Sunday, October 28, 2012

Part One: My FNCE 2012 Experience

      FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo) 2012 was held earlier this month at the Pennsylvania Convention Center located in the hub of Philadelphia.  Thousands of Nutrition and Dietetics professionals from around the country traveled for the incredible educational and networking opportunities this annual event provides.    The expo provided an opportunity for food companies, authors and organizations to showcase their products and services.   Additionally, the expo lightened up the mood of the conference by giving out food product samples, gifts and prizes.   My favorite was the stability ball that was gifted by Pepsico after you visited several of their booths and answered several questions relating to their products.   They put a clever spin on the word PLAY which they used as an acronym for Protein Liquid Activity and You to promote physical activity and show how their products (i.e Gatorade chewables) can help in achieving optimum nutrition for physically active people. 

     I jump started my FNCE experience by attending the pre-FNCE workshop entitled, “Integrative RD: Nutrition as Medicine Confronting Cardiometabolic Syndrome,”   hosted by the dietitian practice group called Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM).  Several speakers discussed a holistic approach to combatting cardiometabolic syndrome which is associated with central obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL and elevated blood glucose levels.   Dr. Mark Hyman, the first speaker of the event, discussed functional medicine as it relates to cardiometabolic syndrome.    Functional medicine, according to Dr. Mark Hyman,  views illness in the body as a systemic disorder and not as a disease.   In relation to heart disease, he states that 90% of such cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes.  Less than 1% of Americans are said to ,”…. fill the criteria for factors that are good for cardiovascular health.”   And he noted that more people die from physical inactivity than from smoking.  He also briefly spoke about how toxins and food can effect our DNA and thereby lead to illness or improved health.  For example, high levels of lead in the environment can increase the incidence of stroke by 151%.   The body  as a complex system requires a non- linear understanding of its’ functioning which is vastly different from the linear thought processes that can be used to understand mathematical  concepts.   Dr. Mark Hyman also discussed how simple lifestyle changes can be more effective than medical treatments like Avandia or insulin which are said to increase the risk of death.   He also discussed how fecal transplants have been shown to be successful for insulin resistance.  Statins supposedly increased the risk of diabetes in patients per Dr. Hyman.   Lifestyle changes are said to decrease the incidence of diabetes.  Effective techniques to bring about these changes for overall improved health are food journaling and group therapy.  Another technique called Emotional Brain Training (EBT) was described by Ms. Laurel Mellin, MA, RD, cPhD.  

     According to Ms. Laurel Mellin, it takes one year to rewire your brain.   Stressors in a child’s parents life can lead to faulty conditioning thereby causing unhealthy relationships to things like food.   The first three years of life is crucial in this regard as that is when 70% of a child’s brain wiring takes place.  This wiring leads to a persistent brain state that provides an emotional set point.   The goal of EBT is to shut off the emotional drive and rewire the brain from stress to joy so that psychologically healthier choices can be made in relation to food or anything else.  Registered Dietitians can obtain certification via an  18 month distance learning program.  Information on this can be obtained at  Ms. Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN discussed how sometimes normal isn’t optimal and that investigative work and clinical wisdom should be implemented by the RD in assessing the patient.  Things are not necessarily clear cut because as mentioned before the biological system of the body is complex.   And then finally, the last speaker Ms. Coco Newton, MPH, RD, CCN gave a brief overview of the nutrition focused physical exam and encouraged participants to examine the patient and to take mental notes of any physical observations and research any unique findings.   She reported that waist to hip/waist to height ratios are better predictors of the risk of cardiometabolic disease than BMI.   Here are a few of the many things she pointed out during her lecture:

-          The skin and liver have the same detox processes

-          Low Essential Fatty Acids can lead to impaired wound healing, dermatitis, and photodamage.

-          Some signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are vitilgo and hyperpigmentation.

-          Low Vitamin D can lead to Calcium and Phosphorous malabsorption causing rickets and osteomalacia.

-          Hypercalcemia can lead to calcification of kidneys

-          She also promoted the site as one resource to gain additional knowledge. 


Stay tuned for the second part of my FNCE experiences………

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Wonders of Cranberry

     Cranberry is a fruit that can be useful in preventing bacterial infections, managing cholesterol, wound healing and with cancer.   The Native American peoples were well aware of the health promoting and healing properties of the cranberry fruit which is indigenous to the North American region.    Dr. Amy B. Howell, an associate research scientist at the Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ  wrote an article in the recent issue of the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM) newsletter entitled, “Health Benefits of Cranberries-It’s not just UTI’s anymore!” where she discussed this subject.   She also lectured on this same topic at the 2011 Food and Nutrition Conference Expo (FNCE) DIFM breakfast meeting.    And of course, as she further explains, the potent phytochemicals found in the fruit are responsible for it’s health promoting properties. 

     According to Dr. Amy Howell, the phytochemical known as polyphenolic proanthocyanidin (PACs) is responsible for preventing bacterial adhesions that lead to UTI’s, stomach ulcers and oral health issues.   The PACs found in cranberry are unique to those found in foods like grapes and chocolate because of its’  distinct type of chemical linkage that disrupts the bacterial adhesion process which is the first step towards infection.   As such, these PACs work differently from antibiotics as they do not kill bacteria and therefore bacteria is not apt to form resistance against these chemicals.   Regarding dental health, even advanced cases of periodontal disease benefitted from cranberry extract per Canadian researchers as reported by Dr. Howell.   Apparently cranberry has a powerful effect on bone formation in periodontal disease.   The combination of phytochemicals found in cranberries may prevent cardiovascular disease (CDV).  In one study noted in Dr. Howell’s works, participants consuming a little over 8oz. of a low-calorie cranberry drink containing 27% of pure cranberry juice over a 12 week period showed a significant increase of high density lipoprotein levels (HDL) in overweight men.   Higher HDL levels are typically associated with reduced risk of CVD.   Cranberry is also suspected to exhibit anti-carcinogenic properties as some research has suggested a reduction of tumor growth and protection against cancer.

     To benefit from the healing nature of cranberries, Dr. Howell makes the following recommendations regarding cranberry products:

1.)    When seeking cranberry supplements, look for those made with whole cranberries and carry the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or Good Manufacturing Process(GMP) stamp of approval on the packaging. 

2.)    Cranberry drinks should containing at least 25% of 100% cranberry juice.

3.)    Approximately 1 cup/day  of sugar sweetened or a low calorie cranberry cocktail drink is beneficial.

4.)    2oz. of 100% pure cranberry juice added to other juices to improve taste can be used as an alternative to cranberry juice drinks.


Howell, Amy B. "Health Benefits of Cranberries-It's Not Just about UTI's Anymore!" Food and Nutrition Conference Expo Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Breakfast. San Diego Convention Center, San Diego. 26 Sept. 2011. Lecture.

Howell, Amy B. "Health Benefits of Cranberries-It's Not Just UTI's Anymore." Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine 14 (Sept. 2012): 49-51. Print.
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