Did you know that our mouths are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting our immune system? We often think of cavities (tooth decay) as a surface issue, but unwanted bacteria can enter our blood stream through our mouth and potentially impact other parts of our body. We know that brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing and routine dental visits are imperative for oral health. But there are other amazing supplemental therapies that can help our teeth become stronger and whiter without the aches and pains of teeth whitening products or expensive price tags. One of my current favorites? Oil pulling! But I’m getting ahead of myself. First…
Tooth Decay 101
Did you know that tooth decay is largely preventable? Even so, it remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults. Dental caries (or tooth decay) is an infection, bacterial in origin, that leads to the gradual demineralization of enamel, which in turn destroys the structure of the tooth. So, what can you do?
3 Strategies for An Awesome, Healthy Smile
Strategy #1: Oil Pulling
Oil pulling has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. It involves swishing or “pulling” oil in your mouth for a period of time. Because plaque is fat soluble, the oil is able to grab hold of it and remove those unwanted bacteria and toxins. Oil acts as the perfect mouthwash! Oil pulling also naturally whitens teeth, improves gums and decreases bad breath! Some people have even seen an improvement in their skin conditions, asthma, headaches and hormone imbalances, although research is limited.
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National Walking Day is upon us! Wednesday, April 2nd is a call to action from the American Heart Association (AHA) to adopt a healthier lifestyle. After all, statistics show that one in three women and one in two men are at risk for heart disease. Those are staggering statistics, but ones that can be improved by simply eating more #CLEAN foods, making home-cooked meals, achieving a healthier weight and, you guessed it, being more active. Let’s walk!
One of the greatest things about walking is that you don’t need much to do it, just a comfortable pair of shoes. And, there is no other city more scenic and entertaining for a stroll than New York City! I am always amazed by how many beautiful buildings and well-kept secrets (think hidden gardens) I discover while out for a walk in the city. But of course, having a destination always helps! Tip: Remember approximately six avenues or 20 streets equal one mile.
Walking one mile burns an average of 100 calories, but walking has many more benefits than just calorie burn. A recent study revealed that walkers reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9%, compared to 4.5% of runners who expended the same amount of energy. In addition to improving heart health, walking:
- Lowers anxiety
- Improves mood
- Reduces the risk of dementia
- Aids sleeping patterns
- Lowers a woman’s stroke risk by one-fifth, new study finds
- Regulates overall blood sugars in adults with pre-diabetes, and helps lower post-meal blood sugars for three hours or more, research found
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Looking to quench your thirst and kick your soda addiction? Finally, there is a delicious and healthy alternative—kombucha! What is that? Kombucha is a fermented tea that typically includes a mixture of yeast, good bacteria, a natural sweetener and black tea. It’s fizzy like soda but very low in sugar—2 grams per 8 ounce serving versus 27 grams for soda.
Kombucha is known as a functional food, or drink in this case, as it has additional health benefits. Functional foods don’t just provide us with energy in the form of fat, carbohydrates and protein, but they also contain properties that promote health. In this case, kombucha is an antioxidant-rich drink with organic acids, enzymes, probiotics and B vitamins. The organic acids remove toxins from the liver and digestive tract. The enzymes and probiotics aid in nutrient absorption, gut health, waste removal and support immune function, and the B vitamins enhance metabolism.
Raw kombucha is sold in its original flavor or with aromatics like ginger, fruit—ranging from pomegranate to passion fruit and the trending superfood, chia seeds. It has a unique sweet-sour taste that some liken to a great beer. Oh yeah!
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It was estimated in 2012 that the running shoe market is a $3 billion industry. There is no doubt about it; running is popular! Having run a marathon and two half-marathons in the past decade, I am well aware of all the fun gadgets one can accumulate—the latest shoes, heart rate monitor, GPS, Dri-Fit ensemble, iPhone armband, water belt, you name it! But sometimes people forget to ask about the most important equipment of all…food!
In anticipation of NYRR NYC Half-Marathon taking place on March 16th, here is some key nutrition advice to help you enhance your training; it sure helped me along the way.
