Fasting, Is it Good or Bad for You?

Fasting, Is it Good or Bad for You?

People from various cultures who practice a variety of religions, all have different attitudes when it comes to fasting. Either it is something that is mandatory, encouraged from time to time, or just something that is old-fashioned nonsense. The truth of the matter is a lot more complex, and the differing practices could affect your health for the better or for the worse. So, what are some encouraged fasting practices that are common worldwide? Does it help or does it hurt your health?

The best way for me to reach a conclusion is to contrast the most common forms of fasting with the resulting health rate of the population who practice it. And since the most easily recorded populace that involves fasting come from religious groups, that is what I will be focused on for data collecting reasons.

Aside: I will do my best to be objective as possible since religion is a very touchy topic for a lot of people. I am writing about dietary habits, nutrition, and health. There will be no preferential treatment or disparagement of a religious practice over another.

So, let’s get to figuring out if fasting can be helpful or harmful to your health.

Judaism: Fasting on Holidays and Kosher Dietary Restrictions

The best explanation behind fasting for Judaism came from becomingeden.com, who stated that ” Judaism has several holidays that involve fasting, some of which are more observed than others. Traditional Judaism involves six fasting days during the year, and this means no eating or drinking from sunset to the following sunset (24 hours). On Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, one may also not wash oneself, wear leather uses, use perfume, or have sex – the other four days do not have these restrictions. Beyond that, the decision to fast is largely personal.”

kosher, fastingDietary restrictions for Judaism include:

  • Animals that do not have a cloven hoof or does not chew its own cud is forbidden. Fish with fins and scales are permitted, but no shellfish or crawfish or scallops.
  • Locusts are forbidden.
  • The animals must not suffer when killed for food.
  • All blood must be drained from meat and poultry or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
  • Fat surrounding organs like the liver and the sciatic nerve are not permitted.
  • Fruits and vegetables are permitted but must be inspected for bugs (which cannot be eaten)
  • Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
  • Utensils (including pots and pans and other cooking surfaces) that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa.
  • Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food.
  • Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.

So, do all of these dietary restrictions and the occasional fast work out in the favor of someone trying to live a healthy lifestyle?

The Isreali Paradox

The area with the highest concentration of people who practice Judaism is Isreal. Isreal currently has a pretty low obesity rate in comparison to the United States, and a higher exercise rate in comparison to America or Saudi Arabia. So, it would stand to reason they would suffer less from things like heart disease.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

While Israelis have a lower body weight, from a lower access to trans fats, they have a high diet in plant based omega 6’s. This leads to some serious complications, as Susan Allport explained in her book ,”The Queen Of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed From The Western Diet And What We Can Do To Replace Them”, “Israelis eat less animal fat and cholesterol and fewer calories than Americans, but they have comparable rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many cancers. They have an ideal diet, as far as the American food pyramid is concerned, but far from ideal health.”

So, if that was a bust, what about another Middle Eastern Religion that has dietary restrictions and fasting?

 

Islam: Muslim Dietary Restrictions and The Ramadan Fast

ramadan, fastingIslam, along with Judaism has a combination list of dietary restrictions and time period dedicated to fasting. The dietary restrictions for those who practice the Muslim faith include:

  • Intoxicants and alcoholic beverages
  • Carcasses of animals that died on their own
  • Lizards, insects, rats, and birds with talons
  • Animals domesticated for another purpose, like (dogs or horses)
  • Blood
  • Pork
  • Any food dedicated to another God
  • An animal that has been strangled, beaten (to death), killed by a fall, gored (to death), or savaged by a beast of prey 

These dietary practices are certainly reasonable and are most likely for the purposes of just plain disease prevention and health preservation.

The fast of Ramadan happens on the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is a period in which those who practice the faith do not eat, drink, have sex, smoke tobacco, or ingest caffeine during the daylight hours of the entire month. Children before puberty are excused from this practice, though they are encouraged to go through mini-fasts to prepare. The elderly, pregnant women, and the sick are also allowed to opt out, for health reasons.

So, does it work? Does it help people lose weight or at least maintain a healthier body? The short-term answer is yes,  the long-term answer, is no.

 

Starvation leads to Binging and Lack of Exercise Leads to Obesity

“The appeal is that [fasting] is quick, but it is quick fluid loss, not substantial weight loss,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., CNS, founder, and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Weight Loss Management Center.

“If it’s easy off, it will come back quickly” — as soon as you start eating normally again, she says.

And it makes sense. People who go through any period of starvation, short or long term are much more likely to binge on fatty foods when that time of fasting is up compared to than the people who eat healthy foods on a regular basis with no starvation period. And there is data to back it up.

The country of Saudi Arabia, an entire population of Muslim people, have a 70% obesity rate for the entire country. That is about as bad as the US.

They are in no better shape than we are when it comes to skipping food and binging on fatty substances later.

 

Next Week

Next Week, there will be more comparisons to religious dietary restrictions, against their initial results. If you want to read more about diets around the world, check this one out. If you want to set up an appointment with Bekah, click on the pop up at the home page.

