Sunday, July 5, 2020

Eating for healthy skin

Are there foods that promote healthier skin?  Students in my class often ask what foods they can eat for healthier skin.  As it turns out there are lots of foods that promote skin health.  Environmental Nutrition recently had an article, “Eat to Glow” and they outlined many foods for eating to glow.  WebMD and other sites also provide guidance on eating for healthy skin.  What are some of their recommendations?

1. Fruits and Vegetables – “eat the rainbow”.  Many people know that fruits and veggies are healthy but many don’t know the different colors of fruits and veggies pack different antioxidants that are good for you.  For great skin, focus on vitamin A and carotene which turns into vitamin A in our bodies.  Think dark green and dark orange like spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, green peppers, broccoli and cantaloupe.  Interesting, foods that are red – not only provide carotenes but also the healthy antioxidant, lycopene.  Think fresh tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, red bell peppers.  Researchers have found that eating more carotenes can improve skin discolorations like redness in just 6 weeks.  How much do you need to eat?  About 3 servings a day.  So, enjoy a handful of baby carrots at lunch, add some dark greens and bell peppers to your dinner salad. Skip the lettuce as it provides little vitamin A and carotenes.  Another benefit of all this carotene is it helps protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Eating your veggies may even help protect against getting a sunburn.
2. Nuts – Dr. Oz recommends a handful of nuts a day and nuts, especially almonds, are good for your skin. Eat more almonds and they may help reduce wrinkles as one study found.  How many almonds did study participants eat? About 2 ounces a day as a snack.  But be patient, the study lasted 16 weeks, so there aren’t overnight changes.  Walnuts and flaxseed are good sources of healthy fats that promote skin health. 
Almonds may help reduce wrinkles.

3. Grapes – grapes have been known for resveratrol but now researchers have found dark grapes can help prevent your skin from the damaging rays of the sun.  Yes, you still have to use sunscreen but snacking on some dark grapes can help your skin.

4. Mediterranean Diet -  As noted in a previous blog, the Mediterranean Diet is ranked the number one diet for good health.  It is also a diet to follow for great looking skin.  Following the Mediterranean Diet over a period of years can reduce skin cancer risk.  One component, tomatoes, has the lycopene that seems especially protective from UV induced skin cancers.  So, load up on some fresh tomatoes, enjoy the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich.  Eat some salsa with whole grain chips.  Salsa is low in calories and high in nutrition.
5.  Low-fat dairy – real low-fat milk and yogurt is fortified with vitamin A.  Your body doesn’t have to convert the carotene into vitamin A as real milk provides real vitamin A.  Aim for 2 servings of real dairy a day. 
6.  Hydration – keep your skin cells hydrated with water.  Skip the sugared soda, sweet tea and choose plain water or the refreshing seltzer waters that are so popular.

Visit your local farmer’s market this week and pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables.  My husband just came back with fresh raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes and green peppers.  Add some fresh fruits and veggies to your day and enjoy some low-fat dairy this week to boost the health of your skin.

Sources:  Environmental Nutrition, WebMD, almonds, fats, blog    Image Sources: rainbow  ,  Almonds  , Grapes

Sunday, June 28, 2020

How drinking lemon water can help your health

Most people know about the recommendation of drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  But, it doesn’t have to be plain water to benefit your health.  This summer, add some lemon water to your day.  No, not lemonade, which is loaded with added sugar and of little nutritional value.  But lemon water – just water with some fresh lemon juice added.  The Cleveland Clinic recommends small changes in your habits can lead to some big changes in your overall health.  One change recommended by the Cleveland Clinic is to add some lemon water to your day. 

How to make lemon water:  The Cleveland Clinic suggests taking a half a lemon and squeezing the juice into a glass of water.  Exact measurement isn’t needed.  Take the other half and add some lemon slices to a pitcher of water and enjoy some lemon-infused water throughout the day.  And for extra nutrition, add some lemon zest when baking or cooking.

