Category Archives: Uncategorized

Could Vitamin D Help IBS Symptoms?

constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, stomachache, irritable bowel syndrome, healthDo you get stabbing abdominal cramps after eating a fatty meal?  Does dairy or gluten cause uncomfortable gas and bloating?  Are doctors unsure of the origin of your chronic constipation or diarrhea? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have what is called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Although changes in the diet may be helpful in many cases of IBS, research shows that vitamin D may also help those with this condition.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the large intestine.  If someone is suffering from the following symptoms, then they may have IBS.

  • abdominal pain, cramping, or bloating
  • less pain after bowel movement
  • excess gas
  • diarrhea or constipation, or a little of both
  • mucus in the stool

A diagnosis of IBS is usually given after testing has found that such symptoms are not related to another condition. Other conditions where such symptoms may be present include:

  • inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • celiac disease
  • malabsorption
  • colon cancer

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is well-known for its link to bone health.  D rich foods include:

  • vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice, and yogurt
  • fatty fish like tuna and salmon.
  • cod liver oil

However, sunlight exposure can also provide vitamin D. Those who live in cloudy climates may have trouble doing this though. Therefore, vitamin D-rich foods and supplements may be needed for some to meet their vitamin D needs.  Research suggests that just 5 to 30 minutes of sunlight twice a week can help a person meet their vitamin D needs.

Ostoeporosis is a common condition linked to vitamin D deficiency. However preliminary evidence has also linked low vitamin D to diabetes, hypertension, and glucose intolerance.  Recent recommendations suggest that most adults should consume at least 600IU a day. Although, those with a low vitamin D level may require up to 4000 IU/day to help them normalize their levels.

It is important to ask your doctor for a vitamin D test at your annual visit. This is because vitamin D is not a typical test that healthcare providers include in your common annual visit lab panel. If you fail to get a vitamin D level test, then you may never know if symptoms such as weakness or bone pain could be helped with vitamin D treatment.

Vitamin D and IBS Research

A study in the European Journal of Clinical Medicine has found a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and IBS. An analysis of four observational studies and three randomized controlled trials found a link between vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients. Furthermore, high dose vitamin D supplements were found to help ease IBS symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

Even though evidence is limited, researchers suggest that anyone with IBS symptoms should get tested for vitamin D.  If you have low vitamin D, you may be prescribed a Vitamin D supplement, or asked to purchase an over-the-counter softgel or liquid supplement. You can also purchase vitamin D in an absorbable cream like Maxasorb by Vita Sciences. Maxasorb comes in 1000IU or 2000IU and provides a convenient way to take your vitamin D daily.

Other Ways to Help Your IBS

In addition to keeping an eye on your vitamin D levels, there are other ways to help control your IBS symptoms.

  • Increase fiber intake by adding in more whole grains like oats and quinoa, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fiber can help bulk stool and make it easier to pass.
  • Drink plenty of water each day to help flush waste out of your body, along with water’s other very important functions.  It is especially important to increase water intake as you increase fiber intake. If you increase fiber intake without drinking enough water, this could worsen constipation symptoms in some people. An easy rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, you should drink 100 ounces, or about 12 cups of fluid each day. This fluid could include:
    • water or low-calorie flavored water
    • unsweetened tea, hot tea, or herbal tea
    • broth or boullion
    • decaf coffee
    • other low-calorie, low sugar drinks that do not contain caffeine or alcohol
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Exercise can help promote healthy bowel movements in those who have constipation.  Any movement counts, so get outside and take a walk, dance in your living room to a workout tape or to the radio, or go to the gym and join a group class. Whatever movement is fun to you, is movement that you will stick with for the long run.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each day for good health. Sleep helps your body regulate fluids, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, as well as digestion. Therefore, not enough sleep could be affecting your gut health.
  • Start on a probiotic since the gut may be lacking the good bacteria it needs for healthy digestion. Ask your healthcare provider for specific brands of probiotics they may recommend. You can also check out Vita Sciences for gut health aids such as Biovia 30.
  • Eliminate certain foods from your diet. These foods may vary from person to person, depending on your specific allergies or intolerances. However, some common food triggers of IBS include:
    • FODMAPs, or fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols found in certain fruits, vegetables, grains, or dairy products
    • gluten-containing foods such as breads, pastas, and baked goods
    • gassy foods such as alcohol, carbonated beverages, or certain vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Mayo Clinic (November 18. 2017) “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”

Medline Plus (accessed January 29, 2018) “Digestive Diseases.”

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (February 11, 2016) “Vitamin D- Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” 

Williams CE, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;doi:10.1038/s41430-017-0064-z.


  • Could an anti-inflammatory diet lower colorectal cancer risk?

    You may have heard of an anti-inflammatory diet before.  This type of diet has been linked to claims of benefits in heart health, digestive health, and even weight loss. Furthermore, a recent study has found a significant link between a pro-inflammatory diet and higher colorectal cancer risk.

    What is inflammation?

    mediterranean diet, omega-3, fish, olives, olive oil, salmon, vegetables

    Examples of anti-inflammatory foods.

    Inflammation is a response that the body uses to protect itself from harm.  For example, let’s say you cut yourself on a piece of glass. Your body will then release a stream of white blood cells to the rescue.  These cells surround the harmed area and cause redness and swelling. This response  is just those cells working to heal the injury. Then, as the cut heals, the inflammation will start to go down.  This is called acute inflammation. Acute inflammation can also occur when viruses like the cold or flu enter your body.

