All posts in Diet

Have fun and stay safe this Halloween

If you’re taking your little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treating this Halloween, it’s important to remember to be safe while also having as much sugar-infused fun as possible!halloween_safety

Many organizations compile lists of safety tips, and below you can find some of our favorites.

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends the following:

  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

And for those of you without little ghosts and goblins this year, popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during that time.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime in the United States. Sadly, 40,000 women will die from the disease this year.

Numerous factors may contribute to a cancer diagnosis, but the National Institutes of Health estimates that up to 35 percent of cancer-related deaths are associated with diet. breast-cancer-ribbon1

What does this mean for you? You can reduce your own risk of developing breast cancer by making healthy food choices. While a healthy diet that is high in fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and plant-based proteins can lower your risk of all cancers, research has shown some foods to be particularly beneficial to preventing breast cancer.

To help reduce your risk, here are some nutritional guidelines to consider:

  • Eat more broccoli. A recent study found that sulforaphane, a nutrient found in broccoli, inhibited the growth of breast cancer stem cells in mice, which are the cells that encourage tumors to grow.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Numerous studies have acknowledged a link between alcohol and a higher risk of developing certain kinds of breast cancer. Even moderate alcohol consumption can increase risk of breast cancer.
  • Drink coffee. Some studies suggest that coffee can have a preventive effect on certain types of breast cancer. However, coffee can have other negative effects on the body, so enjoy in moderation.
  • Eat Fiber-Rich Foods. Studies suggest that eating fiber-rich foods may lower your risk for breast cancer. You can increase your fiber intake by consuming more beans, nuts, and vegetables. Many fiber-rich foods possess other cancer-fighting nutrients, such as berries, which are rich in antioxidants.
  • Eat salmon or other fatty fish. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found an eighteen percent decreased risk of developing breast cancer when women consumed fish rich in Omega-3 fatty oils. While other fish contain these cancer-fighting fats, salmon is one of the most concentrated sources

For more information about breast cancer, visit one of these helpful resources.

National Breast Cancer Foundation


Tips for Preventing Arsenic Toxicity From Your Food

rice bowlAs I stated in my previous post, worrisome levels of arsenic have been found in rice as well as grape and apple juice.  If this concerns you, like it does me, here are a few tips to limit your risk of arsenic poisoning:

First of all, test your water.  If your home is not on a public water system, have your have your water tested for arsenic and lead. To find a certified lab, contact your local health department or call the Federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.  If you are on public water, check your municipal water report for arsenic.

Secondly, change the way you cook rice.  You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking – make sure the water runs clean.  Use a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of the rice’s nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic contents.  And children should not drink rice milk & serve infant rice cereal no more than once a day.

Thirdly, be picky about what rice you eat.  Eat more aromatic rice such as basmati and jasmine since they have been shown to have the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic.  Limit brown rice consumption, even though it is healthy for you, because bran holds on to higher levels of arsenic.  Choose California rice over other states because their arsenic levels were lower.

Also, experiment with other grains.  Vary your grains, especially if you eat more than two or three servings of rice per week. Though not arsenic-free, wheat and oats tend to have lower levels than rice. And quinoa, millet, and amaranth are among other options for those on a gluten-free diet, though they have not been studied as much

Finally, eat a varied diet.  Some vegetables can accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil.  Make sure you clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins.  Some fruit juices such as apple and grape juice are high in arsenic, as our previous post discussed. To prevent obesity and tooth decay, pediatricians advise that infants younger than 6 months shouldn’t drink juice, children up to age 6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces a day and older children no more than 8 to 12 ounces. Like grape juice, wine also can be a source of exposure, according to data collected in the FDA’s Total Diet Study, which provides more complete information about arsenic content in a variety of goods. Go to and search for “total diet study analytical results.

If you eat a lot of rice and are concerned about arsenic toxicity, here are some symptoms to watch out for:  dermatitis, respiratory tract infection, muscle aches, headaches, weakness, convulsions, neuropathy, anemia, pigmentation of nails, drowsiness and confusion.  If you have any of these symptoms, make sure you contact your healthcare provider.


Could You Be Getting Arsenic Poisoning From Your Food?

rice-bowlIn November 2012 Consumer Reports published an article of their findings of worrisome levels of arsenic found in rice products (to read their article, you can click on this link:  Arsenic in Your Foods).  Before this, they published another article (to read, click link:  Arsenic in Your Juice) in January 2012 revealing arsenic in apple and grape juice.  Most of you probably know that arsenic is a potent human carcinogen and can cause health problems in children later in life.  This finding is very disturbing, but are we really surprised by it?  We know that the excessive amounts of pesticides and herbicides that are used have to have some effect on our biological system.  Arsenic is used as a neurological agent against bugs.  It then ends up in our waterways and since rice is grown in water, it tends to accumulate in rice more than other grains. 

It is my hope that the Consumer Reports findings as well as others like it will open up serious discussions about our approach to the food we eat and our long term health.  For years alternative healthcare providers have preached to our patients about the need to eat clean food, increase their consumption of plants and do periodic detoxification to remove some of the toxins which accumulate in our system over time.  And now an independent organization is sounding an alarm that certain foods we eat or drink may cause serious health problems. 

