have a few more nutrients compared to foods that have sat in the fridge for days or been overcooked, but the claim that you “preserve vital plant enzymes” by eating raw foods is totally unfounded. Enzymes in plants are designed to aid in the plant’s survival. They have no benefits to human health. In addition, enzymes are proteins, so they are broken down during digestion and absorbed as their individual components, amino acids.
2. Weight problems happen when some people eat foods, like dairy or wheat, that they cannot digest. This theory is totally bogus. If your body is unable to process (digest and absorb) a food, then that food is not broken down and the calories are not absorbed. This would cause weight loss, notweight gain. This also is an example of how the term “food allergy” has been misused and linked to a variety of totally unrelated conditions. Food allergies do not cause weight gain. Eating too much food and not exercising enough to burn those calories is what causes weight gain. Granted, if you limit food intake by eliminating entire food groups, such as whole grains, you will cut calories and lose weight. You also might jeopardize your health and nutrition if you don’t’ know how to make up for the nutrients lost when diet variety is narrowed.
Answers at this website: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/the_13_biggest_nutrition_and_food_myths_busted?page=8
Do You Know?
1. Does microwaving food destroy nutrients?
2. You crave certain foods because you are deficient in the nutrients those foods provide.
Check next week for the answers….
Label Lingo – Imitation Food
Any label that has the word “imitation” on it, should be left right where you found it. Take for example, a shredded imitation mozzarella cheese product on the market. Real mozzarella must have at least 45% milk fat by weight of its solid ingredients and must be made using a simple milk and rennet mixture. Imitation mozzarella contains around 20 ingredients, including water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, powdered cellulose, oh and a touch of casein, which is the only milk-like ingredient in the mix.
Food Finds/Food Fails:
1. Food Merchants Fat-Free Organic Polenta: This precooked polenta comes in an handy roll that doesn’t even require refrigeration until after opening. You can use instead of bread for bruschetta or top slices with your favorite sauce, gravy, or vegetables. I love it topped with slow-roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. A 3 ½ ounce serving has 100 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, and only 1 gram of sugar. The sodium is a bit high, but you can dilute that by using no-sodium toppings. Best of all, you’ll recognize the entire ingredient list!
2. Dulcet Tangy & Peppery Moroccan Sauce: The name says it all. This bottled sauce makes just about anything taste better. I used it on chicken, but the label suggests other uses, such as a baste for shrimp skewers, a marinate for lamb kebabs, a sauce for couscous, or a dip for vegetables. All ingredients are GMO-free and recognizable, including some heavy duty antioxidant spices, such as turmeric. It has no saturated or trans fats and only 2 grams of sugar per serving, but the expeller-pressed canola oil can still chock up some calories, so keep the serving small.
1. Kellogg’s Special K Pretzels White Fudge Dipped: The good news is that these little treats come in individual pouches, which helps you limit the serving size. The bad news is there is absolutely no nutritional redeeming ingredients in that pouch. However, there is a teaspoon of saturated fat, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 135 milligrams of sodium, and no fiber. The label says “0 trans fats,” but that’s not completely true. It’s just that there is less than the required amount of 0.5 grams required to state that the trans fats in the hydrogenate palm kernel oil must be disclosed. I can think of a few thousand better ways to spend your money than on this food-like product.
2. Hormel Natural Choice Grilled Carved Chicken Breast. The label says “100% natural” and “No preservatives.” Hmm, I guess turbinado sugar, carrageenan, “natural flavors,” rice starch, baking soda, and more “natural flavorings” is somehow still “all natural.” The second ingredient is water and the measly 2-ounce serving is packed with 390 milligrams of sodium. Hint: There is less than 70 milligrams of sodium in 2 ounces of home-cooked roasted chicken breast.
The Daily Menu
Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.
1 serving of Plum Nuts Oatmeal
1 banana, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon
6 ounces calcium-fortified orange juice
Pita Sandwich made with 1 whole wheat pita bread, 1 ounce jalapeno Jack cheese, 1 medium diced tomato, 1/2 cup drained kidney beans, and 3 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1 medium orange, peeled and sectioned
Iced herb tea
2/3 cup berry sorbet topped with 1 cup raspberries
4 ounces grilled salmon, seasoned with lemon juice and fresh dill
15 asparagus spears, lightly steamed and sprinkled with red pepper flakes
1 cup yellow squash rounds, lightly steamed
1/2 cup whole grain couscous, prepared according to package
1 cup steamed low-fat milk w/ DHA flavored with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.
1 cup grapes
Nutritional Information: 1,796 Calories, 19% fat (38 g fat, 15 g saturated), 20% protein (90 g), 61% carbs (274 g), 41 g fiber, 1,352 mg calcium, 765 mcg folate, 804 mg sodium.
What has Elizabeth been up to?
September 11th, AMNorthWest
September 22, Presentation in New York on The Power of Supplements
September 23, Satellite Media Tour on Diet and Vision
September 24, Speaker on diet and vision at Editor’s Event in New York City
October 27, AMNorthWest