Healthy Beverages for a Healthy you!

In today’s fast-paced world, as people become more conscious of their well-being, the demand for healthy beverage options has soared. From traditional favorites to modern concoctions, the healthy beverage landscape has witnessed a shift towards drinks that not only quench thirst but also provide a myriad of health benefits. Let’s explore these trendy and health-packed beverages that are taking the world by storm.

  1. Turmeric Latte:
    • One such rising star in the world of wellness beverages is the Turmeric Latte. Turmeric lattes, also known as “golden milk,” have gained immense popularity for their vibrant color and numerous health benefits. The key ingredient, turmeric, contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. This beverage is not only delicious but also known for its potential to boost immunity and promote overall well-being.
  1. Matcha Madness:
    • Matcha, finely ground green tea powder, has become a staple in many health enthusiasts’ routines. Packed with antioxidants, matcha offers a sustained energy boost without the jitters associated with coffee. Its vibrant green color and earthy flavor make it a trendy choice for those seeking a balance of taste and health benefits.
  1. Kombucha Craze:
    • Kombucha is a fermented tea that has taken the beverage world by storm. This effervescent drink is rich in probiotics, promoting gut health and aiding digestion. With various flavors and a slightly tangy taste, kombucha has become a favorite among those looking to incorporate more probiotics into their diet.
  1. Infused Water:
    • While not a new concept, infused water has evolved beyond a simple lemon slice in recent years. From cucumber and mint to berries and herbs, infused water offers a refreshing twist to staying hydrated. These combinations not only make water more palatable but also provide a burst of vitamins and antioxidants.
  1. Adaptogenic Elixirs: Stress-Busting Beverages
    • Adaptogens, herbs known for their stress-relieving properties, have found their way into various beverages. Adaptogenic elixirs combine these herbs with other beneficial ingredients to create calming drinks. Ingredients like ashwagandha and holy basil are believed to help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance.

 

The world of healthy beverages has expanded far beyond traditional options. From the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric lattes to the probiotic richness of kombucha, there’s a wellness drink for every taste bud. As the trend towards healthier living continues, these beverages not only provide hydration but also serve as a delightful way to support overall well-being. So, why not sip your way to wellness and embrace the goodness that these trendy beverages have to offer? Cheers to a healthier, happier you!

 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

 

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Food labeling

Understanding Food Labels: What’s Hiding In Your Food?

Making healthy and informed food choices is essential for maintaining overall well-being. It’s important for us to know what’s in our food. It’s typically labeled on the package, but it can be confusing and hard to read. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Understanding food labels is a crucial step in ensuring you’re nourishing your body with the right nutrients and avoiding hidden additives that may negatively impact your health. Let’s delve into the importance of deciphering food labels and using valuable tips on how to make informed choices to truly know what’s hiding in your food.

Food labeling

The Importance of Food Labels

Food labels are like a window into the contents of packaged foods, providing valuable information about their nutritional composition and ingredients. They empower you to make choices aligned with your dietary preferences and health goals if you know how to read it! By reading and understanding food labels, you can:

  • Control Nutrient Intake: Food labels list essential nutrients such as calories, fats, sugars, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. This information helps you maintain a balanced diet and manage calorie intake.
  • Avoid Allergens: If you have food allergies or sensitivities, labels can help you identify potential allergens and make safe choices.
  • Identify Hidden Ingredients: Labels reveal the presence of hidden ingredients like additives, artificial flavors, and colorings that may impact your health over time.
  • Compare Products: Food Labels allow you to compare different products and choose the one that best aligns with your dietary needs.
  • Make Informed Decisions: By understanding food labels, you can make informed decisions that contribute to your overall health and well-being.

Food labelsDeciphering Food Labels: What to Look For

  • Serving Size: Begin by checking the serving size, as all nutritional information on the label is based on this. A serving size isn’t meant to tell you only to eat that amount. It is there to tell you the amount of food that applies to the nutrition. Be mindful of portion sizes to accurately assess your nutrient intake.
  • Calories and Macronutrients: Pay attention to the calorie count and the amounts of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins per serving. Choose foods that align with your dietary goals.
  • Nutrient Content: Look for key nutrients such as fiber, vitamins (like Vitamin A, C, and D), and minerals (like calcium and iron) that are beneficial for your health.
  • Ingredients List: The ingredients list provides insight into what’s actually in the food. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, so the first few ingredients make up the bulk of the product. Avoid items with lengthy lists of unfamiliar or overly processed ingredients.
  • Additives and Preservatives: Be wary of additives, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. Some additives may have potential health risks, so opt for products with minimal or no additives.
  • Sodium and Sugar: Excessive sodium and added sugars can contribute to health issues. Choose products with lower sodium and sugar content.
  • Allergens: If you have allergies, carefully read the label for any potential allergens or cross-contamination warnings. Allergens are listed in bold under the ingredient list. 
  • % Daily Value: This percentage helps you understand how a serving of the food contributes to your daily nutrient intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Aim for products with higher percentages of essential nutrients.