    Chronic inflammation occurs when such foreign substances enter your body repeatedly over time.  Examples includes exposure to excessive numbers of fat cells from a poor diet, or nicotine from cigarette smoking. An example of chronic inflammation is with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.  The body protects excessive fat plaques in the vessels from getting into the blood by building them up on the arterial walls. Over time, this can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

    What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

    An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods that contain substances that can fight inflammation. Some anti-inflammatory foods include:

    • omega-3 rich foods such as fatty fish like salmon, olive oil, olives, nuts, and avocado.
    • brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and berries that contain antioxidants such as lycopene, beta-carotene, and anthocyanin, respectively.
    • coffee, which contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
    • consume mostly minimally processed foods. The less ingredients on the label, the better since various additives and artificial ingredients may be pro-inflammatory.

    On the other hand, a pro-inflammatory diet contains foods such as:

    • red meat
    • foods that contain trans or saturated fat such as processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli meat, whole fat dairy products
    • foods high in refined carbohydrates such as sugary drinks and candy or white breads, pastas, or rice

    Inflammation and colorectal cancer risk

    A recent study looked at the dietary data from a large group of adults enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. This data included food frequency questionnaires every 4 years and health-related information every 2 years. A 26-year study of this data found that those men and women with higher dietary inflammatory scores had higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Therefore, researchers suggest that increased colorectal cancer risk may be seen in those who routinely consume a pro-inflammatory diet. In addition, researchers feel that those who are overweight or obese, or lean individuals who do not drink alcohol may benefit the most from strategies to reverse the effects of a pro-inflammatory diet. However, further studies need to be done to confirm such findings.

    Other ways to fight inflammation

    Even though an anti-inflammatory diet should be your first line of defense in lowering risk of colorectal cancer, the following strategies can also be helpful.

    • Keep stress levels low by engaging in such practices as yoga, meditation, or massage on a weekly basis. Also, relaxation breathing, meeting with a counselor, or diffusing essential oils in your home or office can help lower feelings of stress.
    • Exercise regularly at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. This does not have to be running or boot camp, and does not have to be all at once. Walking 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there can benefit overall health. Also, healthy side effects of exercise can include lower blood pressure, more controlled blood glucose levels, and weight management. All of these side effects can contribute to a lower state of inflammation in the body.
    • Start taking certain supplements to help enhance the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet such as turmeric, garlic, and vitamins A and C.   These compounds in particular help boost immunity and healing. In addition, turmeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.  Turmeric can be found in its pure form as a spice, used in teas, and also in supplement form such as with Vita Sciences Turmeric/CurcuminCurcumin is the powerful antioxidant found in turmeric and is combined with Bioperine in this Vita Sciences blend to aid in optimal absorption.

     

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (updated August 13, 2017) “Foods that Fight Inflammation.”

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (February 2017) “What is inflammation?” 

    Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, K. (July 1, 2015) “9 Diet Tips to Help You Fight Inflammation.”

    Pevsner, H. (May/June 2012) “10 Ways to Reduce Inflammation” EatingWell.

    Sears, B. (2015) “Anti-inflammatory Diets.” 34 Suppl 1:14-21. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2015.1080105.

    Tabung FK, et al. (published January 18, 2018) “Association of Dietary Inflammatory Potential With Colorectal Cancer Risk in Men and Women.”  JAMA Oncol.  doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.4844


  • Could a To-Do List Help You Get More Sleep?

    sleep, anxiety, stress, list, to-do, alarmSleep is a precious commodity in your busy life. Between work, taking care of loved ones, and running errands, it is a wonder you find time to sleep at all. However, it is important to make time for sleep because of all of the health benefits adequate sleep can provide. A recent study suggests that making a to-do list may help ease your mind so you can capture more sleep.

    Why Is Sleep Important?

    When you sleep, your body helps to regulate many processes in the body. Blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and bodily fluids are just a few of the processes regulated during sleep. When you do not get enough sleep, you can increase your risk of high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels. In addition, research has found that those who consistently received less than six hours of sleep each night were more likely to have a higher body mass index than those who received at least eight hours of sleep each night. Therefore, long term lack of sleep can not only increase risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, but also increased obesity risk.

    How Much Sleep Is Enough?

    The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for most adults.  Children two years of age or less require around 14 hours of sleep each day, including naps. Those between the ages of three and eighteen require around 10 hours of sleep each night. Children require more sleep to support their body’s growth and development.

    Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity of sleep. Sleep quality may be low if you do not feel rested upon waking, wake up during the night, snore, or gasp for air during sleep. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may affect your body’s ability to get oxygen during sleep. This can impact safety during sleep and can make you feel fatigued upon waking.  If you experience interrupted sleep or wake up tired, you should see your healthcare provider for further assessment.  Pain, frequent urination, or breathing problems could prevent you from getting more sleep.

    To-Do List and Sleep Research

    A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology looked at 57 Baylor University students and the effects of writing down unfinished tasks on sleep.  One group of students wrote down unfinished tasks, while the other group wrote down tasks previously completed.  All students were in a controlled environment and told to go to sleep at a set time. They were prohibited from staying up to look at phones or complete any other tasks.  Those who wrote down unfinished tasks were found to have improved sleep by use of an overnight polysomnography test.  Larger studies and observation of other age groups and individuals with sleep disorders such as insomnia will need to be done to confirm the effectiveness of such strategies.

    Other Ways to Help Improve Sleep

    Besides making to-do lists, here are some other ways to help you get more sleep and improve quality of sleep each night.

