Categories Advice, Health, How To, Nutrition

Are your dietary supplements helping or hurting you?

When it comes to purchasing and consuming nutritional supplements, quality matters. 

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. This means that commercial brand supplement companies are not being upheld to quality and safety standards like they should be. As a result, many commercial brand supplements can potentially put you at risk.

These risks include:

  • Supplements that contain harmful additives, fillers, or contaminants. One example would be protein powders that were found to contain lead.
  • Supplements that contain versions of nutrients that are poorly absorbed. There are different forms of different micronutrients. For example, B12 and magnesium. The cheaper forms are less absorbed and in the case of magnesium, can lead to cramping and diarrhea. Another example would be folic acid vs folate. Your body needs to convert folic acid to folate but some individuals are poor converters. In these cases, taking folic acid may actually make them feel worse instead of better.
  • Supplements that don’t contain what they say they do. Some may be lacking the amount of the nutrients that they claim, or possibly may not contain those nutrients at all.
  • Supplements that contain inaccurate labeling and contain potential allergens.

When purchasing supplements it’s important to know who to trust and what to look for. Here are my top recommendations:

  • Purchase professional grade supplements only. This will guarantee potency, safety and purity of the product. These companies also guarantee the latest science behind formulation and dosage.
  • Purchase directly through the manufacturer or a qualified healthcare practitioner. You will have a professional who can answer any questions that you have about the efficacy of the product, current research studies, clinical findings, and whether or not the supplement is right for you.
  • Look for companies that opt for third party testing. Third party testing ensures that supplements are clean, safe, and contain exactly what they say they do. Companies have to pay for this testing. Since supplements aren’t regulated and this testing isn’t mandated, many companies don’t opt to do it. Professional grade supplement companies pay for third party testing because they stand behind their products and have the safety of their consumers in mind. These supplements may cost a little more as a result, but it’s worth it to know you are purchasing a high quality product.
  • Pay attention to the expiration dates. I have heard stories of clients purchasing from consumer Internet sites like Amazon, only to receive expired products in the mail. There is also no guarantee that your product was stored properly. Think of a probiotic that must be refrigerated. When you buy from sites like Amazon, you have absolutely no way of knowing if that product was stored under the proper conditions. 
  • Know where your supplements are coming from. Supplements should be sold, shipped and tracked directly from where they are being made. A recent news article highlighted the dangers of counterfeit supplements being sold online and branded as professional supplements.
  • Look for the most bioavailable forms of nutrients. These are the forms of a nutrient that will replete deficiencies because your body will absorb it the most.
  • Avoid any products with unnecessary fillers, flavorings, or sugar alcohols that can actually make you feel worse instead of better. The exact opposite of what a supplement is designed to do.

In my practice, I suggest my clients purchase supplements through Wellevate.me. Wellevate only offers professional grade supplements. Safety and purity is guaranteed, the products are third party tested, and they are available directly from the manufacturer. By using Wellevate, you can purchase supplements that are recommended during your nutritional sessions with confidence, versus trying to find similar products in stores and not really knowing if the product is the same. To setup an account, click here

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Categories Advice, Exercise, Health, Nutrition, Sleep, Stress

Self Care: Necessity, not luxury

I have been seeing a trend in my practice lately. Clients come into a program with the best of intentions – to focus on their health, heal their bodies, and put themselves first for a change, only to get sucked back into life’s harsh realities that zap their motivation and plan. They reschedule or cancel visits and put their wellness goals on the backburner. I see it over and over, and I understand because at times in my life I have done the same. My father died in September. The weeks preceding his death were anguishing. I didn’t go to the gym and at times I skipped meals. I didn’t sleep. It’s easy to de-prioritize yourself when you are juggling a hectic work schedule, kids, aging parents, or caring for a friend or loved one. The list goes on an on.

Life will always present us with these challenges. This I know for sure. But self-care can really save us in times like these. Fueling our bodies with nourishing food, moving our bodies with some form of physical activity, deep breathing for stress reduction, and of course getting some much needed rest.

Self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. It’s like the instructions the flight crew gives you on an airplane prior to take off – in the event of an emergency, put YOUR oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs. It is ok to prioritize your needs first. This is not an act of selfishness. This is an act of self-love and self-worth.  It is a demonstration of your love for those around you. Because when you give yourself these gifts, you become the best version of YOU.

So don’t feel bad about scheduling your nutrition visit, or going to the gym, or taking the extra time to cook some healthy meals for yourself, or simply taking a break. You are worth every bit of that time.

As a reminder, I do offer virtual counseling. Simply login from a tablet, smart phone, computer or other Wifi connected device. Virtual visits are an easy and convenient way to continue with your sessions without requiring the time to make a trip to the office. And if you are like most of my clients and getting pulled in multiple directions, time is everything.

To schedule a virtual nutrition session, click here.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Categories Advice, Food, Gut Health, Health, Nutrition, Protein, Uncategorized

Confused about collagen?