In general, you want to look for labels that are lower in saturated fat (specifically trans fat), added sugars, and sodium

Food labels

. All of these have been linked to heart disease and chronic obesity when consumed in high amounts. The items that you want more of are fiber, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and potassium. A diet high in fiber helps lower cholesterol, keeps blood glucose level, reduces calorie intake, and promotes a healthy digestive tract.

What’s Hidden? 

There are several common food additives in food today. Research 

has shown that many have detrimental health affects while others can actually be good for you? An example of a good one is Guar gum. It’s added to food to bind or thicken products. Guar gum is high in fiber and can help increase the feeling of fullness, so you intake less calories. An example of a detrimental additive is high fructose corn syrup. It sweetens food, but in high amounts has been linked to obesity and diabetes.

Misleading Food Labels

Marketing can be a powerful tool, especially when it comes to food. However, a good bit of labels that are promoted as “healthy” are just buzz words. Without knowing exactly what they mean, you could be buying a product thinking that it’s organic and healthy, when really it’s the opposite of what you need. Here are some common marketing food labels and what they really mean. 

  • All Natural: there are no artificial ingredients or colors. It does not mean that the animal or product lives/was grown outdoors. 
  • Humanely Raised: common on animal products, but there is no legal definition for it. It can be put on products even in places where animals are raised in confinement systems. 
  • No Hormones or Steroids: It’s actually illegal to use hormones or steroids in all chicken products so whether it has this label or not, you’re getting the same product. 
  • Fresh: this just means that the meant never went below 26 degrees. Which is not always a good thing! 
  • Vegetarian Diet: Marketers can put this on a food label without it being true. There are no legal checks on farms to determine what is fed to the animals. 
  • Cage Free: one of the biggest misleading labels! All chickens raised for meat are cage free. So don’t buy the more expensive package just because it has this label. 

In a world saturated with packaged foods, being a conscious consumer is a powerful way to take control of your health. Learning how to read and interpret food labels empowers you to make informed choices, allowing you to understand exactly what’s hiding in your food. By paying attention to serving sizes, calories, nutrients, ingredients, and certifications, you can make dietary decisions that align with your well-being goals. Remember, the more you know about your food, the better equipped you are to nourish your body and enjoy a healthier, happier life.

 

For guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Nutritional supplements

Top 5 Essential Nutrients You Might Be Missing in Your Diet

It’s common for us to wonder if we’re getting all the essential nutrients, we need through what we eat. For most of us, we get stuck in ruts and eat the same thing over and over to get all our essential nutrients until we find a new menu item we like. We take a multivitamin and hope that it covers all our needs of essential nutrients. But a supplement doesn’t always cut it. It can be low quality or not the amount we actually need. A healthy diet is vital for maintaining good intake of essential nutrients and thus, maintaining good health and preventing nutritional deficiencies. But even if you think you’re eating a healthy diet, there may be certain nutrients that you’re missing out on. The list below covers the most essential nutrients, and how to get them through food. 

Essential Nutrient: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. Vitamin D also helps regulate the immune system and has been linked to a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and some types of cancer.

While vitamin D is found naturally in a few foods, such as fatty fish and egg yolks, most people get their vitamin D from sun exposure. However, many people don’t get enough sun exposure to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. This is especially true for those who live in northern latitudes or spend most of their time indoors.

If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure or your diet, you may be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, and bone pain.

To ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, you can take a vitamin D supplement or eat more vitamin D-rich foods. 

Food Sources of Essential Nutrient – vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel Essential Nutrients
  • Egg yolks
  • Milk and Milk products
  • Fortified cereals
  • Mushrooms

 

Essential Nutrient: Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions, including regulating muscle and nerve function, maintaining healthy bones, and supporting the immune system. Magnesium is also involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production and protein synthesis.

Despite its importance, many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. This is because magnesium is often lacking in the modern Western diet, which tends to be high in processed foods and low in whole, nutrient-dense foods. Magnesium is also one of the first minerals we lose when we strength train. As it’s very important for muscle and nerve function, it’s extremely important for athletes or people that strength train consistently to ensure they’re supplementing magnesium. 

Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, tremors, and fatigue. The best way to get enough magnesium would of course be through your diet. But supplementation is sometimes required if your diet doesn’t consistent of the items below. 