    • Stay on a sleep schedule each night to help your body’s clock regulate itself. It may take some time to adjust to an earlier bedtime or earlier wake time. However, over time your sleep patterns will enhance quality and quantity of sleep.
    • Exercise each day to help your body exert some energy.  Not only will exercise help improve your sleep, but it can also help manage your weight, which can in turn help you reduce risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
    • Take time to relax before sleep by engaging in meditation, relaxation breathing, and reducing screen time. The light from the screens on phones, computers, and television can interrupt the sleep-wake cycle. Adding in essential oil diffusion such as with lavender can help induce relaxation. In addition, drinking herbal teas with chamomile can help induce sleep.
    • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, or heavy meals before bedtime since such things can cause interrupted sleep. Caffeine and alcohol can act as a diuretic, which may cause frequent urination that can interrupt sleep. On the other hand, the nicotine from cigarettes act as a stimulant and can in turn disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.  Finally, heavy meals less than two hours before bedtime can cause indigestion and increase risk of heartburn, which can interrupt sleep.
    • Ensure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep. Every ten years, you should replace your mattresses. Every few years or so, you should also replace your pillows  to prevent exposure to allergens such as dust mites. In addition, reduced exposure to light sources in the evening can help keep your body’s rhythms in check.  You can use blackout curtains to help reduce the amount of natural light in your bedroom.
    • Add a supplement to your bedtime regimen to help you get more sleep.  Somnova by Vita Sciences contains ingredients such as melatonin and L-theanine to help promote restful sleep.

    If none of these strategies are helping, then be sure to visit your healthcare provider for more sleep guidance.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March 2, 2017) “How Much Sleep Do I Need?”

    Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School (December 18, 2007) “Sleep and Disease Risk”

    National Sleep Foundation (accessed January 15, 2018) “Healthy Sleep Tips.”

    National Sleep Foundation (accessed January 15, 2018) “How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need?”

    Science Daily (January 11, 2018) “Can Writing Your To-Do’s Help You To Doze? Study Suggests Jotting Down Tasks Can”


  • Could the DASH Diet be the Answer to Your Weight Loss Goals?

    balanced diet, diet, healthy, haert health, fruits, veggies, proteinLike millions of other people, you may be hoping to lose some weight in this new year. However, the confusing part may be what eating plan, or shall I say “diet,” should you choose to follow?  There is so much information in the media today making all sorts of weight loss claims.  They may all seem promising, but not all may provide you the nutrients you need to succeed long-term.  However, a recent report found that the DASH diet may be the answer to get you to your weight loss goal.

    What is the DASH Diet?

    The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet regimen, is a eating regimen promoted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It involves a flexible and balanced diet that focuses on using whole foods to meet daily and weekly nutritional goals. Basic tenets of the DASH diet include:

    • Eating plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
    • Consuming adequate protein daily from minimally processed sources such as fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
    • Limiting foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and certain oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
    • Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets

    Calorie and activity goals recommended will be a little different for each individual based upon your energy needs. Energy needs can be calculated using your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, multiplied by an activity factor.  A good BMR calculator is provided online by MyFitnessPal. To calculate your activity factor, multiply your BMR by the following activity factor based on your activity level. Exercises considered moderate versus active can be found in a variety of sources such as the American Heart Association website.

    • 1.0 if you are sedentary, or do little to no activity
    • 1.1-1.2 if you engage in light activity 1-3 times a week
    • 1.2-1.3 if you are active, or engage in moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week or vigorous activity 75 minutes a week
    • 1.4-1.5 if you are very active, or engage in moderate exercise  closer to 300 minutes per week , and vigorous activity closer to 150 minutes per week

    For example, of your BMR is 1500 and you work out for 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, then you would multiply 1500 by 1.2-1.3. Therefore, you would need to consume about 1800 to 1950 calories each day to maintain your current weight. As an estimate, subtract 500 calories for every pound you wish to lose per week.

    Based on the example provided, if you wanted to lose one pound per week, then you would need to consume between 1300 to 1450 calories each day.  Be sure though, that within those calories that you are eating enough protein and fiber daily for optimal health.  Such specific nutrient goals can be found on the NIH website. You can visit your healthcare provider such as your doctor or dietitian for more specific macronutrient goals that are appropriate for you.

    Diet Research

    Studies such as the DASH-Sodium and PREMIER trials looked at the effects of the DASH diet on blood pressure. Both of these studies found decreases in blood pressure with either a low sodium diet or established treatment plan that included nutrition counseling, respectively. However, those who followed a DASH diet in addition to these factors had even greater reductions in blood pressure.

    A recent study of 38 different diets by the U.S. News and World Report ranked the DASH diet the top diet for the eighth year in a row. The Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of heart-healthy fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fats in the diet, was ranked second. Diets were scored according to:

    • How easy is the diet to follow
    • the nutritional quality of the diet
    • the safety of the diet long-term
    • the effectiveness of the diet for weight loss
    • the protective quality of the diet against diabetes and heart disease

    The DASH diet was found to be rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, protein, and fiber. Also, this plan was found to adapt to any healthy lifestyle without deprivation or restriction of important nutrients.

    Ways to Make Your New Year’s Goal Become a Reality

    Finding a diet that you want to follow is one thing, but sticking to it is a whole other ballgame. Therefore, use the following tips to help you make your new year’s health goal a reality.