I believe that we should have serious concerns about our food supply:  Roundup-ready corn, soy and alfalfa; mercury in the fish; bad fats; hormones and antibiotics in beef and chicken; and 70% of the processed foods in the grocery store which have been estimated to contain GMO derivatives.  Because of these things, our diets and the supplements we use to support our diet should be geared to repairing the damage done by the chemicals and heavy metals that we are unknowingly ingesting.  Heavy metals inactivate enzymes in the body and increase free radical damage which can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and some forms of cancer.  So it’s important to get rid of any excess heavy metals.  Doing a regular detox can help you with this. 

My next post will discuss tips for lessening your chances to get arsenic in your food.


What Your Calorie Intake Should Be To Lose Weight

A friend of mine is trying to lose weight by watching her calories.  Personally, of all of the weight loss diets and fads out there, this makes the most sense to me.  Your body requires a certain amount of calories to function.  If you consume less calories than it requires, it breaks down fat and muscle to get those calories.  If your calorie intake is more than your body requires, it stores the excess calories as fat.  So, regardless of the diet, the only way you’re going to lose weight is to consume less calories.

The amount of calories your body burns in 1 day is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Factors that affect your BMR include height, weight, age and gender.  Here is a formula that you can use to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate:

Women:  BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

Men:  BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

This BMR formula doesn’t take into account if you have a higher muscle-to-fat ratio nor your activity level.  Therefore, a more accurate way to determine how many calories you use during an average day is to take the Basal Metabolic Rate that you calculated above and plug it into what’s called the Harris Benedict Equation.  This equation factors in your activity level to determine a more accurate assessment of how many calories you burn during the day.  Here is the equation below:

  • If you are sedentary (little or no exercise):  Calories = BMR x 1.2
  • If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week):  Calories = BMR x 1.375
  • If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week):  Calories = BMR x 1.55
  • If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week):  Calories = BMR x 1.725
  • If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training):  Calories = BMR x 1.9

These calories are basically what you need to consume on a daily basis to maintain your current weight.  With this number you can then calculate the  calorie intake you need to eat in order to either gain or lose weight.

Calorie Needs to Lose Weight

There are about 3500 calories in a pound of body fat.  So, you need to create a 3500-calorie deficit through diet and exercise in order to lose 1 pound of body weight.  This calorie deficit can be achieved by either calorie-restriction or by a combination of fewer calories in (diet) and more calories out (through exercise).  The combination of diet and exercise gets you the best results for lasting weight loss.  Visit my other blog post to learn about Essential Components of a Fitness Program.

If you want to lose fat, a good guideline for decreasing your caloric intake is to reduce your daily calories by at least 500, but not more than 1000 below your maintenance level (This will cause you to have either a 3500 or 7000 calorie deficit per week which is equivalent to 1-2 pounds).  If you only need to lose a small amount of weight, stay closer to the 500 calories because 1000 is too much.  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that calorie levels never drop below 1200 calories per day for women and 1800 calories per day for men.  If you have a small to moderate amount of weight to lose, reducing your caloric intake by 15-20% below your maintenance level is a safe way to go.

Here are some simple ways to cut calories out of your diet:

  • Eliminate red meat – Build your meals around fish and poultry.
  • Cut out fried foods – Grill, bake, roast, broil or boil your food.  No more French fries and snacks like potato chips and Doritos
  • Begin your meal with a soup or salad – This will curb your hunger and will help keep your portion sizes in check.
  • Stop drinking soda/cola – For every 20 ounces of soda you drink, you’re consuming more than 250 calories.  You can blow your entire calorie budget for the day on soda.
  • Drink water – Try to drink 8 glasses a day.  Even if you don’t hit 8, try to consume more than usual.
  • For other ideas visit my other blog postsEasy Ways to Cut Calories Without Feeling Deprived & Healthy Eating Tips So You Don’t Need to Diet

If you’re overweight, losing as little as 7-10 percent of your weight can improve many of the conditions linked to being overweight such as high blood pressure and diabetes.  However, slow and steady weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week is the safest way to lose weight.  Too rapid weight loss can cause you to lose more muscle than fat.  It also increases your chances of developing things like gallstones and nutrient deficiencies.  Making permanent changes in your eating habits and physical activity is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.

Calorie Needs to Gain Weight

If you have the opposite problem and need to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn.  Once you calculate the number of calories you need to maintain your weight, eating an extra 500 calories per day will gain you an extra pound a week (roughly 3500 calories).  If you increase your calorie intake to gain weight then you should try to increase your level of physical exercise in order to maintain or increase your lean body mass or muscle mass.  Exercise can help both your physical and mental health.  Visit my other blog post to learn about the Basic Principles of a Good Fitness program.

Whether you need to lose or gain weight, controlling your calorie intake during the day controls your weight.  You didn’t get over or under-weight overnight so it’s not going to get better overnight.  You should only change your weight by 4-8 pounds per month.  The biggest thing is to change your eating habits and add exercise (if possible) to your lifestyle.