Some foods that are high in magnesium include:

  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • Nuts, such as almonds and cashews
  • Seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains, such as wheat, quinoa, barley
  • Legumes, such as black beans and lentils

Essential Nutrient: Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is also important for the immune system and cognitive function.

 

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, affecting over 25% of the global population. Symptoms of an iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

While iron is found naturally in many foods, it can be difficult to get enough from diet alone, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Iron from plant-based sources is less readily absorbed by the body than iron from animal sources. If you are vegan or vegetarian, consider a supplement to ensure you are getting enough iron. 

Some foods that are high in iron include:

  • Red meat, poultry, and fish
  • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • Legumes, such as lentils and beans
  • Fortified cereals and breads
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots

Essential Nutrient: Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in nerve function, muscle function, and blood clotting.

Many people don’t get enough calcium in their diet. By incorporating more calcium-rich foods into your diet, you can ensure that you’re getting enough calcium to support your bone health and overall health. But as stated above- you have to be getting enough vitamin D so that your body can absorb calcium. 

Some foods that are high in calcium include:

  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose low-fat or non-fat options to reduce saturated fat intake.
  • Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. 
  • Some foods such as tofu, soy milk, and orange juice are fortified with calcium. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are all good sources of calcium. 
  • Canned fish such as salmon and sardines with bones are also excellent sources of calcium.

Essential NutrientsEssential Nutrient: Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a number of reasons. Firstly, they play a crucial role in maintaining brain health and cognitive function, particularly during fetal development and infancy. Omega-3s are important structural components of brain cell membranes, and they also help to support communication between brain cells.

 

In addition to their role in brain health, omega-3s have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also help to support healthy skin, hair, and nails, and may even improve mood and mental health.

Some foods that are high in Omega-3s include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Brussels sprouts, seaweed, algae, spinach, and broccoli
  • Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds 
  • An omega-3 supplement is a great option if you know you’re not going to be eating a variety of fish, nuts or seeds. 

To sum it all up, instead of worrying about individual nutrients and if you’re getting enough, you should focus on a varied diet instead. A healthy diet should consist of a variety of fish, vegetables, meat, nuts, seeds, fruit and some dairy at least 80% of the time. You can go out and have fun with friends or family of course- a flexible diet is key to consistency. But for the majority of the time, put an emphasis on whole foods and you will cover the basis of nutrients you need to be healthy. 

If you want more guidance on nutrition and what you need to do to manage your health, email Jalpa to set up a consultation!  

 

Jalpa is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Health & Nutrition from Brooklyn College, CUNY in New York. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, CDR.

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Siblings of Sugar

Are you confused about sweet-tasting foods despite the box saying “No sugar added”? You are not alone, sugar is replaced by many slow-releasing sugar alternatives or derivatives and it’s difficult to recognize most of them. This post will help you to familiarize yourself with common sweeteners found anywhere from your go-to snack for early morning commutes to your favorite brand of toothpaste. We call them Siblings of Sugar!

1) High Fructose Corn Syrup is a highly processed sweetener made from corn starch. Due to its lower cost food companies use it in place of sugar in many sodas, candy, and condiments. It may even be found in foods such as flavored yogurts, bread, and cereals that are marketed as “healthy”. HFCS has come under fire over the past several years with claims that it is worse than regular cane sugar and directly linked to the obesity epidemic, fatty liver, and insulin resistance which fall under the umbrella of Metabolic Syndrome.

2) Maltodextrin is made from corn, rice, wheat, or potatoes and highly refined into a powdered sweetener. It is not particularly as sweet as sugar but, is often used to add texture, thicken and prolong the shelf life of products. It is marketed primarily towards athletes in popular sports drinks and supplements for recovery but, has been found to have no nutritional value. Due to it being a highly refined carbohydrate it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, which is less than ideal for Diabetics. If consumed in large amounts it can cause spikes in glucose levels and weight gain due to insulin resistance.

3) Dextrose is chemically processed from corn. Although It is used in some food products, it has also been utilized effectively in the medical field. Dextrose is made into a solution used for IV drips or mixed with other medications to balance electrolytes and provide extra calories. Dextrose tablets are used in the treatment of low glucose levels in Diabetics. Since it has a similar molecular structure to glucose high amounts are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in Hyperglycemia.

4) Sugar Alcohols such as Xylitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Isomalt, and Erythritol are chemically processed carbohydrates made from fruits and vegetables. They are used in products marketed towards people with Diabetes and in oral hygiene products. What sets them apart from most sweeteners is how they are digested. Sugar alcohols are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream and are only partially digested making them lower in calories than regular sugar. Caution should be used with excess consumption of products containing Sugar Alcohols due to the undigested portion being fermented by bacteria in the large intestine which can lead to diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramping.

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