How Exercise and a Healthy Diet can Combat Arthritis

How Exercise and a Healthy Diet can Combat Arthritis

There is a chronic condition more powerful than obesity that exists in our current society. This condition has been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and it has been the constant pain and misery among 20% of the American population. The condition that I am talking about is arthritis. Arthritis, for those who are unaware, refers to a disease in which it affects the conditions of the joints, and the tissues that surround the joints. So far, there are over 100 different types of arthritis, which range from rheumatoid to gout. It most frequently affects the aging population but it can happen to people of all ages. Once it is there, there is no way to reverse it or make it go away completely.

There are, however, a few ways that you can learn to manage it, and decrease the rate of inflammation. So, we are going to go over, common types of arthritis and how they can be managed.

arthritisOsteoarthritis

This is the most common diagnosis of the listed arthritic conditions in the United States. It is most likely caused through long-term wear and tear of joint tissues from daily life, specifically, the load bearing tissues such as back knee and hip. According to Wikipedia, “Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage and eventually causes the two opposing bones to erode into each other. The condition starts with minor pain during physical activity, but soon the pain can be continuous and even occur while in a state of rest.”

This version of the disease is one that mostly affects the elderly population. Its biggest risk factors are previous joint trauma, obesity, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Mitigating this form of arthritis can be done through a combination of joint replacements,  and weight management. And this totally makes sense. If you have less weight on your load bearing joints, your joints will have less strain and physical pressure to deal with.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This form of arthritis comes when your immune system starts attacking your own body’s tissue. When the tissue starts to decrease, the bones that the tissues connect to start to rub up against one another and erode upon friction. This form of arthritis can happen to people of all ages and has a slightly higher chance of happening to women. Its causes are largely unknown, but there is possible evidence that points to genetics, smoking and hormonal imbalances.

When left untreated, RA can distort your joints, causing pain, stiffness and limited movement. Patients who suffer from the disease would require treatment that would encourage the growth of antibodies and t-cells for the patient’s immune system. Unfortunately, it only treats the symptoms of the disease, making it a temporary solution to the problem. It does not cure the condition.

Some symptoms can be mitigated with regular exercise and a healthy diet. This is, again mostly for weight management purposes. The less weight your joints carry, and the more you move them around, the easier it will be for your body to prevent your joints from locking up too badly.

 

Lupus

Lupus is another form of arthritis that stems from the immune system attacking itself. However, there are a few key difference between Lupus and arthritisRheumatoid Arthritis. The first is that Lupus is caused by external factors, such as excessive exposure to sunlight, a recent infection or certain types of blood pressure medications. The second is that Lupus typically affects women from ages 14-45.  Also, symptoms of lupus can come and go in “flare-ups” which include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss

Just like Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is no cure for the condition. However, it can be managed through a combination of medication, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

The specialized diet mostly consists of fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains. The purpose of this diet is to increase your antioxidant intake and decrease your saturated fat intake. Saturated fats oftentimes contribute to flare-ups, so avoiding those would be best.

 

Gout

Gout is a condition that can affect anybody from the ages of 30-50 and it mainly involves the inflammation of the joints on your feet. This is because it is caused by an excess amount of uric acid in the bloodstream. Normally, your kidney filters out the excess uric acid in your bloodstream. However, when your kidneys do not filter enough of it, or if there is too much uric acid to filter out, urate crystals will accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack.

Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines.

Purines found in certain foods, such as steak, organ meats, and seafood. Other foods also promote higher levels of uric acid, such as alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).

So, a healthy diet, combined with a lower body weight to prevent stress on your big toe is the answer to preventing Gout flare-ups.

 

If you want to know more about certain diets, click here to learn more! If you want to set up an appointment with Bekah, click on the pop up of the home page!

Why Moving Around is Important When you Work a Desk Job

Why Moving Around is Important When you work a Desk Job

It seems that there is a constant drawback that comes as a price for progress. For instance, we have better health and cleanliness standards but you still have to take time out of your day, possibly every day to take a bath, brush your teeth and comb your hair when you could be doing other things. Kids can use computers even faster and more competently than their parents. This can be good for their future careers, but bad for the parents who have a harder time controlling what their kid gets access to. But, the biggest example of a drawback that comes as a price of progress is that we have more jobs that give us a chance to do tasks faster and more efficiently in an office, only to have it cost us our health.

Being an office worker is a deadly career move. Just as deadly as being a stuntman or an acrobat. However, instead of running the risk of an accidental fall or decapitation, the sort of risks involved are slow building, chronic, and lifelong.  Office work, for the most part, is sedentary work. It requires little motion compared to other jobs and what motion it does involve is enough to kill your fine motor skills and hand motion for the rest of your life.

So, what can you do to counteract or delay the inevitable effects of working a desk job? Exercise, and good nutrition.

We covered the nutrition part of things, so now we are going to point out just why it is important to move around when you work a desk job.

