For Us Mildly Anemic Folk

28 Dec

So I was asked to do a post on iron deficiency anemia.  I remember being diagnosed with a mild form of iron deficiency anemia when I was in high school.  I used to wonder why I was always cold, why I craved ice so much, why I never had any energy (this was before my “college = no sleep” days).  I never really understood exactly what it was until I got to college.  All I knew is that my iron levels were low, and that I wasn’t going to take iron supplements because they cause constipation, which I didn’t want to deal with.

So in this post, information on iron deficiency anemia will be issued.  A bit about what iron is and what it does for the body will be discussed first however.  So without further ado, some information “for us mildly anemic folk…”

What is iron anyway?

Iron is a trace mineral (meaning the body needs it in very tiny itty bitty small amounts) used by the body hemoglobin and myoglobin, the proteins that carry oxygen (one of the main differences between hemoglobin and myoglobin is that hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and myoglobin is found in muscle).

Iron is absorbed based on how much the body needs.  So, the body of someone with low iron levels. would absorb more than the body of someone with high iron levels; and because the body usually doesn’t get rid of excess iron, high levels can lead to some serious problems, and even an iron toxicity.  Speaking of storage, most of the iron in your liver.

Another quick spill about iron:  there are two types.

  • Nonheme iron. This type of iron can be found in plant foods like lentils and beans.  This is also the form added to foods that have either been enriched (these foods have certain nutrients in them that were removed during processing, but were then added back to meet federal standards) or fortified (these foods had nutrients added to them that weren’t originally in that food).  It is not really bioavailable (it isn’t easily absorbed by the body.  If it were bioavailable, it would be easy for the body to absorb it).
  • Heme iron.  This type of iron can be found in animal foods that originally had hemoglobin in them, such as meat, poultry, and fish.  This form of iron is more  bioavailable than nonheme iron.

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there’s not enough iron in your body.  When you don’t have enough iron, your body not only makes smaller red blood cells, but also less of them.  When this happens, your body gets less oxygen because your body now has less hemoglobin (just a reminder, this is the stuff that carries oxygen in the blood).

Causes:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding (if you’re a woman, that is)
  • A diet low in iron (in this case, when I say diet, I mean the food you eat on a daily basis)
  • Internal bleeding (bleeding from somewhere inside the body)
  • Malabsorption (this means that your body doesn’t absorb iron like it should)

Symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Paleness in skin color
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Pica: This is a craving for non-food items (in other words, you crave things that aren’t food, and in particular with iron deficiency anemia, its ice.  Other cravings include clay or clay, talcum powder, and cornstarch)

How is Iron Deficiency Anemia Treated?

For some people, iron deficiency anemia is caused by an underlying condition, such as internal bleeding.  For these people, the physician will take steps to correct the problem.  However, for people who don’t have enough iron in their diet or malabsorption problems, other steps will need to be taken.  For some people (those with severe iron deficiency anemia in particular), this includes an iron supplement.  For some, this also includes eating foods that are high in iron.

Foods high in heme iron (I like to call this the MPF factor, you’ll see why in a quick second…)

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish and shellfish

Examples of foods high in non-heme iron:

  • Iron fortified ready-to-eat cereals
  • Grits
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach
  • White rice
  • Soy products
  • Dried beans and peas

For the non-heme iron food sources, it’s always important to have a bit of vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron available in these foods.

Examples of foods high in vitamin C:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Citrus fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Mangoes

You can help increase the iron in your diet by pairing up foods that are high in non-heme iron with those that are high in heme iron or with foods that are high in vitamin C.

Look at This Link:

www.eatright.org:  General information on healthy eating, also with search tips for finding a local dietitian that may be able to help you.

So, in closing, iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the body.  Some people may need to take an iron supplement, however, increasing the amount of iron in the diet can solve the problem.  Remember the MPF (Meat, Poultry, Fish) factor and vitamin C can help increase the amount of iron in the diet as well.  I hope that this information can serve to help “Us Mildly Anemic Folk.”

Remember, love food, love health, and love both OUT LOUD!

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Help with High Blood Pressure

21 Dec

I received a question a while ago from a woman asking me the following:

“I’ve had high blood pressure for three years now, lost weight, have now quick smoking, will I always have to take these blood pressure pills or can I one day get off them?  If so what more can I do to increase my health so that I won’t be dependent upon this medication for the rest of my life.”

Well, to answer this question, I want to first let people know what high blood pressure is, what it can do to the body, and what causes it.  Also, I want to talk a little about medications, and what people can do to live a healthier life while dealing with high blood pressure.

What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?

Arteries and veins are made up of muscle and tissue that is somewhat elastic, meaning that it is made to be somewhat stretchy (notice somewhat, meaning that it’s not supposed to stretch a lot).  This ability to stretch allows blood to flow from the heart to the rest of the body.  This flow of blood naturally creates a force against the tissue that makes up the wall of the artery.

