Holiday Superfoods

holiday superfoods

The holidays are upon us and there are many healthy superfoods that are traditionally consumed this time of year.  Many of these foods are nutrient-dense and are called superfoods because of their many health benefits. Listed below are many of these superfoods that traditionally are prepared during the holiday season. As you join family and friends to celebrate, keep in mind moderation and balance, as well as taking time to slow down and savor your food. Happy Holidays!

Protein Superfoods

  • Turkey
    • Turkey is a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (B6, B12, niacin), choline phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients play crucial roles in energy metabolism, nerve function, immune support, and antioxidant defense.
  • Shrimp
    • High quality protein source that provides good sources of many trace minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium which helps maintain a strong immune system with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Oysters
    • Excellent protein rich in zinc, iron, and selenium that have antioxidant properties that promote overall health; also, a great source of vitamin B12.
  • Salmon
    • A new holiday favorite associated with many celebrations this time of year. It’s a nutrient-dense protein source that is an excellent source of vitamins B12 and D. It also contains potassium that helps keep your heart healthy and regulate blood pressure.
  • Walnuts
    • A good source of essential fatty acids and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Fruit and Vegetable Superfoods

  • Pumpkin
    • Packed with antioxidants to boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, and promote heart and skin health.
    • Rich in Beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A), Vitamins C and E, potassium, and an excellent source of fiber.
  • Sweet Potatoes
    • Traditional side dish for the holidays supplying beta-carotene, Vitamin C potassium, and fiber. Supports vision health, enhances brain and immune system function, improves skin health and  digestion, and enhance brain and immune system function
  • Cranberries
    • Contain anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect against inflammation and also a good source of fiber, manganese, vitamins C and E. Cranberries also support urinary tract health and improve immune function
  • Pomegranate
    • Provides fiber, rich in Vitamin C, folate and magnesium. Strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, heart health benefits, digestive benefits, and urinary tract support
  • Clementines
    • Great source of Vitamin C to stay healthy through the holiday season that is naturally sweet and makes a great dessert alternative

Pass the Seasoning Shaker Please

  • Cinnamon
    • Research shows that cinnamon may reduce blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties, improves insulin sensitivity, and supports cognitive function. It’s packed with minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, copper and zinc. Sprinkle it on your favorite breakfast selections and dessert choices!
  • Nutmeg
    • Keep your internal organs healthy with this delectable seasoning. It’s a good source of phosphorus, manganese and thiamin. Use it in baked goods, sprinkle on oatmeal or any hot cereal, a popular ingredient in many casseroles also. 
  • Ginger (Fresh or ground)
    • Anti-inflammatory seasoning, that has shown to be beneficial in gastrointestinal motility. Sprinkle it on sweet potatoes or add fresh ginger to all your favorite holiday side dishes

As the holiday season unfolds, approach your meals with a mindful spirit. Enjoy these holiday superfoods that also bring tradition and health to the table. Whether it’s turkey, veggies, or a dessert, find that sweet spot between indulgence and feeling good. Don’t forget the golden rule: savor every bite. Here’s to keeping it balanced, not too crazy, and having a blast with your loved ones. Wishing you all a relaxing and healthy holiday season! 

Continue Reading No Comments

Balance: A Guide for the 2023 Holidays

holiday eating balance

While the holiday season is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year, for some, it can also be a time of increased stress, anxiety, and pressure. The balance of holiday shopping, socializing, and festive preparations can take a toll on our mental well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical strategies to help you stay mentally and physically balanced during the holidays so you truly enjoy this magical season.

Set Realistic Expectations

One of the primary sources of holiday stress is often unrealistic expectations. We tend to place immense pressure on ourselves to create the perfect celebration. Acknowledge that imperfections are a part of life and that the true spirit of the holidays lies in the moments spent with loved ones, not in achieving a flawless event.

Prioritize Self-Care

Amidst the hustle and bustle, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s reading a book, taking a leisurely walk, or practicing mindfulness. A well-rested and nourished mind is better equipped to handle the demands of the season.

Establish Boundaries

Learn to say no. It’s okay not to attend every event or take on every task. Be honest with yourself about your time and energy limits. Setting boundaries allows you to focus on what truly matters and prevents burnout.

Connect with Others

While the holidays are a time of joy, they can also trigger feelings of loneliness for some. Make an effort to connect with friends and family, whether in person or through virtual means. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can provide much-needed support and strengthen your sense of belonging.

Practice Gratitude

Take a moment each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Amidst the chaos, cultivating a sense of gratitude can shift your focus from what’s stressful to what’s positive and uplifting.

Mindful Eating

For some, the holidays can be a source of both pleasure and anxiety. Practice mindful eating by paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. This can help you enjoy the festive treats without overindulging or feeling deprived.

Stay Active

Physical activity is a powerful tool for maintaining mental balance. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a dance party in your living room, staying active releases endorphins, reducing stress and enhancing your overall mood.

Create Meaningful Traditions

Focus on the aspects of the holidays that hold personal significance for you. Whether it’s a cherished family tradition or a new ritual you’d like to start, infusing meaning into the season can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a stressful sprint. By setting realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, and fostering meaningful connections, you can navigate the next few weeks’ balance. Remember, the essence of the holidays lies in creating memories and taking care of yourself and those around you. Embrace the season with an open heart, and may your holidays be filled with warmth, love, and mental well-being.

NOVA is always here to guide you in your fitness and nutrition journey no matter what stage you are at. 

Nicole Hindle NOVA Sports Nutrition Balance

Happy Holidays!

Continue Reading No Comments

Stress Less and Enjoy Food More this Holiday Season!

enjoy food more

Many people have positive associations with food around the holidays: savory stuffing at Thanksgiving, homemade Christmas cookies, or delicious hot chocolate, to name a few. However, many people also experience anxiety related to holiday foods or meals. This anxiety can stem from fears of overeating, eating with a large group, or judgment from family members regarding food choices and portions. This holiday season, I want you to stress less and enjoy food more. To make this happen, read on for my top tips to manage food-related anxiety and find one or two that speak to you!

 

If you… worry about overeating

Try:

  • Remembering that one meal that is larger than normal or has more starches or fat than normal is not going to impact your overall health.
  • Eat a small meal or snack 1-2 hours before the main meal to avoid feeling famished when you sit down to eat; being extra hungry can cause us to make choices we might not otherwise make!
  • Slow down when eating and put your fork down between bites. This will help you to better recognize when you are full and may want to stop eating to avoid feeling overstuffed.
  • Fill at least half your plate with nutrient-dense foods (like roasted Brussels sprouts, baked sweet potatoes, or cooked butternut squash).
  • Wait 10 minutes after finishing your first plate to decide if you want more or would rather wait until later to eat again.