    • Make it a family affair: If you have others in your household that eat with you at meal time, include them in your healthy eating efforts.  This does not mean that everyone has to go on a diet with you. However, you can help instill healthy habits at meal time to benefit everyone. For example, you can include more vegetables at meals, limit the sugary and salty foods purchased, and reduce meals eaten out.
    • Get a healthy “buddy” for accountability: Since you are likely to have a co-worker, neighbor, or friend that also vows to be healthier in the new year, designate each other as your “buddy.” Basically, this means that you can help each other be accountable for your food choices and exercise.  You can do this by:
      • taking walks together during the week
      • attending exercise classes together
      • batch cooking or prepping healthy meals together on the weekend

    In regards to exercise, studies have shown that those who have an exercise partner can have about twice the overall increased intensity and duration of exercise than those who work out alone.

    • Track your eating and exercise regularly: Food tracking can get cumbersome over time. However it can be really useful in the early stages of a healthy eating regimen to make sure you are meeting your nutrient needs.  Once you feel comfortable with your eating plan you can get away with tracking less frequently. However, it is useful to track every few weeks for the long term to make sure you are eating enough of important nutrients like protein and fiber. Some great examples of tracker apps include MyFitnessPal, LoseIt!, and MyPlate.
    • Don’t get caught up in the numbers:  Weighing yourself everyday or tracking every macro can get overwhelming. Such excessive tracking can cause you to lose sight of important non-scale goals. Focus more on losing weight to feel more energy, feeling less pain in your joints, or being able to be active in ways you have not been able to  because of your current health status. This is not to say that tracking such numbers is not important. However, these numbers are just one small part of the healthy lifestyle equation.
    • Add in vitamins and supplements to fill in any nutrition gaps: A balanced diet ideally should give you all of the vitamins and nutrients you need daily. However, no regimen is perfect. There may be days where you do not consume enough of certain vitamins or minerals due to sickness, travel, or other reasons. Therefore, it is important to have a multivitamin in your regimen to help fill in any nutrient gaps.  An example is Zestia by Vita Sciences, which contains Super Food compounds, probiotics, and 100% or more of 19 vitamins and minerals.
    • Take it one step at a time: A long-term goal is great, but can be daunting to accomplish. For example, saying you want to lose 50lbs this year may seem like an impossible task. However, if you break your long-term goal into shorter pieces then it becomes more practical. In this case, setting a goal of one pound each week seems more possible and allows you to celebrate each small progression towards your ultimate goal. Therefore, take your new year’s health goals one day at a time.  Each small success should be celebrated. For example, when you reach eight cups of water consumed each day or reach 5000 steps a day, you should be proud and treat yourself to a non-food reward. Examples of such rewards include a movie night at home, a relaxing bubble bath, or a massage. Before you know it, your new year’s goal will be accomplished and you can start off the next year with confidence and better health.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (March 2014) “Moderate to Vigorous – What is your level of intensity?”

    American Heart Association (February 2014) “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.”

    MedlinePlus (January 3, 2018) “What’s Your Best Diet for 2018? Experts Rate Them.”

    MedlinePlus (January 1, 2018) “For a Healthier New Year, Try Making It a Family Affair.”

    MedlinePlus (January 4, 2018) “Need Motivation to Exercise? Try the Buddy System.”

    MyFitness Pal BMR calculator

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (accessed January 7, 2018) “DASH Eating Plan.”

    National Institutes of Health (January 3, 2018) “DASH ranked Best Diet Overall for eighth year in a row by U.S. News and World Report.”

    National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (accessed January 8, 2018) “Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).” 

     

     


  • Seven Simple Ways to Keep Your Weight Loss Resolutions This New Year

    exercise, goal, weight loss, new year resolutionEvery new year, many of us make resolutions to be healthier. Whether it be weight loss, exercising more, eating healthier, or managing stress better, such resolutions usually start off strong. However, by early spring, such goals usually lose steam and get pushed off until the next new year. That is why it is important to plan ahead before making any goals so you can make sure they are realistic and backed up with a lasting motivating factor. With such planning, you can make your new year’s goals come true this year and maintain such healthy habits for the long-term.

    What is a SMART goal?

    SMART goals provide a formula for the greatest success in goal-setting and achieving. SMART stands for:

    • Specific: Being specific requires you to be clear about the goal you want to set. For example, “I want to exercise 30 minutes a day for at least 3 days a week,” or “I want to lose 1 pound a week for the next 12 weeks.” Being specific is more helpful than just saying “I want to lose weight” or “I want to eat healthier.” Such general statements do not provide any concise marker to work towards, therefore they allow for a greater likelihood of non-compliance.
    • Measurable: The marker that a specific goal contains allows your progress to be measured. When you can measure how many days you have been able to exercise each week, or how many cups of water you drink each day, you can have a better idea of what areas of your healthy regimen are doing well, and which need more work. Tracking through an app or food journal can help with keeping track of such progress.
    • Attainable: Perhaps one of the most important parts of a goal is to make sure it is attainable. For example, if you currently consider yourself a couch potato, it would be a stretch to make a goal to run a marathon by the springtime.  A more attainable goal would be “I will train for a summertime 5K race.”
    • Relevant: Another important part of your goal is that it must be relevant to your life. You should never set a goal that someone else may have for you. This type of goal-setting is setting you up for disappointment, especially if you are only working towards that goal to gain approval from others. Set your goals for YOU and YOU only, and you will be sure to be successful.
    • Time-bound: Finally, it is important that your goals include a start and end time. Timing your goal makes it easier to keep track of your progress. For example, “In the next three months, I want to be able to work out for at least three times a week.” In addition, breaking these timed goals into small pieces, like a week or a month at a time, will make them more approachable. So instead of saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds this year,” saying “I want to lose 5 pounds this month” will make this large goal seem more possible.

