Summer’s bounty

Summer Tomato SaladI chuckle as I title this blog post and credit dear friend and writer, Mark Jenkins, with it. He wrote health messages for ten years for a website devoted to creating a healthy eating and movement lifestyle based on the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Consulting with this team was rewarding in many ways and not the least of these were the bantering and humorous emails we shared in preparation to “go live” with messages.

Summer’s bounty was Mark’s favorite and it was for me, too. Born in August, it’s an innate understanding that summer fruits and vegetables are like kindred souls. Tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob, zucchini and yellow squash, jalapeño and bell peppers, fragrant herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, and sage that enhance the flavor of summer fare cry out for enjoyment as summer breathes her last hot days.

Corn on the cob could be eaten raw. Farmers eat it right off the stalk because it’s sweeter yet Americans like it cooked so here’s a trick. Cut off the stem end of the cob and a tiny bit of the silk end. Microwave for three minutes per ear. It will be perfect!

Tomato salads are a fresh invitation to enjoy the dog days of August. Dice vine-ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and fresh basil leaves. Toss with a white balsamic vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, a touch of Dijon mustard, and local honey. Divine and oh so refreshing after the beach or gardening.

Corn. Tomatoes. Together. Nothing else needed.


IBS: How do the bowels become so irritable?

IBSIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine aka “the colon.” Symptoms include stomach pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. While the cause of IBS is unknown, some health experts believe that faulty communication between the brain and the intestinal tract is one cause of symptoms. Holistic experts believe that two of the main causes of IBS are food allergies and overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. For sure, stress in any way can make symptoms worse. Experts say that IBS can be dramatically improved when the underlying causes are discovered. 

When IBS clients come to their first appointment with me, I first have to determine what they eat. Food records are extremely helpful – clients log everything they eat and drink and together with a magnifying glass, we look for offending foods, patterns, and combinations that create catastrophic events. Many clients can’t even go to a dinner and a movie for fear of not getting to the bathroom quick enough. Help is on the way!

They learn how to follow a FODMAP foods to eat and avoid diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. In other words, foods that contain short-chain carbohydrates. Which is why you can’t just eliminate a food group. FODMAPs are in every food group. Dairy, wheat (not gluten), cruciferous vegetables, fruits. Once clients learn to omit these foods temporarily, after just 2 weeks, it’s not uncommon to have 75% improvement in symptoms. After 4 weeks, I have a hard time helping them challenge these foods back into their diet. Who wouldn’t enjoy being pain-free and diarrhea-free after years of upset?  Yet, some of the eliminated foods have good health consequences so we try them. Many times, these “offensive” foods are OK in moderation – once a week, not once a day.

Your body can be trusted. It tells you what foods work, which foods don’t. Together, we figure it out. Clients come away with conscious and deliberate tactics that help them make informed decisions about what to eat. You can too by following the link above or Contact Me for an appointment.

For a longer life, add less salt

Salting foodStudy finds too much sodium a worldwide killer. AMERICANS ARE NOT alone in their taste for salty foods. Whether the salt comes from french fries or miso soup, people all over the world are getting more than the current recommendations. And according to an analysis of global sodium intake published in The New England Journal of Medicine, that overabundance of salt accounts for more than 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths each year. The researchers looked at existing data on sodium intake in 187 countries representing nearly three-quarters of the world’s adult population. Separately, they determined the effects of sodium on blood pressure and of blood pressure on cardiovascular diseases— including heart disease and stroke—by analyzing more than 100 previous clinical trials. These findings were combined with current rates of cardiovascular disease around the world to estimate the number of cardiovascular deaths attributable to taking in more than 2,000 mg of sodium per day, the World Health Organization’s recommended amount.

In 2010, the average global sodium consumption was nearly double that recommendation—3,950 mg—the researchers found. In fact, all regions of the world were above recommended levels, with averages ranging from 2,180 mg per day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5,510 mg per day in Central Asia. “These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide. No world region and few countries were spared,” said first and corresponding author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School, who led the research while at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Some of the highest rates were in East Asia and Southeast Asia, where excess salt consumption accounted for more than 20 percent of cardiovascular deaths in people under age 70, the study found. In the United States, the researchers found that nearly 58,000 cardiovascular deaths each year could be attributed to daily sodium consumption greater than 2,000 mg. Average U.S. sodium intake was 3,600 mg per day, 80 percent higher than the WHO’s recommendation and 57 percent higher than the 2,300 mg recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. “These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world,” said Mozaffarian, who chairs the Global Burden of Diseases, Nutrition and Chronic Disease Expert Group, an international team of more than 100 scientists studying the effects of nutrition on health that contributed to the research.

Verbatim from Tufts Nutrition Magazine, Winter 2015 edition. This information was important enough to leave as is! 

Lactose intolerance

MilkLactose intolerance, otherwise known as lactase deficiency, is a condition where a person is unable to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products. The body produces lactase, the enzyme needed to breakdown and digest lactose, but many produce less lactase as they age. Some may be born with a lactose intolerance and others my develop the condition as a result of an illness or injury. When consuming dairy products, those with lactose intolerance can have stomach discomfort, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and/or gas. To avoid these symptoms, stay away from dairy products by switching to plant-based dairy or lactose-free milk. Another option would be to take a supplement, such as Lactaid, to help with indigestion. Although Lactaid is not approved by the FDA, the pills are a common alternative to those who desire dairy but also have a lactose intolerance.


Color code your day

Bell peppersYears ago, the idea of using color to rate my day based on four aspects appeared via a project I was working on at the time. The four areas to highlight are:

  • Food intake
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Stress management

The day begins after a restful night’s sleep. A minimum of 7-8 hours is required to keep all your systems in check and appetite hormones flawlessly clocking in to a morning meal.  A plant-based foundation builds meals for the day. Vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains lay down the groundwork, with tag-ons of lean protein sources and high quality dairy for omnivores.

Many think exercise should be second in line but sleep deprivation means you won’t much feel like a 6:30am spin class or 5pm yoga flow. Endocrine hormones play a role in healthy appetite and metabolism; sleep enhances their effect and increases exercise performance.

Take time each day for several deep breaths, listen to a guided meditation, get purposeful activity, play yoga. You’ll then be present for you and your family in a supportive, growth enhancing way.

To keep track, mark each end-of-the-day in your paper or online calendar with red, yellow or green. Red means “I achieved one of the four,” yellow says, “I achieved 2-3,” and green means 3-4 were accomplished. There is flexibility in what counts, to you, for success.

You’ll notice that by recording your day with color, your red days will become minimized in favor of yellow and green. Try it!


Good Measures