High blood pressure, by definition, is when the force produced when blood is pushed through your arteries and veins is high enough to cause damage to them, which ultimately causes health problems.  It has little to no symptoms, and even though it can be easily diagnosed, most people are unaware that they have it (one of the reasons why it is called the “silent killer”).  According to the American Heart Association, too much force on the arteries can lead to:

  • Vascular weakness.  Because the wall of your artery or vein is damaged, it becomes weak and is more likely to rupture, which can increase the risk of having a heart a stroke or an aneurysm.
  • Vascular scarring. The damage caused by stretching the artery wall (or vein wall) too much causes little tiny cracks and scars in the wall. These cracks and scars catch things that may be floating in the blood, such as cholesterol, plaque, and blood cells.
  • Increased risk of blood clots.   Blood that is trapped from the scars in the walls of the veins or arteries can create clots that can narrow or even block the vessels.  Sometimes these clots can break free and start to move.  This can increase the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Increased build up of plaque.  Cholesterol and plaque build up in the blood vessels can limit blood flow or cut it off completely.  When this happens, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body, which increases blood pressure as well.  Also, if plaques break off or if it builds up and cuts off blood flow to parts of the body, it can increase the chance for strokes and heart attacks.
  • Narrowed and blocked arteries causing tissue and organ damage. If blood is not reaching tissues and organs, oxygen is not reaching tissues and organs.  Part of a blood cell’s job is to deliver oxygen to tissues and organs.  When this doesn’t happen, tissues and organs can suffer from hypoxia, an abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the tissues and organs, or anoxia, which is a lack of oxygen in the tissues and organs.  This will cause damage to tissues and organs.
  • Increased workload on the circulatory system.  The circulatory system is made up of the heart, blood vessels, and blood.  Part of the circulatory system’s job is to pump blood throughout the body.  Increased blood pressure will cause this system to work harder.  And working harder is not a great thing in this case.

High blood pressure, over time, can cause damage to the heart, eyes, brain, and kidneys.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Pointing the finger at something that causes high blood pressure is hard because no one really knows exactly what causes high blood pressure.  However, here is a list of some factors that can play a part in the development of high blood pressure:

  • Eating too much salt
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Old age
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Family history
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Consuming too much alcohol

Here is a list of people who are more likely to develop high blood pressure:

  • African-Americans
  • Pregnant women
  • Smokers
  • People over 35
  • People with a family history of high blood pressure
  • People who use birth control pills
  • People who aren’t active
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • People who eat too many fatty foods or foods high in sodium
  • People that drink a lot of alcohol

Medications to Treat High Blood Pressure

Medications are often used in the treatment of high blood pressure.  It is usually said by physicians that once you are put on medication to treat high blood pressure, you will be on it for life, and in most cases, this is true.

  • Diuretics.  These work by flushing the body of excess sodium from the body.  These include  medications like Lasix, Aldactone, Bumex, and Maxzide.
  • Beta-blockers. These work by lowering heart rate, blood output, and the heart’s workload, which lowers blood pressure.  This class of medications includes Lopressor, Tenormin, Corgard, and Ziac.
  • ACE Inhibitors. These work by helping the body to make less angiotensin.  Angiotensin is a chemical the body makes that narrows blood vessels.  By helping the body make less angiotensin, it allows the blood vessels to relax and open up, which causes a decrease in blood pressure.  Medications in this class include Zestril, Accupril, Altace, and Lotensin.
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers. These work by blocking the receptor that angiotensin binds to to narrow the blood vessels.  This class of medications includes Atacand, Avapro, Diovan, and Cozaar.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers. These work by blocking calcium from going into smooth muscle tissue of the blood vessels and heart.  When calcium enters the smooth muscle tissue of the blood vessels and heart, it makes contractions stronger and harder, which increases the force of blood flow, which in turn increases blood pressure.  By blocking calcium, the contractions aren’t as hard and strong, and muscles in the blood vessels can relax, causing a decrease in blood pressure.  This class of medications includes Norvasc, Sular, Plendil, and Vasocor.
  • Alpha Blockers.  These work by reducing muscle tone of blood vessels.  This class of medications includes Cardura, Minipress, and Hytrin.

Treat Your Body Right

Eating right, getting enough physical activity, losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, managing stress, limiting alcohol, and stopping the smoking habit (if one exists) can really help you manage your high blood pressure.

Eat right. Filling your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, foods rich in fiber, fish (and especially fatty fish for the omega-3 fatty acids), skinless poultry, lean meats, beans, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products and ridding your diet of saturated and trans fats along with all that salt and added sugar can really help your heart.