    What are good motivating factors?

    To keep your motivation level strong, it is important to have some non-scale goals, or goals that have no number attached to them. For example, some non-scale goals may include:

    • Having more energy to play with your kids or grand kids.
    • Moving around with less pain.
    • Being on a reduced number of medications.
    • Fitting in an airplane seat or amusement park ride seat comfortably.

    What is a Realistic Weight Loss Goal?

    If you are one of the many people who wish to lose weight for the new year, it is important  to set healthy expectations. Fad diets may promise 20 pounds lost in 20 days, which may seem great. However, these quick results usually only end up with quick weight regain. This is because such plans end up depriving you of nutrients, make eating healthy feel miserable, and are hard to stick to long-term. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 1 to 2 pounds a week is a healthy rate of weight loss.

    More Simple Steps to Getting Healthy This New Year

    • Simplify healthy eating. Instead of getting obsessed with counting every calorie and macronutrient, stick to the basics.  Get out your measuring cups and smaller dinner plates (about 9-inches in diameter) and follow these simple tips:
      • Have at least 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables each day, which do not include corn, peas, and potatoes. With the plate method, fill half of your plate with the non-starchy vegetables at meal time.
      • Limit starchy, refined foods such as rice, potatoes, and pasta. Stick to 1/2 cup at each meal, or with the plate method, 1/4 of your plate. Choose high-fiber starches such as brown rice, quinoa, beans, or sweet potato.
      • Make sure you eat enough protein. Although this may seem easy enough, I find a lot of my patients do not eat enough healthy proteins. To determine your protein needs each day, you can multiply your weight in pounds times 0.3 to give you an estimate in grams.  You may need more protein daily if you workout frequently.
    • Be more mindful. Mindfulness is important for all aspects of life. In eating, mindfulness may include:
      • meal planning and prepping
      • asking yourself if you are eating for hunger or emotions
      • chewing more per bite to really savor and enjoy your food

    Mindfulness in exercise may be choosing exercises you enjoy or listening to your                        body to find ways to move without causing pain. Everyday you can be mindful by                       being present in each moment. You can do this by listening actively to others and using relaxation breathing and meditation to manage stress.

    • Track your progress. Download an app like MyFitnessPal or MyPlate to help you track what you consume and the calories you burn. Some apps, such as Apple Health or Calm, can help you keep track of the number of mindfulness minutes you engage in daily.
    • Fill in the gaps with vitamins and supplements. Even the healthiest diets may be lacking some vitamins. In addition, some climates that may have less days of sunshine may make individuals prone to vitamin D deficiency.  It never hurts to have your healthcare provider check for your levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, and iron. Low levels of these nutrients may result in such symptoms as low energy, depressed mood, or trouble sleeping.  Zestia by Vita Sciences contains several of these nutrients in addition to probiotics and a SuperFood complex to help promote optimal health inside and out.
    • Reward yourself. Every small goal you achieve should be celebrated. If you went a whole week without any drinking any sugary drinks, then reward yourself with a relaxing hot bath, or by enjoying a relaxing movie night at home.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 15, 2015) “Losing Weight.”

    Medline Plus (December 28, 2017) “8 Small Changes for a Slimmer You in 2018.” 

    Richardson, H. (December 29, 2017) “Holly Richardson: Resolutions, SMART goals, CLEAR goals and BHAGs.”

    Rossy, L. (April 29, 2016) “How Mindfulness Can Help You Stay Motivated to Exercise.” 

     


  • Could Women’s Hearts be More Sensitive to Stress?

    heart, mind, health, stress

    Stress of the mind can hurt your heart.

    Your heart is racing. Your palms are sweaty. Sometimes you may feel dizzy, disoriented, or nauseous. These are all potential symptoms when you are faced with a stressful situation. However, one of the most dangerous symptoms of stress is constriction of blood vessels. A recent study has found that women may be more at risk for heart-related health problems in response to stress.

    What is stress?

    Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life that can affect both the body and mind. A little bit can be healthy to remind you to be more alert or more motivated. However, too much can contribute to a variety of health conditions such as:

    • ulcers
    • digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome
    • asthma
    • headaches
    • back pain

    In addition to such conditions, stress can also increase blood pressure, which can in turn increase risk of heart disease. This is due to the body’s response to a perceived threat. The body goes into “fight-or-flight” mode in which the body constricts blood vessels to provide more blood flow to the major organs. Also, digestion slows to keep the body focused on providing blood to the brain and the heart.  However, if anxiety or chronic exposure to the perceived threat(s) occurs, then this response can negatively impact health.

    Women, Stress, and the Heart

    A recent study in the journal Arteriosclerosis looked at 678 people with coronary artery disease, or plaques in the major arteries that affects blood flow. Each person was asked to engage in public speaking, a commonly known fear of many, to see if it triggered myocardial ischemia, or a reduction of blood flow in the heart.

    About 15-percent of study subjects triggered myocardial ischemia. Men and women were affected by this condition at a similar rate, but the cause was different.  In men, blood flow was mostly affected by high blood pressure and increased heart rate. On the other hand, in women it was caused by a constriction of blood vessels, also known as microvascular dysfunction. The difference between the two reactions is that in men, the perceived fear increased workload on the heart. However, in women, the dysfunction of vessels impaired blood flow.  It is not known whether this increased incidence of myocardial ischemia can increase risk of heart disease, but such studies are being planned.

