Thursday, October 23, 2014

Low Vitamin D Levels Found in Children Drinking Non-Dairy Milks

Popularity, lactose intolerance and allergies have led many to drinking non-dairy milks including rice, soy and almond milks. In North America, Cow’s milk is required to be fortified with vitamin D, whereas it is voluntary for the non-dairy milk to add vitamin D. Recent research has shown that children drinking non-dairy milk are more than twice as likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Researchers found that children who drank non-cow’s milk, each cup consumed was associated with a 5% decrease in vitamin D levels per month, versus drinking cow’s milk.

Vitamin D is produced in the body due to sun exposure, and is also found in fish, fortified cow’s milk and other foods. Vitamin D is essential in the body in forming and strengthening bones. Caregivers should be mindful of the calcium and vitamin D sources their child is consuming to ensure proper bone development. Be sure to consult your primary care physician or registered dietitian for further details.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Obesity Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Not all cancers are unavoidable. You can decrease your risk of developing some cancers by taking preventative measures, including breast cancer. The American Cancer Society explains that 1/3 of cancer death are linked to lifestyle choices, including poor diet, physical inactivity and having excess weight. Research has also shown that when cancer survivors carry excess weight, they have a higher risk of developing breast cancer again in their lifetime.

These approaches can be reached by decreasing the number of calories consumed each day. Think about decreasing portion size, limiting fast food, sharing meals at restaurants, eating fruits and vegetables as a snack instead of other high-fat options,  as well as consuming lower fat dairy and meat products.

Did you know that limiting alcohol not only decreases calories but also decreases risk of developing breast cancer? Your risk for developing breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The American Cancer Society recommends that women limit their consumption of alcohol to no more than one drink per day; this is equal to 5 oz of wine (small glass), 12 oz beer or a mixed drink made with 1.5 oz of liquor.

Exercise is also an important component with decreasing your risk of cancer especially breast cancer. Exercise can help decrease body fat, which then lowers levels of cancer-promoting hormones such as estrogen. Try to set exercise goals each week, aiming at a minimum of 150 minutes per week of physical activity.

With October being breast cancer awareness month, let’s take a step towards healthier lifestyles by managing weight, increasing physical activity, and opting for healthier food choices. Consult your Physician and Registered Dietitian for specific concerns regarding your health.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Caffeinated Beverages and Adolescents

Consumption of coffee, energy drinks, and other high caffeine content drinks, by children and adolescents, is on the rise. Although there has been an increase in caffeine consumption there is still a lack of research and knowledge about how these beverages effect sleep, mood, and performance. Dr. Owens a pediatrician and sleep medicine specialist at Children’s National Health System has recently reviewed some of these effects of caffeine.

The availability of caffeinated beverages has grown, causing an increase in consumption among children and adolescents. Children and adolescents are using energy drinks to gain alertness. In this article, Dr. Owens states that further research needs to be done on this topic before any definitive answers can be given about the impact of caffeine on the pediatric population. Dr. Owens suggests more research in the area of why children and adolescents are choosing to consume caffeinated beverages along with how much they are consuming. Finally, Dr. Owens suggests that educating children and adolescents about the risks of caffeine use may be helpful in decreasing the use of caffeine among the pediatric population.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is Drinking Red Wine Healthy?

According to Mayo Clinic researchers, “those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol including red wine seem to have a lower risk of heart disease.” Why is this? Resveratrol is a polyphenol, which is an antioxidant found in grape skins, blueberries, chocolate and peanuts. These polyphenols found in red wine may help protect the linking of the hearts’ blood vessels. Helping lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and preventing blood clots is another important characteristic that resveratrol may contribute.

Not too fast. This does not mean we should all start drinking more red wine. Researchers still need to investigate how much resveratrol actually contributes to these health benefits (that is why the words “may” have been used). Some previous animal studies have shown that in order to have the dosage of resveratrol that will actually have some benefit, we would have to drink 1,000 liters of red wine! Now, this would not be a part of a healthy diet, and too much liquid for our body to handle.

Although there is not solid information about the beneficial amount of resveratrol in a glass of red wine, we can still consume resveratrol through our diet with grapes and blueberries, without even including alcohol. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Farxiga: New Diabetes Drug

Recently, commercials targeted toward the consumer have been on TV advertising a new drug for diabetics called Farxiga. According to these commercials, Farxiga decreases serum glucose levels. Uncontrolled, high serum glucose levels are major indicators of diabetes so it makes sense that this drug would aim to lower serum glucose levels. So what makes it different from other diabetes drugs on the market? Farxiga works to alter the function of the kidneys and the body’s excretion of glucose in the urine. This drug increases kidney excretion of glucose which, in effect, decreases the serum glucose levels overall.

While drugs can be successful in managing diabetes, it is important to remember that they have risky side-effects. Diet and exercise can be as effective as drugs at decreasing serum glucose levels. Adults should get about 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. Also, adding whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to your daily diet can help decrease risks of diabetes and help manage serum glucose levels. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meatless Protein Options

Are you a vegetarian, vegan or just enjoy having meatless meals? "Going meatless even one day per week may reduce your risk for developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity," says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

You may be wondering if consuming plant-based foods will provide enough protein in your diet, and the answer is YES! IT is possible to get your protein sources from plants, and there are other health benefits in these such as fiber, potassium and decreased saturated fat and cholesterol.

-Beans and lentils, which are cost-effective protein sources and can be bought dried, canned, frozen or fresh. They are protein packed, and are high in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals.

-Tofu and tempeh are soybean products that can be used as a mock meat.

-Some vegetarians include eggs and dairy products in their diets. These sources are high in protein, but may also contain higher saturated fat and cholesterol content. Try purchasing low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

-Vegetables contain protein too! 1 cup of cooked spinach contains about 5 grams of protein, and 1 cup of cooked broccoli contains about 4 grams.

-Grains, nuts and seeds are found in many varieties and can be added to meals or eaten as snacks.
The whole grain, quinoa, is considered a complete protein (containing all of the essential amino acids, usually just found in meat). ½ cup of quinoa will provide 4 grams of protein.

-Meat substitutes are abundant in the grocery isles, but tend to be heavily processed, higher in fat, sodium and sugar than other plant proteins. Be sure to check the food label and eat these sparingly.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cucumbers: More Than Just a Spa Treatment

Cucumbers are part of the botanical family, Cucurbitaceae,  which also includes cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelons. Cucumbers have often been thought of as having a low nutrient profile. While cucumber is typically enjoyed because of its mild taste and as a great addition to a salad, there are a few other health benefits that often get overlooked.

Cucumbers are made of 95% water, providing many important electrolytes and hydration when consumed. Another health benefit is the improvement of bone health. Low vitamin K intake has been associated with increased risk of bone fracture. By increasing vitamin K intake, risk of bone fracture decreases because vitamin K improves calcium absorption. In 1 cup of cucumbers with the skin on, 11% of daily vitamin K needs are met. Finally, cucumbers, along with other plant foods, have been shown to decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

To incorporate more cucumbers into your diet try adding some to a Greek style salad with tomatoes and feta cheese.  Cucumber is also great dipped in hummus or added to water.