10 Nutritional Blunders Most of Us Make

Cara Rosenbloom wrote . . . . . .

Even when you try your best to eat well, it’s difficult to know everything about nutrition. I often talk with clients who believe they are making good choices and don’t realize that little oversights stand in their way of optimal health. Here’s a top 10 list of common but easy-to-repair nutrition mistakes.

You add whole flaxseeds to your breakfast

Flaxseeds are filled with omega-3 fats, fibre and lignans (antioxidants), which all benefit heart health. But whole flaxseeds may pass through the intestines undigested, which means you’ll miss out on the health benefits inside the seed. Buy ground flax seeds instead, or put them in a coffee or spice grinder.

You blend a nutritious smoothie, but it’s a calorie bomb

It’s easy to toss a combination of superfoods into a blender. Blueberries, cashew butter, chia, kale, bananas and coconut milk sound like a dreamy breakfast elixir, but these concoctions can quickly become calorie bombs. Keep smoothies in the 300-calorie range by serving smaller portions (about 8-12 ounces), using more vegetables than fruit, and by going easy on the high-calorie nuts and seeds.

You take your supplements with coffee

Caffeine from coffee can hinder your body’s ability to absorb some of the vitamins and minerals in your supplements, including calcium, iron, B-vitamins and vitamin D. And it’s not just coffee – beverages such as tea and cola contain caffeine, too. Enjoy your coffee about an hour before taking your supplements, and swallow pills with water instead.

You use regular canned beans for your meatless meals

Beans are an amazing source of fibre and protein, but canned varieties may have close to 1,000 mg of sodium per 250 ml (one cup) — that’s two-thirds of what you need in an entire day! Look for cans that say “no salt added” or “low-sodium.” If you can’t find them, drain and rinse your canned beans, which will eliminate about 40 per cent of the sodium.

To cut back on sugar, you cut out fruit

The top source of sugar in the American diet is sweetened beverages, not fruit. Sugary soft drinks have no beneficial nutrients, while fruit has fibre, vitamins and protective antioxidants. Plus, we don’t tend to overeat fruit, but do tend to drink too much soda. Consider how much easier it is to down a 600-ml (20-ounce) soda, as opposed to eating six bananas at one time. Both pack 16 teaspoons or 80 ml of sugar. Choose fruit and skip the soda.

You trust claims like “low-fat” and “sugar-free”

For many years, we’ve relied on label claims that tell us what our food doesn’t contain — fat, sugar, gluten. It’s more important to look at what the food does contain. Ultra-processed foods may be fat-free or sugar-free, but also loaded with preservatives or refined ingredients. Read ingredient lists and choose foods that are as close to nature as possible.

You drink almond milk for calcium but don’t shake the carton first

Milk alternatives made from soy, almonds, cashews, rice, etc. are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. But the added nutrients don’t stay in the liquid very well, and tend to sink to the bottom of the container. If you drink without shaking first, you can’t reap the benefits of the added vitamins and minerals. Shake well before serving.

You skip the dressing on salad

Vegetables contain fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K, and a host of antioxidants that require fat to be absorbed. If you skip the oil and vinegar, you miss out on key nutrients from the salad. Serve your greens with oil-based dressing, nuts, seeds or avocado to dramatically boost your body’s ability to soak up the veggies’ beneficial nutrients.

You miss out on probiotics by buying the wrong type of yogurt

Yogurt is fermented milk, and fermented foods contain probiotics. So, logic would dictate that all yogurts are probiotic-rich, but unfortunately that’s not the case. If yogurt has been heated or pasteurized, probiotics are destroyed and may not be added back in. Look for the words “live active cultures,” or check ingredient lists for names of specific probiotics (lactobacillus acidophilus, L bulgaricus, etc.) to ensure you’re getting these beneficial bacteria, which aid digestion and support the immune system.

You refuel with sports drinks

Sports drinks are meant to replace fluid and electrolytes that are lost when you sweat excessively, and are suitable after endurance sports like a soccer game or marathon. But the extra sugar and salt in sports drinks are not needed for casual exercise with minimal perspiration. After a stroll, hydrating with water is the best choice.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Myth and Misconception of Healthy Foods

Erin Brodwin wrote . . . . .

We asked a registered dietitian for advice about which “health foods” are actually not worth eating.

We’re all familiar with them — foods that we think are healthy because we heard about them on the news or from a health-conscious friend.

And no matter how much we may dislike them, we keep buying them because we think they’re good for us.

Take swapping dairy milk for almond milk. Is liquid from nuts really nutritionally superior to milk from a cow? Or splurging on Himalayan sea salt. Healthy habit or a bit of nonsense?

We asked Andy Bellatti — a registered dietitian and the cofounder of Dietitians for Professional Integrity — for advice about which “health foods” are actually not worth eating.


Nearly half of American adults take vitamins every day. Yet decades’ worth of research hasn’t found any justification for this pill-popping habit.

We do need small amounts of vitamins to survive, of course — without vitamins such as A, C, and E, for example, we’d have a hard time turning food into energy, and could develop conditions like rickets or scurvy. But research shows we get more than enough of these substances from what we eat, so there’s no need for a pill.