Collagen supplements are becoming increasingly popular. Are you confused by them? You may be wondering whether or not this is something your body needs, or if these types of supplements even work. This post will help you decide if it’s right for you.

Understanding collagen

Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids. It is one of the most prevalent proteins found throughout the body. It is present in bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, your intestinal lining, and other fibrous tissues.  The main role of collagen is to provide structural support to your tissues. There are different forms of collagen, but the primary amino acids that comprise it are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.

Role of collagen

As we age, collagen levels decrease. This can lead to issues such as osteoarthritis, joint pain, stiff tendons, wrinkled skin, and GI disturbances. As a result, collagen is being added to beauty products and dietary supplements as a means of providing anti-aging benefits, reducing joint pain, supporting healthy bones and healing leaky gut.

Benefits of collagen

While some studies are mixed, there is strong evidence to support the following benefits of collagen

  • Promotes skin elasticity, hydration, anti-aging and improvement in overall appearance.
  • Can increase bone density and reduce bone loss
  • Helps reduce joint pain and stiffness
  • Can increase the process of wound healing

There is moderate evidence to support these additional benefits*

  • May support growth of hair and nails
  • May increase muscle mass
  • May protect against mucosal damage and support a healthy intestinal barrier
  • May support cardiovascular health

*Further studies are needed

Collagen food sources

So how can you obtain collagen naturally? Collagen is mainly found in animal tissue – primarily in the joints, tendons and bones. Bone broth is another common food source. You can purchase commercially made bone broth, but the best way to reap the benefits is to make it yourself. Here is a recipe you can try.

If eating animal carcass or drinking bone broth is not your thing, you can also try consuming foods that synthesize collagen and support its production. These include poultry, game meat, organ meat, fish, shellfish, cheese, egg whites, seeds, spirulina, and soy.

Collagen supplements

Collagen supplements come in a variety of forms including capsules, gummies, powders. One of the most common and versatile forms of collagen supplements can be found in bovine, chicken, or marine collagen peptides.

Collagen peptides are the result of larger collagen molecules being broken down into short chain amino acids. Peptides are ideal because they break down easily in liquids. You can add them to both cold and hot beverages, such as coffee or a smoothie. You can also include them in baked goods.

There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for collagen, but on average 2.5-1.5g per day have been utilized in studies. As with all supplements, I only recommend professional grade brands. Supplements are not regulated so quality really does matter. For example, with some commercial protein powders, there is concern about potential lead contamination. It’s worth investing a few more dollars to know that what you are consuming is safe. As always, before consuming any supplement I urge you to talk with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine if you really need it.

For more tips like these or to book a session, contact me here

Sources:

  • The Functional Nutrition Library
  • https://health.clevelandclinic.org/
  • https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0319p26.shtml
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23375414
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25884286
Categories Advice, Food, Health, How To, Nutrition

Healthy eating strategies for kids: How to encourage the best choices.

It’s back to school time. Hectic schedules, homework, and organized sports can make it extremely challenging for kids to eat well, stay focused, and perform at their best. Here are a few strategies to encourage healthy food choices for your child.

Get plenty of protein: While kids tend to gravitate towards carbohydrate rich meals and snacks, teach them that healthy proteins are a must. Protein will keep kids fuller longer and will help them to stay focused in the classroom. It will also support muscle growth. Protein choices include lean chicken, eggs, turkey, tuna fish, canned salmon, beans, dairy or dairy substitutes, nuts, nut butters, seeds, tofu, and edamame.

Make fruit and vegetables a dietary staple: Teach your kids to include rainbow of colors. A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables will provide them with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fruits and vegetables will also keep them fuller longer.

Include health fats: Healthy fats support brain development, eye health, and like protein, will help kids stay fuller longer. Fats will also help kids to better absorb certain vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Healthy fats include things like nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, avocado, and olive oil.

Reduce sugar intake: While occasional treats are always fun, children who consume large amounts of sugary foods may find it harder to stay energized and focused throughout the day. Refined carbohydrates and starches will raise a child’s blood sugar initially, but will then cause a sudden drop in blood sugar as their hormone insulin responds. When blood sugar drops, children will feel tired, hungry or ‘hangry’. I recommend that kids avoid starting the day with sugary cereals, pastries, and other common breakfast foods and instead include protein at breakfast. This will prevent them from being hungry by mid morning. Apply this same approach after school in order to keep them focused on homework and activities.

Read labels: Strive to provide your children with foods that are low in preservatives, additives and colors. Although a bit controversial, there have been studies which have shown that additives in food can contribute to hyperactivity in children.

Drink water: Choose water over sugary sports drinks. Water is always the best choice. Encourage this habit early on. Teach your child to carry a water bottle to school and to drink water before during and after sports practice.

Teach them how to balance their plate: Instill the habit of eating at least 3 food groups at meals. Food groups include protein, fruit, vegetables, starches, fats, dairy or dairy substitutes. A lunch might look like this: Chicken strips, broccoli, strawberries, whole grain crackers and a piece of cheese. This will offer a more balanced diet and provide essential nutrients.