 

If you… worry about eating with a large group

Try:

  • Doing a relaxing activity before the meal, such as journaling, stretching, or listening to calm music (try this playlist as an example).
  • Reach out to a close friend or family member who will be attending the meal and lean on them for support as needed.
  • Take deep breaths at the table to lower your heart rate and slow your mind.
  • Excuse yourself from the table to take a break, if necessary, and come back when you are ready.
  • Remember that all food fits, and that it’s okay to choose anything on the table that you want to eat. Holidays are special occasions!

 

If you… often receive scrutiny or pressure from family members regarding food choices and portions

Try:

  • Setting boundaries. Let these family members know that you don’t feel comfortable with their comments and would prefer that they don’t evaluate your choices, especially around the holidays, when togetherness and enjoying time with family should be the top priorities.
  • Remember that people who tend to judge the behaviors of others often feel dissatisfied with their own behavior or have other personal issues that are not being addressed in a healthy way.
  • Remind yourself that you know what is best for your body. It could be helpful to write down this affirmation (and others you find helpful, too) ahead of time.
  • Plan to sit away from this family member and have other topics in mind if need be to redirect the conversation.
  • If this family member contributed to making the meal, thank them for the food and offer to take home leftovers rather than eating past your own comfort level to please them.

 

If any of these situations speaks to you, try some of these tips this holiday season to enjoy food more and stress less! Focus on making positive memories, enjoying your favorite foods, and banning any feelings of guilt over food choices. If you still feel anxious about food choices this holiday season, send Nikky a message and she will be happy to offer additional support!

 

Happy Holidays!

Continue Reading No Comments

Breaking Free From Diet Culture

While it’s harmful to so many, diet culture is almost possible to avoid these days. From social media to food packaging and exercise trends, diet culture can manifest itself in so many different forms. Diet culture’s presence in our lives is so profound that most people do not understand the severity of this harmful messaging. If you feel like diet culture controls your decisions and constantly incites feelings of shame and guilt, keep reading to learn how to detect and handle diet culture in everyday life. 

 

What Is Diet Culture?

Diet culture places weight loss on a pedestal, encouraging people to strive for thinness. Viewing weight loss as the only way to gain happiness and confidence creates significant issues. Ironically, those who fall subject to diet culture and partake in restrictive behaviors become more self-conscious and shameful. 

Companies and influencers tap into their audience’s insecurities by promising their customers certain results or feelings once they buy a weight loss product or a workout plan. The diet industry strives to generate the most revenue from selling images of thinness, even if it means destroying consumers’ self esteem. New ideal body types, styles of eating, and exercises overwhelm people, yet influence them to spend more money on ‘improving’ themselves.

 

How To Spot Diet Culture

Knowing some key phrases and words make it easier to detect diet culture in daily life. Companies recognize that many people who wish to lose weight or change their body want to see changes happen quickly. Content using phrases such as “lose weight fast” or “get a six pack in 10 days” should stand out as a red flag. It takes months to see changes in our bodies and any sort of drastic change that happens in a few days is not sustainable and most likely relies on unhealthy methods. Our society is so obsessed with losing weight that people will try almost anything, even if it involves following a regime based on restriction, to change their appearance. 

Demonizing or labeling certain food groups as ‘bad’ should be a warning sign. Diet culture moralizes types of foods and exercise, placing guilt upon people who consume or do certain things. While some foods are more nutritious than others, cutting out complete food groups is restrictive and harmful.

The promotion of detoxing and cleansing is another popular diet culture trend. Companies will attach ‘removes toxins’ or ‘cleanses your gut’ into the description of any product to attract customers and make them feel as if their bodies are impure or unhealthy. Detoxing is also seen as a method to lose weight quickly in an unsustainable way. Some people claim that detoxing improves their health, but in reality “detox diets rarely identify the specific toxins they’re claimed to remove, and evidence that they remove toxins at all is lacking” (3). Our bodies naturally remove toxins through methods including sweat and urine, meaning there is no need to go an extra step. 

 

How To Handle Diet Culture

It’s very difficult to walk into any store or scroll on social media without being confronted by weight loss ads and products. Seeing these images daily can decrease your self esteem and mood. Take a few days off of social media apps or find a daily limit for your social media use. Additionally, unfollow anyone online who makes you feel self conscious or shameful about your eating and/or exercise habits.

Talking with those around you and specialists can help you vocalize your feelings about diet culture’s impact on you. If there is someone in your life, whether that be a friend, sibling, or parent, that frequently talks about weight loss and dieting or comments on your physical appearance, notify them that this upsets you and find another topic to talk about. Consulting a doctor, registered dietitian, or therapist might also be beneficial if you are struggling from negative body image or confidence. 

Even if you feel that diet culture is controlling your life, there are so many ways to break free from it. Replace scrolling on Instagram and comparing yourself to others with enjoyable hobbies or activities. Discover support groups or groups in your neighborhood that aim to empower people and provide them with a sense of strength. Most importantly, remember that your physical appearance should be the least interesting thing about you; you are so much more than what your body looks like. 

 

Resources: 

  1. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/recognizing-and-resisting-diet-culture
  2. https://behavioralnutrition.org/what-is-diet-culture/ 
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/detox-diets-101#bottom-line 

 

Continue Reading No Comments

A Beginner’s Guide To Plant-Based Eating

plant-based

Over the past few years, plant-based diets have gained a lot of popularity. Plant-based diets  often have a lower carbon footprint than diets centered around animal products, can be less expensive, and result in many benefits towards your overall health. When transitioning to a diet centered around plants, many people are confused about what plant-based means and how to successfully follow this way of eating. Read more to learn about going plant-based and tips to help you on your journey!

 

Defining Plant Based

While the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘plant based’ are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two. Vegan diets avoid all types of animal products including dairy, meat, and fish. Meanwhile, plant based diets are more flexible. People who follow a plant based diet center their meals around plant-derived ingredients, but “they may, occasionally, consume meat, fish, or dairy products” (1). Whether you decide to eat a fully vegan diet or a plant based diet, both ways of eating have several health benefits.

 

What are the Health Benefits of a Plant Based Diet?

Eating a diet based on plants often gets a negative reputation for being low in protein, B-12, iron, and other essential vitamins that the body needs to function. However, plant based diets can provide “all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients” (2). Removing meat from your diet does not mean that your diet has to be low in protein. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds have adequate amounts of protein for anyone, even athletes. 

 

Additionally, it is common for vegans to take B-12 and iron supplements since plant based diets are often deficient in these nutrients. Find B-12 in certain non-dairy milks, nutritional yeast and other fortified products. Plant based sources of iron include spinach, dark chocolate, and beans (1). 

