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Let’s Talk About Sugar

A common question I ask my client’s is, “If you could change one thing to improve your health what would it be?” I get many different answers but many times I get a return question asking me what I think is the most important thing someone can do to improve their health.

My answer in short is….

R-E-M-O-V-E     S-U-G-A-R!

Why is removing sugar from your dietary plan the single most important action YOU can take to better your health?

So glad you asked!

6 Ways Sugar Ruins Your Health

Sugar …

  1. Feeds unwanted bacteria such as candida, causing an overgrowth of these bacteria resulting in oral thrush, yeast infections, skin rashes and fungus, digestive issues, food cravings, exhaustion and more…
  2. Ages your cells and Increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.  
  3. Raises your blood sugar levels. Sugar in the blood causes the secretion of the fat storage hormone, insulin, causing an increase in belly fat. This results in systemic inflammation, weight gain and an increased risk of developing diabetes.
  4. Is the top fuel for the growth of cancer cells.
  5. Weakens your immune system.
  6. Raises blood triglycerides levels increasing the risk of heart disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  7. And the list goes on…

This is why we created the 7-Day Sugar Detox, a FREE, easy-to-follow program designed to make sugar cravings a thing of the past. Join us and get started today! It’s FREE!  Yes, I Want Off the Sugar Roller-Coaster

Sugar is Everywhere!

Sugar exists in so many forms and carries many names. There are simple processed sugars such as fructose, corn syrup, glucose, agave, sucrose (table sugar), and dextrose. Then there are more natural sweeteners including honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, monk, date or coconut sugar.

Sugars, whether in a more natural form or highly processed, can negatively affect your health, especially in high quantities. It’s summertime, a time full of barbeques and party events where sweet treats come along with the territory. Keeping the consumption of these sugars, whether natural or highly processed, to a minimum is key!

What about Sugar Substitutes?

Another category of sweeteners that are popular with “dieters” are low-calorie sugar substitutes.

There is an abundance of artificial sweeteners on the market today. Some common names include: Aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet) and Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), Sucralose (Splenda), and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol and xylitol. These substances can be found in an abundance of different foods from yogurts and salad dressings to the gum that you chew! Sugar alcohols are generally considered “safe” in small amounts when compared to artificial sweeteners but may cause some gastrointestinal upset (gas and bloating).

Artificial sweeteners are unnatural man-made chemicals that are harmful to your health and can even cause weight gain. Yes, I said weight gain! Simply said, these sweeteners tend not to satisfy the sweet addiction our bodies crave so we tend to eat more of them!

I prefer you to consider fresh fruits or organic pure Stevia instead. Stevia is an herbal plant that is 200x sweeter than sugar so you only need a little bit when you use it.

The magic question is…how much sugar should you consume?

The answer to this question becomes a complicated one. If we take a look at the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020), it recommends no more than 10 percent of our daily calories come from sugar.To understand this better, the Dietary Guidelines are based off of a 2,000-calorie diet. So, in general, ten percent of 2,000 calories equals 200 calories. This equates to 50 grams of sugar, the same as saying approximately 12 teaspoons of sugar!

The guidelines go further to explain no more than 100 calories (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for women and no more than 150 calories (36 grams or 9 teaspoons) of added sugar for men.  The FDA recently added to the food label “added sugar” and recommends no more than 10 grams of added sugar per serving. Added sugar is the sugar added in the processing of the product but this does not account for the amount of sugar already in the product. To understand this more clearly, see the label below.

 

Image adapted from the FDA.org

 

Subtract the amount of added sugar from the total sugar to find the total amount of natural sugar in the product.  Example from the label above: 12-10=2 grams of naturally occurring sugar.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines address the importance of reducing sugar in the diet but the truth has it…these guidelines are still too much!

A leading expert who is known for bringing the research forward on sugar is Dr. Robert Lustig. Check out one of his you-tube videos below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM . It’s worth the short time you invest to watch it!

The best meal plan to keep sugar intake to a minimum is a one sourced from organic whole foods! A whole foods meal plan is devoid of refined flours and sugars, and contains food that is minimally processed and exists as close to its natural state as possible. A lot less need for math and food label reading!

