healthy

The Reasons Why People Are Choosing A Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Kale

If you are like us, you might be a little confused at what you can and can't eat these days. Is there a healthier way to eat and live? Are there tangible benefits to living a certain lifestyle? In 2018 we are going to explore these questions, specifically as it relates to gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian lifestyles, and provide recipes that you can use for each of them. Let's dive into our first topic: gluten-free.

(Exclusive gluten-free recipes at the bottom of the post!)

The basics

Gluten-free is one of the trendiest lifestyles and dietary changes being made currently. You cannot go into a grocery store or a restaurant now that doesn't have a gluten-free section or offering in the aisle or menu, respectively. So why is it so popular? 

First, we need to know the answer to the question: what is gluten? According to the Mayo Clinic, gluten is protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and a hybrid of wheat and rye called triticale. Essentially, gluten gives dough its elasticity and helps hold it together while it is being made. Now that we know what gluten is we can move onto the next pressing question: why is it bad for some people?

Gluten Wheat Grain.jpg

The bad

Our bodies’ immune systems function something like this: recognize the difference between what belongs and what is foreign, then attack the foreign. However, many people suffer from autoimmune diseases. One such autoimmune disease is "celiac disease" (CD), caused by consuming gluten. Advocacy group Beyond Celiac states that about 1% of the US population has celiac disease. 

"Celiac disease is a condition in which gluten triggers immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine. Over time this damage prevents the absorption of nutrients from food." -- Mayo Clinic Staff

Clearly, people that suffer from celiac disease need to avoid gluten. However, what about people that do not have celiac disease? Why are they opting for gluten-free?

Gluten Intolerance vs. Gluten Sensitivity vs. Wheat Allergy

The Gluten Intolerance Group explain the three most common diagnoses and what they each mean. Gluten intolerance is diagnosed as celiac disease. The only way to treat celiac disease is to practice a 100% gluten-free diet. Gluten sensitivity, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), is hard to diagnose as it shares many of the same characteristics of celiac disease and there is no true test developed yet. The only way to identify it is to rule out an autoimmune reaction and a wheat allergy. Finally, a wheat allergy is specific to a rejection of a protein found in wheat, but other gluten from non-wheat sources is okay to eat.

What foods can I eat if I am gluten intolerant or have a gluten sensitivity?

Several different organizations list the foods that you can and cannot eat. We will assemble the highlights here, but if you have a gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, you need to do comprehensive research as well as consult with your doctor on an appropriate diet.

  1. Allowed fresh foods
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed forms
  • Eggs
  • Lean, nonprocessed meats, fish and poultry
  • Most low-fat dairy products
  1. Avoid all food and drinks that contain the following
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Oats (in some cases)

(From the Mayo Clinic Staff)

Gluten-free alternatives

(From Beyond Celiac)


Another great source for information and recipes is The Gluten-Free Goddess' blog. Karina Allrich writes about what she knows from her own life experience, shares practical ways to live gluten-free, and many tasty recipes.

I am not Gluten Sensitive but I think going gluten-free will improve my health

This is a hot topic right now, as an increasing rate of people who do not have a gluten intolerance are opting to go gluten-free. Among the biggest drivers is a growing suspicion on the potential adverse health affects of consuming gluten. If you do believe that you are suffering from a gluten intolerance, you should consult with a doctor and be tested. Always consult with a medical professional before making significant lifestyle changes. 

Adding fruits and veggies to your meals on a gluten-free diet

As you may know, fruits and veggies are really good for you. They have amazing nutritional properties that our body systems need daily to function. Another great thing about produce: its naturally gluten-free. Regardless of the lifestyle you choose to live, it's probably a good idea to keep fresh fruits and vegetables as a fixture in your diet.

White Bean Kale Cauliflower Casserole

White Bean Kale Cauliflower Casserole

Let's face it. It can be a challenge to get our friends or family to get on the gluten-free train with us. However, serve this delicious recipe from registered dietitian and best-selling author, Cynthia Sass, and your loved ones will be clamoring for more yummy dishes from you! Featuring fresh kale, cauliflower, lemon juice + zest, tahini, and white beans. Estimated prep + bake time is 35 minutes.

Pinto Bean and Collard Omelet

Pinto Bean and Collard Omelet

A Tex-Mex omelet recipe from Cynthia Sass, RD and best-selling author, is full of that southwest flavor you crave. The best part? When you make this for breakfast or brinner ( breakfast for dinner), you are giving your body an excellent source of protein. Also, those veggies aren't in their just for their color. The nutrients found between those veggies will add a healthy portion to your daily needs, and give your body the tools it needs to support itself.

EAT GREENS! Your Body Will Thank You Later.

A lot of my clients tell me they just don’t like green vegetables. Often it’s because they were forced to eat them as a child, or were introduced to green veggies in unappetizing ways. Unfortunately those negative early associations can last a lifetime, but there are important reasons to overcome them, and learn to love your veggies, including greens.  

(Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/10453749/Cant-get-children-to-eat-greens-Blame-it-on-the-survival-instinct.html)

(Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/10453749/Cant-get-children-to-eat-greens-Blame-it-on-the-survival-instinct.html)

You’re probably aware that greens are nutrient rich, but you might not know just how potent they are as health protectors. Leafy greens have been shown to help fight chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease. They also protect your brain, and fend off aging. One study compared people who don’t eat green leafy veggies to those who consume one to two servings per day. The green eaters had cognitive abilities that were equivalent to folks 11 years younger. That’s powerful.