 

Before transitioning to a diet centered around plants, consult a medical professional to see if this way of eating is right for your body and lifestyle. 

 

Tip #1: Ease Into It 

When I first started my plant-based journey, I slowly started cooking more vegan meals during the week instead of immediately cutting out all animal products. I found it easy for me to make breakfast and lunch without any meat or dairy, but since I would cook dinner for my family, I usually had meat in the evenings. Slowly introducing more plant-based meals and ingredients is a great way to see if plant-based eating is something you enjoy. I have been lactose intolerant for my whole life, so I was already familiar with all the dairy-free options that were out there. For example, if you usually have an egg scramble for breakfast, try making a scramble with tofu crumbles and vegan cheese!

 

Tip #2: Look For Outside Inspiration

Another way to get into vegan cooking is to look for outside inspiration, especially if you feel like you’re having trouble with creating meals. Since most American food is based around meat and animal products, a lot of people don’t know how to cook meals without using meat as the main ingredient. Look for vegan or vegetarian blogs, social media accounts and cookbooks to provide you with recipes and product recommendations. There are two plant-based cookbooks that always have my back when I have no idea what to cook: Love To Cook It by Samah Dada and Love Real Food by Kathryn Taylor. Samah’s recipes are inspired by flavorful Indian dishes from her childhood. Meanwhile, Taylor’s book has everything to offer from comforting stews to delicious salads.  

 

Tip #3: Invite Your Friends To Join You

Starting your plant-based journey with friends can also make the experience easier and more enjoyable. A great way to bond with friends and try out vegan recipes is to gather some friends to cook a plant-based meal or dessert with you! Another option is to have a vegan potluck and challenge your friends or family make their favorite recipes without animal products! Additionally, since plant-based eating has gained a lot of traction in recent years, it’s easier than ever to find vegan options when eating out. Perhaps try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant in your neighborhood or browse the HappyCow app to find vegan restaurants in your area! After your meal, think about how you can recreate some of the dishes you ate at home. 

 

A lot of people think going vegan can be more expensive than eating animal products. While this can be true for certain specialty items like non-dairy milks, vegan cheeses, and non-dairy ice cream, dried beans and lentils or natural nut butters are inexpensive options that can be bought in bulk and won’t break the bank! 

 

Tip #4: Get Creative

Turn vegetables into delicious main dishes with the right preparation and seasoning. If you thought you couldn’t give up chicken wings, cauliflower has the perfect meaty texture to replace chicken! Find Jackfruit in canned form at the supermarket. It serves as a substitute for pulled pork or chicken. From tacos to sandwiches, jackfruit is a very versatile vegetable in vegan cooking! Look online for other vegetables that you can transform into delicious dishes. 

 

I also started to eat more grains since I went vegan. Grains including farro and quinoa are a great base for meals and can add some extra protein and fiber to plant-based recipes. Some other staple grains that I always have on hand include whole grain pasta, chickpea or lentil pasta, rice, and soba noodles. Pad thai, pesto pasta with veggies, and quinoa salads are all meals that I cook weekly.  

 

While I love being vegan for environmental reasons, health benefits, and animal rights, I don’t eat plant based 100% of the time. If I’m craving tuna, sushi or Greek yogurt, I will eat those foods. Eating a more plant-based diet does not mean that you have to strive for perfection and it should never feel restrictive. With all of the amazing alternative products, recipe inspiration, and restaurants that exist today, eating plant-based is now easier than it’s ever been.

 

Looking for some no-cook recipe ideas that incorporate some plant-based meals? Click here!

 

Resources

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326176
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760

Continue Reading No Comments

A Complete List of Grocery Shopping Staples

grocery shopping

For many people, grocery shopping can feel like a chore. If you have a busy schedule, it’s difficult to fit in time for grocery shopping during the week. Additionally, not everyone has the time to prepare three meals and snacks during the day while attending school and/or working. Whether you order groceries online or make one to two larger trips to the grocery store each week, this expansive list of grocery staples will make daily meal preparation so much easier. If you prefer to meal prep, there will be some tips on how to buy enough ingredients to last the whole week!

A healthy and balanced diet doesn’t exclude food groups or macronutrients entirely. Each week you should make sure that your grocery cart includes items from each of the three macronutrient categories: carbs, proteins, and fats.  While it’s important to purchase foods that will nourish and satisfy you, such as high quality protein sources and produce, you should also allow yourself to purchase foods that you might consider as ‘treats’ or ‘fun foods.’ Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be boring and should bring some excitement into your life!

Note: If you’re someone who meal preps at the start of each week, try choosing a few different breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes instead of eating the same exact meal everyday. Adding some variety into your meals, even if you cook ahead of time, will ensure that you’ll actually want to eat what you’re meal prepping. 

 

Carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are our first macronutrient category. Carbs are often demonized by diet culture, but in reality carbs are the body’s main source of energy and should be incorporated in every meal. If you’re especially busy, choosing carb sources that are higher in fiber is a great way to feel more satiated after meals. 

  • Bread – While everyone has a personal preference on what type of bread they prefer, sprouted and whole grain bread often has a higher fiber content and a little extra protein than traditional white bread. If you prefer to buy loaves of bread, cut the loaf into slices and place the slices in a bag in the freezer to prevent the bread from going stale. 
  • Pasta – Pasta is a great ingredient to meal prep at the start of the week because it can be eaten in a cold pasta salad or can be heated with marinara sauce, grilled vegetables, and a protein source. Chickpea or lentil pasta is a great product that’s high in protein and great for anyone on the go. 
  • Grains – Rice, quinoa, couscous, farro, the list goes on! Grains are a great carb source that pair well with a variety of cuisines. Farro and quinoa are also high in protein which is an added bonus for vegans and vegetarians who might need some help in that department. 
  • Tortillas and wraps – Tortillas, wraps, and pitas are great to have on hand during the week. Use corn tortillas for tacos, pair wraps with egg salad, and snack on pita with hummus during the day!
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a staple breakfast item that can have so many flavor opportunities. Place oats, milk, chia seeds, and any other add-ons of choice (berries, cocoa powder, cinnamon) in a jar in the fridge overnight. Now you have overnight oats to eat in the morning without worrying about prep time!

 

Proteins

Protein not only helps you feel satiated but is so important for muscle growth and cell repair. If you lift weights or follow a resistance training program, a diet with adequate protein helps to build up the muscles that are recruited during training. 

