Monday, September 4, 2017

Brief thoughts on BBC documentary, "Clean Eating-The Dirty Truth"

September 4, 2017

  So the other night I was watching this awesome documentary on clean eating hosted by Dr. Giles Yeo, a Nutritional Biochemist, that was aired on BBC a few months back.  Here is the link for your viewing pleasure if you are interested (  Whether it was the concept of pleomorphosis or wheat as being one of those “bad,” foods to avoid, he debated many of their claims from a scientist’s perspective. There is so much misinformation about diet and health out there.  For instance, I had recently heard about a documentary entitled, “What the Health,” which made an outlandish claim about eggs being more hazardous than cigarettes.   For that reason alone I don’t think I can stomach watching it.  So many fad diets and pseudo truths are being circulated related to health.  The clean eating movement does emphasize some positives when it comes to health. For example, it promotes cooking your meals, as well as, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.  But there are some negative aspects that can overlap with the message making it more difficult for the lay person to differentiate from right and wrong.  Many times they rely on their personal convictions when deciding to follow a certain diet regimen which could steer them wrong unfortunately.  Hopefully, with the increasing visibility of Dietitian’s, we can expand our message for better eating based on more sound principles. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Favorite Lecture's From the Nutrition Event's I Attended Since my Last Blog Post

I know, I know I have been MIA for the past year or so!  Did not update my blog whatsoever!! Doesn’t mean I wasn’t out and about in nutrition world.   I’ll give you a brief highlight of my favorite lectures from the three different events I have attended since updating you last.

1.)    Robert Wood Johnson New Brunswick’s Second Annual Nutrition Symposium

-         Back in March of last year, my co-workers and I attended this event which had some interesting talks on retail dietetics, holistic nutrition and supplementation.  Of all the talks I have to say I enjoyed Dr. Shawn Arent’s the most.  His lecture entitled, “The Psychology of Supplementation,” discussed the performance enhancing effects of caffeine, the positive’s and negative’s of St. John’s Work usage, Omega 3 fatty acids benefits for mood disorders and ADHD, Gingko Biloba on cognitive function and Creatine. Of all the supplements listed above, the information provided regarding Creatine was most exciting of all.  Creatine has been found to have neuroprotective benefits for those suffering from traumatic brain injury.  In fact football players who take Creatine are able to recover from concussions much more quickly than those who do not take the supplement.  Creatine’s ability to cross the blood brain barrier and it’s association with increased brain oxygenation has proven to be helpful in combatting fatigue and with those suffering from Huntington’s Disease.

2.)     Today’s Dietitian Nutrition Symposium in Orlando, Florida

-Yes, I traveled all the way to Orlando, Florida back in May to be part of this event!  And I even got to visit Disney for the first time ever while I was there!! There were lecture’s I attended on communicating nutrition messages properly to the public, updates on the new dietary guidelines, as well as Olive Oil!! Of all the talks I listened in on, I must say the Olive Oil talk by Dr. Janet Bond Brill was very eye opening.  I never realized this but Olive Oil is actually the most widely consumed fruit juice in the world.  Why is that? Well Olive’s are drupe fruits and the oil is actually the juice that is extracted from the olive.  There is so much adulteration of olive oil’s apparently.  When reading the products label it is important to look for a product that has been processed and packaged in one location. The bottle should be dark and try to stay away from pomace oil.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best. 

      3.)  GNYDA Annual Health and Wellness Event in New York City

            - Once again, I took the train into the city to attend this educational event.  I thoroughly      enjoyed the speaker Laura Lagano, MS, RD, CDN Co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Network.  Some  interesting factoids she provided were that Marijuana has only been illegal in the United States for the past 80 years.  Prior to that it was used as medicine.  In the UK, during Queen Victoria’s time, women actually drank Cannabis tea to relieve menstrual pains. She discussed how it works through the bodies Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to relieve pain and other symptoms.  The ECS is also said to help promote homeostasis in our bodies.  The use of medical marijuana has been found to help many conditions like seizures but more research is needed.  Many of it’s stated benefits are anecdotal.    

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The 5th Annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

     Apparently, as I was informed by my friend and fellow RD, Ms. Melissa Mirota, there is an annual Vegetarian conference in NYC and she thought we might as well check it out.  Of course I joined her in  attending  part of the 2 day event which was held on March 14th and 15th.  If you can imagine a hippie FNCE conference with only vegetarian/vegan food products, that promoted animal rights and spirituality, had a kiddie play area, psychics, an actual blow out bar and some canine friends roaming around, that’s basically what it was.  They also had a myriad of speakers with interesting topics.  I did sit in on two lectures, one by Rich Roll a top notch lawyer turned vegan Ultra Marathoner/author/motivational speaker and Johnathan Balcombe who spoke about animals and their feelings.  They were interesting, not what I expected, but still worthwhile nonetheless.  There were some physicians, nutrition scientists and public policy speakers my friend and I thought would be interesting to hear but our time limitations prevented us from doing so.  Anyways, back to the exhibitors….

