Tag Archives: Uncategorized

5 Foods to Help Your Respiratory Health

Did you know that what you eat can benefit how your lungs function, and how well you can breathe? Give these five foods a try for improved respiratory health.

 

Pears

Eating more fresh fruit like pears may decrease production of phlegm, found a Scottish study in the European Respiratory Journal. In the study, adults regularly eating fresh fruit had a 30 to 40 percent reduced prevalence of phlegm for three or more months per year and in the morning in winter. “Pears are portable and can easily be found nationwide,” says Shaw. “Not only are they bursting with fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer, they’ve also got vitamin C, an important antioxidant that can boost your immunity.” Pair pears with almond butter, or add thin slices to a grilled cheese sandwich.

 

Matcha

This green tea boasts caffeine, which may improve lung function in people with asthma for up to four hours, per a Cochrane review study. “Matcha green tea also offers a healthy boost of polyphenols and L-theanine, which may help keep you focused and calm while also alert,” says Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The MIND Diet.  

 

Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a veggie that tops the charts for vitamin A and is also an excellent source of vitamin C. “These two antioxidants protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in people with asthma,” says Moon. She suggests topping a baked sweet potato with toasted almonds, which are vitamin E superstars.

 

Black Cumin

This spice may fight inflammation and help lower resistance in the respiratory airway — potentially helping get more air to the lungs. People with partially controlled asthma who supplemented with black cumin saw improvements in both inflammation and pulmonary function, per a small study in Annals of Saudi Medicine.

 

Fish

Eating fish like salmon and sardines may help your respiratory health: Kids who ate less fish were more likely to report poor respiratory health, especially more coughing and wheezing, in a European study. It’s possible that the omega-3s in fish may provide protective respiratory benefits. Grill salmon with veggies, or add sardines to a Greek salad.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Should You Take a Collagen Supplement? 

Some are claiming that they’ve found the fountain of youth, and it’s in a bottle at your local vitamin shop. Collagen is the newest supplement fad to hit the market, and many are adopting this new craze in the hopes of having tighter skin and less aching in their joints. But does it really do what it promises?

 

What is collagen?

Quite simply, collagen is the structural protein found in animal connective tissue. As the most abundant protein in the human body, it’s found in skin, muscles, bones and tendons. Collagen is also found in animal meat, so eating is it not new…but bottling and selling it as a supplement is. Many claim that taking collagen supplements will reduce wrinkles, make skin look younger and increase the elasticity in the joints. Yet, collagen is quickly broken down during digestion, so how can any of this be true?

 

Researchers realized this digestion problem early on and created a unique solution called hydrolyzed collagen. In simple terms, in hydrolyzed collagen, the molecular bonds between the individual collagen strands have been broken down into 19 amino acids. Research has found that this form of collagen is about 85% absorbable by the bloodstream. In other words, you may absorb more collagen when taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements than eating a piece of meat.

 

What does the research say?

Since collagen supplements are new to the market, the research is still preliminary. But a handful of studies show promising results on the effects of collagen supplementation on skin and joints.

 

In a recent randomized controlled trial, women aged 35-55 either received 2.5 grams or 5.0 grams of hydrolyzed collagen or placebo once a day for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the skin elasticity in the groups taking the collagen supplement significantly improved, while the placebo group did not. Another similar study observed 114 women aged 45-65 years as they received a collagen supplement or placebo once a day for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, the group that took the collagen supplement saw a statistically significant reduction of eye wrinkle volume. There are a few other studies that showed similar results, suggesting that collagen supplementation may help skin look younger or prevent against the signs of aging.

Because collagen is a major component of muscles, bones and tendons, it has been also studied for its role in preventing the breakdown of joints. One study looked into the effectiveness of collagen supplementation on treating the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. After thirteen weeks taking a collagen supplement, the researchers found that supplementing with collagen decreased the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Another study observed the effects of collagen supplementation on the joints of athletes — a population that puts high stress on their joints. Subjects were either given 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen or placebo for 24-weeks. The researchers found that the athletes given the collagen supplement had less joint pain than those that did not receive the supplement.

 

The bottom line

Research suggests that supplementing with collagen is a safe and effective way to improve the health of skin and joints. But, as with any supplement, it’s best to be cautious. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, making it impossible to know if the supplement matches what’s on the label. Choose brands that use third party testing, like NeoCell, rather than generic brands. And don’t be fooled by extreme claims on the label. While the research on collagen is promising, it won’t undo the effects of smoking, excessive sun exposure or a bad diet. As with any supplement, it should be accompanied by a healthy diet and lifestyle.

 

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Eat for Your Body, Not Your Bikini: How to Love Your Summer Body

Summer is around the corner, and while many look forward to the joys this season brings — vacations, more time spent outside, time off from school and work — just as many dread it thanks to media marketing around getting “the perfect bikini body” and photo-shopped models painting an unrealistic ideal. Along with the “beach body” marketing comes an onslaught of ridiculous fad diets and expensive schemes that ultimately lead to long-term weight gain…not to mention lower self-esteem, anxiety and preoccupation with food. This summer, try eating for your body, instead of that bikini and implement these practices to cultivate body respect and kindness.