  • For meat eaters – Lean meats such as ground turkey, chicken breast, and fish are great protein options to make during the week. If you prefer to not cook meat, check your freezer aisle for pre-cooked proteins that can easily be reheated and added to any meal.
  • Eggs – Use eggs in breakfast scrambles during the week or buy hardboiled eggs for sandwiches, egg salad, or a convenient snack.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian options –  Canned beans, tofu, tempeh, frozen edamame, and veggie burgers are convenient ways for non-meat eaters to get in their daily protein. Try not to rely on meat substitutes that might contain fillers and additives.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, can be a very high protein snack. Add yogurt into fruit smoothies for an extra protein boost in the morning. 

 

Fats

If you have difficulty feeling full after meals, you might not have enough fat in your diet. 

  • Seeds – Adding in chia seeds and flaxseeds into your meals is a great way to get in your omega-3s. Prepare a batch of chia seed pudding for the week or add in a tablespoon into your morning oats or yogurt. 
  • Avocado – Avocado really goes with anything and is a great substitute for mayonnaise. Add mashed avocado into a turkey sandwich or tuna salad. 
  • Nuts – Nuts contain important minerals and healthy fats to keep our energy up during the day. Any variety of nut you prefer will work, but walnuts are an especially good source of omega-3’s.
  • Avocado/olive oil – Avocado oil is great for cooking food at high temperatures, while olive oil is excellent for lower temperatures or for mixing with vinegar and herbs for a homemade salad dressing.
  • Nut butter – Any variety of nut butter will do, but make sure you are looking for a simple list of ingredients: nuts, oil, and salt (optional).

 

Produce

While it is best to buy produce that is seasonal, local, and/or organic, this is not accessible to everyone and can often be expensive. If you worry about produce spoiling in your fridge, stock up on a few bags of frozen veggies and fruit just in case! Frozen produce can also be significantly cheaper. 

  • Spinach – Get your greens in by adding in a handful of spinach into meals when you can. Spinach pairs well with almost everything from egg scrambles to pasta to stir fry!
  • Bananas – Bananas are the perfect pre-workout snack but taste great in smoothies, oatmeal, and cereal bowls!
  • Berries – Blueberries are high in antioxidants. Top off yogurt bowls with a handful of berries or use frozen berries in smoothies for a thicker consistency.

Bell peppers, zucchinis and mushrooms are a few other vegetables that are used in a variety of dishes and cuisines making them great vegetables to have on hand. Choosing three to four different vegetables and two to three fruits when you go grocery shopping ensures that you’ll have a wide variety of produce for meals during the week.

While the items listed above are staple items, don’t forget to purchase beverages such as milk (dairy or plant milk), snacks, dips and sauces, and dessert items. Grocery shopping should be fun and inspire you to try new items and recipes! Need ideas for recipes? Check out our blog post on no-cook meals you can make anywhere (even in a dorm!).

Continue Reading No Comments

My Top 5 Most Commonly Recommended Dietary Supplements

variety of dietary supplements

The world of dietary supplements can be difficult to navigate. It’s easy to get lost in supplement aisles at the grocery store or overwhelmed by the numerous products being advertised to us in the media for a variety of purposes.

While I always take a food-first approach with all of my clients (meaning that I aim to help them meet all of their nutrient needs through foods), there are often times when a dietary supplement is needed. Supplementation may be necessary due to certain dietary patterns, disease states, or training demands. Additionally, some people benefit from supplements to boost reserves of nutrients, hormones, or neurotransmitters that otherwise would become deficient.

To help you sort through what dietary supplements you can trust and which supplements may be right for you, I put together a list of my top 5 most commonly recommended dietary supplements and recommendations on what to look for when purchasing supplements.

 

1. Omega-3 Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, which means they help with decreasing inflammation caused by stress, toxins, or injury. They also are essential for forming the structure of cell membranes. Most Americans don’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids; according to a recent analysis completed by the FASEB journal, 83.5% of Americans do not consume enough seafood to meet minimum omega-3 recommendations through the diet. The most current recommendations from Harvard Medical school are that anyone who does not eat enough omega-3 fatty acids through the diet should supplement with 1g of omega-3 fatty acids per day to decrease inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular events.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D serves several critical functions in the body, including: promoting calcium absorption, which keeps bones strong; supporting immune function, cell growth, and cell division; and reducing inflammation. This nutrient is not found naturally in many foods aside from fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel) and several mushroom varieties, though it is added to several dairy products such as milk or yogurt. Vitamin D can also be synthesized with sufficient exposure of the skin to sunlight. Because these foods often comprise just a small part of the typical America diet and adequate sun exposure is not always possible (particularly in cooler climates), vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the US (about 42% of us are deficient). For someone who is deficient, supplementation is likely necessary, though dosage and length of supplementation will vary based on the severity of the deficiency.

3. GABA

GABA stands for Gamma Aminobutyric Acid and it is a neurotransmitter that is made naturally in the body. Its primary role is to reduce fear and anxiety. This neurotransmitter is not available in many food sources (only a few fermented foods, such as kimchi or tempeh), and GABA levels in the body can become deficient during periods of high stress. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions tend to have low levels of GABA, including those with seizure disorders, ADHD, panic disorders, or mood disorders. GABA supplementation has shown to be most effective for those who experience anxiety. I have found it to be particularly useful for myself and clients who have difficulty falling asleep at night due to racing thoughts.

4. Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is essential for DNA and red blood cell production. This nutrient is only available from animal sources, which means that anyone following a vegan or predominantly plant-based diet will need to take a dietary supplement. Additionally, anyone who has undergone gastric bypass surgery will need to supplement with B-12 because absorption of vitamin B-12 occurs in the stomach (which has largely been bypassed), not the intestines as is the case with most other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can also be common in the elderly because our digestive capabilities tend to weaken as we get older.

5. BCAAs

BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are a group of 3 amino acids that have been shown through research to assist with reducing muscle soreness after exercise. Some studies have also shown that they can help with increasing muscle growth. These amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are found naturally in many foods, including meat, dairy, and eggs. However, individuals following a vegan or plant-based diet may not consume enough through the diet to meet their needs. Additionally, anyone engaging in a strenuous weightlifting program requires additional protein intake for recovery, and a BCAA supplement can help with supporting these needs during and after exercise or between meals. You can learn more about BCAAs by visiting my earlier blog post on this topic.

FDA Regulations

These supplements represent the most common recommendations I make for my clients, which include athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages. Remember, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and therefore you cannot trust that every supplement on the shelf or online is safe. I would always recommend talking with your doctor or dietitian first before starting any new dietary supplement. To see the brands I typically recommend for different supplements, visit the link to my Fullscript dispensary on the Products page of my website. Fullscript is an online dispensary that can only be used by licensed healthcare professionals (such as doctors and dietitians) to recommend professional-grade supplements of the highest quality, purity, and potency.