 

Exercise Evens out your Moods

moving around desk jobLet’s be honest with ourselves. If you have any job working with the public for extended periods of time, whether that involves customer service in front of a register, answering phone calls at a desk, or working at an I.T. department, you know you are on the verge of losing your mind. People, whether you like them or not, can be demanding. Pushy superiors, overzealous coworkers, and impolite customers can be enough to stress you out for a single shift, let alone repeated years of it until you either die or retire. (But who are we kidding, in this economy NO ONE RETIRES). However, while you may be on the verge of setting your office on fire, and telling Linda what you really think of her tasteless brownies, I suggest an alternative route to complete catharsis. Exercise.

Not many people are attracted to the notion of putting yourself through the potential embarrassment and physical pain that exercise can do to you, especially when someone suggests you join a gym.

 

Exercise and Depression

However, there are some benefits to exercise that can outweigh those setbacks. There are articles that go as far back as 1987 that point out that regular exercise can decrease the severity of things like mental illness and depression. There are a few explanations that are more likely based on observable data about why that is.

  • Regular exercise increases the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that is partly responsible for the regulation of mood, sleep, and appetite.
  • It also increases the production of endorphins, another brain chemical that is responsible for the feeling of happiness.
  • When enough serotonin and endorphins are produced, your immune system works better, and your sleep cycle becomes more regulated.

 

Outdoor Exercise is Best

Another thing that was observed, was that regular exercise outside seemed to have better benefits than indoor exercise. Which could be a subliminal reason behind the aversion to the gym.

  •  Some recent studies have found people report a higher level of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure, and self-esteem, and a lower level of tension, depression, and fatigue, after they have walked outside.
  • People who exercise outside also say they are more likely to exercise again than those who stay indoors.
  • Research shows that vitamin D can help us to fight disease. This is something that we can naturally be able to get by being out in the sunshine.
  • While we are still learning about what vitamin D can do for our bodies, studies do suggest it can protect us from a range of conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to heart attacks and depression.

 

So, not only is outdoor exercise good for your body, but it is also good for your brain chemistry by putting you in a better mood.

 

Why Moving Around is Better for your Boss and your Clients

So, you know how much regular exercise can benefit you, but maybe you are not able to find the time at work. How would you convince your boss to extend your lunch time or allow you to work a few days remotely for your health?

Simple. When you explain to your boss that you need this time for your health, you need to stress the point that they benefit from it.

  • According to the CDC, when workers are happy and healthy, they are likely to be more productive.
  •  People going to work when they’re sick (presenteeism)accounts for nearly 2/3rds of the cost when it comes to worker illness.
  • Full-time workers in the United States who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health problems miss about 450 million more days of work than healthy workers, costing more than 153 billion a year.

This is the sort of long-term loss that can be rectified if both office workers and their bosses took the time to implement a strategy that would allow some time for workers to move around for at least a half hour a day.

So, why is it important to move around when you are in an office job? The short answer is that it elevates the mood of workers, decreases stress and long-term depression, and it can save companies billions of dollars.  Nobody loses their minds and everybody wins.

 

Why Nutrition is Important When you work a Desk Job

Why Nutrition is Important When you work a Desk Job

It seems that there is a constant drawback that comes as a price for progress. For instance, we have better health and cleanliness standards but you still have to take time out of your day, possibly every day to take a bath, brush your teeth and comb your hair when you could be doing other things. Kids can use computers even faster and more competently than their parents. This can be good for their future careers, but bad for the parents who have a harder time controlling what their kid gets access to. But, the biggest example of a drawback that comes as a price of progress is that we have more jobs that give us a chance to do tasks faster and more efficiently in an office, only to have it cost us our health.

Being an office worker is a deadly career move. Just as deadly as being a stuntman or an acrobat. However, instead of running the risk of an accidental fall or decapitation, the sort of risks involved are slow building, chronic, and lifelong.  Office work, for the most part, is sedentary work. It requires little motion compared to other jobs and what motion it does involve is enough to kill your fine motor skills and hand motion for the rest of your life.

So, what can you do to counteract or delay the inevitable effects of working a desk job? Exercise, and good nutrition.  That answer might sound simplistic, almost on par with cheesy anti-drug PSAs from the 1980’s but there is some validity to this sort of statement. While it is important for everyone to practice good nutrition, it’s doubly important when you work a desk job.  Why? I’ll explain.

 

Good Nutrition Keeps Obesity in Check

We are learning more and more about what causes obesity, and what has been making the epidemic grow. As we know it today, obesity is a chronic disease that is both a byproduct of genetics and environmental encouragement. When your body feels like it is deprived of nutrients, it believes that it is being starved to death, so it hoards all the fat it can until that storm passes. Then, when it does get the adequate nutrition it needs, it will take a while to adjust then burn that stored excess energy.

When you are overweight, it is technically unhealthy but it is not considered deadly. Obesity, however, gets to deadly levels quick, especially when fat cells start appearing around your organs, like your heart, liver, and arteries. When these things are blocked off by fat or any other element, it would be harder for the organs to distribute the oxygen you need for your body. Not to mention that if you were to gain excess weight that you have more mass, making it take longer for your bloodstream to circulate all the way through and distribute oxygen.

Why Do Nutrition and Exercise Work?