Include a healthy source of protein and fat at each meal or snack to promote satiety and head off cravings for sugary treats!

Follow an organic whole foods meal plan so your body can thrive! Include:

  • An abundance of phytonutrient rich produce including leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables as well as low glycemic high fiber rich fruits such as berries.
  • Pasture raised hormone free animal sources.
  • May include a small amount of whole grains such as quinoa and wild rice.
  • Quality fats such as nuts, nut and seeds and their butters and healthy oils such as avocado, coconut, olive, flax and ghee.

Are your ready to get off sugar? Join our FREE 7-Day Sugar Detox! We will help you kickstart your sugar-free life. It’s easy to follow and FREE! Get My First Action Plan Now

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

 

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Can Food Be Making You Sick?

It seems that no matter what the event these days, there is food criteria to attend to. From your child’s school, to the local restaurant, to friends and family, food sensitivities are knocking on your door. Food sensitivities effect so many people that they can’t be ignored.

The CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reports, “allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion…50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year”.  According to FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, food allergy facts and statistics in the United States, there are “more than 170 foods that have been reported to cause reactions in the U.S.”.

PUT A CHECK IN EACH BOX BELOW THAT APPLIES TO YOU:

◊  Depression and/or mood changes

◊ Anxiety

◊ Muscle aches or joint pain

◊ Nasal congestion

 ◊ Constipation and/or diarrhea

 ◊ Acid reflux/indigestion

 ◊ Bloating or gas

 ◊ Dark circles or bags under your eyes

◊  Headaches

 ◊ Rashes or skin dryness/itchiness

 ◊ Fatigue

 ◊ Unintentional weight gain

Did you check one or more of the symptom boxes above?

You could be suffering from food sensitivities.

ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM FOOD INDUCED INFLAMMATION?

Do you feel like your weight fluctuates or you just can not get rid of the those unwanted pounds. Do you feel like you have done it all and you just can’t lose the weight? This can be truly frustrating indeed!

Food sensitives cause inflammation in the body. This Inflammation increases our risk of developing disease, ultimately obesity.

Although we hear food allergies and food sensitivities interchangeably, they do differ. How do we know which one we are suffering from?

There two types of food mediated reactions, immune mediated and non-immune mediated

Immune Mediated:

  • Food Allergies

Non-immune mediated:

  • Food Sensitivities
  • Food Intolerances

Food allergies are known as IgE, immunoglobulin E, mediated type 1 hypersensitivity reactions and are generally immediate in response. These bodily reactions can range in severe such as hives to more critical in response such as anaphylaxis and can be fatal. Some of the most common allergy foods include tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, fish and shellfish, milk, gluten, and soy. Foods that we are allergic to must be avoided and can not even be consumed in even small quantities.

Food intolerances are non-immune related and are a result of a metabolic reactions such as a lack of an enzyme to digest the foods such as lactase. When this happens, they are considered intolerant and will no longer be able to digest dairy foods.

Food sensitivities are delayed in onset, up to 72 hours or more, and are non-immune mediated reactions and are a result of an ingested food. Food sensitivities maybe present as any of the following conditions:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • GERD
  • Irritable bowel disease/diarrhea/constipation
  • Migraines
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Arthritis
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Eczema

Food sensitivities can be the body’s response to a chemical naturally occurring in a food such as solanine, histamine, and salicylates. These reactions many times are dose related and sometimes can be consumed in small amounts but when a threshold is reached, a reaction occurs. Each person’s threshold will be different and some people may need to remove this these foods from their diet to become asymptomatic.

4 COMMON CAUSES FOR FOOD SENSITIVITIES 

  • Leaky gut! When our intestinal barriers break down from bad bacteria, parasites or infections passing through, this is considered leaky gut. When this happens, our immune system becomes compromised and food particles can enter the circularity system and create systemic inflammation. Sometimes these foods that cause our body havoc and can be difficult to assess because these reactions are often delayed. Food sensitivity testing can be done to help us get a baseline for what these foods may be. Elimination diets are implemented to remove those foods for generally 6-8 weeks to essentially calm or better yet reduce the inflammatory response.
  • Chronic antibiotic use. The use of antibiotics sometimes can’t be avoided, but this can compromise the immune system. Antibiotics kill off the bad bacteria it was intended to but also do a number on the good bacteria that keep the ecosystem in balance.
  • Chronic stress and toxic exposure. Every day we breath in air, drink water, and eat food that have chemicals and pesticides that our liver has to work overtime to filter out. This insult can result in toxic overload causing us to feel fatigue and run down. This can impact our immune systems negatively making our bodies even more susceptible to food sensitivities.
  • Too much of one food. Ever think about how many times you eat the same food in one day? Let’s look at a scenario that can be commonly seen in many diets.