If you are ever looking for supplements yourself, please look for a third-party seal to ensure the supplement has been verified for quality, purity, and potency. Examples of third-party seals include USP, Informed Choice, NSF, and GMP.

 

Are there any dietary supplements you would like to learn more about? Any supplements I didn’t cover here that you would like for me to review? Comment below!

Continue Reading No Comments

7 Tips for Healthy Eating When Life Gets Busy

busy nutrition

When it comes to making healthy changes and sticking to them, the number one barrier many of my clients experience is not having enough time. As a general rule of thumb, I like to remind people that planning ahead and doing the prep work up front can actually save you greatly (both in terms of time and money) in the long run. While this may seem like a daunting task, I have worked with incredibly busy clients who have successfully developed sustainable habits: people whose jobs require them to travel every week, busy collegiate student-athletes, high-powered diplomats and attorneys, and more. So it can be done! Below is a list of the top 7 tips that have helped my clients maintain healthy eating habits when life gets busy:

 

  1. Have a list of quick and convenient healthy snacks on hand

    If you have high-quality protein bars, nuts, fruit, or dried chick peas on hand, you don’t have to worry about being hungry and defaulting to a nutrient-poor option, like candy or chips, in a pinch. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals will help to sustain energy for longer and may even boost mood and productivity

  2. Follow general guidelines for food groups at meals

    If you often must eat away from home due to travel, it’s not going to be possible to plan out every meal for the week. Instead, work ahead with your dietitian to determine the appropriate portion sizes and combinations of food groups you should aim for at each meal. If you know that you want a plate that is half vegetables, plus a protein the size of a deck of cards, and one starch the size of your fist, these guidelines will do a lot of the work for you when it comes to healthy eating, no matter the eating environment.

  3. Eat on a consistent schedule

    One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is going without food for 6 hours or more. If you do that, you may find yourself craving foods high in fat, carbohydrates, or sugar. Eating every 3-4 hours helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and makes it easier to focus on work and make healthier food choices throughout the day. Even if you can’t eat at the exact same times every day, the time between all meals and snacks should ideally be no longer than 3-4 hours.

  4. Prepare meals at home that can be frozen

    If you can’t afford to budget cooking time for every meal window, it’s a great strategy to cook meals that can be made in large batches and then frozen. This could be soups, crock pot meals, casseroles, breakfast sandwiches, protein waffles and pancakes, smoothies, homemade meatballs, etc. You can also keep frozen vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, and fish. Plus, if you opt for individually-sized portions, you can also help reduce food waste.

  5. Use a meal prep delivery service

    If you really don’t enjoy cooking or need to minimize meal prep time as much as possible, a meal prep delivery service may be the answer for you. Some services will ship you all the ingredients you need for a particular recipe, and others will even prepare the meals for you and deliver them, ready-made, to your door. In terms of cost, this option may add up to an equivalent amount as eating at a restaurant, and can allow for healthy eating with minimal time and effort.

  6. Scope out restaurants you frequent often

    For restaurants that you go to often, begin creating a list of at least 1-2 menu options that you know fit well within your personal food guidelines. This will make the ordering process easier and will allow you to have some back-up options ready to go when you find yourself out at a business lunch or stuck at the office without any food prepared.

  7. Look at nutrition facts ahead of time for new restaurants if possible

    Before you try a new restaurant, scan the nutrition facts (or at least the menu) ahead of time by looking it up online. This will allow you to make a more informed decisions about which menu items will suit your needs best, and preparing ahead of time takes the pressure out of trying to make a decision on the fly.

If you have a busy schedule or frequently have to eat away from home, try these tips in whichever order feels most realistic or helpful. Remember, in order for a food plan to be sustainable, it has to fit into your life. If you feel that you would benefit from working with a professional to seek advice on your specific situation or to create a customized meal plan, please feel free to message me to set up a consult!

 

Continue Reading No Comments

What is a Processed Food, Really?

processed food

Almost all food is processed to some degree; the differences between processed food products lie within the ingredient list. If you have ever seen the back of most food packaging labels, you have probably seen that it has both “Nutrition Facts” and “Ingredients” sections. Many consumers may say they feel overwhelmed by all the words they see and that is completely understandable! Ingredient lists reside near the bottom of a food label. Many of the words are understandable, but some may be completely unrecognizable.

In this blog, you will learn the relationship of the nutrition facts section to the ingredients section. Additionally, we’ll compare some food products based on their ingredient list as some examples and you will learn some tips for reading food labels and the significance of some specific ingredients used often in products. 

 

Important Ingredients to Look for

As mentioned, there are key components to pay attention to on a nutrition facts label. 

Added Sugars

Added sugars were added to the nutrition facts label so that people could make informed choices based on their needs. What is not told, is that “Added Sugars” is not synonymous with the ingredients list. There are many terms for sugar, such as: 

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Corn syrup (50% sugar, 50% oligosaccharides)
  • Terms ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
  • Fruit concentrate, which fruit without the pulp or skin. This removes the fiber and vitamins, leaving only sugar in the form of fructose. (1) (2)

Artificial Sweeteners

Like sugar, there are a number of names and types for artificial sweeteners that are added to products to add sweetness while providing no added sugar. Some examples of artificial sweeteners are: saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. (3) Numerous studies have mentioned that artificially sweetened foods and beverages can be a great alternative to limit sugar intake and mention some benefits, but also some drawbacks: 

  • Confuse the brain because body is not receiving calories for perceived sweetness
  • Make you eat more to feel full/increase hunger
  • May disrupt balance of gut bacteria
  • Easy alternative to decreasing sugar consumption, can help with weight control
  • Can help with reducing added sugar intake 

There is some research that links artificial sweeteners to issues with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased cravings. While artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe, much of the insight mentioned requires more research on the effects of artificial sweeteners. (3)

 

Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum

Guar gum contains high amounts of fiber and to reduce levels of blood pressure. The fiber thickens and binds foods. Excess consumption may cause some symptoms like gas, bloating, or cramps. (4)

Xanthan gum is another common additive meant to thicken or stabilize food. There is some research that ties xanthan gum to reduced levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. It is possible someone may experience digestive issues like gas and bloating when consumed in excess. (5)

 

Other Ingredients to Note

Nitrites/Nitrates: Good for preservation in processed meats to prevent bacterial growth. They are linked to higher risk of cancers with high intake. (6) It is recommended to look for nitrate- or preservative-free foods.

Enriched Wheat: This term is usually a “buzzword” to make the ingredient seem better than it is. When wheat is “enriched,” it is processed to remove the bran and endosperm. This process causes the wheat item to lose much of its nutrient value. Look for 100% whole wheat varieties instead. 