    Harlem Grown was there promoting their inner city projects to help encourage  healthy eating among the youth of the area.  They teach hydroponic gardening techniques to the kids and were looking for volunteers to help out and learn as well.  Some of the vegan deserts were fantastic!  From ice cream to pies, I was quite impressed with the taste and texture of many of the products on display.  I especially enjoyed the pie samples by, “This Pie is Nuts.”  There were stands that advertised brands of olive oil, like Kastania olive oil, which were imported from Greece.  Many of them had strong delicious flavors that kept you begging for more.  OM botanical’s were also on hand giving demonstrations of their skin care line.  Their products are said to be gluten free, vegan and eco friendly.  Jyoti natural foods had a tasty sampling of some of their Indian style recipe’s made with their products.  I could go on forever telling you about my taste adventures but I won’t as I am sure you want to also hear about  these lectures I attended. 

       As disappointed as I was in not hearing more about his vegan adventures as he was pursuing his athletic endeavors and improving his life, I still enjoyed his highly motivational talk about how he overcame so many obstacles in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.  In the process he was also promoting his book, “Finding Ultra.”  As I mentioned earlier, I heard Rich Roll speak about his experiences going from a coach potato lawyer and turning his life and health around by not only going vegan but participating in these Ultra Man Marathon’s that are run in Hawaii.The other speaker, Mr. Johnathan Balcombe, discussed various animals and illustrated how they had feelings that we should be cognizant of.  What really struck me during that session was that fish, yes, actual fish like to be touched and massaged, much like dogs.  Who knew!  And then he showed a photograph of this perfectly shaped mandala that was  made by a puffer fish in the sands of the deep ocean to attract a mate.  Another astonishing fact that he dispensed was that sharks actually like humans, even more so when you massage them.  No offense to our fish friends, not trying to sound awful, but this knowledge did not deter me from consuming fish, or encourage me to get cozy with sharks. 


Saturday, February 7, 2015

GNYDA Health and Wellness Conference 2015

     So a couple of days back, I journeyed off to the yearly GNYDA Health and Wellness Conference in mind numbing cold weather.  I suspect the weather kept a few home since, at least as far as I could tell, the room was a bit emptier than previous years.  The talks provided enlightening insights on the association between skin and acne, the re-emergence of blenderized tube feedings, as well as reinforced concepts about the benefits of exercise. Overall, I would say, it was worth the trip.
     Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, a doctoral student at NYU with multiple dietetic certifications gave us a glimpse of her research into acne and nutrition.  The incidence of adult acne has increased over the past 20 to 25 years.  This condition, although not life threatening, negatively impacts emotional health.  Acne can be attributed to a number of factors including but not limited to stress, environment and diet.  Current research on the associations between diet and acne are inconclusive but certain foods can aggravate the condition.  Sugary foods, fruit juice, and surprisingly fat free milk have been shown to be some of the worst culprits.  Low glycemic diets and omega 3 fatty acids appear to possibly be helpful in cases of moderate to severe acne.  The link between milk consumption and acne is unclear.  Researchers aren’t sure whether it’s the fat, carbohydrate or protein in the milk which is associated with exacerbating the condition.
     Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports physician, emphasized the importance of exercise as preventative medicine.  He stated today’s youth are expected to live 5 years less than their parents.  His prescription for exercise as follows: 30min/day for 5 days of the week starting off with low intensity workouts and increasing intensity as the body becomes stronger.   He also encouraged yearly fitness goals.
     Finally, Julia Driggers, RD, LDN,CNSC a clinical dietitian at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia talked about the use of blenderized tube feedings.  This was an eye-opener as I (as well as other RD colleagues of mine) thought they weren’t in use anymore. These feedings aren’t recommended for patients with multiple food allergies or are immunocompromised.  There are food safety issues associated with implementing such feedings.  Supposedly there are feedings on the market by commercial distributors made with real foods.  Real food and Liquid Hope were two of the brand names mentioned during the meeting.  Liquid hope is not for use with children.   There are two types of feedings that can be made: thick and thin.   Thick feedings generally have higher caloric density (>30cal/ oz), are thick and pasty in consistency and have minimal free water.  They are used in patients with reflux, volume intolerance or have undergone nissen fundoplications.  Grains, sugars, cornstarch, or infant cereal are used to thicken formulations.  Thin feedings are used in patients’ with formula intolerance, oral aversions, or delayed oro-motor skills.  They typically are between 20 to 30cal/oz and are moderately free in water.  Recipe’s for these formulas can be found in, “Homemade Blended Formula Handbook,” by Marsha Dunn Klein, Med, OTR/L and Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD, CCC.  Most homemade blenders would not be acceptable for making blenderized tube feedings so thought must be put into the type of blender to purchase. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health

    Chocolate is a food that is loved and adored throughout the world.  It provides comfort while imparting a delectable taste that makes one question its’ health promoting properties.  Researchers had observed that the Kuna Indians of Central America consistently maintained a healthy blood pressure throughout their lives (1,2).  They attributed this to the fact that they drank three to four cups of a chocolate drink per day.  As such, chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, has been looked at for the purpose of promoting cardiovascular health (1).  It is said that even a small drop in blood pressure in the hypertensive patient can bring forth positive changes in cardiovascular health(1). 