Moving around already gets your body in better shape, but if you work at a job that isn’t conducive to moving around, then the last thing you need is to add pressure to your body by eating fatty and sugary foods that will add to your weight. And we know its not your fault that you can’t move around on the job. Each company sets their own policy that is suited to their own financial interests and you might work so many hours that you can’t find the time that you need to go to a gym, especially when you have other commitments to things like school, family, and other important things.

However, fruits, vegetable, whole grains, and lean meat has a cocktail of nutrients your digestive system, and by extension, your body, needs in order to function properly, and if you have those in your system more often than you do fast food, you will have a better chance of at least delaying the process of obesity.  And while it isn’t the perfect or ideal scenario, it is certainly a feasible one.

 

Good Nutrition Prevents Inflammation and Arthritis

Another health risk that comes at the price of working a well-paying office job is the risk of muscle inflammation and arthritis. Repetitive motion can be the worst for your wrists, and that office chair does no favors for your back or your knees either. This is where nutrition can come in. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as bell peppers, pumpkins, tangerines, and papayas all have a micronutrient called carotenoids. An article at Harvard stated this best, “Some studies suggest that diets rich in carotenoids decrease inflammation. A small Swedish study of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who ate a Mediterranean diet (including lots of vegetables and fruits) for three months found that it reduced inflammation and enhanced joint function. Aim for seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”

This sort of nutrition and moving around will do wonders to keep your joints in check and keep you out of pain for a longer time.

Conclusion

It is a lot of work, but the payoff is a longer life. And all you need to do is to utilize your creative problem-solving skills you wrote down on your resume. Are you a picky eater? Experiment with other ethnic foods! Do you think exercise is torture? Try something that doesn’t remind you of P.E. like swimming! Did you binge and hate yourself over it? Be kind to yourself and move on. You cant berate yourself for every failure, nor can you give up just because of one bad meal. Be consistent and you will do great in both your job and your life!

Nutrition Mythbusting: Can Carrots Help Your Eyesight?

Nutritionist Mythbusting

There are rumors about diet and health that are commonplace through either centuries of wishful thinking or just people trying to sell something to the public masses. Some of them are as old as 1820, such as the vinegar and water diet. Others are recent, like the keto or the gluten-free diet. Either way, these misconceptions have led to the loss of money, health, and in some cases even life. So, what better way to advocate nutrition than to put some of the health and diet rumors to bed?  That is what we are going to look at, as we dive into the madness-inducing world of nutrition misconception. And what better place to find the answers than a nutritionist blog?

Do Superfoods like Carrots Give you Superpowers?

It is no secret. Ever since immortal beings with various superpowers came into our storytelling, everyone has always fantasized about being a superhero. From invisibility to shapeshifting, people have always wanted the perks of an extra evolutionary advantage. While the occasional exception exists, there is a hard and fast rule for human limits. People just can’t easily gain superpowers. But, that doesn’t stop us from trying to beat the impossible. We often claim that if we just work hard enough or take many supplements that our bodies can suddenly work that much more efficiently. One of the biggest examples of this is the notion that eating a bunch of carrots can improve your eyesight.

I have heard rumors range to things like carrots outright improving your eyesight to night vision levels to them practically eliminating the need for eyeglasses. But is it something that has a grain of truth to it, or is it all bogus? If you want to find out when and where this rumor started, we are going to have to go back all the way to WWII.

History of the Carrot Myth

carrot rumorThe idea that a carrot was a superfood had existed in the middle ages, claiming that it could prevent death and all sorts of diseases, however, the idea that carrots gave people better eyesight was relatively recent, and kind of hilarious

This specific rumor was not around too terribly long since the carrot craze only caught on at the early 1940’s for both the Allies and the Axis Powers. The origins of this specific story are not only of historical importance, but it is also an early example of trolling. That’s right, just like Kilroy was a meme before the internet during the same time period, the carrot/eyesight thing was also a predated form of trolling.

See, it all started with the British gaining the technological advancement of radar. Radar gave them the ability to catch enemies by surprise by finding a way to detect their enemies at night. This puzzled the German Army because up until this point, no technology like that had been available to any country. All they knew was the British could suddenly somehow detect where their vehicles in the dark.

Both as a way to entertain themselves and to protect their new tactical advantage, the British military indirectly told German spies through propaganda that their entire country started eating carrots all the time. They specifically stated that the beta-carotene in carrots sharpened their eyesight to the point where they had perfect night vision. Children were encouraged to eat carrots all the time. There were even posters of this everywhere, just so spies would believe it.

The funny part was it worked. The Germans actually bought the countrywide ruse and started eating carrots en masse to catch up to the British Army’s “Night Sight”.  Truly, not all heroes wear capes.

If Carrots Can’t Give you NightVision, What can they do?

carrots eyesight

Carrots still do have health benefits, even if it doesn’t give you the ability to see perfectly at night. One example is the fact that carrots have vitamin A, an important nutrient that should be in your daily diet. However, vitamin A can only improve your eyesight if you are already suffering a loss of vision from malnutrition. If you are suffering from alcoholism, and But unless you are vitamin A deficient, from a poor diet, malabsorption problems, or alcoholism, that extra vitamin A will not do much for your eyes. 