Lecithin: Comes in powder or liquid forms from soybeans or dehydrated sunflowers. Lecithin provides a texture to help foods mix, such as incorporating a powder into liquid. Its research boasts a host of benefits, like reduced cholesterol. (7)

Natural Flavors: Natural flavors must originate from a plant or animal material and are used to enhance flavor. Natural flavors are still highly processed, can be sourced from genetically modified crops, and contain chemical additives, like preservatives and solvents. (8) The word “natural” contains many different meanings, although it is often understood as healthy.  

 

How can you Determine the Quality of a Food Item?

Now that we know more about some ingredient terms, here are some things to remember when reading the label: 

  • All foods must list their ingredients in order of predominance
  • First three to five ingredients are the most prominent. 
  • Don’t hang on any specific term to look out for (i.e sugar has a large list of names that all mean about the same thing)
  • Compare the ingredients to the nutrition facts.

Now that we know this, let us check out some products to compare!

 

Protein Bars

The protein bars mentioned are in “blueberry flavor,” except the MET-RX bar because they only had a fruit flavor in apple; this allows for consistency.

reading nutritional labelsprocessed foods and nutritional labels

RXBAR

If we look at the ingredient list, the first mentioned are dates – a fruit sugar and fiber. Following dates are egg whites, almonds, and blueberries. Natural flavors come last, indicating minimal amounts compared to all of the other ingredients in the protein bar.

CLIF BAR

Clif Bar highlights using whole ingredients for its products. Important points include:

  • No artificial sweeteners. 
  • In the list of ingredients, almost every other ingredient is a form of sugar; note that while “organic,” organic sugar is still sugar. 
  • Other ingredients listed near the top are organic rolled oats, an organic protein isolate (which is composed of 90% or more protein), and organic almonds. 

All these ingredients offer a good amount of nutrients. Clif Bar does have a slightly higher amount of sugar in it, but can provide great fuel for the body to tackle going for a jog, working out, and to gain weight. 

LUNA BAR

Similar to the ingredient lists on the Clif and MET-RX Bar, LUNA Bars have a longer list. However, most words are not difficult to understand. 

  • Compared to sodium in the RXBar (140 mg), Clif Bar (180 mg) and the MET-RX Bar (390 mg), the LUNA Bar (95 mg) has a low amount. 95 mg of sodium accounts for a small percentage of your daily averages.
  • The LUNA Bar puts its protein blend at the beginning, meaning the protein blend is the most predominant ingredient.
  • There is moderate amounts of carbohydrates, which primarily come from four sources of sugar. None of these sources are artificial. 

I would recommend this bar before going to the gym or on a run, like Clif Bar. LUNA bar could do okay as a midday snack because of its lower amount of sugars and high fat and protein.

MET-RX Bar

Deemed as the “meal-replacement bar,” MET-RX has a claim to fame for its high amount of protein. The sodium count on this bar is high too. This bar’s list is fairly daunting to look at, but the main thing to notice is the first half of the ingredient list makes up three ingredients. Let’s break it down: 

  1. “Soy crisps,” consist mostly of soy protein isolate.
  2. “Apple layer,” many sugar sources. 
  3. “Yogurt flavored coating” contains mainly cultured whey protein concentrate.
  4. Corn syrup 
  5. METAMYOSIN, a protein blend. 
  6. Maltitol syrup – a sugar alcohol (denoted by the -ol suffix). Maltitol syrup is a sweetener that contains some carbohydrates. 

This bar contains a lot of protein and carbohydrates, and a fairly high amount of saturated fat. This bar provides what it states, but there are many extra additives.  

 

Protein Powders

Quick Terms:

Concentrates are primarily about 70–80% protein and contain some lactose (milk sugar) and fat.

Isolate contains 90% protein, or higher, with less lactose and fat 

isolate nutritional labels

TGS Whey Protein

This is a blend of only whey protein concentrate and sunflower lecithin, an emulsifier that helps the whey mix together. This blend was made with intent for absolutely no additives and is unflavored. This example shows that many of the extra ingredients in the following powders enhance flavoring. 

GHOST Whey Protein Powder

This ingredient list is shorter than some of the other companies. 

  • The whey protein mix is composed of whey protein isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate. 
  • Although the formula isn’t entirely natural, they have lowered – not eliminated – the amount of troublesome ingredients used in many other whey powders, such as:
    • High Fructose Corn Syrup
    • Molasses
    • Sugar 
  • The most notable additive is sucralose, an artificial sweetener. 

The good thing is there are a total of 4g of sugars in this blend and 2g of added sugar, making it a fair recommendation based on its composition.

PROJym Protein Powder

  • The first ingredient listed is a mix of protein: this is a protein blend made from micellar casein, milk protein isolate, whey protein isolate, and egg white
  • Next is a creamer containing coconut oil, maltodextrin, food starch and a mixture of fat emulsifiers with a salt component. 
    • Coconut oil does provide some good fats, but mostly contains saturated fats. 
    • Maltodextrin contains some sugar, but it’s only present in small amounts in food. Maltodextrin is a mixture of starchy vegetables – like corn or potatoes
    • ProJym Protein powder contains natural and artificial flavors.

This powder is quite healthy all together. It has a reduced amount of additives with a high quality protein blend.

 

Dressings

dressing nutritional labels

Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch

Annie’s has all organic ingredients, which start with water, expeller-pressed canola oil, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, and cane sugar. 

  • We extract canola oil using pressure, which is better than methods using heat that may alter the oil. Canola oil reduces LDL cholesterol, but does contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids. 
  • Apple cider vinegar fights against free radicals and cell damage and contains polyphenols, which may reduce inflammation.  This component isn’t high in a dressing blend, but it is acidic; consuming too much may damage teeth or upset your stomach. 
  • This dressing contains a little carbohydrate, 1 gram of saturated fat, and a high amount of sodium (240mg). 

 

Hidden Valley Ranch

  • The first ingredient is vegetable oil (from soybean and/or canola), which is seen as generally  healthy by the FDA.
    • Soybean oil has omega-6 fatty acids. When consumed too often, it may lead to chronic inflammation.
    • These types of oils are fragile and susceptible to degrading to chemicals that are harmful to the body.
  • After vegetable oil is water, sugar and salt. 

Hidden Valley doesn’t contain too many carbohydrates (2g), but it does have a higher amount of sodium (260mg).

 

Whole30 Ranch

Like Hidden Valley, Whole30 starts with an oil, but this time they used high oleic sunflower oil.

