Bite This, Not That
It seems like the number of people complaining of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) has gone up. IBS is a condition of the large intestine (colon) that may cause pain, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. And while IBS does not cause permanent damage to your large bowel, it can make you miserable when it flares up.
Scientists recognize that stress has an impact on IBS, as well as certain types of carbohydrates. With holiday season in full swing, IBS may flare up for certain people, especially if stress isn’t managed well. Slow down this holiday season!
In the past five to ten years, scientists have discovered that reducing certain types of carbohydrates may help alleviate the symptoms of IBS. These carbohydrates are known as FODMAPS. The term FODMAP sounds strange, but stands for Fermentable carbohydrates, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. Foods containing these types of carbohydrates may be poorly absorbed in those with IBS.
Foods containing lactose (dairy) as well as high amounts of fructose (fruit) may exacerbate IBS. Gallacto-oligosaccharides in beans, lentils and soybeans may also increase gas production in the colon, exacerbating IBS. Polyols from sugar-free products (read sorbitol or mannitol, often found in gum) as well as cherries, apricots and apples may affect IBS as well. In addition, gluten (found in wheat, rye and products containing barley) may also be poorly absorbed in those with IBS.
And while it pains me to have an image of “NO APPLES”, this is only meant for people with IBS. Below is a guide to a FODMAPS diet.
Almond, rice or soy milk. These dairy-free products are low in lactose, which appears to be poorly absorbed in those with IBS.
Cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains lactose, as does yogurt and ice cream. Soymilk may contain galacto-oligosaccharides, which are not absorbed well.
Green beans, kale, lettuce, spinach, tomato, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, Swiss chard, bok choy, bean sprouts. All are low in inulin, a substance that can increase gas and bacteria production in the large bowel.
Artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, onions, peppers, sugar snap peas. These contain inulin, which may promote gas production. Avoid breakfast or snack bars containing inulin or chickory root as well.
Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, Clementines, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, papaya, pineapple and strawberries. These are lower in fructose.
Apples, apricots, cherries, figs, peaches, mango, pears, plum, watermelon. All are higher in fructose, which may increase gas production.
Corn or rice-based pasta, corn flakes, puffed rice, oatmeal, oat bran, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, tapioca. These foods are gluten-free.
Wheat, wheat bread or pasta, bran cereal, shredded wheat, rye-containing products, barley, beer. All contain gluten, a protein found to be poorly absorbed in those suffering IBS. Read the label for products containing wheat or gluten.
Cashews and pistachios. These are lowest in galacto-saccharides.
Peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds. The jury is still out on almonds, macadamia and other nuts. If you find that they increase your discomfort, cut them from your diet for a few weeks to see if it helps.
For a more complete guide to FODMAPS, click on the link below.
I recently found out that a dear friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While I know she’s a strong woman and giving up is not in her nature, it made me think of how this deadly disease could be prevented.
November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. And although it’s not one of the most common types of cancer, it is one of the most fatal. Below are tips to stave off this potentially deadly disease:
Bite this: Raw veggies.
Smoking cigarettes doubles your risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Rather than sticking another cigarette in your mouth, chew on raw broccoli, carrots, tomatoes or peppers. All are full of nutrient-dense, cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Not that: Cigarettes.
It’s never too late to kick the habit. Smokers pay higher insurance premiums for a reason- they’re more likely to develop chronic illnesses than non-smokers. Seek help to stop smoking if you need it.
Drink this: Green tea.
Green tea contains an anti-oxidant called ECGG (epigallocatechingallate to be exact), which has potent anti-tumor properties.
Not that: Coffee.
While coffee is also high in anti-oxidants, studies indicate coffee drinkers are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than non-drinkers.
Drink this: Selzer water.
Selzer water is carbonated and can have be mildly flavored, but unlike diet soda, it’s caffeine free and has no added colors or artificial sweeteners.
Not that: Alcohol.
People that drink alcohol have a higher risk for pancreatic cancer than those that abstain. Booze also ups the risk for breast, esophageal and stomach cancer.
Bite this: Fresh fruit.
Fresh fruit after a meal is not only refreshing, it’s also lower in calories- which may help with “waist” control.
Not that: High calorie desserts.
While sugar is not a risk factor for pancreatic cancer, obesity is. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and heart disease.
Do this: Exercise!
Physical activity is not just good for preventing weight gain, it’s also been found to reduce cancer risk. In addition, regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity and boosts your immune system.
Not that: Sitting.
Being sedentary is simply bad news. Our bodies are made to move. Take a walk, do some jumping jacks, go for a bike ride. Just get off the couch and get your blood flowing!
With the return to school in a matter of weeks, it’s time to think about fuel for your brain. We’ve all heard that kids that eat breakfast score higher in school than those that skip breakfast. But kids (and breakfast) aren’t the only items on the agenda for good brain health. Below are foods to eat (and skip) to promote optimal brain power.