 

Also, if you do find yourself eating one too many of this root vegetable, you can run the risk of your skin turning orange. This is because excess beta-carotene will store in your bloodstream under your skin. If you are not willing to look like a painted Oompa Loompa, you want to make sure that you aren’t going overboard with the carrots.

Nutrition Myth Busting : Microwaves Hurting Food

Nutritionist Mythbusting

There are rumors about diet and health that are commonplace through either centuries of wishful thinking or just people trying to sell something to the public masses. Some of them are as old as 1820, such as the vinegar and water diet. Others are recent, like the keto or the gluten-free diet. Either way, these misconceptions have led to the loss of money, health, and in some cases even life. So, what better way to advocate nutrition than to put some of the health and diet rumors to bed?  That is what we are going to look at, as we dive into the madness-inducing world of nutrition misconception. And what better place to find the answers than a nutritionist blog?

Can Microwaves Damage your Food?

When a new concept or method for a tried and true tradition arises, there are going to be naysayers that exist. Especially among the scientific illiterate. In the case of the microwave, while it has become a kitchen mainstay for decades, there are still those who criticise the idea of microwaves being used to reheat both foods and liquids that you are planning to ingest. The only way to gain a better understanding of how a microwave works, and if it is actually harmful, is by looking into the scientific research about it.  Before that, let’s delve into…

The History of the Microwave

The microwave oven was built post-WWII by a self-taught engineer, Percy Spencer. Until then, high-frequency radio waves had been utilized and experimented with since the 1920’s for various military purposes. Such examples include the radar technology that is used to this day and the heating up of medical equipment for sterilization. The earliest presentation of such a thing had predated the invention as an exhibit during the Chicago World’s fair in the 1930’s for heating up sandwiches.

However, it wasn’t seriously thought of as something that could heat up food, until Percy Spencer noticed the stray waves heating up some chocolate he had put in his pocket (or at least that is the rumor that circulated about its origin story). The first food he deliberately cooked was popcorn. The second had been an egg, which exploded during the experimentation.

The company that Mr. Spencer had worked for, Raytheon, caught wind of this and started selling it commercially in 1947. It was improved upon by other contributors that worked for the Raytheon company, such as David Copson, Marvin Bock, Lawrence Marshall, and Fritz Gross. It did not have a public release until 1967.

Difference Between Radiation and Radioactivity

Soon after the release of the microwave, it had met with criticism by people concerned about public health and safety. This was because of the process that the microwave used was known as radiation. People were immediately concerned that radioactivity would seep into both the food and the environment when it leaked. This would be an impossibility. This is because radiation and radioactivity are not the same things.

Radiation is the process of thermal energy. It does not ionize tissue and passes through both most objects including, glass, plastics, and other forms of solid matter. The wavelengths are of a lower frequency and longer length compared to the rest of the lengths that can be measured

Radioactivity is the process of an element ionizing its surroundings through gamma waves. Increased exposure to both these gamma waves increases the ionization of organic matter causing the rapid growth of cells, aka cancer.  Gamma waves are of a much higher frequency and have a much shorter wavelength.

Not only are they different processes,  but they are entirely different wavelengths. They are literally on the opposite sides of the scale.

 

wavelength, microwaves

 

 

How Did The Rumors Start?

There has been fascination and anxiety from WW2, all the way until the end of the Cold War about nuclear energy and reactions. People lived their lives terrified of atom bombs and political turmoil. Naturally, that sort of alarm combined with scientific illiteracy would result in a rumor like this from spreading. Especially since both scientific principles sound the same to the layman.

However, this rumor continued to persist in spite of available information from the age of the internet, after the Cold War was over. What happened? You can thank Dr.  Joseph Mercola and Hans Hertzel for that one. The first of the two is an alternative health con artist with money tied to the presentation and spread of the rumor that microwaves are dangerous. Even the FDA outright sent a cease and desist letter for his unsubstantiated marketing claims. 

Hans Herzel had originally published a paper stating that ” Consuming microwaved milk and vegetables could begin a process that leads to a cancerous condition”. This publication hasn’t been reviewed, nor replicated. That is the most unscientific article regarding microwaves to date.

There is a danger of carcinogens if you use certain types of plastics with the microwave, such as styrofoam. There is also a risk of catching the device on fire if you stick metal in it. These are things you must be aware of before heating anything up in it.

Can Microwaves Remove Nutrients?

This is the other pervasive rumor regarding microwaves. Unfortunately, this is just about as false as you can possibly get.

Because cooking anything at all will decrease nutrients in food.

“There is no specific harm of microwaving with regard to nutrient levels,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s  Prevention Research Center. “In fact, any type of cooking can chemically change a food and it’s nutrient content: Vitamin C, omega-3 fats, and some bioflavonoid antioxidants are more sensitive to heat in general  Nutrients from veggies can also leach into cooking water. Since you’re apt to use less water when cooking in a microwave, your food might even be better off.”

So, according to a director from YALE, if you have a shorter cooking time and use less water, you are preserving more nutrients. 