How does drinking lemon water promote good health?

  1. Digestion:  Lemon juice is acidic and acid can aid in the digestion of food.  Your stomach has acid and adding some more acid with the lemon juice will aid digestion.  And as we age, our stomachs produce less acid so lemon water is a great choice for many adults.
  2. Hydration:   Not easy to stay hydrated in hot water.  Walking in late afternoon yesterday, I quickly became dripping in sweat.  As you sweat you lose water and salt (sodium chloride).  Added some lemon water will add back some of the water lost in sweat.  Eat something salty to add back some of the sodium chloride lost.
  3. Weight-loss:  Drinking lemon water won’t promote weight loss but it won’t promote weight gain either.  Lemon juice is low in calories, about 6 calories in half a lemon.  Not so true of lemonade.   Buy a 12 ounce can of Minute Maid Lemonade and you add 150 calories of mostly sugar to your day.  Some people think lemonade is “juice” but no, it is a fruit drink and loaded with added sugar.  Make your own lemon water and enjoy a low-calorie beverage.
  4. Vitamin C:  We need vitamin C and should aim for eating some vitamin C rich foods every day.  A half of lemon in your lemon water and you will get about 15 mg of vitamin C.  Adult women need 75 mg of vitamin C a day and adult men need 90 mg.  So, lemon water won’t supply all your vitamin C needs but will provide some.  Vitamin C is important for skin cell repair.  Drinking lemon water is good for healthy skin.
Citrus fruits, including lemons, are good sources of vitamin C.

5. Potassium:  As noted in a previous blog, Americans take in too much sodium and too little    potassium.  Potassium is important because it helps counteract the negative effects of sodium.  Fruit and vegetables add potassium to your day.  Potassium helps regulate your blood pressure, helps muscles and nerves and helps carry nutrients throughout your body. 
6.  Preventing kidney stones:  because of the acid in the lemon, drinking lemon water can help prevent kidney stones.  And, as noted above, lemon water aids in hydration.  Dehydration is a “common cause of kidney stones” so staying hydrated is important.

This week, buy some lemons and enjoy some lemon water.  So refreshing on a hot, summer day.  Pass up the lemonade and skip all the added sugar and make your own lemon water.  Low in calories, good in nutrition, and good for your health.  Or, if you want to avoid the added sugar but still enjoy lemonade, try some Crystal Light.  Very refreshing.

Lemon water - a refreshing summer beverage.

Sources:  change, Lemonade , lemon, vitamin C,  blog , Dehydration , Crystal Light   Image Sources:  Vitamin C , lemons , water 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Drinking real milk benefits your health

Most people know drinking milk is important for healthy bones.  But how about your overall health?  And for years the American Heart Association and other organizations have recommended low-fat or fat-free milk for heart health. But a new study sheds a different light on real milk and whether or not whole milk may be a healthy choice.  In fact, the latest research is showing that drinking real whole milk may actually lower your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. 

What do the studies find?

1.      An international study found a link between consumption of real dairy foods, especially whole fat diary, and lowering one’s risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.  The study looked at nearly 150,000 people from 21 countries across the globe whose ages ranged from 35-70 years old.  They asked these individuals how often they ate certain foods.  Dairy foods included real milk, yogurt and cheese.  Researchers also looked at consumption of whole fat dairy, whole fat real milk, whole fat yogurt, and whole fat cheese as well as lower fat options including 1-2% milk, skim milk, low-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt.  They did not include butter and cream as these are high fat foods.  The people in the study were followed over a period of 9.1 years.

2.    Weight – one would think that you would weigh less if you ate low-fat dairy products.  Surprisingly, the study found that people who consumed at least 2 servings of whole fat dairy foods a day had a lower waist circumference (think belly fat), lower Body Mass Index (BMI), and lower blood glucose levels.  Those who had at least 2 servings of dairy a day, also had a lower incidence of hypertension and a lower incidence of diabetes. 