EGGS! Breakfast time, you eat 2 eggs over easy over paleo bread (made with egg whites) and butter with a piece of fruit. Lunch time, Chicken cranberry walnut salad made with mayonnaise (this contains egg), over bib lettuce. Snack: RX bar (contains egg). Dinner meal consists of veal parmesan (breaded and dipped in egg) with green beans. Sometimes we can eat a particular food in a small quantity but when we are exposed to it multiple times in one day we can hit our threshold. In this case, it would have been 5 times in one day!

CAN DIET REALLY MAKE AN IMPACT ON OUR HEALTH AND SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT OUR DAY TO DAY SYMPTOMS?

Yes, changing your diet can be life altering!

5 COMMON FOOD SENSITIVITIES FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  • Histamines. The most common symptoms of histamine sensitivity include itching and headaches. Foods to consider reducing or eliminating from your diet plan include aged cheese and meats, citrus, spinach, bananas, and fermented foods and many spices too!
  • Solanine. A common symptom of solanine sensitivity is muscle and joint pain. I find that this is one of the hardest groups to decrease because it contains tomatoes and potatoes, in other words, tomato sauce and french fries!! Other solanine rich foods include eggplant, goji berries, and peppers.
  • Sulfites. Common symptoms of sulfite sensitivity include difficulty breathing or wheezing, loose stool or trouble swallowing. Sulfites can be found naturally in food or added as a preservative. Foods that contain sulfites include dried fruits, shellfish and crustaceans, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage Brussels sprouts, premade packaged foods such as instant potatoes and doughs, and malt beverages and wines.
  • Soy. Soy sensitivity can manifest itself in different ways in each person. Some symptom may include flushing, lip swelling, loose stool or abdominal cramping. Soy is found soybeans, bean curd, edamame, miso, natto, soy sauce, soy milk, many vegan products and additives such as TVP (textured vegetable protein).
  • Gluten. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity may include brain fog, rash, loose stool, and bloating. Gluten can be found in breads, cereals, premade packaged foods, veggie burgers, breaded meats and meatballs, malted products, make ups and

Rather than guessing what these offending foods are, we can get this information from food sensitivity testing.

The FIT test (Food Inflammation Test) measures 132 foods, colorings and additives that can result in delayed food sensitivity. The FIT test is unique in that it measures IgG antibodies along with complement that is produced from immune complexes as a result of food that crosses through the intestinal lining. It is also a great way to understand if you have a leaky gut and if it’s causing food sensitivities.  Learn more here.

As a Nutritionist, I knew a lot about food but removing my food sensitivities was a true eye opener for me and one of the largest positive impacts I made on my health and well-being.

 

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gluten Free Banana Oat Muffins

If you’re on an elimination diet, these delicious muffins are great for breakfast or an easy on-the-go snack!  I tested these muffins at home and the whole family enjoyed them – no one knew the gluten, egg, or dairy was missing!
If you make these, let me know how they came out.  ENJOY!

Banana Oat Muffins:  Gluten free, Dairy free, Egg Free

Ingredients:

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tbsp water

¼ cup almond butter

2 ripe medium bananas

2 tbsp raw honey

¾ cup gluten free rolled oats

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With an oil spray, grease a 9 cup muffin tin.

In a small bowl, mix flaxseed and water and set aside.

Add remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Add flaxseed mixture until combined.

Pour batter into each muffin pan equally, about 2/3 full to each cup.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes and cool before removing from the muffin tin.

 

Yields: 9 muffins

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

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{Recipe} Alkaline Green Smoothie

One of the ways I suggest to refresh your body for spring is to start the day with an alkaline green smoothie.  Not only do you get an abundance of vitamins and nutrients from the fresh kale and spinach, it also helps with digestion.