Also, being a smart consumer helps, too.  If you’re trying to avoid something in a food, such as fat or sodium, choose foods with the word “free” on the package.  If you want to reduce a certain nutrient, foods with the words “very low” and “low” may be a better choice.  Foods with the words “reduced” or “less” just mean that there is 25% less of whatever nutrient that is being reduced in that food than in the regular food.  For example, a soup that says “reduced sodium” has 25% less sodium than its regular soup counterpart.

Some people like to follow a strict eating plan.  The D.A.S.H. diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has proven to be a very effective diet.  This diet is high fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats and low in red meats, sodium, and sweets, added sugars, and sugary drinks.

Lowering the “S” word (sodium) in your diet can really help you manage your high blood pressure.  Sodium causes your body to retain fluid, which can raise your blood pressure.  Try these tips to cut out the sodium:

  • Don’t add salt to your food at the table
  • Use a sodium-free seasoning for foods, such as Mrs. Dash
  • Avoid canned foods, processed foods, lunch meats, and fast foods
  • Choose foods that are sodium or salt “free” or “very low” or “low” sodium
  • Aim for foods that have 5% or less of the Daily Value of sodium in them (look on the food label for this information)

Exercise. Exercise does a lot for your high blood pressure.  Exercise (and in particular cardio exercises like running, jogging, or walking) can strengthen your heart, help to increase the circulation of blood, and oxygen, throughout the body, and can help reduce the risk of heart failure (not to mention it can help you get sleep, relax, and strengthen the respiratory system, which helps you breathe, and your bones).

You should always always ALWAYS ask you doctor before you start a regular exercise regimen.  While exercise may be good for your heart, some people’s hearts may not be able to handle it.

For more information on exercise, you should ask the experts in exercise, exercise physiologists.  They went to school and studied exercise and its effects on the body, and know a lot more about this than I do.

Weight loss.  If you are already at a healthy weight, this section doesn’t apply.  However, if you are overweight or obese, then it does.  Achieving a healthy weight can help to lower your medication dosage or even eliminate the need for medication.  Most medication dosages are determined based on weight.  The more you weigh, the more you may need.  You should ask your pharmacist for more information this.

Also, the more you weigh, the more your heart has to work to supply all your body’s tissues and organs with the blood (which has oxygen and nutrients) that they need.  When you lose weight, you take a load off of your heart and allow it to do less work to do the same job.  So give your heart a break and lose some weight.

Quit Smoking. Smoking causes a lot of problems for the heart.  The nicotine in cigarettes can cause decreased oxygen supply to the heart, an increase in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate, an increase in blood clotting, and damage to the cells of the blood vessels.  In other words, smoking causes your heart to do more work while hurting it in the process.  Smoking isn’t fair to your heart.  So to make life fair for a change, quit smoking.  It will do you and your heart some good.  You can consult a smoking cessation expert or your physician on how to quit smoking.

Stress Management. It’s not known for certain how stress directly affects blood pressure.  However, when you stress, you do things like eat more (and comfort foods usually aren’t healthy), drink more alcohol, exercise less, and smoke more.  All of these things can have a negative effect on blood pressure.  Managing stress can help reduce blood pressure, as well as your risk for heart disease.  Just try these tips:

  • Eat and drink sensibly
  • Be sure to relax every day
  • Rest up
  • Set goals and expectations that are realistic
  • Exercise (believe it or not, exercise can actually be therapeutic)
  • Stop smoking
  • Take responsibility for what you do
  • Learn to assert yourself
  • Do things that you like to do

Limit Alcohol. In small amounts, alcohol can have a positive affect on blood pressure by lowering it as much as  2 to 4 mmHg, according to May Clinic.  However, drinking too much can reverse these changes.  Drinking too much (1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men) can cause an increase in blood pressure.  One drink is considered:

  • 12 ounces of beer or malted beverage (like Mike’s Hard Lemonade)
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor

If you more than this, than you should cut back.  Also, avoid binge drinking (drinking more than 4 drinks in a row).  If you’re a heavy drinker, consider limiting alcohol slowly (it takes time to stop a drinking habit).

Look at These Links

  • www.heart.org:  American Heart Association (this is a one-stop shop for everything on heart conditions, including high blood pressure)
  • www.nhlbi.nih.gov:  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (this site has a lot of information on anything to do with the heart, lungs, and blood)
  • www.webmd.com:  WebMD (this site has some helpful information on high blood pressure)

 

High blood pressure doesn’t have to happen.  However, if you have high blood pressure, you can do things to manage it.

Remember, love food, love health, and love both OUT LOUD!

The Secrets of the Pyramid

19 Dec

So VERY recently (around 9:00 this morning to be exact), a very close friend of mine sent me a text stating that she wanted to start eating right, and would like to know how much of each food group she should be eating a day.  My answer…well it’s a little bit more complicated than a strict serving amount.