     Flavonols are the chemical compounds found in cocoa beans that catalyze the production of endothelial nitric oxide which is responsible for this decrease in blood pressure.  These phytochemicals are found in plant based foods like apples, beans and tea in lower concentrations than is present in chocolate.  The higher concentration of flavonols in chocolate  impart the medicinal properties associated with this food.  Furthermore, the density of flavonols in chocolate products is dependent on the processing methods used.  Naturally, dark chocolate is higher in flavonols than is milk chocolate (1,2).  

     A meta-analysis review of 20 different short term studies (approximately 2 weeks in duration) found a significant drop of 2 to 3 mm Hg in blood pressure.  This decrease was noted only in individuals less than 50 years of age.  The results of the studies are questionable due to their short duration(1).  One study that included young healthy people found that consuming 8g of dark chocolate (>70% cocoa) over a month improved vascular functioning(3).  In another review of the health benefits of chocolate a study lasting fifteen years was discussed.  The afore-mentioned study involved men between the ages of 65 and 84 years of age and found those that consumed cocoa products regularly exhibited lower blood pressure(4).  The authors of these reviews suggest more longer term studies for the purpose of arriving to definitive conclusions on the health attributes of chocolate.  It is also stated that many of these studies have been funded by producers of chocolate products which therefore causes one to question the positive findings (1,4). 

     Improved cardiovascular health is only one of the benefits of consuming chocolate that is cited in scientific literature.  Other benefits of chocolate consumption include, but are not limited to, relieving stress by increasing serotonin production, weight management and maintaining oral health.  Despite evidence suggesting chocolate as a health promoting food, moderation in intake should still be exercised(4).  A single serving of a dark chocolate bar every day should be enough to quell your chocolate cravings and promote wellness. 


1.)          "Effect of Cocoa on Blood Pressure." Review. The Cochrane Library 8 (2012): 1-81. The Cochrane Collaboration. Web. 5 July 2014.

2.)          Latham, Laura S., Zeb K. Hensen, and Deborah S. Minor. "Chocolate-Guilty Pleasure or Healthy Supplement?" The Journal of Clinical Hypertension 16.2 (2013): 101-05. Web. 5 July 2014.

3.)          Pereira, Telmo, Mariana Vilas Boas, and Jorge Conde. "Dark Chocolate Intake Improves Endothelial Function in Young Healthy People: A Randomized and Controlled Trial." Caridiovascular System 2.3 (2014): 1-6. Web. 5 July 2014.

4.)          Latif, R. "Chocolate/cocoa and Human Health: A Review." Netherlands: The Journal of Medicine 71.2 (2013): 63-67. Print.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Part 2: New Jersey Dietetic Association Annual Meeting

      Vicki Koenig, MS, RD CDN, a Nutrition Consultant to individuals and food companies spoke to the attendees of the annual New Jersey Dietetic Meeting about the usage and benefits of probiotics.  She reviewed some of the history behind the use of probiotics.  The 1908 Nobel Peace Prize winner in the field of Medicine and Physiology, Mr. Elie Metchinkoff is said to have discovered the connection between probiotics and health.  According to Ms. Vicki Koenig, he observed that Bulgarians lived a relatively long and healthy life which he attributed to their consumption of cultured food products.  In fact, Lactobacillus bulgaricus is named after the Bulgarian people.  Lactobacillus, found in the small intestine and Bifidobacteria which inhabits the large intestine are two of the major genera of probiotics noted for their health promoting properties.  Some benefits of the use of bacteria are as follows: improved digestion, lower cholesterol, decrease in allergies and eczema, as well as improvement in the utilization of carbohydrates and proteins.  Contraindications to usage of probiotics are GI bleeding and a immunocompromised system.  The quantity of “good” bacteria in the gut is said to decline with age.   Specific strains should be sought after for certain conditions, therefore, there is no one probiotic fits all according to the speaker. 

     During the poster session there were some interesting pieces of research by Dietetic Interns that were being exhibited.   I will share some tidbits of research from this years College of Saint Elizabeth Dietetic Internship crew.