Every spring I pull out my Alkaline Green Smoothie recipe to jumpstart morning and help set healthy habits for the rest of the day.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Alkaline Green Smoothie

Ingredients: 

2 cup fresh kale and spinach mix

½ cucumber

½ green apple (with skin)

1 celery stick

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon

½ tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1 tbsp ground flax seed

16 ounces filtered water

Directions: 

Blend all ingredients in a blender and serve!

 

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

 

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10 Steps To Refresh Your Body For Spring

Spring is here, a perfect time to refresh! This is the time when we give our body the nourishment it needs to support its innate ability to regenerate and thrive!

Feeling any of the following symptoms: sluggish, lack of clarity, chronic headaches, poor sleep, constipation, undesired weight gain?  If you do, your body is yelling out to you…it’s time to refresh!

On a day-to-day basis we encounter an overload from unhealthy exposures such as:

  • chemicals in the air
  • mercury in fish
  • medications and bacteria in the water supply
  • pesticides in food
  • even plastics from water bottles

Our liver and kidneys do a great job to filter these exposures but sometimes this load can cause strain on these organs.

What happens if our bodies become overburdened with toxins? Our immune systems become compromised because our liver is using up our glutathione supply, not to mention many other nutrients, to filter these toxins out. Glutathione is a powerful detoxifying antioxidant necessary to prevent damage to our cells.

When our immune system is not functioning optimally we get run down and become susceptible to infections and are at risk for developing disease. Plus, our fat cells do a great job of storing toxins resulting in excess weight. In fact, this is why we at Blum Center for Health detox every Spring. → Join Dr. Blum’s FREE Detox Masterclass

So how about you? It’s time to refresh, and give your body a boost!

First, 5 things to avoid when flushing your liver and kidneys:

Ø  AVOID prolonged detox programs that require severe calorie restrictions, < 500 calories a day, or 3 days or more. A starvation plan like this will deplete your nutrients instead of supporting your detox pathways. It will also put you at risk of dehydration, headaches and fatigue. Ultimately this puts the body in stress mode rather than reboot and go!

Ø  AVOID energy drinks with sugars and excessive caffeine, as well as “detox” drinks containing additives, color dyes and sugar sweeteners. We can’t refresh when we are adding more toxic substances.

Ø  AVOID diet plans that ask you to eat one food all day for many days such as the watermelon fast. I think the jury is out on this one! This type of diet promotes macronutrient deficiencies, calorie deficit, hormonal imbalance and more!

Ø  AVOID laxatives and colonics without adequate mineral and electrolyte replenishment or good flora to support your immune system. These types of procedures may be considered somewhat of an extreme way to detox and can be better achieved through a whole foods diet plan. Besides, colonics are not fun by any means and often result in nausea and abdominal pain.

Ø  AVOID any detox type diets for children and teenagers who are growing and require many calories and nutrients. Healthier ways of refreshing their bodies can be found in a simple elimination diets that only requires them to omit common allergens as well as sugars, additivities and color dyes.

Most  importantly,  you must know i how to cleanse and refresh your body, promote nourishment and gut healing.

10 Steps to Refresh Your Body for Spring:

1)Eat only whole foods, avoiding food that is highly processed, void of essential nutrients and generally full of unwanted additives and chemicals. The Spring is here! Look for fresh produce at local farmers markets where food was recently harvested containing more nutrients and taste delicious! See localharvest.org to find one near you!

2) Remove sugar from your diet. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to stop eating sugar. Sugar in all forms can be toxic for the body putting you at risk for fatty liver, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Stick with natural sugars found in fresh fruits or other whole foods such as raw honey or pure maple syrup added in small quantities to a recipe.

3) Pay attention to your body and how it feels after eating certain foods. Consider a 3-week elimination diet from common allergens and/or inflammatory foods such as dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, alcohol. Each person responds differently to foods and not all foods that are consider “healthy” are right YOUR body. For some, an additional benefit can be seen from removing nuts, shellfish and nightshade vegetables that sometimes serve as inflammatory foods in the body. Reintroduce these foods one at a time every 2 to 3 days and take note to symptoms, if any after consuming the. Looking for a medically supervised elimination diet, come in for a nutrition consultation! We will take you every step of the way.