Practice Division of Responsibility: This means that as parents, you are responsible for what time of day your child eats and what choices are offered. They are responsible for how much (or how little) they eat. This encourages kids to build confidence with their food choices and to remain in tune with their hunger and fullness cues.

Encourage family meals: Family meals are a time for connection, sharing, and listening. Studies show that kids who engage in family meals perform better in school. Make family meals a regular part of your schedule. If dinner is too hectic of a time to sit down together, try another meal such as breakfast.

Encourage participation and involvement with food choices:  Whether it’s packing lunches, preparing after school snacks, helping to prepare dinner, or tagging along when grocery shopping, getting your kids involved with the planning and preparation of meals will help them develop healthy eating habits and will encourage mutual respect in terms of food choices.

For more tips like these or to schedule a time to meet with me personally, click here.

Categories Advice, Exercise, Food, Health, How To, Nutrition, Weight Loss

12 Ways To Eat Healthy While On Vacation

It’s summer! Are you planning a fun vacation or getaway? Nervous it will derail your eating plan? I often get asked by clients what they can do to stay on track with healthy eating while they are traveling. It can be a real challenge for some, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some key tips that I recommend:

  1. Plan your day. Begin with a healthy breakfast that includes plenty of protein to keep you fuller longer. Resist the temptation to begin your day with a sugary breakfast that will induce cravings later and make it harder to stay on track. Plan or pack your lunch and snacks and get some physical activity in – whether it be extra steps, a swim in the pool or ocean, hiking, running or biking. This will allow you to create a calorie deficit. By doing this you can relax and enjoy your evening. You are on vacation after all! This approach works because it’s a good balance of staying in control but also allows some amount of indulgence. 
  2. Set an exercise goal for the week and stick to it. Set a goal for walking, running, a travel workout, or whatever you enjoy. Aim for a set number of workouts per week. Track your workouts in an app or post on social media for accountability and positive reinforcement.
  3. Increase fruit and vegetable intake. Add vegetables to snacks, sandwiches, your morning eggs etc. Opt for fruit as a snack as well. They are lower in calories and really filling. Happy hour on the beach? Pack an assortment of plant based snacks to accompany the beverages. Click the link here for my blog post on healthy snacks when traveling.
  4. Drink (more) water. This is a must. Strive for a goal of half of your body weight (in ounces) or more, especially if you are in the sun most of the day and/or consuming alcohol. 
  5. Focus on protein intake. This can really help to keep you full, deter you from eating heavier carbs, and keep you on track. Aim to have protein at every meal and snack. You can even pack your favorite protein powder or bars to have throughout the week. 
  6. Will you have a kitchen at your vacation destination? If so, shop ahead and stock it with your favorite items. This is one thing I do often when traveling locally. I pack enough for breakfast, lunch and snacks. It definitely saves money and helps me feel more in control. If this isn’t a possibility, shop on the first day that you arrive at your destination. If cooking in, prepare some fun and healthy recipes. Use your favorite websites, blogs, or  grocery store magazines for ideas. Many have really good summer editions right now with some fantastic looking recipes. 
  7. Use a food tracker. This is a personal decision and I’ve seen it done a variety of ways. Some people like to let go of their food journal when on vacation, others feel this is a slippery slope and will make things harder for them when they return. You know yourself best and what works for you. You can also do a partial food journal where maybe you track your water, your workouts and the majority of your day up until dinner. Then, for dinner and beyond you can relax a bit and let it go. It’s completely up to you, but if you feel you would still like accountability while away, a tracker can work. 
  8. Set (gentle) boundaries. This looks different for everyone. It might be setting a limit of eating out 1x per day or getting ice cream 2x per week or choosing alcohol vs. a dessert. Decide what it could look like for you and stick to it.
  9. When dining out, choose which items on the menu you will skip, sample, and enjoy. For example, maybe you will skip the bread basket and dessert, sample the appetizer, and enjoy the entrée
  10. Be mindful of alcohol intake. The average serving of beer or wine is about 150 calories. Mixed drinks and flavored cocktails can be even higher. If you have factored this into your day, great. If not, be aware that this can add on a lot of unwanted calories and sugar, and it for some it can be a trigger for eating larger portions of foods that they would normally avoid.
  11. Adopt a “Maintain Don’t Gain” philosophy. Set a goal of maintaining your weight but don’t stress about trying to lose while you are away. 
    Walk, walk, walk, and walk some more. Being on vacation is a great way of getting plenty of walking in. Whenever possible opt to walk instead of drive. Track your steps daily and see how much you can get in by the end of the trip. 
  12. Walk, walk, walk, and walk some more. Being on vacation is a great way of getting plenty of walking in. Whenever possible opt to walk instead of drive. Track your steps daily and see how much you can get in by the end of the trip. 

For more tips like these or to meet with me personally, contact me here