A lot of people still remember the old food guide pyramid, which looked like this:

This version outlined exactly how many servings from each group a person was supposed to eat for the day.  However, this is not the case with the present food guide pyramid, which looks like this:

This version, known as MyPyramid, is customizable because, guess what guys and gals, everybody’s body is different!  Very easy to navigate and understand once you become familiar with it, it separates the food groups into 6 stripes of different colors.  Each band is relatively wide at the base of the pyramid and narrow as it goes up; the wide base symbolizes foods within that food group that are healthier choices and and the narrow tip symbolizes foods that, well, aren’t so healthy choices in that food group.  On the left side of the pyramid is a figure walking up a set of stairs, which represents the importance of including physical activity into daily life.

In this post, the colors will be “unmasked” in a sense.  So be  prepared to view the secrets of the pyramid…

Grains (The Orange Band)

The grain group includes any product made from wheat, rice, oats, or any other cereal grain.  Examples of foods in this group are breads, oatmeals, pastas, tortillas, and rice.  This group is split up into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains.  Whole grains and their products have the entire grain (bran, germ, and endosperm) intact. Examples of whole grains are whole wheat bread and brown rice.  Refined grains are milled, which removes the bran and germ layers of the grain, leaving the endosperm left.  These products are usually enriched with B vitamins (the B vitamins lost during the milling process are added back to the food).  Examples of refined grains are white rice and white bread.

The amounts needed vary, but generally females 19-50 years of age need 6 ounces per day, and females 51 years of age and over need 5 ounces per day.  Males 19-30 years of age need 8 ounces per day, males 31-50 years of age need 7 ounces per day, and males 51 years of age and over need 6 ounces per day.  Also, it is very important to make half of all the grains eaten during the day whole grain.  So, according the information above, all females from 19 years of age and over need 3 ounces of whole grains and males 19-30 years of age need 4 ounces of whole grains per day, males 31-50 years of age need 3 1/2 ounces of whole grains per day , and males 51 years of age and over need 3 ounces of whole grains per day.  Examples of an ounce serving from the grains group include:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 mini bagel (1 large bagel=4 servings)
  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rice, brown or white
  • 3 cups of popped popcorn

A little bit more on whole grains:  A lot of people think they’re eating whole grains, when they really aren’t.  Also, many people say they don’t like the taste of whole grain, or that whole grain products are more expensive than their refined grain counterparts.  Here are some tips to get more whole grains in your diet:

  • When you’re shopping for whole-grain products, look for things like “whole oats,” “whole wheat flour,” “oatmeal,” and “brown rice,” as the ingredient on the ingredient list.
  • Substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product, such as substituting whole-grain bread for white bread when making a sandwich.
  • Try brown rice or whole-grain pasta instead of white rice and pasta made of refined flours.  They cost the same, and they taste pretty good.
  • Try snacking on popcorn (without all the butter and salt added).  Guess what guys and gals, it’s a whole grain!

Vegetables (The Green Band)

This group includes vegetables (as the name suggests) and 100% vegetable juices.  It also includes vegetables in all of their forms (fresh or frozen, cooked or raw, canned or dried, cut up, mashed, or whole).  This group is split up into five subgroups:  dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables.  Examples of dark green vegetables include kale and mustard greens.  Examples of orange vegetables include carrots and pumpkin.  Examples of dry beans and peas include black-eyed peas and lentils.  Examples of starchy vegetables include potatoes and corn.  Examples of other vegetables include cucumbers and tomatoes.

Females 19-50 years of age and males 51 years of age and over need, on average, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day.  Females 51 years of age and over need 2 cups of vegetables a day.  Males 19-50 years of age need 3 cups of vegetables a day.  You may ask, “What counts as a cup?”  Well, here are some examples:

  • 1 cup of cooked greens (kale, collards, mustard, turnip greens)
  • 2 cups of raw leafy greens (romaine, spinach, watercress, endive, dark green leafy lettuce)
  • About 12 baby carrots
  • 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup of cooked dry beans and peas
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 1 cup of mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup of raw, sliced or chopped cucumbers
  • 1 cup of chopped or sliced, raw, canned, or cooked tomatoes

Fruits (The Red Band)

This group is made of any fruit or 100% fruit juice.  The fruit can be fresh, frozen, dried, or canned, cut up, whole, or pureed.

Males 19 years of age and older and females 19-30 years of age need 2 cups of fruit per day.  Females 31 years of age and over need 1 1/2 cups of fruit per day.  A cup of fruit looks like:

  • 1/2 of a large apple
  • 1 large peach
  • 1 cup of fruit cocktail
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit
  • 1 cup of 100% fruit juice
  • 32 seedless grapes
  • 8 large strawberries

Milk (The Blue Band)

This group is made of milk and any food made from milk that keeps its calcium value, which include yogurt and cheese (this excludes foods like cream, cream cheese, and butter).  You should make most of your choices from this group fat-free or low-fat.