THE CARBOHYDRATE LOWDOWN
Carbohydrates are incredibly important to runners because they act as our primary fuel source. We store carbs in our muscles and liver by way of glycogen in order to maximize energy while on long-distance runs, like half or full marathons. Distance training enables us to increase our glycogen storage capacity up to 1,500-2,000 calories, on average. Assuming that we burn 100 calories per mile, we can run on stored energy for 15 to 20 miles. That means, for half-marathons, as long as we properly “carbo-load” throughout our training, and especially a few days prior to the race, we will avoid hitting the dreaded “wall.” But just to be on the safe side, I always carry a snack. Easy grab-and-go snacks are granola bars (KIND, Cliff, Luna, Mojo, Larabar), dried fruit, or trail mix.
How many carbs are enough?
To ensure proper carbohydrate intake while training, you want to source about 45-55% of your total daily calories from carbohydrates. Therefore, an average intake of 2,000 calories per day would equate to 900-1,100 calories from carbs. Another general rule of thumb, for a moderate to high activity level, is to consume 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. This is especially important if you are competing at moderate intensity or greater for 90-minutes or more. Translation: jogging on the treadmill for 5 miles does not mean you get to eat a whole plate of pasta after!
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I’ve been working with Amanda for a little less than a month. Not only has she been able to lose 15.5 pounds in this short time, she has included more home-cooked meals into her diet, started eating better snacks, and has followed a very consistent exercise regimen, among other accomplishments.
But like any dietary or lifestyle change (exercise, sleeping more, fostering good relationships, etc), it takes a lot of time and effort. As she describes in this weeks Metro article, temptation is everywhere in NYC.
So, what do you do? I suggest you click and learn from her awesome journey. Go Amanda!
I love New York, but it can be hard to appreciate the amazing allure of the city at this time of year when it’s cold, dreary, and just plain slushy. The subway echoes with the sounds of sniffling, coughing and sneezing, and the common cold seems to lurk around every corner. A cold, like the flu, is viral and therefore resistant to antibiotics. But unlike the flu, which is a much more serious concern, the common cold is usually pretty mild, lasting between 7 to 10 days. That said, it shouldn’t be trivialized because it is the leading cause of doctor’s visits, sick days, and can put a real damper on your quality of life.
Since we are still at the peak of the cold and flu season (I know, I know, will it never end?), it’s a perfect time to talk about ways to prevent the common cold from occurring in the first place.
#1. Get your zzzzz time. Back in April, the Bushwick Nutrition blog looked into sleep for weight control. Not surprisingly, sleep has even more benefits as people who do not get enough sleep (less than 7 hours), are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop a cold. This makes total sense since sleep is an important predictor of immunity. So make sure to put sleep as your number one priority during these cold months!
#2. Eat more fresh garlic. Garlic is a popular folk remedy but recent studies have shown that eating garlic can boost the number of T-cells in the bloodstream, which play a vital role in strengthening the immune system and fighting viruses like the common cold. Tip: Garlic must be fresh. as the active ingredient is destroyed within an hour or so after smashing. Compress, smash, or juice/blend the garlic to maximize benefits. Try Raquel’s, owner of Pitanga Juice, remedy of fresh garlic, raw honey, cayenne pepper, and lemon (see pic). Talk about a serious immune boost! Tip: For easier digestion, mix the above with a little aloe vera juice.
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Wrote a piece for the Fresh Direct Blog! February is Heart Health Month, so the NYHRC nutrition team decided to write about all the reasons why the Mediterranean Diet fits the bill for a healthy heart. Read more on why I Heart the Mediterranean Diet.
The clumsiest woman in America takes a Zumba class. Epic fail. Also: You are what you eat.
Working with @NYNewsgirl to help her get healthy and lean for her big day! In her article she included a revamped shopping list and some ideas on healthy breakfasts and snacks. Read more about her inspiring story.
Dear Gary Taubes,
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I work with the individual. I extrapolate my dietary recommendations from the best available research, but I also understand that each person is different; therefore success depends greatly on individualized advice. With their specific needs in mind and an expert by their side, we surpass their motivational plateau to achieve their goals, whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or a response to a life-threatening diagnosis. Nutrition has become confusing because time and again we look at only one aspect of nutrition or respond to the latest findings, instead of looking at the whole picture. It is rarely just one change that results in success, but a mix of factors such as eating real food, eating less, taking ownership of one’s decisions, incorporating exercise, and having the necessary support system. Yes, there are gaps in nutrition research and it’s still “a learning experience in the limits of science”, but an experienced dietitian is adept at devising an individual plan that will work for their client.