(Image Source: http://www.pnmag.com/baby-buzz/look-alive-its-national-eye-health-and-safety-month/)

(Image Source: http://www.pnmag.com/baby-buzz/look-alive-its-national-eye-health-and-safety-month/)

Greens also protect your eyes, and may reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by as much as 30%. Additional benefits include stronger immunity, enhanced energy and mood, and weight control. Replacing foods like pasta, rice, and bread with raw or cooked grains doesn’t just save calories and cut carbs. Research shows that higher antioxidant intakes are associated with leaner bodies, and greens are a potent antioxidant source.   

If you’re convinced that greens deserve a place in your eating routine but you’re not sure where to start take baby steps. Try whipping greens into a fruit smoothie- they blend right in and the sweetness of fruit overpowers any bitterness, so you won’t feel like you’re drinking a salad. Next add greens to staple meals, such as omelets or chili. As a next step make greens the star of meals, like entree salads and stir frys. If you’re adventurous you can even blends greens into desserts, and snack on kale chips or collard crisps. Just find a way to start, and if you don’t like one recipe, commit to trying another. It is well worth the effort, because this is one small eating change has the potential to lead to major quality of life results. So begin embracing greens today. Your body will truly thank you later!   

KALE for all your BASIC Needs

Oh beloved kale. Seemingly overnight you morphed from a discarded, disregarded garnish to today’s “it” superfood. We’ve all seen devotees pay homage to their beloved kale on t-shirts, hats, mugs, and countless Instagram pics. And get this: Kale can boast an astonishing 400% surge on restaurant menus. So just how did this little known veggie suddenly jet into the limelight?  

Nobody knows for sure, but it seems to have started when chefs, who are always reinventing food, adopted kale as a darling. Celebrities then began publicly sharing their kale love. And you may recall that kale gained widespread media attention when a t-shirt maker, who produced an Eat More Kale silkscreen, was challenged by Chick-fil-A, who felt the slogan was too similar to their Eat Mor Chikin campaign.

When the big kale buzz began, nutritionists like me were over the moon. Leafy green consumption had been pretty flat for over three decades, and most Americans were far short of the recommended minimum intake of three cups of dark green veggies per week. Filling that gap immediately ups the intake of several critical nutrients, including vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and fiber. Plus, kale is loaded with antioxidants and tied to anti-inflammation. This member of the cruciferous veggie family (along with its relatives broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage) helps fight heart disease by protecting the bends and branches in blood vessels; areas that tend to be the most prone to cholesterol build-up. Kale’s natural detoxers have been shown to deactivate cancer-causing substances and stop or slow the growth of existing cancer cells. Additionally, recent research found that eating just one and a half extra servings of leafy greens a day lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%.

Eating more kale is also a savvy weight loss strategy. In addition to being filling and low in calories, published research has tied higher antioxidant intakes to leaner bodies. Plus, the chewing kale requires ups satiety, to help decrease hunger levels and naturally curb eating. One recent study found that just adding green plant membranes to the diets of overweight women resulted in weight loss, smaller waist measurements, and a reduced desire to eat. Pretty powerful stuff!

 

So regardless of how kale became hip I’m thrilled that it’s not a fizzling fad. Being a regular kale eater (or drinker) is one of the most impactful ways you can protect your health. It’s also one of the easiest. You can enjoy kale in a smoothie or frittata at breakfast, salad at lunch, or sautéed at dinner. Kale chips are an easy breezy and satisfying snack, and you can even bake kale into desserts. Few veggies are as versatile and simultaneously nutrient dense. So I say, “Kale yeah” to this nutrition trend. America, let’s keep on kaling on! 

    

 

Olympic Fuel

Source: https://colorlib.com/wp/all-olympic-logos-1924-2016/

Source: https://colorlib.com/wp/all-olympic-logos-1924-2016/

I love that the Olympic games inspire many people to become more active and eat healthier. As a sports nutritionist who works with professional and competitive athletes, I know that nutrition is a key piece of the athletic puzzle. Healthy meals and snacks fuel exercise, and support recovery from the wear and tear training puts on the body. But the same principles that apply to Olympians hold true for everyone; even people who are just starting to become active. 

Whether you like to walk, hike, bike, swim, take fitness classes, or play a sport, like tennis, you need energy to move your body. That’s why what you eat before you’re active is so key. A too heavy meal, an unhealthy one, or food that’s difficult to digest, can leave you feeling sluggish. But eating too little can leave you feeling weak. To properly fuel up and feel invigorated during exercise the best strategy is to reach for nutrient-rich carbohydrates, your cells’ preferred fuel source. Great options include a banana, a small bowl of oatmeal flavored with a touch of honey or maple syrup and cinnamon, or a baked sweet potato.

Source: http://www.mythirtyspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/VegFruits.jpg

Source: http://www.mythirtyspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/VegFruits.jpg

Protein is a building block of muscle, so after being active be sure to include a protein-rich food for recovery. An ideal post-exercise meal should also include good fat, which is also needed for healing muscles and joints. Plenty of produce is another important element to replenish nutrients and provide antioxidants. One quick option is a smoothie made with leafy greens, fresh or frozen fruit, avocado, nut butter or nut milk, and protein powder or Greek yogurt.  Take Nature’s Greens Kool Kale Smoothie here for a test drive! For a savory meal whip up an omelet made with veggies and avocado, with a side of fruit, or a gingery veggie and citrus stir fry, paired with salmon, shrimp, or chicken, and topped with nuts or seeds. 

To stay hydrated as you work up a sweat follow this general rule of thumb: drink at least two cups of water two hours before exercise, another two cups fifteen minutes prior, and a half cup every fifteen to twenty minutes during, and a few cups afterwards. If you’re sweating heavily be sure to use a sports drink or electrolyte replacer, since plain water alone won’t replenish electrolytes.

Making healthy eating a priority can motivate you to be more active, and help you get the most out of any activity you engage in. And the combination will deliver a healthier, happier, fitter you. So this summer chant “Go USA!” and “Go me!”