All males and females ages 19 years and over need 3 cups of milk, yogurt, and cheese a day.

  • 1 container of yogurt
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese (American cheese)
  • 1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, swiss)
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of ice cream
  • 1 cup of frozen yogurt
  • 1 cup of pudding made with milk

Meat and Beans (The Purple Band)

This group includes foods made from meat, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, and dried beans and peas (dried beans and peas are also included in the vegetables group).  Most of the choices from this group, with regards to meat and poultry, should be low-fat.  The eggs, fish, nuts and seeds members of this group all contain healthy fats, so these can be chosen more often.

Females 19-30 years of age and males 51 years of age and over need 5 1/2 ounces a day.  Females 31 years of age and over need 5 ounces a day.  Males 19-30 years of age need 6 1/2 ounces a day.  Males 31-50 years of age need 6 ounces a day.  What does an ounce serving from this group look like?

  • 1 egg
  • 1 ounce of cooked chicken or turkey (1 small chicken breast = 3 ounces, so divide it up into thirds, and you’ll have 1 ounce)
  • 1 ounce of lean beef (1 small steak = about 4 ounces, so divide it up into fourths, and you’ll have 1 ounce)
  • 1/2 ounce of nuts (about 12 almonds, 24 pistachios, and 7 walnut halves)
  • 1 tablespoon of nut butter
  • 1/2 ounce of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, or squash seeds)
  • 1 ounce of cooked fish or shellfish (1 can of tuna = 3 to 4 ounces, 1 salmon steak = 4 to 6 ounces, and 1 small trout = 3 ounces)

Oils (The Skinny Yellow Band)

This group includes oils, which are fats that are liquid at room temperature.  Some examples include olive oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil (you’ll notice that all of these oils are plant oils.  Animals have solid fats, so therefore, no oil can come from an animal source).  Some oils are hydrogenated to make them solid at room temperature.  Some plant oils, such as coconut oil, are solid at room temperature.

Many people consume enough oils from the foods that they eat.  So there is no serving requirement for this group.  There is, however, an allowance. This allowance varies, but on average, females 19-30 years of age and males 31 years of age and older are “allowed” 6 teaspoons per day.  Females 31 years of age and over are “allowed” 5 teaspoons per day, and males 19-30 years of age are “allowed” 7 teaspoons per day.

Here’s a link:

www.mypyramid.gov:  This is the official site for MyPyramid.  It’s very interactive and has a lot of interactive tools, including a customizable food guide pyramid.  It also has other tools, such as the MyPyramid Tracker, which allows you to enter the foods you’ve eaten for the day and then analyzes these foods for their nutrient value, and how good they are for your body, and the MyPyramid Planner, which allows you to plan meals for the day or week, and tells you if these meals meet your needs.

I hope this helped ease some confusion when it comes down to the mysterious new food guide pyramid.  Just take time to discover the pyramid, it’s not as mysterious as it seems!

Remember, love food, love health, and love both OUT LOUD!

Salt Is Salt Is Salt! The Truth about Sea Salt

12 Dec

So recently I was asked the question, “Is sea salt healthier than regular salt?”  Well, in order to answer that question, I want to first give you some information about this infamous sea salt.

Sea salt is made through the evaporation of sea water.  Because there are different minerals floating around in the water along with sodium and chloride, the two minerals that make up both table salt and sea salt, giving sea salt a slightly different taste and different color than the regular table salt most people are used to.  It comes in different coarseness levels (the coarser the salt crystal, the bigger it is) as well as different types (yes, sea salt comes in different types, too).  So before you become too overwhelmed, here are the different types of sea salt:

  • Black Salt: also called Kala Namak or Sanchal, this sea salt is known for it’s uniquely strong sulfur odor.  It’s generally used in Indian cooking, and is a pearly pinkish gray color.
  • Grey Salt: also called Celtic Salt or Sel Gris, this sea salt has a light purple or grey hue to it from bits of clay that it contains (the clay is from a region in France, where the sea salt is also from).
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt: this sea salt as a distinctive pink color from the Alaea, which is a volcanic red clay with high amounts of iron oxide, added to it.  It is usually used to make Kahlua Pig and Hawaiian Jerky.
  • Coarse Salt: also known as Gos Sel or Gale Grosso, this sea salt is a larger grain that is usually ground.  It’s used to flavor soups and for salt crusts on meat.
  • Flake Salt: this salt is harvested first by making a brine.  The brine is then evaporated by the sun and wind.  After all that, it is then heated slowly to make flakes.
  • Fleur de Sel: also known as Flower of Salt or Flor De Sal, this sea salt is thought of as a great condiment salt.  It’s flavor depends on the region it’s harvested from, which is usually France and Portugal.
  • French Sea Salt: this sea salt is coarser than American sea salt, and usually contains some naturally occurring iodine (a mineral that the body needs for everyday processes).
  • Grinder Salt: this salt crystal is usually larger and is easy to put through a grinder.
  • Italian Sea Salt: also known as Sicilian Sea Salt or Sale Marino, this sea salt is high in fluorine, iodine, magnesium, and potassium
  • Smoked Sea Salt: this sea salt is smoked over real wood to add flavor to it’s crystals.