    Healthy Ways to Deal With Stress

    You can help decrease stress, and in turn, lower risk of heart disease in a variety of ways.  The following list includes way you can lower stress on both your body and mind.

    • Limit coffee and caffeine since such constrict blood vessels, thus impacting blood flow. Two to three cups a day is suggested for adequate health benefit.
    • Quit or don’t smoke since smoking can also constrict blood vessels, and in turn blood flow, this increasing heart disease risk.
    • Live a balanced life. It is important to make sure that as hard as you work in your job and in exercising, you should also rest your body just as readily. A good balance of rest and activity is around 30 minutes a day of moderate activity such as walking combined with about 7 hours of sleep each night.  Being both active and resting well each night are important for the regulation of body fluids, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in the body, among other things.
    • Be mindful in everything you do. When you are more mindful and aware of the choices you make each day, it can eliminate a lot of stress on the body.  The following are a list of small things you can do each day to be more mindful and in turn reduce stress on your body inside and out.
      • Plan and prep meals and snacks ahead of time.
      • Make healthy choices at meal and snack time such as less processed food and more fresh foods.
      • Portion out food choices to prevent excess intake.
      • Set a designated bedtime to help your body get more rest.
      • Make a to-do list to keep track of your weekly tasks and delegate any tasks that you can to others.
      • When you get stressed, give yourself a time-out with relaxation breathing to help you better face the situation at hand.
      • Make time for yourself in your schedule by setting aside 15 minutes a day to meditate, read, or do something your enjoy to give your body and mind a break.
    • Take supplements to help with sleep and managing stress. There are many herbal supplements on the market that claim to help with sleep and stress. However, it is important to do your research. Perhaps the supplement most well-known for its sleep-inducing properties is melatonin. It is actually a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland that affects the sleep/wake cycle and produces drowsiness. Those that may be deficient in this hormone may experience trouble sleeping or insomnia. However, it is important to remember that since it is a hormone, it may not be suitable for everyone, so be sure to check with your doctor first before starting a melatonin regimen.

    Another supplement to try is Sereneo by Vita Sciences. Sereneo contains a combination of magnesium, chamomile, and valerian to help promote a feeling of calm by working to help reduce stress and anxiety. Valerian and chamomile have been found to be safe, natural herbal remedies to help induce sleep, while magnesium has been found to help promote reduced anxiety and irritability. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know before starting any new supplement regimen to be sure it does not interact with any of your currently prescribed medications.

    -written  by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (June 2014) “Fight Stress with Healthy Habits”

    American Heart Association (June 2014) “Stress and Heart Health”

    Berkeley Wellness (October 1, 2013) “Can Supplements Help You Sleep?”

    Centers for Disease Control (March 2, 2017) “How Much Sleep Do I Need?”

    Deans, M.D., E. (June 12, 2011) “Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill.” Psychology Today.

    Harvard Medical School: Division of Sleep Medicine (December 18, 2007) “The Characteristics of Sleep”

    Mayo Clinic (March 31, 2017) “Stress Management”

    Medline Plus (December 21, 2017) “Are Women’s Hearts More Vulnerable to Stress?”

    Rodale Wellness (August 25, 2017) “4 Sleep Supplements That Actually Work”

     


  • Could a Cup of Tea a Day Lower Your Glaucoma Risk?

    tea, antioxidant, healthOn a cold winter’s day there is nothing better than a hot cup of tea to warm you up.  Depending upon the type of tea you consume, this warm beverage could provide you with a variety of different antioxidants to help benefit your health. In fact, a recent study has shown that a cup of hot tea every day may help reduce glaucoma risk.

    What is Glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is the name for a variety of different eye conditions that involve damage to the optic nerve. Usually caused by an extreme amount of pressure in the eye, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The most common form of this condition may not present any symptoms until it is too late. Therefore, it is very important to get regular eye check-ups to reduce your risk of eye health issues.

    About Tea

    Tea is a low-calorie beverage that can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  These benefits stem from the presence of the polyphenols epicatechin and catechin in tea. In particular, drinking green tea was shown to help lower LDL cholesterol, higher HDL cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels.

    Tea and Glaucoma Risk

    A recent study looked at the results of a eye exam and nutrition survey of 1700 participants.  Those people that drank tea every day had about a 75-percent less chance of having glaucoma than those who did not.  It is not certain what about tea drinkers makes them at lower risk. However,  this lower risk was only seen in those that drank hot, caffeinated tea.  Consuming decaf tea, cold tea, or either decaf or caffeinated coffee did not show any benefit. It is thought that lower glaucoma risk may be due to the lifestyle factors in those that drank hot tea six times or more per week. More studies will need to be done to identify the direct link.

    Other Ways to Lower Glaucoma Risk

    Besides drinking hot tea, there are several other ways to lower your glaucoma risk.  The researchers suggest that prevention through regular eye exams is key, along with the following lifestyle behaviors.