1.)    Dietetic interns Andrea Ficarra, Alicia Henning and Victoria Kuebler completed a meta analysis review of studies relating to GI disease and nutrition.  Current evidence does not strongly support the use of probiotics in the treatment of IBD, a low FODMAP diet for  treating IBS, or a gluten free diet in caring for diarrhea prominent IBS.

2.)    Another meta analysis review was completed by Jenna Graziano and  Gabrielle Guiliano to investigate the impact of zinc supplementation on hepatic encephalopathy and wound healing. There appears to be a possible benefit of zinc supplementation with hepatic encephalopathy but researchers are not clear on dosage and whether other therapies should be implemented.  Improvement of wound healing was noted whether the patient was zinc deficient or not when receiving supplementation.  Data on this matter is inconclusive at this point.

3.)    Finally, Lindsay Dolashewich reviewed the research between weight control and antipsychotic medications. Long term adherence of 6 months or more to a diet and exercise program showed improvement in weight control and metabolic abnormalities. 

There was much more information that I wish I had the time to share with you!! But, I hope you enjoyed the information I did have time to share! 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Part 1: New Jersey Dietetic Association Annual Meeting

     A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual New Jersey Dietetic Association’s meeting held on May 14th at the Imperia on Easton in Somerset, NJ.   For the most part I was manning the Scholarship Fundraising Raffle table making sure everything was  going well with that part of the event.  Given my duties, I wasn’t able to attend any of the lectures, but ,  I was still able to gather some information  that I hope some of you may find enlightening.

     Ms. Jennifer Stein, MS, RD, a Dietitian with St. Barnabas Health Care discussed,  “The Nutritional Management before and after  Weight Loss Surgery.”  She went over current weight loss treatment modalities, as well as, the evolution of weight loss surgery and nutritional guidelines associated with the surgeries.  Over the years, weight loss surgeries have morphed into what she termed, “metabolic surgeries,” that are done laparoscopicaly and single incisions with shorter hospital stays.  The following table gives a break down on the different surgeries she discussed during her talk:

Restrictive vs. Malabsortive and Restrictive Procedures

Gastric Band
Sleeve Gastrectomy
Weight loss
40 to 50% of excess body weight
>50% excess body weight
Metabolic/hormonal changes
Improved diabetes, decreased hunger due to hormonal changes
Nutritional Deficiencies
Most likely not
Vitamin B12; ? others
Band slippage, prolapse, weight regain
Leaks, strictures, weight regain
high calorie foods slip through
Malabsorptive/Restrictive Procedures
Duodenal Switch
Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass
Weight loss
>70% weight loss
60 to 80% weight loss
Metabolic/Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes decrease hunger
Hormonal changes decrease hunger
Nutritional Deficiencies
Fe, Fat soluble vitamins
Vit B12, Fe, Ca, folate
Dumping, leaks, ulcer
Dumping, leaks , ulcer


     Preoperative care involves diabetes management, smoking cessation and making sure the patient has realistic expectations.  Encouraging exercise, providing protein and MVI, calcium and vitamin D supplementation is also advised.  Postoperative care requires a gradual advancement of the diet.   The first week should be clear liquids, second should be full liquids, the third and fourth week is puree before the final week when  the patient can advance to solid foods.   The only difference is found with the duodenal switch diet which extends to 9 weeks and between the fifth to eighth weeks, the patient is on a semi-soft diet.   All patients undergoing bariatric surgery should have the following supplements:  MVI, calcium citrate, vitamin D and biotin.   Patients who underwent the duodenal switch surgery should also receive fat soluble vitamins. 

     Ms. Cynthia Lowen, a Medical Scientific Liaison with Nestle Health Science, gave a talk entitled, “Nutritional Support of the Critically Ill Patient with Obesity.”  She discussed how obesity, despite it’s associated physical and metabolic derangements, is often missed as a diagnoses.  Other points she talked about were the prevalence of diabetes and nutritional insights into improving outcomes for the critically ill obese patient.  Obesity is currently recognized as a disease associated with a multitude of comorbidities and has behavioral, genetic and environmental causes.  Obese individuals are susceptible to protein energy malnutrition due to increased protein breakdown which leads to a reduction in lean body mass.  Hypocaloric or permissive underfeeding is advised for critically ill patients whose BMI exceeds 30.  11 to 14kcal/kg of actual body weight with protein requirements of 2g/kg IBW for class 1 and !! obesity (BMI of 30 to 39.9) or 2.5g/kg of IBW for class II obesity ( BMI of >40).  Interestingly, she notes that studies have found that providing approximately 8g of leucine a day to critically ill patients can help maintain lean body mass and improve glycemic control.  She states low carb, high protein feedings can have the same effects.  Fish oil is also said to help with outcomes for critically obese patients. 

Stay tuned for some more from New Jersey Dietetic Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting!!