3.     Not just real, whole milk, but other studies have found that the higher fat versions of cheese and yogurt also reduce one’s risk of Type 2 diabetes.  But, if you enjoy low-fat cheese or low-fat yogurt, these are associated with reducing one’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  However, the higher fat cheese and yogurt are particularly beneficial in reducing risk of Type 2 diabetes. In a 2017 study, the researchers looked at diabetes and prediabetes.  They found for those with pre-diabetes:

a.       “High-fat dairy was associated with a 70% reduced risk of developing diabetes.

b.       Cheese was associated with a 63% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes”.

Why would high-fat dairy lower risk of hypertension, and diabetes more than low-fat dairy?

For years, we have been told to cut back on the saturated fat in our diets.  The fat in milk, the fat in cheese, the fat in yogurt.  What is it about whole-fat dairy that may be better for our health?  And, note, these studies are talking about REAL MILK, REAL YOGURT, REAL CHEESE and not fake milk like Almond Milk, Rice Milk and other non-dairy milks. 

  1. Glucose – how do dairy foods help blood glucose levels?  It seems dairy helps insulin so blood glucose levels are more normal.
  2. Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D – real milk and real yogurt provide calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.  These minerals and vitamin help insulin do its job of getting glucose into our cells and reducing inflammation. 
  3. Milk proteins – Unlike fake milks, real milk provides high quality proteins like whey protein.  Many “protein powders” muscle builders buy contain whey protein as it is such a high-quality protein.  Whey protein has been found to improve glucose levels, help insulin, and help control blood pressure.
  4. Cheese contains vitamin K-2 which has been found to reduce one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

So, what does all this research mean for you?  Some take -a -ways:

  1. Add some REAL Dairy - be sure the dairy in your diet is REAL and not fake.  Drink real milk, buy real yogurt and enjoy some cheese.
  2. Aim for at least 2 servings of dairy a day.  Enjoy some real milk on your cereal or in a smoothie.  Have a yogurt at lunch.  Enjoy some cheese and crackers as a snack.  Buy some easy to grab and eat cheese sticks.
  3. Maybe add some regular fat dairy back to your diet.  For years, we only bought fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, and 2% milk cheese.  But now we are thinking about adding some full-fat cheese back to our diet.  I love cheese -all cheese, and full-fat cheese tastes so much better. 

What are some ways you can add real dairy to your day?

Sources:  international , studies , 2017 , dairy  Image sources:  Real   , yogurt , platter  

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Easy ways to cut back on sugar

Sugar – how much are you eating each day?  Who doesn’t like their sweets and desserts?  The students I teach are surprised to learn that I enjoy my desserts and we have a candy dish – usually full of chocolate, on our coffee table.  Some people think nutritionists don’t eat any sugar, but not true.  However, I do point out to my students that my “sugar” intake is usually from a dessert and not from sugared soft drinks, and every day food items that can be loaded with sugar.  How can you cut back on the sugar in your day and still enjoy some desserts and sweets?  Since I enjoy having a dessert, I liked the article, “6 Simple Ways to Eat Less Sugar – Without Giving up Dessert”.   The American Heart Association also has a great article, “Tips for Cutting Down on Sugar”. 

Sugar isn’t an enemy.  All the cells in our body use sugar, in the form of glucose, for energy.  What does our brain use for energy?  Glucose.  But our bodies can make glucose from the foods we eat.  The bread, cereal, fruit and vegetables we eat and from real milk.  We don’t want to cut back on these good-for-our health foods.  Some people think we need “sugar” in our diets, the white table sugar.  We don’t actually need to eat white table sugar for energy.  It is the “added sugar”, the sugar so many manufacturers add to our every day foods that we can cut back on. 

Eat more fruits and vegetables and less added sugar.