    • Get your heart health under control. By getting your blood pressure and diabetes under control, you can help decrease your risk of glaucoma.
    • Use treatments as prescribed. Prescribed eye drops or other glaucoma medications can help reduce the risk of complications associated with the condition. In turn, treating such symptoms can prevent or delay the onset of vision problems associated with this condition.
    • Exercise regularly. Walking or engaging in some sort of moderate exercise each day could help reduce the eye pressure related to glaucoma.  Moderate exercise may include swimming, biking, aerobics, dancing, or anything that quickens your breathing without getting you out of breath.
    • Wear eye protection. Be sure to wear sunglasses or goggles in the sunlight or when  using any power tools or engaging in any high-speed racket sports. This is because when you reduce your risk of eye injuries, you also help reduce glaucoma risk.
    • Take eye-healthy supplements.  Ocutain by Vita Sciences contains a combination of eye-healthy compounds such as lutein and beta carotene, which promote healthy vision. Such supplements, along with a heart healthy diet may help lower your risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Cochran, N. (January 12, 2017) “The Health Benefits of Tea”

    Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School (August 2014) “Tea: A Cup of Good Health?”

    Mayo Clinic (September 15, 2015) “Glaucoma”

    Mayo Clinic (May 19, 2017) “Exercise intensity: How to measure it”

    Medline Plus (December 15, 2017) “Could a Hot Cup of Tea Preserve Your Vision?”

     

     


  • Could Fiber Help Lengthen Life of Colon Cancer Patients?

    You may hear time and again to eat your veggies. In many cases you may have heard this is relation to a heart-healthy diet regimen. However, recent research has shown that increased fiber intake may also have reduce risk of colon cancer.

    What is fiber?

    fiber, fruit, vegetable, grains, whole grain, colon, gut, health, beansFiber is an undigested macronutrient in food that comes in two primary forms. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. This type of fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as:

    • Starchy vegetables and legumes such as peas and beans
    • Fruits such as apples and citrus fruits
    • Non-starchy vegetables such as carrots, squash, or beets
    • Grain sources such as barley, oats, or psyllium husk

    Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber has been found to help in bulking stool to help improve waste removal from the body.  In turn, insoluble fiber can be helpful for those with constipation. This type of fiber can be found in foods such as:

    • Whole grain foods such as whole wheat flour and wheat bran
    • Non-starchy vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and other leafy greens, or green beans
    • Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, beans, or legumes

    Fiber and Colon Cancer Research

    A recent study looked at data from 1575 patients from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study who had colon cancer that did not spread beyond the colon. Researchers looked at fiber intake in the four years after diagnosis. They tried to relate this data with health outcomes during this time.

    It was found that for every five grams of fiber consumed, risk of death by colon cancer was reduced by about one-fourth.  There is no way to confirm if fiber really helped these patients live longer. However, it is suggested that increased fiber intake after diagnosis could still benefit overall health.

    Furthermore, it was suggested by researchers that increased fiber intake may actually reduce risk of getting colon cancer in the first place. This is due to fiber’s ability to lower inflammation in the body that can lead to cell damage and increase risk of chronic disease. However, the study did find though that fiber found in cereal and whole grains had the greatest impact on survival from colon cancer.  Supplements and fruit fibers had the least impact on risk of death from any cause. Finally, vegetable fiber intake was linked to a lower risk of death from any cause.

    Ways to Eat Better for Gut Health

    Fiber not only helps with heart health and improving health outcomes or those with colon cancer. Fiber also helps keeps you more full in between meals and in turn helps manage weight. Furthermore, fiber can help provide good bacteria to your gut, which further promotes a healthy digestive system. More and more research is showing that a healthy gut is the key to lower risk of many diseases and improved overall well-being. Here are some tips to help you eat for better gut health.

    • Start your day with a fiber-rich breakfast: Try out quick and delicious fiber-rich breakfast options such as whole grain toast with some avocado and eggs or peanut butter and sliced banana. Oatmeal prepared with milk and flavored with cinnamon and diced fruit is another way to get the most fiber and protein balance in your morning meal.
    • Add in fiber-rich snacks throughout the day to curb cravings: In between meals, reach for a 1/4 cup nuts or seeds for some fiber fullness.  Also, apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a few whole grain crackers with cheese can provide the fiber and protein balance your body craves during snack time.
    • Keep lunch and dinner meals lean and green: As you get later into the day, focus on lean proteins and green vegetables as your main energy source. Lean proteins could be anywhere from chicken or fish to plant-based proteins such as legumes, tofu, or quinoa.  Balance these proteins out with a few cups of leafy greens or other non-starchy vegetable for clean and filling energy for the latter part of your day. Non-starchy vegetables include pretty much any vegetable except for potatoes, corn, and peas.
    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day: Water is a necessity to keep the body healthy inside and out. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces in water daily, or at least 64 ounces a day. This fluid intake can include any unsweetened beverage such as unsweetened tea, flavored water, or decaffeinated coffee.
    • Add in a gut-friendly probiotic daily: Probiotics can help build good bacteria in your gut. Good bacteria help keep bad bacteria out of your gut, in turn improving digestive health and overall well-being. Add in a probiotic such as Kolonex by Vita Sciences. Kolonex contains a healthy and powerful blend of psyllium husk, probiotics, and bentonite clay that has been shown to support decreased bloating, weight loss, improved bowel transit, waste elimiation, detoxification and increased energy levels.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Harvard Health Publishing (October 2016) “Can gut bacteria improve your health?”

    Mayo Clinic (Sept. 22, 2015) “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

    Medline Health News (November 2, 2017) “Fiber-Rich Diet Boosts Survival from Colon Cancer.”


  • Can you treat a migraine without pain medicine?

    migraine, headache, medicine, painIf you have ever had a migraine headache, you know the pain is so intense that a trip to the hospital may be in store.  In this case, the ER staff may use an opioid  pain medicine as a first resort. However, a recent study has shown that this commonly used drug, also known for its addictive qualities, may not be the best choice for migraine relief.