  •  This oil is healthier than soybean or canola oil because high oleic oils contain monounsaturated fats, which help reduce LDL cholesterol. 
  • Following the high-oleic sunflower oil is water, egg yolks, and distilled vinegar. 

Whole30 contains zero carbohydrates and a little less sodium (210 mg) than Hidden Valley

 

Conclusion

Whole foods that aren’t packed with lots of additives are generally the best way to go. If you do decide to buy processed foods, it’s good to know some common ingredients to look out for.  Some ingredients may not be present in significant enough quantities to affect dietary quality. Lastly, make sure to compare ingredients back to the nutrition facts. Multiple forms of sugar, for example, can be listed numerous times, but the overall amount of sugar and added sugar on the nutrition facts label may not be significantly high. Don’t be scared of processed foods, but do be cautious. Good luck shopping!

 

Need more help with understanding food labels? Check out our other blog post regarding updated to the nutrition facts label!

 

Resources

Protein Bars

https://www.rxbar.com/media/pdf/R/RX_Catalog_Fall_2019.pdf

https://www.walmart.com/ip/LUNA-BAR-Snack-Bars-Gluten-Free-Blueberry-Bliss-Flavor-15-Ct-1-69-oz/39800541?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&&adid=22222222227000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42423897272&wl4=pla-51320962143&wl5=9015392&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=39800541&veh=sem&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTIO96TvonousEhbXlqhBebvvH7Q1xFMswpIo70-LcYkTB5Ptz0DepUaAnrwEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds 

https://shop.clifbar.com/products/clif-bar-blueberry-crisp?variant=34478775140485&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping&ds_rl=1282849&ds_rl=1282849&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTIANO4DYZYRaExhBOgA7etOEmFTuWoldzdR-q8Hhd7tsh9jCpjqZjQaAjbgEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds 

https://shop.metrx.com/Big-100-Crispy-Apple-Pie/p/MTRX-159357&c=METRx@ProteinBars@Big100

 

Protein Powders

https://www.gnc.com/best-sellers-shop-all/527950.html?mrkgadid=&mrkgcl=1098&mrkgen=&mrkgbflag=&mrkgcat=&acctid=21700000001526007&&dskeywordid=92700057937791656&lid=92700057937791656&ds_s_kwgid=58700006417899872&ds_s_inventory_feed_id=97700000003618928&dsproductgroupid=317461650145&product_id=527950&merchid=1418768&prodctry=US&prodlang=en&channel=online&storeid=%7bproduct_store_id%7d&device=c&network=u&matchtype=&locationid=%7bloc_phyiscal_ms%7d&creative=472640341132&targetid=pla-317461650145&campaignid=11357099411&adgroupid=111332759517&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTIwnXMWafAXkXInejgkaotcDuxjr0K-rCBp8RuqN_nzfHNNl6Sw05EaAg3ZEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.bodybuilding.com/store/jym-supplement-science/pro-jym-protein-powder.html

https://www.amazon.com/TGS-Natural-100-Protein-Powder/product-reviews/B00HBFZNAO/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_show_all_btm?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews

 

Dressings

https://www.hiddenvalley.com/products/bottled-dressings-dips/original-ranch/original-ranch/

https://shop.whole30.com/product/house-ranch/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAv6yCBhCLARIsABqJTjYm6bBcL8_KhnzEb7thMTTQB6omfTBoA9uea9Uskruf-bnOuNfUnjcaAnvTEALw_wcB

https://www.annies.com/product/organic-cowgirl-ranch-dressing/

 

  1. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars 
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/01/545336956/what-is-fruit-concentrate-anyway-and-is-it-good-for-you
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/artificial-sweeteners-good-or-bad#other-effects
  4. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/39870315/1056.pdf?1447172730=&response-content-disposition=inline%3B+filename%3DGuar_gum_in_insulin_dependent_diabetes_e.pdf&Expires=1615780690&Signature=JYgii7oKpnfw0-l8E-UkhXOjJYKVpC4Ebl4k5r1B5Y0fvK1Ky31MGRKa02GgztmKxc6BagZNc4aT4CbpSbi7Fnh1L7-iRaKc3DKw8rk~e6elgHA0gc15R2DhMo0NUszv61IAuNsq8-ie25L4j2sby8GU0O6UtBDUzNmVOOEOSrNQBe8J2tPVRk0S5LuhMHe79PadtrN5CuVT3VMFktqxn33b3nqcBwz490xWquAGYWtZu0sgpIOOk7Lrk3zTHkQ2uPBXzoVVAjwh0Cf-EjmnSn1yWnoOEhCQK0nmyISuluCKzVcGbyzllZ9GT5od4KYFsQka~AnGWkZIZ2TnMf6-7w__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xanthan-gum
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16865769/ 
  7. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cholesterol/2010/824813/ 
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/natural-flavors#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7 

Continue Reading No Comments

Dietary Intake and Acne: What is the Link?

diet and acne

If you are struggling with unwanted breakouts, you are far from alone. The prevalence of acne is estimated to affect 9.4% of people worldwide. The incidence rate is highest in adolescents and young adults but typically decreases with age beyond 30 years. Because this can be difficult condition to manage, many people who struggle with acne often want to know what factors can contribute to or prevent breakouts. While typical areas examined will include skin hygiene, stress, and personal care products, interest has increased in recent years regarding the connection between dietary intake and acne.

There are so many foods we eat daily, many of which are beneficial to our skin, and others that are not. So, which are affecting the condition of our skin the most? Read on to learn which foods may affect skin health and which do not.

 

Sugar and High-glycemic Index Foods  

Consumption of sweets and other carbohydrate-rich foods have been attributed to the majority of skin breakouts. (1) When the body breaks down carbohydrates, it releases insulin. This is normally an okay, and much needed, reaction from the body. Trouble begins when we are regularly consuming “high-glycemic” foods, which cause large spikes in blood sugar and lead to high blood sugar. When the body is in this consistent state of high blood sugar, it leads to multiple reactions:

  • Increased Insulin-like growth factor-1
  • Increased Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3
  • Elevated Androgen Hormones

All these reactions can lead to cellular, follicular growth and/or androgen-driven sebum production, which can affect oil production in pores.

 

Research Studies 

  1. Low glycemic load diet led to participants improving their acne and weight loss. (2)
  2. Low glycemic load diet led to participants improving acne, no weight loss. (3)

 

These two studies show connections between the improvement of acne and skin lesions and a low glycemic index diet.

Study 1

The first offers a strong study using a randomized controlled study but limited from having only 43 participants. 