Bite This: Fish
Recent studies suggest that older adults that eat fish at least once/week have less brain cell death than those eating less. Scientists believe this is linked with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Go for fatty fish like salmon or mackerel for an omega-3 fat boost.
Not That: Burgers.
Yes, I know it’s grilling season, but maybe it’s time to put down that beef. Scientists in Australia have found that a traditional Western diet (read “meat and potatoes”) may cause changes and damage to brain regions that affect cognitive function such as memory and attention.
Bite This: Whole grains.
Whole grains help maintain focus by providing a steady supply of glucose to the brain due to their fiber content. Opt for oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta when available.
Not That: Chips, white bread, pastries.
There’s a reason I call donuts crispy crime. All that processed sugar and fat reduces blood flow, including blood flow to the brain. Chips, French Fries and other high fat snacks have a similar effect.
Bite This: Blueberries.
In addition to being downright delicious (and fun to pick), blueberries are loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin and have been found to help reduce short term memory loss.
Not That: Candy
With the exception of peppermint (which has been found to improve mental alertness), it’s best to skip the afternoon candy bar if you want to remain sharp. Candy brings blood sugar up, then drops it abruptly, which can impact productivity. Saturated fat in chocolate also slows blood flow, including flow to the brain.
Bite This: Eggs
I am a big egg fan- yolk and all. Eggs are a complete source of protein- meaning they carry all the essential amino acids your brain needs to carry on. The yolk (while high in cholesterol) is also a source of choline-a building block of brain cells.
Not that: BaconWe live in a bacon obsessed world. Bacon, bacon, bacon! Like other meats that are high in saturated fat, bacon may hinder blood flow to your noggin.
Bite This: TeaGreen tea contains catechins- powerful antioxidants found to reduce cellular damage (including risk for brain tumors).
Not That: Energy Drinks
Most are loaded with caffeine and can keep you up (for a full 5 hours), then drop you like a hot potato. To stay alert, stay hydrated- water is best. Being dehydrated can leave you sluggish and dull.
You may or may not notice how food manufacturers tend to modify their products and labels based on food and health trends. One year they’re concerned with cholesterol and fat, the next year the latest food buzz is carbohydrates, trans fat and high fructose corn syrup.
The latest health trend is reducing sodium in our foods. Researchers have discovered that reducing sodium intake may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by up to 30%. Diets high in sodium have been linked with high blood pressure in several population groups. Populations adopting lower sodium diets tend to have lowest blood pressure (as well as reductions in kidney damage). High sodium diets have also been linked with bone loss and osteoporosis.
While some may think that giving up the salt shaker will lower their salt intake, the real benefit comes from eating less processed foods. I would love to see peoples’ grocery carts full of “whole foods” VS boxed meals, canned soup and instant side dishes. Below are some tips to reduce your sodium intake.
Oil and vinegar. It takes about 10 seconds or less to make your own salad dressing. Canola or olive oil are high in mono-unsaturated fat, but sesame seed or peanut oil can also be used in dressing for an Asian flair. Pair with lemon or lime juice, red wine vinegary or balsamic vinegar. Add a tsp. of Dijon mustard to thicken your dressing.
Commercial salad dressing. While I want to encourage more salads, most commercial dressings add a minimum of 200 mg sodium to your plate. Types with bleu cheese or bacon bits increase it even more.
Rotisserie chicken. If you’re in a pinch for dinner (or lunch), this is an easy fix. The chicken tends to be low in fat and sodium, and can be used in a variety of dishes. Toss it in a salad, taco shell or whole wheat pita or use it below for sandwiches.
Lunch meat. Even the priciest, “better quality” deli meats are high in sodium. While turkey breast may seem like a healthy option, most servings contain up to 400 mg sodium.
Less bread. Yes, 100% whole wheat bread is healthier than white bread, but bread is actually one source of sodium we don’t think about. One slice of bread may contain over 200 mg of sodium, so limit it to 2 slices/day.
Bagels. Of all the bread items, bagels seem to top the list of highest in sodium. If the bagel isn’t bad enough, you’re adding even more sodium with cream cheese.
Canned beans. I stock canned beans because they’re convenient, but they can be high in sodium. Look for reduced sodium versions (Bush’s makes one) or rinse beans in a colander prior to using.
Chili beans. Pre-seasoned beans, including baked beans are loaded with sodium. Use your own seasoning mix of cumin, chili powder, oregano and garlic VS buying them prepared.
Lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Need some crunch to your burger, but don’t want all the salt? Add more veggies, not pickles. You’ll also be increasing the fiber, vitamin C and anti-oxidant content of your sandwich.
Pickles. While low in calories, pickles pack a wallop of sodium. Just two pickle slices (not spears) add 210 mg sodium to your meal. Bummer.