    What is a migraine?

    A migraine headache involves a throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, usually along with other symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light are some of the most common symptoms of such headaches. Pain can occur for hours, or even days, and warning symptoms such as  constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, increased thirst, or frequent yawning may precede a migraine.  In rare cases, right before a migraine you may get aura symptoms such as flashes of light or blind spots.  In the 24 hours after, you may have symptoms such as confusion, moodiness, dizziness, and weakness.

    Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine may be used for treatment of most migraines. More severe cases may require medications such as Triptan or Ergot, which help constrict blood vessels and block pain pathways.  However, opioids are used if a person cannot tolerate such medicines.

    Migraine Relief Research

    A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at 127 patients who had at least trips to the New York emergency department for migraine headaches.  Half of the patients received the opioid hydromorphone and the other half received an IV of the dopamine-releasing drug prochlorperazine.

    After 48 hours of treatment, sixty-percent of people from the prochlorperazine group versus thirty-percent of the hydromorphone group felt relief.  In addition, the prochlorperazine group was 30-percent less likely to ask for more pain medicine after treatment than the opioid group (6-percent versus 36-percent).  This study suggests that anti-dopaminergic drugs may provide more relief to migraine headache sufferers than opioids. However, you should be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to find the best treatment for you.

    Natural Ways to Relieve Migraine Pain

    • Learn to cope (LTC) : This treatment gradually exposes patients to headache triggers to help them become desensitized to such triggers.
    • Practice consistent overall wellness: Be sure to get a good night’s sleep of at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night and eat healthy, balanced meals every day. Also, be sure to find healthy ways to manage stress such as doing yoga, engaging in relaxation breathing, or taking a walk daily.
    • Stay active: Regular exercise can help not only manage stress, but can also prevent migraines.  Exercise reduces such headaches by reducing tension in the body. Furthermore, staying active can help reduce body weight.  Since obesity is thought to be a risk factor for migraine headaches, weight loss could reduce such risk.
    • Other medicinal treatments: Cardiovascular or anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and Botox may be prescribed to help prevent migraine headaches. However, for the more natural route, reach for Migravent by Vita Sciences.  Migravent contains natural ingredients such as PA-free butterbur, CoQ10, magnesium,  and riboflavin. This formula has been found to help prevent migraines and support reduced frequency of such headaches and related symptoms.

    Disclaimer: Please be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    Mayo Clinic (April 26, 2017) “Migraine”

    Medline Plus (October 18, 2017) “Skip Opioid Treatment for Migraine in the ER”


  • Could Hypertension Increase Dementia Risk in Women?

    Ifhypertension, blood pressure, brain, memory, dementia you have high blood pressure, heart disease may be the health concern most on your mind. However, high blood pressure can be a risk factor for more than just heart conditions.  A recent study has found that women in their 40’s with high blood pressure have an increased risk of dementia.

    What is high blood pressure?

    A systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher defines a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Systolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when the heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in between heart beats.

    Hypertension occurs when there is some sort of damage or blockage that causes a narrowing of the blood vessels.  This narrowing slows the flow of blood and oxygen to tissues and organs in the body. Over time, this delayed oxygen and blood flow can cause damage to cells in the body that can lead to disease. Therefore, high blood pressure can lead to increased risk of diabetes, kidney damage, stroke, and vision loss.

    Hypertension and Dementia

    A recent study in the journal Neurology looked at the medical records of about 5600 patients over 15 years to see who developed dementia.  Those women in their 40’s with hypertension had up to a 73-percent risk of developing dementia.  Although, the same was not true of women in their 30’s or of men in their 40’s.  However, further studies must be done to determine the reason for these results.

    Previous studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia, but it was not clear if hypertension before the age of 50 was a risk factor for the condition. However, it is clear that the brain is a metabolically active organ that requires oxygen to function properly. Without oxygen, brain cells starve and become damaged causing disease and dysfunction.  In order to get enough oxygen, blood flow to the brain must be healthy. Therefore, anything that prevents or delays blood flow, such as hypertension, could lead to cell damage in the brain as is seen in dementia.

    Hypertension Prevention

    To lower your risk of diseases such as dementia, take the following steps to prevent or control hypertension.

    • Eat a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant-based oils.  Be sure to limit your intake of sugary and salty processed foods which can increase hypertension risk.
    • Stay active most days of the week.  Walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming are some ways you can stay active to keep your heart healthy. Try to be active for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week to help manage your weight and blood pressure.
    • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than 2 drinks a day for men.  Over this limit, alcohol can raise blood pressure and can also make it difficult to manage a healthy weight.
    • Control weight since those who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for hypertension than those of a healthy weight.
    • Don’t smoke since smoking can deprive your body of oxygen since it constricts blood vessels. In turn, smoking can increase risk of hypertension and related health issues.
    • Take all prescribed medications to help manage hypertension so that damage to the body’s cells can be limited.
    • Add in heart-healthy vitamins and supplements to your routine such as Presura by Vita Sciences. Presura contains a combination of hawthorn berry, niacin, and garlic extract to help support healthy blood pressure levels. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. It is important to make sure that any new supplements will not interact with your current prescribed medicines.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (October 2016) “Changes You Can Make to Manage Blood Pressure”

    American Heart Association (October 2016) “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings”

    Medline Plus (October 4, 2017) “High Blood Pressure in 40’s a Dementia Risk for Women?”

    National Institute on Aging (March 1, 2015) “High Blood Pressure”