 

This post and more like it that’s done for the Nutritionist Bekah Dewitt of Bek’s Bites in Huntsville Alabama. Call me if you want to set up an appointment.

 

The Forbidden Culprit: Sugar!

Today I wanted to discuss the forbidden culprit that everyone wants to remove from their diet, Sugar!

Most people know that too much sugar can add extra calories to their diet and cause unnecessary weight gain, so they avoid obvious things like; candy, chocolate, pastries, juice, and soda. We all know these items are loaded with empty calories and full of sugar, but what about the hidden sugar items? There are lots of food items that we may think are better than cookies and sodas, but the reality is they still contain a significant amount of sugar in them. To be specific, I’m talking about items like pasta, yogurt, granola, bread, condiments and sauces. One 6 ounce container of strawberry Yoplait yogurt contains 18 grams of sugar. If you top it off with a ½ cup of Special K granola you would be adding 6 extra grams of sugar. That’s a total of 24 grams of sugar in one small snack. The Dietary Guidelines for 2015 only recommends 30 to 35 grams of added sugar a day in a 1200-1400 calorie diet. This snack alone is more than half of the recommended daily dietary guidelines.

Also, condiments, dressings, and sauces are another culprit when it comes to hidden sugars.

The problem with these is that we tend to use more than the recommended amount causing a sugar overload. Take for instance Chick-fil-A, everyone has their favorite sauce that they just have to dip their chicken in. My personal favorite is Polynesian sauce. It contains 5 grams of sugar in one container. Most people tend to grab 2 to 3 extra sauce packets for their meals, you must have enough to cover the entire meal (sandwich and waffle fries) but that’s where the culprit comes in to add the extra calories. By adding the dipping sauce, you have increased your overall sugar intake for that meal 10 to 15 grams just in sauce alone. Being mindful and aware of these hidden sugars can help you cut back on your added sugar intake.

Some tips that I would suggest are if you just can’t have Chick-fil-A without the sauce try minimizing it to one container only. Also try to keep things simple. If you want yogurt try having plain unsweetened yogurt then add fresh fruit or granola to plain yogurt. That way you only have one item that adds the extra sugar. Also, always read the nutrition labels and stick to the serving sizes. When you increase serving sizes you increase sugar.

My name is Danielle Lamb. I’m from Nashville, Tennessee.
I’m a graduate from Middle Tennessee State University.
I’m currently a Dietetic Intern at Oakwood University.

 

References:

Cording, Jessica. “Looking to Reduce Your Family’s Intake of Added Sugars? Here’s How.” Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 2018, www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/looking-to-reduce-your-familys-added-sugar-intake-heres-how.

Nutrition Myth Busting: Is Gluten Bad for You?

Nutrition Myth Busting – Is Gluten Bad for You?

There is a myriad of rumors that are perpetuated by old wives who should, frankly, mind their own business and an entire industry that exists for the sole purpose of selling you placebos. So, what do you do to find out the truth? You follow the evidence. Today, on Bek’s Bites, we are going to cover the topic of a hot-button topic: gluten.

I have heard rumors about gluten that range from something that sounds reasonable to the outright absurd. But, I am not apt to listen to the advice of a stay at home Facebook mom about something that she has researched for two seconds on Google.  Instead, I am going to listen to the scientists that experiment, gather data, and replicate their results to find a definitive answer. Then, I will figure out the origins of this wheat-based panic.

What is Gluten?

Gluten, South Park
Copyright Comedy Central

Before I get into the origins of the rumors, I want to explain what gluten actually is.  Gluten is not a starch. It is a protein that is literally inside the wheat.  Even South Park got the information correct when tackling this issue at the height of its popularity. That’s right. A vulgar tv show actually did their homework about gluten.

However, there is more to this little protein than that. According to scientists, “It is the main storage protein of wheat grains. It is a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins, mainly gliadin and glutenin. Similar storage proteins exist as secalin in rye, hordein in barley, and avenins in oats and are collectively referred to as “gluten.”

Live Science explains it plainly.”Gliadin gives the bread the ability to rise during baking. Glutenin is responsible for dough’s elasticity. ” If you want to further simplify it, you would say that gluten is responsible for the chemistry of baking certain types of wheat-based baked goods.

   Does Gluten Cause Autism?

   I am putting in an aside because I, the blogger have Asperger’s syndrome and hear all sorts of health mumbo jumbo regarding what causes autism. Correlation between gluten intolerance and autism was studied by scientists. Why the question was raised, possibly has to do with autistic children being abnormally picky to certain textures and tastes of food. It comes from texture sensitivities as well as hypersensitive taste. It is the reason black pepper is too spicy for me. 

The conclusion of the study stated that “A subset of children with autism displays increased immune reactivity to gluten.”

A subset. That means not all autistic children in this study had that sort of sensitivity in the first place.

According to thespectrumnews.org, “Although this suggests a gut-brain interaction, we do not know the direction of this interaction.” While there might be a correlation, this does not equal causation.

All the studies tell us is that there might be a relation, but they don’t know how it works yet.

