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Five Healthy Eating Habits for 2019

Did you make healthy eating resolutions for the new year? Each new year often brings resolutions about eating habits. We resolve to start cooking again or to eat healthier. Then, we get back to work and back to routine and before we know it, we’re snacking on foods we vowed not eat again.

Instead of making promises to yourself that are impossible to keep, incorporate these five healthy eating habits into your 2019 routine.

Don’t go cold turkey

If there is anything you are planning to give up for 2019, be careful about giving it up cold turkey. It is often better to ease changes into your diet over time. Going cold turkey can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms, like headaches or mood swings, which can make you easily abandon the changes you set out to make. For instance, if you plan to change your diet to a plant-based one, it may be better to substitute plant-based foods for meat or meat products over the course of several weeks rather than stop eating meat all at once. This pattern will give your body time to adjust to changes in your new lifestyle.

Eat your veggies

Mom was right: eating vegetables is good for you. Raw vegetables are generally the healthiest preparation but you may find that you eat even more roughage if you make a habit of eating dishes that integrate veggies well. Breakfast is often a meal that is light on vegetables. Consider adding them to a egg scramble or omelet or to a homemade smoothie. Soups and salads are also great vehicles for getting more vegetables into your diet.

Cook homemade food

It can be difficult to know what you are eating when you are dining out. Preparing more foods at home can benefit your health, your waist and your wallet. If you have allergies or if any family members are on special diets, consider working with a personal chef to get nutritious and delicious meals at home. A personal chef can prepare meals for you or just help you meal planning.

Cull your shopping list

This tip is easy. If you don’t buy it, you’ll eat less of it. It is okay to splurge every so often but eliminate foods from your shopping list that add calories without adding nutrients.

Don’t drink your calories

This tip does not just apply to sugary drinks like soda. Remember that alcohol calories count too. Focus on drinking more water and no or low calorie beverage options. Water not only hydrates but it also gives you that full feeling that makes you want to limit the amount you eat.

Let these healthy eating tips replace your new year resolutions that have already fallen by the wayside.  Here’s to a happier, healthier new year. Cheers!

7 Foods and Supplements for a Healthier Liver

The liver is the most metabolically active organ in the human body. It is often thought of as a detox organ, but it has many other functions like storage of energy and nutrients, hormone production, and immune modulation. Two of the most common causes of fatty liver disease are obesity and alcohol. However, many people have fatty liver and are not obese nor do they drink alcohol.

This is because things such as high fructose corn syrup, hormone imbalance, and an unhealthy gut can all alter metabolic activity in the liver and generate fat production. Yes, you read that right: having an unhealthy gut can affect the liver.

Fortunately, this condition can often be easily turned around with–you guessed it–a healthy diet. Foods and supplements, such as vitamin E, probiotics, and polyphenols play a critical role. Get rid of that fatty liver with this list of seven foods and supplements for a healthier you.

Probiotics

Probiotics have been shown to slow the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and are highly recommended. They help by reducing the bad bacteria in the gut thereby reducing the endotoxins that can damage liver metabolism.  Here is a guide to the top-rated probiotics of 2017.

 

Leafy greens

Leafy greens contain the most bio-active forms of methyl-folate, important for liver heath and detoxification. Methylation is used by the liver to help clear toxins and unwanted hormones and leafy greens have plenty.

 

Polyphenols

Berries contain good amounts ofpolyphenols which not only act as anti-oxidants, but also promote the growth of good gut bacteria. This helps to crowd out the bad bacteria. Elderberries have some of the highest concentrations of polyphenols and are a great option for anyone threatened with fatty liver disease.

 

Vitamin E

This supplement has been shown to be protective in healing fatty liver, due to its antioxidant properties. Be sure to supplement with a complete vitamin E like this one from Life Extension, instead of the typical form. In this case, something is better than nothing. Any form of vitamin E will have some good gut benefits.  Pick foods high in Vitamin E, such as spinach, tomato paste, nuts and seeds, eggs, and avocados.

 

Antioxidant Rich Foods

People with fatty liver will likely have a low antioxidant status in their body. This leaves the liver unprotected from free radical damage like toxins, metabolic activity, etc.  Here is a list of 7 Super Antioxidant Rich Foods that can improve any diet.

 

Turmeric

Turmeric is every nutritionist’s favorite spice. It is a very liver protective compound. Incorporate it into meals for a healthier you.

 

Beets

Nutrient dense and full of antioxidants as well as methyl donors. This amazing food is very liver protective and also promotes good digestion by supporting the gallbladder.

 

Fatty liver affects many Americans. You can reduce your risk with foods and supplements from this list. Reducing excess starchy carbohydrate consumption will also improve liver function. Need help with a diet change? A personal chef can make delicious and healthy meals, perfect for healing your liver and metabolism. Also, check out my Gut Healing Program of my Detox Program for more tips.

 

Aaron Slotkin is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist and licensed Pharmacist. He has seen numerous clients suffering with various health-related problems. Using a holistic approach of customized diet and lifestyle interventions, targeted supplements, and laboratory testing, he has been very successful helping clients achieve their optimal weight and health.  You can follow him on Facebook.

Plant-based diet

5 Staples of a Plant-Based Diet that Are Not Tofu

For seasoned herbivores, getting enough nutrients in your plant-based diet is second nature. But plant-based diets isn’t just for vegans.  You likely have many of the staples listed here in your kitchen.  If you’re just exploring the plant-food lifestyle, you might fear that tofu is your only meat substitute. While it’s an excellent source of protein, versatility abounds. Add some or all of the ingredients below to mix up your meal plans.