Now with all that information, we get to the real question. Is sea salt really healthier for you?????  Well….

NO!  Sea salt is marketed as a healthier choice because it is lower in sodium.  However, sea salt is still made of sodium and chloride, in the same amounts as regular table salt.  There may be minerals in it that your body needs, but the amounts are very small.  The only real benefit of sea salt is that it tends to be coarser than table salt, so when you measure it out, you actually have less salt crystals with sea salt than you do with the same amount of table salt.  It may taste less “saltier” than table salt, but that is only because the minerals that it does contain change the flavor.

So next time someone asks you if sea salt is healthier for you than regular salt, tell them, in the words of one of my favorite professors, “Salt is salt is salt!”

Remember, love food, love health, and love both OUT LOUD!

Wondering About Weight Gain…

12 Dec

This week’s question from www.FOODPICKER.com:

Q.  I have type 2 Diabetes but am not on meds yet.  I am trying to control by diet and exercise.  My problem is now that I am eating healthier I am losing weight, and I don’t need to.  I am 5’5” and currently weigh 112 lbs.  What can I eat that is still good for me but will put some weight back on?

A.  Individuals desiring to gain weight may want to for a variety of reasons.  However, most people don’t know how to gain weight the proper way (i.e. the healthy way).  By following a couple of tips, these people can achieve a weight gain the Food Out Loud way (i.e. the healthy way):

Investigate Your Body’s Build

The way your body is built can say a lot about whether or not you really need to gain weight.  Being thin and healthy is a real possibility, and if this fits your case, analyze your immediate family.  If most of them are thin and healthy as well, genetics may have already determined that you will be thin and healthy as well.  And that is okay!

Physician First!

Be sure to visit your primary care physician for a complete physical assessment before attempting any weight-altering program, whether it be weight loss, or in this case, weight gain.  For some people, altering their weight may be a dangerous or unnecessary situation. Your primary care physician will then give you the “ok” or the “oh no” on whether or not you should start a weight loss program or weight gain program.

Skip the Supplements and Magical Methods To Packing On Pounds

There seems to be a miraculous way to do everything in today’s society, and that includes gaining weight; however, if it looks or sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  These methods could even be dangerous and have harmful side effects attached to them.  And besides, most of these protein powder potions and supplemental elixirs can also do damage on your pocket, and times are financially hard today anyway.  So do yourself a favor and save your money to by real food to help you gain weight.  It’s healthy, and almost all the time, it tastes a lot better and is much more satisfying!

Feed Your Body Right First, and Worry About the Amount After That

Everyone knows that gaining weight includes eating more calories, which means eating more food.  However, make sure that you are packing on the pounds with the right kinds of foods.  Here’s some more information on eating right and gaining weight:

  • If you have a small appetite or like to pick at food (my mom calls it “eating like a bird”), then eat five to six small meals throughout the day.
  • Drink beverages before, after, but not during the meal.  This way, your stomach has more room for food.
  • Fit in those calories wherever you can.   Doing things such as making oatmeal with milk instead of water and adding dried fruits or nuts to it, adding peanut butter or almond butter to your breakfast whole-wheat muffin or bagel, or adding powdered milk to your mashed potatoes is a healthy way to help your body “beef up.”
  • Make sure that the carbohydrates that you are eating are heavy in the nutrient department.  Choose whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Going lean with protein such as skinless chicken breasts, lean cuts of meat, and fish and other seafood are excellent ways to include calories without raising blood sugar levels.
  • Choosing healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oils, almonds, walnuts, and other nuts, is another excellent way to pack on the calories; however, don’t go overboard.  A little goes a long way.

Think about Exercise

Considering weight training as an option can also be a great way to pack on pounds by adding lean tissue (i.e. muscle) to your body.

Look At This Link:

www.eatright.org: American Dietetic Association.  It has great tips on gaining weight the healthy way.

Gaining weight the healthy way can be just as hard as losing weight for some people.  Just remember, know your body, see your physician first, skip those supplements and special diets, and feed your body the right foods, and you can gain weight the healthy way.

Remember, love food, love health, and love both OUT LOUD!

Remembering That Red Ribbon

1 Dec

“No war on the face of the Earth is more destructive than the AIDS pandemic”—Colin Powell

No one knows for sure where it came from.  There is no cure.  Medications for this affliction can cause a host of other problems.  It brings with it a host of other illnesses and malignancies.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2007 (yes, I know, three years ago, but it’s the most recent statistic), an estimated 599,819 people in the US lived with this scarlet beast (this number includes 577,452 adults and adolescents and 2,919 children under the age of 13).  The deaths are many, with an estimated 17,197 people dying from this virus in 2007 and an estimated 18,089 people dying from its evil friend in 2007.  Can you guess the affliction I’m describing?  Well, if you’ve guessed HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), then you would be correct.