4) Eat an abundance of vegetables in your diet each day including a variety of sulfur-rich sources such as cruciferous vegetables. Best picks for the Spring include cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, collard greens, garlic, onions, and Swiss chard. My favorite is Bok Choy. Sulfur is an essential mineral that supports methylation and transsulfuration, optimizing the liver’s detoxification system.

If you cannot tolerate the sulfur in these vegetables, you’re not alone. Some people have genomic dispositions that affect these metabolic pathways. Add at least one serving day of sulfur-containing vegetables along with a vitamin known as molybdenum. Include a variety of vegetables and fibrous fruits such as berries to provide beneficial fiber, an important part of the elimination of excess waste in the body.

5) Hydrate! Drinking adequate water ensures good filtration of the kidneys, digestion, and bowel regularity. Eliminating waste in the body is vital to preventing toxic overload in the body. As a general rule, drink half your body weight (in pounds) as ounces. When exercising and in the warmer months, add more! Add fresh lemon and receive even more benefits for your liver. Consider a good water filtration system that uses a carbon filter.

6) Purge your home from harmful chemicals and environmental pollutants. Dump the harsh chemical cleaners and opt for a simple but effective solution of equal parts of water and vinegar. Be aware of harmful substances in your cosmetics and toiletries such as oxybenzone, parabens, and phthalates. Add an air purifier and/or a green plant.

7) Make time to unwind. Making time to rest in today’s fast pace world we often need to be reminded to do. Incorporate some kind of stress reduction modality each day whether it be a massage, a hot bath or reading a book of interest. Get closer to the earth with a walk-through nature or earthing (sinking your feet into the sand). Find THAT THING that relaxes you and plan to make it part of your day because it will be the best part by far!

8) Consider intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is generally considered a time period of caloric restriction such as 14-16 hours a day. When we “fast” it gives our body time to digest and ultimately deplete our glycogen stores (stored liver glucose). When this happens, our body looks for another source of energy to function in which it then uses our fat stores via a system known as B-oxidation. This energy source is known as ketones. This state results in the generation of new mitochondria, reduced insulin resistance and weight loss,2. As many positives as there may be with including some period of fasting in your diet, there can be some risks for some medical conditions. Talk with your Practitioner when considering fasting as well as what kind of fasting is the best fit for you.

9) Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Studies will confirm that a lack of sleep correlates with a lack of concentration, weight gain, poor eating habits, as well as puts stress on your immune system. The best way to make sure you include adequate sleep each day is to plan it. Set a bedtime each day by shutting your electronics off at a certain hour while setting up a bedtime routine to help you unwind at the end of the day. Shoot for a minimum of 7-9 hours a night.

10) Be positive! Ever spend time around someone who’s energy is addictive? If you ask me, being pessimistic is nonproductive. Saying something nice to someone will not only make that person happy but in return reward you at the same time!

Other refreshing rituals that can be adapted include, meditation, dry brushing, infrared saunas and gentle movement such as restorative yoga, stretching and rebounding.                        

Look to refresh at least 2 times a year or more. Start each day with an alkaline green smoothie. Plan for a casual hike and a calming magnesium bath before bed. However you choose to set up this day, remember you deserve it and your body will thank you.

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

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{Recipe} Bok Choy Sautee

In the Spring, the land once again becomes fertile and the earth is wanting to feed us with fresh, crisp, and alive food to give us a boost of energy from the long, dark, and cold winter days. An abundance of lighter vibrant vegetables should now be included in your diet each day along with a variety of sulfur-rich sources such as cruciferous vegetables, which are great for detoxing during the spring months.  The best picks for the spring include cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, collard greens, garlic, onions, and Swiss chard. My favorite is Bok Choy.  Here’s an easy to re-create recipe with nutrients and flavor abound!

Bok Choy Sauté

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh bok choy, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp sesame oil

1 ½ tbsp coconut aminos

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and Bok Choy stems, sauté until tender. Add Bok Choy greens and coconut aminos and continue to cook on low until wilted but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.