So AutismSpeaks, Amen Clinics, and other sites that exaggerated this result did a disservice to hopeful parents of autistic children by promoting a non-existent cure for profit.  Don’t even get me started on vaccines…

Is Gluten Bad for You?

There are people with gluten intolerances, such as Celiac’s Disease, that is a literal allergic condition. Symptoms of Celiac’s disease include recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea/constipation, tingling/numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility, and low bone density.

However, this only affects 1% of the population. What’s more, this autoimmune disease is genetic, not caused by any outside source.

People who don’t have wheat sensitivities won’t gain anything from going gluten-free either. According to the Gluten Intolerance Group “The presence or absence of gluten alone is not related to diet quality. What’s important is the overall food choices made within the diet, whether it’s gluten-free or not”.

If you replace excess wheat with fruits and vegetables, your health will improve because you are making better food choices. However if you just replace those things with gluten-free versions, you will hardly be affected.

You might even be worse off since “many gluten-free processed foods are lower in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than their gluten-containing counterparts.” Really wheat, and by extension gluten, can be good for you.

How did the Craze Start?

Gluten Bullshit

 

This nightmare is a combination of bandwagoning and celebrity endorsement. “As book author Levinovitz told Vox, we were primed to hate gluten because of the earlier anti-carb movement. There was already the popularity of low-carb diets for people who want to lose weight,” Levinovitz explained. “The arguments against gluten hooked up with the fear of carbs.”

With the paranoia of carbs already priming the public, entrepreneurs realized they could make money. Two notable figures of the anti-gluten movement include Gwenith Paltrow, and Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly. Both figures used pseudoscience to reason their way around how eliminating starches will make you skinnier, and reduce disease when in fact, it does the exact opposite.

Simply put, unless you are allergic, gluten is okay.

 

If you want to know if protein builds muscle, or the history behind the Mediterranean Diet, check them out!

Nutrition Myth Busting- Does Protein Help With Muscle Growth?

Nutrition Myth Busting

Maybe you don’t feel as strong as you used to be. Maybe, you decide that you want to go to the gym to get a little stronger. So, you set a goal to build more muscle in your body. Does that also mean that you need to buy large bottles of peanut butter flavored whey from GNC for a little extra protein boost? After all, doesn’t protein build muscle? Well, first, before you decide to take out a bank loan’s worth in protein shakes and gym accessories, you might want to check and see if protein can even build muscle mass in the first place.

 

Does Protein Help with Muscle Growth?

protein
Copyrighted: Sanrio

This is an interesting health rumor with a little grain of truth to it. Combined with the right workout protein can help you build body mass. But protein alone cannot increase your muscle mass. You also need a consistent workout and diety before you would see the benefits in the first place.

This was discovered in a 2015 study, published by the Sports Medicine periodical from New Zealand,”For untrained individuals, consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training. However, as the duration, frequency, and volume of resistance training increase, protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals.”

In fact, according to the International Society for Sports Nutrition, the difference between college athletes that use excessive amounts of protein, vs the ones that had the regular dietary intake were too slight. “The results of this study do not provide any support for protein intakes greater than recommended levels in collegiate strength/power athletes for body composition improvements, or alterations in resting hormonal concentrations. Inadequate energy intakes likely contributed to these results.”

So, if the differences are slight why is it such a huge deal today? And what started this misconception in the first place?

 

Bodybuilders and Mad Scientists

The Origins of the Rumor

While bodybuilding and peak performance was popular in Ancient Greece, it did not kick off in European and American culture until 1910, thanks to protien Eugen Sandow. He was coined as the father of modern bodybuilding. He started his career by his mentorship with a popular entertainer, Ludwig Durlacher. From there, he entered into strongmen competitions and defeated several champions.

He noticed that the crowd was more drawn to his muscled physique than how much he could actually lift and started to perform stunts for the crowds, increasing his popularity in the entertainment industry. When he retired from his performances, he opened the first gym, The Sandow Institutes of Physical Culture.

From there he taught nutrition, exercise, and strength training methods that were gained mass success for its novelty. It was at this institute where he first recommended the use of extra protein as a nutritional supplement for bodybuilding.

“He co-wrote several early bodybuilding instruction books encouraging the consumption of ‘beef juice’ or ‘beef extracts’ to promote muscle growth and recovery,” according to predatornutrition.com  

So, if that was how the protein craze started, what was the deal with the whey powder as part of workout culture?

protein

It’s Alive!

About 30 years after the death of the original bodybuilder, an eccentric chemist decided to take protein and nutrition to the next level. In 1950,  Irving Johnson ( aka. Rheo Blair), decided to invent and sell a “miracle food” in his kitchen laboratory. He claimed that it would transform ‘weaklings’ into ‘supermen’. A magazine editor tried the protein himself and claimed that it worked wonders and gave everyone more muscle mass in almost an instant. He made a killing in the nutritional supplement industry by creating a whey that was based on egg and milk, which had a better taste compared to other soy-based whey products. He sold and advertised many supplements to the Hollywood circuit, and died a rich man.