The monster known as HIV is something that has made a name for itself since the first reported cases in 1981, where it was first recognized as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, or PCP, and was recognized among homosexual men.  It began ravaging the lives of both men and women around the world, homosexual and heterosexual alike.  However, with this development of new drug therapies, the number of deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS around the world has “leveled off;” still, this is a very serious battle that we are far from winning.  With the help of new medications, as well as a host of other treatments, including sound nutrition advice, people with HIV/AIDS can live a very long, successful life.

 I know a person and have met people who are near and dear to my heart that have the displeasure of being infected with HIV, so this subject hits close to home.  This blog is dedicated to them, in addition to anyone else who may know someone with HIV/AIDS and people with HIV/AIDS.

How It Spreads

 HIV/AIDS is spread mainly by having unprotected sex (oral, vaginal, or anal), sharing needles, rinse water, syringes, and other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs that are being injected, or in the being born to a mother infected with the virus (it can be passed during pregnancy, the birthing process or breast-feeding).

HIV/AIDS is spread through the following fluids: 

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Breast milk
  • Any other body fluid containing blood

HIV/AIDS CANNOT be spread through:

  • Hugging an individual with HIV/AIDS
  • Air or water
  • Insects such as mosquitoes
  • Saliva, sweat, or tears
  • Sharing dishes or shaking hands with someone with HIV/AIDS
  • Kissing

General Nutrition Information

 Making healthy choices is important to any person; however, it is especially important to people with HIV/AIDS.  People with this disease can experience many side effects from the virus itself, many opportunistic infections and malignancies (those illnesses and afflictions that may occur in people with HIV/AIDS because their bodies’ immune systems have been compromised by the virus), and the drugs that are used to treat the disease.  It is easier for these people to get sick because their immune systems have been compromised by the disease, which can stop them from eating and keeping good nutrition practices.  Individuals with HIV/AIDS are also more prone to weight loss, which can lead to wasting syndrome (also known as cachexia; this is when people not only lose fat, but also lean body mass such as muscle).  Proper nutrition can help people with HIV/AIDS by:

  • Lessening the symptoms from the virus itself
  • Minimizing the side effects from the medications used to treat the virus
  • Bettering the individual’s quality of life
  • Improving the body’s resistance to other infections and complications associated with the body

 Individuals with HIV/AIDS should do the following to make sure that their nutritional quality of life is the best that it can be:

  • Eat, eat, eat!!  Extra muscle weight can help you fight any infection that may come your way, as well as the main infection that your body is trying to fight off:  HIV/AIDS.  The food you eat will also give your body the energy it needs to fight the war against HIV/AIDS.  Losing weight can be dangerous for people with HIV/AIDS.
  • Exercise!  Exercising helps your body use the energy that it gets from the food you eat in a productive way.  It also helps your body build lean muscle mass, which comes in handy when trying to fight off illnesses like HIV/AIDS
  • Protein is good for you!  People with HIV/AIDS may need more protein than normal healthy people.  Protein helps to repair body tissue, make new body tissue, and support body tissues.  It is also needed to make hormones, and enzymes, which are almost 100% protein, as well as making up components of the immune system.  Make sure to consume good sources of lean protein, including fish, poultry, lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy products, and beans.
  • Make sure to eat your vitamins and minerals, too!  HIV/AIDS can hinder the way the body absorbs certain vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron, selenium, and vitamin B12.  Eating foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats, poultry, and fish, can both increase the level of vitamins and minerals in the body as well as increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.
  • Don’t be too free with the fat.  Individuals with HIV/AIDS need fat, but not too much fat.  Remember to get most of the fat in the diet from nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable and olive oils; these are rich in unsaturated fats, or the “good” fats (butter and animal products, although they tend to taste delicious, contain mostly saturated fats, or the “bad” fats).

Food and Water Safety

 Good food and water safety practices are important for the average healthy person; these practices are detrimentally important to those with HIV/AIDS.  Practicing good food and water safety habits can reduce the chances of introducing bacteria and viruses that can wreak havoc on the body of an already immune-compromised person.    The following is a list of the most commonly recognized foodborne illnesses:

  • Campylobacter.  This bacteria is most commonly found in undercooked poultry (usually chicken) or in foods that have been contaminated with fluids from undercooked poultry.  It causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
  • Salmonella.  This bacteria is most commonly found in undercooked or raw poultry.  It causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps; in people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, it can invade the bloodstream and cause fatal infections.
  • E. coli O157:H7.  This pathogen is usually found in beef and other animals that are contaminated with feces infected by the bacteria.  It causes severe a bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps; in 3% to 5% of these cases, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can also occur, which  includes temporary anemia, heavy bleeding, and kidney failure.
  • Calicivirus, or Norwalk-Like Virus.  This virus is commonly spread from one infected person to another.  It causes vomiting, which usually resolves in two to three days.