 

Intuitive Eating

Ever wonder how a toddler knows exactly what and how much he/she wants to eat? We’re all born with an innate ability to know what food our body needs and when we’re satisfied. But unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a family member, friend, health professional, or the media told us what we should and shouldn’t eat and we lost touch with that inner voice. The good news is that inner wisdom still lives within each of us, and intuitive eating is a practice that helps us strengthen that voice by tuning into our body to honor our hunger and feel when we’re full. The work involves making peace with food by ditching the diet culture mentality, telling the food police to shove it, and finding pleasure and satisfaction from eating. This summer, rather than asking yourself “what should I eat right now?”, which comes from a place of fear, guilt and shame, empower your internal wisdom and flex that self-trust muscle by asking, “what do I want to eat right now?”

 

Social Media “Diet”

The only “diet” that may be of some value to follow this summer is one where you control the media you take in. Marci Evans, registered dietitian and eating disorder expert in Cambridge, MA, helps her clients block unhelpful people on Facebook, un-follow provoking Instagram accounts, toss out triggering magazines and carefully curate the blogs they read. “Then we have fun filling their feeds with information that inspires them to be their healthiest and most authentic self in mind, body, and spirit. It’s a picture of health that is taken from the inside, rather than the outside,” Evans says. Not sure where to start? Evans recommends to “try searching for people who promote body positivity, body acceptance, intuitive eating, and non-dieting.” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, says we need to filter our social media feeds so we can see pictures of people in larger bodies having fun. “The reality is 67% of American women are a size 14 or higher. Why can’t we see more representation of what people really look like? Exposure to size diversity helps us all.”

 

Ban Body Bashing

Negative body talk is all around us; in fact, many women bond over complaining about their bodies. But if we don’t like our bodies, guess what, we’re not going to treat them very well. It’s time to change the dialogue because our thoughts affect our behaviors and if we want to start treating our bodies better, we need to start with shifting the dialogue from negative to positive. Scritchfield suggests trying to focus on all the wonderful things our bodies do for us. “Write a ‘love letter’ to yourself. Put positive post-its where you get dressed and feel naked and vulnerable and see if the self-love note helps you feel a little less body shame.” She also says it’s pretty powerful to “write down your ‘critic’ thoughts and ask ‘would I say this to a little girl’?”. Evans recommends getting your girlfriends in on the change. “Let your friends know that you want your friendships to foster support and encouragement, not body bashing.”

 

Feel Good in Your Here and Now Body

The reality is that many aspects of our bodies are out of our control, and the more we try to manipulate them to fit a certain size or reach a number on the scale, the more if backfires and we feel worse. The best thing we can do is to treat our bodies with respect because health is more about behaviors than it is about a size. Rather than waiting to treat yourself until you reach that “number,” start working today to feel good in your here-and-now body. Evans recommends trying things like a fun pair of sunglasses, a new nail polish, a fresh haircut and hydrating your skin with lotion. “You deserve to treat your body with warmth and kindness today! Turns out we treat things we like better than we treat things we hate. So start treating your body as if you like it, and your health just might thank you for it!”

 

Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T., is a nutrition coach, yoga teacher and self-proclaimed foodie. She is a recipe developer, food photographer, writer and spokeswoman. Her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, features seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more mindfulness and yoga into your life.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Host A Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve

Ever try getting a babysitter on New Year’s Eve? I would rather save the dough and spend the special night in with my kiddos. To keep my kid’s happy, I’ll invite friends and family and their youngsters to join in on the celebration. As a host, this means planning a menu that’s kid and adult friendly — plus some entertainment for the kids so the grownups can relax. Check out these family-friendly dishes that will make everyone happy!

Family-Friendly Bites

Shrimp-Pineapple Skewers

Prosciutto-Wrapped Crudité

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

Crisp Crab Cakes

Mini Meatballs

 

Family-Friendly Desserts

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

Kid-Friendly Mocktails

Eggnog Slimmed

Cranberry Spritzer

Spiced Virgin Apple Martinis

Mixed Citrus Spritzer

Sparkling Shirley

 

Don’t Forget….Kid-Friendly Activities

One of the most important rules when hosting a New Year’s Eve bash with the kids in tow is to have activities planned. If you have elementary school kids or younger, set up pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags on the floor for them to fall asleep on (so the adults can enjoy the rest of the party). Here are five activities I’ve done with fabulous results:

  • Have a karaoke contest (adults can get involved too).
  • Set up art projects (I love foam sticker projects this time of year).
  • Have a dance party. Set up a playlist of kid-friendly tunes and if you like to watch the ball drop, have the kids dance to the performers.
  • Pull out the dress-up chest and don’t forget the high heels and sparkly purses —you’ll get the cutest photos of your little ones.
  • Have a glow stick party to ring in the New Year by inserting glow sticks into balloons and inflating them.
  • Schedule an early countdown to midnight for little guests (they won’t know the difference, promise!).

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.