So, if it was all a marketing ploy and there are some small differences in performance between takers of supplements and those who don’t use them, how do you curb the odds in your favor? It’s all about balance.

 

 

How to Best Use Protein

There are two rules of thumb with protein.

  • Don’t eat too much

Too much of anything would be considered toxic but protein is terrifying when you have too much of it. For starters, it will drastically increase your weight gain, increase your chances of cancer and heart disease and will dehydrate you with excess nitrogen. It also gives people an upset stomach and constipation as well as increase the chances of kidney failure and calcium loss.

  • Pay attention to Protein Types

Some of them contain a specific molecule, mostly found in grasses, lean nuts, whole grain and lean fish that are crucial to the process of muscle mass building. When it is part of a balanced diet, you are creating a long-lasting way of doing things that are good for your health. Just be smart about how much and what kind of protein you eat on a regular basis.

 

 

This post and more like it was done for the Nutritionist Bekah Dewitt of Bek’s Bites in Huntsville Alabama. Call me if you want to set up an appointment.

Nutritionist Mythbusting : Is it Bad to Eat at Night?

Nutritionist Mythbusting

There are rumors about diet and health that are commonplace through either centuries of wishful thinking or just people trying to sell something to the public masses. Some of them are as old as 1820, such as the vinegar and water diet. Others are recent, like the keto or the gluten free diet. Either way,these misconceptions have lead to loss of money, health, and in some cases even life. So, what better way to advocate nutrition than to put some of the health and diet rumors to bed?  That is what we are going to look at, as we dive into the madness inducing world of nutrition misconception. And what better place to find the answers than a nutritionist blog?

Is it Bad to Eat at Night?

This one has been around a little while, originating a few decades ago, according to Dr. Amber Kinsey, “Nighttime eating, particularly before bed, is a topic that has received considerable nutritionist, midnight snackmedia attention in recent years. Over the past decades it was thought that health and weight conscious individuals should limit and/or avoid food in the hours close to nighttime sleep because it would negatively impact health and body composition. ”

Jillian Michaels explains the common idea behind  it best.  “Nighttime eating, particularly before bed, is a topic that has received considerable media attention in recent years. Over the past decades it was thought that health and weight conscious individuals should limit and/or avoid food in the hours close to nighttime sleep because it would negatively impact health and body composition. ” So, it would make sense that some people wouldn’t find the idea absurd. But is there any scientific evidence to back up this claim?

But does it hold much water? Where did it start, and why was it popular?

The origins behind this advice were interesting to say the least.

Bad Advice from a Popular Nutritionist

The trend started as advice from an author that was dedicated to diet and health, Daisie Adelle Davis. Miss Davis was the author of several nutrition book, and was considered a leading expert in nutrition at the time. She treated her patients with utmost care, and had formal education on the subject matter in Perdue before graduating at the University of California at Berkeley in 1927.

About Davis

nutritionistDavis had gotten into writing about nutrition later in life, wanting to spread her knowledge further to the public and began to take courses on the subject. She eventually started on promotional work, before publishing her own material on the subject.

Her ideas on nutrition were controversial at the time, because she had no qualms publicly criticizing mass produced canned foods, hamburgers in restaurants like McDonalds, and premade baby food, and fad diets. This was all born out of a passion for urging people to do the right thing by their bodies by observing their nutritional needs. This made the public view her as an eccentric her whole life. It was only after she passed that the anti-authority movement of the 60’s that she was popularized by mostly hippies and people behind the anti-pesticide movement.

Some of her advice was ahead of her time, such as recommending that patients avoided excess fat, salt, and sugars, and watching for vitamin deficiencies.

Her other advice, however, was ineffective at best and deadly at worst. Davis believed magnesium as a treatment for epilepsy, and megadoses of vitamins A&D for all sort of diseases. She was even sued for the harm and death of infants due to mothers following her books to the letter.  They settled out of court  instead of following through with public trial.

One quote in her book in particular was responsible for the idea of not eating late at night, ““Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince and eat dinner like a pauper.”

Because of her perceived authority, no one really questioned it and started following the advice to the letter. But does it hold water scientifically?

Calories and Timing

According to experiments run by the Oregon Health and Science University, there is no correlation between what time of day people ate and the weight they gained.  The conclusion that was reported was that, “Under normal circumstances weight fluctuates over weeks and months—not hours—due to long-term patterns of eating and exercise. Although your metabolism does slow down at night, you are still using energy for basic bodily functions, and thus are still burning calories when you sleep.  If you overeat, your body will store the extra calories as fat no matter what time you consume them.”

In layman’s terms, what time of day you eat does not determine weight gain or loss. It is both the quality of what you eat combined with your level of exercise that determines your weight. Our bodies do not run by clocks.

However, that doesn’t mean you need ice cream every night before bed. If you are going to eat at night, you want nutrient dense foods and less calories. If you can do that, you can pretty much still lose weight while sleeping. Or at the least you could keep it off.

This post and more like it done for the Nutritionist Bekah Dewitt of Bek’s Bites in Huntsville Alabama. Call me if you want to set up an appointment.