And Americans eat a lot of added sugar.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the average adult in America “eats almost 20 teaspoons, or 80 grams of added sugar per day.”   But this is not as much as we used to eat.  NIH notes that “compared to a few decades ago… Americans are eating more foods with less added sugar, as well as more whole grains…”

      1.  Look at the ingredients:  If the first ingredient in a food is “sugar”, then that food is mostly sugar.  But read all the ingredients and you will be surprised how many times “sugar” will be added to a food you don’t expect.  I was surprised to note sugar was added to the Tomato Soup I like to eat.  The new food labels will more clearly list “added sugars” on the nutrition label so it will be easier to determine which processed foods have added sugar.  Buy the spaghetti sauce with no added sugar. 

Look for Added Sugars on labels. 

2.  Go for the unsweetened product – in a restaurant, choose the unsweetened tea.  When buying applesauce, look at the ingredients and buy the brand with no added sugar.  Skip the almond milk with all the added sugar and buy real milk that has no added sugar.  Skip the sugared sodas and opt for water or seltzer water.  Buying fruit in the can?  Look for fruit packed in juice and not heavy syrup.  When choosing juice, look at the ingredients and be sure it is only juice and no added sugar.

3.  Breakfast – Skip the cereal that has “sugar” as the first ingredient, or you are having a bowl-full of sugar for breakfast.  Look for cereals with less added sugar such as the Instant Oatmeal packs that have less added sugar.  Like granola?  Look for brands that have less added sugar or use less granola.  Sprinkle some granola on your morning yogurt and add fresh fruit for a nutrition boost.

4.  Shop for Individual packs – such as the 100 calorie packs.  One of my daughters buy the 100 - calorie pack of cookies.  She knows exactly how many calories she is eating when she eats the package of cookies.  Buy individual ice cream bars and then limit yourself to one bar.

5.  Eat more healthy food and you will have room for less food loaded with added sugar.  A student in my class was about 15 pounds overweight.  He started the habit of 5 A Day – eating 5 fruits and veggies a day.  He said he made no other changes but lost weight.  Why?  He said he was filling up on the fruits and vegetables and had less room for all the junk food he used to eat. 

6.   Snack bars – so many people think if they buy a granola bar or other snack bar, they are eating healthy.  But many of these granola bars are loaded with added sugar.  Be sure to look at the ingredients so sugar is not the first ingredient.  When choosing a snack bar, look at the added sugar grams and look for 5 grams or less of added sugars. 

Enjoy your desserts but try to cut back on all the added sugar that creeps into your diet in every day foods.  If you start reading the ingredients, you may be surprised how often manufacturers sneak added sugar into the every day foods you eat. 

Sources:  article , Association , Health , Health   Image sources:  sugar   , scale   , label

Sunday, June 7, 2020

What foods have more potassium than bananas?

Potassium – why do you need it and what foods can you eat to be sure you are getting enough of this important mineral?  Most of the students in the classes I teach know we should all be cutting back on the amount of sodium in our diets.  But most students don’t know we should also focus on increasing the amount of potassium in our diets.  Why do we need potassium and why is it so important to good health?

Why is potassium important to our health?  

      1.  Blood Pressure, heart disease -  Maxine Yeung, a Registered Dietitian who founded The Wellness Whisk states, “Potassium is an electrolyte that helps with nerve and muscle function in the body.  And, “Potassium also helps regulate heart and blood pressure by counterbalancing sodium.”  Low intake of potassium is related to high blood pressure, while an increase in potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium and helps keep our blood pressure normal. 

One study found that people who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium a day had a “49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed 1,000 mg per day.”

2.  Muscle mass – as people age, they can lose some of their muscle.  Eating enough protein is important but researchers have found potassium is also important.  An NIH study found, “Higher intake of foods rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables, may favor the preservation of muscle mass in older men and women.”  Another reason for everyone, including older adults to focus on at least “5 A DAY”, five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. 

3. Bones – most people know we need calcium for strong bones, but we also need potassium.  For those who have broken a bone, having enough potassium n your diet can help rebuild your bone.  How does potassium help your bones heal?  Potassium helps your body retain calcium, which is important in bone healing. 