Chickpeas

With over 12 grams of fiber and over 14 grams of protein, chickpeas are a great addition to a plant-based diet.  They are neutral in flavor which makes them incredibly versatile as they absorb the flavors of any dish.   Chickpeas add texture and nutrients to otherwise one-note dishes, making them a must-have for the herbivore crowd.  When searching for them in the aisles of Trader Joe’s, they may be disguised as garbanzo beans – don’t worry, they’re the same thing!

Sun-dried tomatoes

Unlike chickpeas, sun dried tomatoes bring a ton of flavor to a dish. Accounting for 14% of the recommended daily iron intake in a 1/2 cup, these sun-kissed little guys add more than just strong flavor.  Sun dried tomatoes can be eaten on their own as a tasty and nutritious snack.  As a great source of nutrients and flavor, they’re definitely a staple in the plant-based  diet.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are becoming more popular as they contain more protein than chia seeds and flaxseeds.  They are also rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids which makes hemp seeds jam-packed with nutrients.  Add these wholesome seeds atop your salad and enjoy!

Couscous

While not super high in protein, couscous has other nutritional benefits essential to a plant-based diet.  According to organicfacts.com

A single serving of couscous has more than 60% of the daily suggested intake of selenium, making it one of the richest sources of selenium in any food. In terms of heart health, selenium functions as a powerful antioxidant that functions mainly in the blood vessels to reduce the buildup of plaque and dangerous LDL cholesterol on artery and vein walls. 

Set your diet up for success with a healthy serving of couscous.

Edamame
Although watching your soy intake is important, edamame is one soybean that you can make an exception for due to its high levels of iron and calcium.  Edamame also contained anti-oxidants which has great benefits for your skin and immune system. If you eat a plant-based diet and are on the hunt for a tasty snack, reach for the edamame!

There are so many meal options when using these diverse ingredients – you won’t miss meat (or tofu) at all! Next time you meal plan, get inspired by adding in some of these nutrient-rich and delicious ingredients to the menu. And, if you want a new dietary adventure, let one of our expert vegan chefs prepare a plant-based feast for your next event.

Inflammation & Weight Loss

Achieving Weight Loss with Inflammation Fighting Foods

If anyone has had chronic pain, they have likely heard of the term “inflammation.”  What many of you may not realize is that this inflammation, when it is chronic, may be keeping you from achieving your weight loss potential.

Inflammation means that the immune system is in overdrive.  This is good for the short term like when fighting an infection.  Chronic inflammation causes the release of compounds like cytokines that can cause a host of health issues (like joint pain, inflammatory bowel diseases, allergies, and skin rashes).

Inflammatory compounds have been shown to cause the release of more fat and sugar into the bloodstream, making it easier for the body to build fat tissue.


A Quick Word about Exercise

It is important to realize that exercise increases oxidative stress in the body, but only briefly.  This can actually be a good thing.  But if someone’s immune system is out of balance and they are in an inflammatory state, intense exercise may actually make things worse.  On a similar vein, many people may go to the gym every day to lose the weight, working hard, yet not achieving their desired results.  In these cases the answer is to first reduce the inflammation in the body with nutrition.  Only then will exercise help to speed fat loss.


So let’s take a deep dive into a few food based solutions to reducing your chronic inflammation and improving weight loss.

Eat in diversity

As I said in a previous blog post about Gut Health, having a diverse diet is very important for maintaining a healthy gut, thereby keeping a balanced immune system (most of the immune system is located in the gut) and consequently lowering inflammation.  The immune system is “social” and is happy when it can interact with a wide variety of foods.

 

Eat inflammation-reducing foods

This is a no-brainer.  Just think plants like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.  Some of my favorites are: blueberries, spinach, and turmeric.  Blueberries taste great and have nutrients great for blood sugar balance.  Spinach is full of vitamins and key minerals like magnesium and iron.  Turmeric has been shown to be helpful not only for inflammatory conditions like arthritis but also weight loss. There are many more foods out there that reduce inflammation like beans, pumpkin, oats, oranges, and even proteins like turkey.  Be sure to include a variety of these inflammation-reducing foods in your weight loss diet.

 

Maintain a balanced blood sugar

Excess sugar consumption is inflammatory.  Additionally, eating too many starches or even eating too much protein can disrupt blood sugar balance. (Yes, a high protein diet may sabotage weight loss goals.)

 

Avoid processed foods

They are quick, cheap and convenient.  But, unfortunately, due to their long shelf life, they are full of preservatives and can cause inflammation.

 

Use caution with wheat, dairy, and eggs

They are the most common inflammation promoting foods for people.  But, these foods have health benefits and may be enjoyed in moderation.  However, if someone has an immune imbalance avoiding or minimizing these foods for a while is a often a good idea as they contain proteins that are hard to digest and can irritate the gut.

 

Go beyond nutrition

Many lifestyle choices, such as getting that extra hour of sleep, meditation, or even laughter, can have an anti-inflammatory effect.

So the next time you are at the supermarket, be adventurous and buy that vegetable, fruit, seed or grain you have never tried before.  Your immune system will thank you.

 

Aaron Slotkin is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist and licensed Pharmacist. He has seen numerous clients suffering with various health-related problems. Using a holistic approach of customized diet and lifestyle interventions, targeted supplements, and laboratory testing, he has been very successful helping clients achieve their optimal weight and health.  You can follow him on Facebook.