 Following some basic food and water safety rules can help protect people from foodborne illnesses:

  • Don’t eat raw seafood, eggs, or meats of any kind (not even sushi or oysters)
  • Wash hands with antibacterial soap and warm water before and after food preparation (also, wash hands before and after handling raw meats, no matter if food preparation is over or not).  Remember, wash hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water (an easy way to do this is by singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or by saying the alphabet).
  • Wash cutting boards and utensils with soap and warm water after every use
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meats (some companies even have color coded cutting boards that show which food they should be used for)
  • Don’t drink water from lakes, streams, ponds, or rivers
  • Purchasing an at-home water filtration system (like a Brita® Filtration system) can be used for at home drinking water
  • Boil water for cooking and drinking
  • When traveling to other countries, only drink bottled water and avoid unpasteurized juices and drinks, tap water, and ice

HIV/AIDS is a murderer of many lives each year.  It does not have a face, style, or specific identity.  This disease affects or infects thousands of people daily.  However, with sound drug therapies and great nutritional habits, people with HIV/AIDS can live meaningful, prosperous, lengthy lives.

Remember, love food, love health, and love both OUT LOUD!

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

23 Nov

This week’s question from www.FOODPICKER.com:

Q.  I am very confused.  I have been told to have 3-4 carbohydrate choices at each meal.  Could you help me figure out what one of these carbohydrates equates to?  Is it one gram of carbohydrate or one item containing carbohydrate?  Please help!

A.  The subject of exactly how much carbohydrate is one carbohydrate choice can be a very daunting and extraordinarily confusing subject for someone with diabetes.  However, remembering some easy-to-understand information and clear examples can clear the fog around this carbohydrate conundrum:

  • One serving of carbohydrate = 15 grams of carbohydrates (so 3-4 carbohydrate choices would = 45-60 grams of carbohydrates). Sounds straight-forward enough, right?  Well, most of the carbohydrates you consume come from:
    • Starches
    • Milk
    • Fruits
  • Examples of foods in the starch group that will give you one carbohydrate serving:
    • 1 slice of bread (either pumpernickel, rye, unfrosted raisin bread, white, or whole-grain)
    • 1 flour or corn tortilla (6 inches across)
    • ½ cup of cereal (either bran, oats, spoon-size shredded wheat, frosted cereals)
    • 1/3 cup of cooked rice (either white or brown)
    • ½ cup of mashed potatoes
    • ½ cup of corn
    • 3 graham crackers
    • 6 saltine crackers

  • Examples of foods in milk and yogurt group that will give you one carbohydrate serving:
    • 1 cup (8 ounces) of milk (either whole, reduced-fat, or fat-free)
    • 1 cup (8 ounces) of fat-free plain rice drink (or rice milk)
    • 2/3 (6 ounces) cup of plain yogurt (either made from fat-free or reduced-fat milk)
  • Examples of foods in the fruits group that will give you one carbohydrate serving:
    • 1 small apple
    • 1 medium peach
    • ½ of a large grapefruit
    • 3 prunes
    • 2 tablespoons of raisins
    • ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce
    • ¾ cup of unsweetened grapefruit
    • ½ cup of apple juice
    • 1/3 cup of grape juice

So to put this information into practice, let’s imagine a breakfast meal that consists of:

  • 1 slice of whole-wheat with butter
  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • ½ cup of apple juice
  • 1 cup of whole milk

How many carbohydrate choices are in this one meal?  If you guessed 3, then you’re absolutely correct!  The carbohydrate choices come from:

  • 1 slice of whole-wheat toast
  • ½ cup of apple juice
  • 1 cup of milk

It is also extremely important to choose more nutrient-dense foods (foods that have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other added benefits in addition to the calories) when making carbohydrate choices.  Some examples of these simple exchanges are:

  • Choosing 100% whole-wheat bread instead of white bread (make sure the first ingredient in the ingredient list on the back of the package says whole wheat flour.)
  • Choosing brown rice instead of white rice
  • An apple instead of apple juice (you get more fiber from the actual fruit than the juice)

So, to wrap this up, remember these things:

  • 1 carbohydrate choice is 15 grams of carbohydrates
  • You get the bulk of your carbohydrates from starches, milk, and fruit
  • Remember to choose foods that are nutrient-dense as carbohydrate choices

Remember these three things are you will be well on your way to understanding the mystery of carbohydrates.  To get more information about food choices for people with diabetes, visit:

Remember—Love health, love food, and love them OUT LOUD!