How much potassium do you need every day?

Men need 3400 mg of potassium and day and women need 2600 mg of potassium a day.  More is OK.  We aren’t trying to limit potassium in our diets.  Get your daily potassium from food, not supplements. 

What foods are high in potassium?

Think fruits and vegetables.  So many people have started gardens this spring and summer.  Good thing, as fruits and vegetables can add a lot of potassium to your day.  No garden?  Think Farmer’s Markets and choose some fresh fruit and vegetables.  Pick up some fresh asparagus and some tomatoes.  Add some fresh tomatoes to a salad or enjoy a BLT.   Not a fan of fresh tomatoes?  Then try some salsa or add more spaghetti sauce to your spaghetti noodles.  Dried fruit provides a lot of potassium.  Bring a small box of raisins with you for a snack or add some raisins to your cereal.  Enjoy that baked potato that many people malign.  Potatoes are loaded with potassium.  I eat a banana every day for breakfast and add raisins to my cereal.  And I am a BIG fan of baked potatoes.  There are so many ways to add some potassium to your day. 

It may surprise you to know real milk and real yogurt are good sources of potassium.    And choose real food.  Real, 100% Orange Juice provides potassium.  SunnyD provides no potassium as it is not real juice.  Surprisingly, even a cup of coffee can add some potassium to your day.

Enjoy some raisins as a snack.

NIH provides a great list of foods rich in potassium. 


Potassium, Milligrams per serving

Apricots, dried, ½ cup


Raisins, ½ cup


Potato, baked


Orange Juice, 1 cup


Banana - medium


Real Milk, 1%, 1 cup


Real Yogurt, 6 ounces


Tomato, raw, 1 medium


Asparagus, cooked, ½ cup


Cashew nuts, 1 ounce


Coffee, 1 cup brewed


This week, add some fresh fruit and veggies to your day.  While enjoying those finds from the Farmer’s Market or from your own garden, you will be adding potassium to your day.

Sources:  Dietitian, pressure,  study , day , found , bones , broken , need, SunnyD , list     Image Sources:  foods , Raisins   , Health

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Can walking more help you lose weight?

After being in our homes for that past few weeks, many of us have added on some unwanted pounds.  Now that the weather is better, can walking help you lose some of that weight?  Popsugar has a good article, “Yes, You Can Lose Weight Walking as Little as 30 Minutes a Day..”.  What are some keys to know about walking and weight loss?

  1. Amount of time – note the article indicates walking 30 minutes a day.  Much research has shown that if you want to lose some fat, you need to exercise for more than 20 minutes.  So, a 30-minute walk is a great way to start.
  2. How often?  Aim for walking and exercising for at least 150 minutes a week.  That breaks down to at least 21 minutes a day.  If you walk 30 minutes a day, you will meet and exceed the recommendation for 150 minutes a week of exercising.
  3. How long?  One may not get quick weight loss by walking.  But a JAMA Internal Medicine article reported that without changing their diet, study subjects that walked 12 miles per week for eight months, not only lost weight but lost fat.  We don’t want to lose muscle when we lose weight, we want to lose fat tissue and walking did just that.  The control group that didn’t walk 12 miles a week, gained weight.  But when this group did start walking 30 minutes a day, they also lost weight.  A good goal for walking is 30 minutes a day. But if you don’t have time to do 30 minutes, then walk for 15 minutes twice a day or ten minutes, three times a day.  If you are just starting to walk, then start with a 10-minute walk and work up to 30 minutes or more a day.
  4. Health benefits of walking – even if you aren’t interested in losing weight, walking provides a lot of health benefits.  Studies have found that regular physical activity, which includes walking, done consistently, is good for heart health by improving cholesterol levels and helping control blood pressure.  Not just physical health, but walking can improve your mental health by lowering anxiety and tension.  And walking increases the strength of your muscles and leads to stronger bones.  For those with diabetes or prediabetes, walking helps lower blood sugar levels.
  5. How many steps a day?  Most people have heard of 10,000 steps a day which is a good goal.  Those who walk even more, at 15,000 steps a day can lower their Body Mass Index (BMI).  A study in England, found that people “who walk more and sit less have lower BMI’s”.   And the study noted that sitting less resulted in less of a stomach or less waist circumference.