  • The control group was asked to remain on their diet consisting of, generally, high-glycemic index carbohydrates/foods. 
  • The experimental group was provided a diet consisting of 25% energy from protein, 45% from low-glycemic index carbohydrates, and 30% energy from fats. 
  • Both groups received a topical cleanser to use in place of typical soap and water. 

The experimental group began with an average of 40.6 skin lesions and the control group began with 34.9. At the end of a 12-week assessment, skin lesion count had gone down by an average of 21.9 and 13.8, respectively. Additionally, the experimental group had a loss in BMI. 

Study 2

The second study also has limitations of 32 participants and self-reported diets from the participants. They had a low glycemic load diet group of 17 participants and a control group of 15. 

  • The low glycemic load diet group ate a diet that consisted of 25% energy from protein, 45% from low-GI carbohydrates, and 30% energy from fats. 
  • The control group ate carbohydrate-rich foods daily. 

The mean non-inflammatory lesion counts for the LGLD group and the control group were significantly decreased, by 27.6% and 14.2%, respectively.

Aside from the small group size, each study is completed with strong methods and results. Strengths are especially seen in the studies being randomized controlled trials and researchers and dermatologists not knowing which participants are part of which group until the end of the study.  In conclusion, it is suggested that following a low-glycemic load and low-glycemic index food intake may benefit skin health based on these two studies. 

 

connection between dairy and acne

Milk and Dairy Products

The effects of dairy products on skin health are closely related to the effects of sugar on skin. Milk has carbohydrates in it, which can produce a spike in blood sugar, as we mentioned for high-glycemic index foods. The difference between milk and carbohydrate-rich foods is that milk is considered low on the glycemic index compared to food like a slice of bread, which is considered high on the glycemic index. 

Milk consumed in excess can lead to high blood sugar levels. In addition to the effects of high blood sugar, dairy intake increases insulin-like growth factor-1. This may lead to the same effects that high blood sugar produces in relation to acne production.  

Research Studies 

  • 6,094 girls, ages 9–15 years, yielded a positive association between acne prevalence and consumption of whole, skimmed, and low-fat milk; there was no association with non-milk dairy foods, chocolate, and pizza. (4)
  • 4,273 boys, ages 9–15 years, discovered a weak association between acne and skimmed milk; there were no associations with milks of a higher fat content. (5)

 

These two large studies mentioned above report some relevance of milk consumption and acne. They were limited because the children were self-reporting their dairy intake and, if they had acne, its condition. It is difficult to know whether any certain component within dairy is contributing to acne. 

There is little possibility the fat content of milk would affect the condition of acne. Some researchers are attempting loosely to consider any connection to whey. There are no randomized controlled trials investigating the relationship between frequent dairy or milk consumption and acne. Overall, there is minimal evidence suggesting dairy would have an impact on acne outside of containing carbohydrates; but milk is also considered a low on the glycemic index, making that assumption difficult to conclude.

 

Chocolate

Another food item thought to affect acne is chocolate. It has been difficult to find a strong connection between acne and any specific component of chocolate. The major component that has been hypothesized to have an effect on skin health is cocoa. Other than the cocoa content, sugar in regular chocolate products could be what is contributing to potential acne breakouts. 

Research Studies 

  • Thirteen men consumed 100% cocoa, hydrolyzed gelatin powder, or a mix. The study found a statistically significant increase in acne lesions after cocoa consumption (6)

 

The researchers discovered that the thirteen men in this study had an increase in acne. The limitations of the study are that they only had 13 participants and the men were “acne-prone.” While the study used a randomized controlled trial, the evidence is considered weak due to the low number of participants and being the only study of its kind. More research is needed to conclude significant evidence. 

 

omega-3 fatty acids and acne

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids provide a unique perspective on the impact of food on acne. Unlike the rest of the food items mentioned here, omega-3 fatty acids offer a protective result from acne due to reducing inflammatory responses. 

Research Studies

  • A 10-week, randomized, controlled parallel study had 45 participants, ages 18 – 33 (36 men, 9 women), split into groups that received omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, γ-linoleic acid (an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid) supplementation, or were in a control group. The omega-3 fatty acid and γ-linoleic acid groups both show improvement from supplementation. (7)

 

This study shows a small connection for improved acne conditions while taking γ-linoleic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. This study does not provide strong enough evidence of omega-3 fatty acid due to the small size of the group. More studies could greatly benefit this research. However, omega-3 fatty acid supplements have many health benefits outside of skin health. Considering its great availability and health benefits, supplementation could be a considerable option to improve acne conditions.

 

Conclusions

  • High-glycemic index/load foods are likely to aggravate acne when consumed regularly.
  • Milk and dairy products could affect acne conditions if consumed heavily for extended periods of time.
  • Chocolate has loose connections to aggravation of acne unless considering its high glycemic index like any other sugary candy.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has loose connections to benefiting the condition of a person’s acne.

In closing, there are many studies to be considered when researching what dietary effects have on the condition of skin and acne aggravation. While research on this topic started decades ago, it was not until recently, in the 2000s, that more research has come out. If your acne is at a stage where it is just beginning, some of these dietary tips may be of benefit to you. 

If you are just starting to get into nutrition and health, try checking out How to Spot a Fad Diet  or our 7 tips for healthy eating when life gets busy!

 

Resources

  1. Kucharska A, Szmurło A, Sińska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2016;33(2):81–86.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/ 

 

2. Smith RN et al. The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic–load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic–load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: A randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. J Am Acad Derm. 2007;57(2):247-56. 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962207004148?casa_token=Z_6HtL_cGTEAAAAA:519iBbjilAbU6goU89cxCnpqE16ZQEHP-esTh6hTw1r-gZ-hcs2SV7O6qf2kmbN2na27mYykqw

 

3. Kwon HH et al. Clinical and histological effect of a low glycaemic load diet in treatment of acne vulgaris in korean patients: a randomized, controlled trial. Acta Derm Venereol. 2012;92: 241–246. 

https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content/abstract/10.2340/00015555-1346 

 

4. Adebamowo et al. Milk consumption and acne in adolescent girls. Dermatol Online J. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/77b9s0z8

 

5. Adebamowo et al. Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;58(5): 787–793. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391699/

 

6. Caperton C et al. Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Assessing the Effect of Chocolate Consumption in Subjects with a History of Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May; 7(5): 19–23. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025515/#idm140640642055376title

 

7. Jung JY et al. Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acid and Gamma-linolenic Acid on Acne Vulgaris: A Randomised, Doubleblind, Controlled Trial. Acta Derm Venereol 2014; 94: 521–525. 

https://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content_files/files/pdf/94/5/4112.pdf

Continue Reading 4 Comments

Contact

Email

info@novasportsnutrition.com

Location

Fairfax, VA 

Virtual Telehealth
USA