I love to go for a walk every day.  For almost twenty years, I joined 2 friends for a long walk at lunch time.  Now, I enjoy a walk first thing every morning.  I find walking a good way to clear one’s head and an enjoyable time outside.  Make walking a habit.  Tell yourself, “At lunch this week I will take a 15-minute walk.”  Or, “After work this week, I will walk around the neighborhood for 20 minutes.”   Break up your routine by finding different places to walk.  Luckily, we have a park close by that has walking trails. We also have walking trails in our neighborhood.  Find places you enjoy and find new places to explore.

Sources:  article , week , goal , Health benefits , strength , BMI , study , habit   Image sources:   people walking , Benefits , habit   


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Staying hydrated this summer

At long last, summer is around the corner.  With summer heat comes hydration issues.  How can you stay hydrated this summer?  What beverages are best for hydration?  How do you know when you are getting dehydrated? 

What are the health benefits of water?

Many people don’t know water is a nutrient and has many important functions in our bodies.   The Mayo Clinic notes that every cell in our body needs water in order to work properly.  According to CDC, water helps your body in many ways:

  1. Water helps keep your temperature normal – so important on hot, humid days.
  2. Water helps lubricate and cushion your joints – important in summer when we are biking, walking, hiking, golfing, playing tennis – exercise that uses our joints day in and day out.
  3. And perspiration is water – sweating on a hot day means you are losing water and need to replenish it.

Why do we need more water in summer?

  1. Hot days – when we are outside in hot weather, we sweat to help cool our bodies. 
  2. Physically active – we need more water when we are active, especially when it is hot outside

How much water do we need?

According to the National Academies of Sciences , Engineering, and Medicine, drinking plenty of water helps you stay hydrated, especially as the temperature soars. 

  • Men – need about 15.5 cups a day – not just water but all fluid counts
  • Women – need about 11.5 cups of fluids a day

How does mild dehydration affect your body?

Even being mildly dehydrated can affect you.  Mayo Clinic notes, “Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.”

What is the first sign of dehydration?

Your body tells you when you need more fluid.  How?  When you are thirsty, your body is saying you are beginning to get dehydrated.  So, listen to what your body is telling you.  At the first sign of thirst – take in a glass of water or grab some seltzer water.  But either get your water from the faucet, the water from the refrigerator dispenser or seltzer water from a can.  Remember to skip the plastic water bottles to avoid adding more plastic to your body.  (See blog post:  How much plastic are you eating?).  Many foods can also help you stay hydrated.  Reach for that slice of watermelon as watermelon is almost 100% water.  Most fruits are hydrating.  About 80% of our water needs comes from drinking water and other beverages and about 20% comes from the food we eat.

What beverages are the most hydrating?

One would think water would be the most hydrating drink, but not so.  As I noted in my blog, Is water the best for hydration? , some researchers in Britain found that some fluids stay in your body longer than plain water and are thus more hydrating.   Two beverages more hydrating than plain water are real cow’s milk and 100% orange juice.  And milk and real juice can restore some of those electrolytes you lost when sweating on a hot day.

This week, reach for that glass of water with a slice of lemon.  After a walk on a hot day, enjoy a glass of 100% orange juice on ice.  That’s what I prefer when I come in from a walk on a hot day – I reach for the juice and a glass of ice.  So, refreshing.  And reach for a glass of cold, real milk.  The nutrients in milk and juice helps the water stay in your body longer.  Enjoy the warmer weather and stay hydrated this summer!

Sources:  Mayo Clinic, CDC, Sciences, notes, How much plastic are you eating?, watermelon, water, Is water the best for hydration?  Image Sources: hydrate  , graphic , dehydration