Almond butter

Everything from Gwyneth Paltrow’s daily breakfast smoothie to the grocery store around the corner now seems to have almond butter, but the stuff is incredibly pricey. We asked Bellatti whether there’s any reason to use almond butter instead of plain old peanut butter, which is about four times less expensive.

“It can just be peanut butter!” Bellatti said. “If the only ingredients are peanuts and salt, that totally works. It’s still going to have your protein, healthy fats, and vitamin E.”


When you juice fresh fruits and veggies, you remove their fiber, the key ingredient that keeps you feeling full and satisfied until your next meal.

What you keep is the sugar. In the short term, a high-sugar, low-protein diet means hunger pangs, mood swings, and low energy. In the long term, you can lose muscle mass, since muscles rely on protein.

Gluten-free bread

Unless you’re one of the 1% of Americans who suffer from celiac disease, gluten probably won’t have a negative effect on you. In fact, studies show that most people suffer from slight bloating and gas when they eat, whether they consume wheat or not. So go ahead and eat that bagel.

Almond milk

Dairy alternatives have been surging in popularity in the past few years, especially almond and soy milk. Yet almond milk is practically devoid of nutrients.

By themselves, almonds are protein powerhouses. But by volume, a typical glass of almond milk is only about 2% almonds and contains almost no protein. And all the vitamins in it are added. So if you’re looking for a truly healthy alternative, opt for soy, skim, or low-fat milk.


If you’re like me, you associate anything crunchy and sold in bags in the health-food aisle with nature-loving hikers — people who get lots of exercise and keep their bodies lean and healthy. But most granola is no health food. In fact, it’s packed with sugar and calories — a cup contains about 600 calories, or the same amount as two turkey-and-cheese sandwiches or about four cereal bars.

Egg whites

Lots of people began avoiding egg yolks after nutrition experts suggested that eating cholesterol was bad for you because it raised your cholesterol levels.

But there’s good news. A growing body of research shows that for the vast majority of people, dietary cholesterol (that comes from foods you eat) doesn’t really have much of an effect on your blood cholesterol. So unless you have high cholesterol, ditch those nasty egg-white-only alternatives. Good morning, eggs Benedict!

Bottled water

Bottled water is not cleaner or healthier than most tap water in the US. Yet we spend more than $100 billion on the bottled good every year globally.

Elizabeth Royte writes in “Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought it” that 92% of the America’s 53,000 local water systems meet or exceed federal safety standards and are at least as clean and often cleaner than bottled water. (Residents of areas with lead contamination in their water, however, should opt for the bottled stuff.)

Agave nectar

Once upon a time, many health proponents (including Dr. Oz) suggested swapping your sugar for agave, since it has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t lead to the impromptu spikes in blood sugar (aka glucose) that happen after consuming plain white sugar.

But while agave isn’t high in glucose, it is high in another type of sweetener — fructose (the same stuff in high-fructose corn syrup). Some recent studies suggest that diets high in fructose are linked with several health problems, including heart disease.

It doesn’t so much matter which sweetener you use as how much you’re using. “Sugar is sugar is sugar,” says Bellatti.

Anything that promises to ‘detoxify’ your system

No one needs to detox. Unless you’ve been poisoned, you already have a super-efficient system for filtering out most of the harmful substances you eat. That means you don’t need to buy any “cleansing” juices or “detox” teas.

“There’s nothing about these products that’s detoxifying, nor is there any food that’s detoxifying,” says Bellatti.

Your built-in cleaning system is made of two toxin-bashing organs: the liver and kidneys. While our kidneys filter our blood and remove waste from our diet, our livers process medications and detoxify any chemicals we ingest. Paired together, these organs make our bodies natural cleansing powerhouses.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is roughly identical to olive oil in overall calorie and fat content.

But as opposed to a tablespoon of olive oil, which has just 1 gram of saturated fat and more than 10 grams of healthy mono- or polyunsaturated fats, a tablespoon of coconut oil has a whopping 12 grams of saturated fat and just 1 gram of healthy fat. Experts suggest avoiding saturated fats because they’ve been linked with high cholesterol and a risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Himalayan salt

The distinctive pink hue of Himalayan salt can be traced to the tiny amount of iron oxide, or rust, in the pebbles. The salt also contains small amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, and fractionally lower amounts of sodium than regular table salt. But is it worth the price?

“Yes, the pink hue comes from minerals but the content is close to nil,” says Bellatti. “Nobody should be looking for minerals in things like sugar or salt! Just because it’s Himalayan crystal salt, you can’t just use more of it or think it wouldn’t have the same effects as other salts would. Understand that it’s still salt.”

Coconut water

This $4-a-serving beverage is not a panacea for everything from post-workout dehydration to cancer. Yes, coconut water is a great source of potassium and other vitamins and minerals. But it’ll do your body just as good to drink a glass of water and snack on a piece of fresh fruit.

Low-fat everything

We’ve been led to believe that low-fat products will lead to increased overall health and weight loss. However, an eight-year trial involving nearly 50,000 women suggested that that’s highly unlikely. When roughly half of them went on a low-fat diet, they didn’t lower their risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or heart disease. Plus, they didn’t lose much weight, if any.

New recommendations show that healthy fats, like those from nuts, fish, and avocados, are actually good for you in moderation. So add them back into your diet if you haven’t already.

Sports drinks

We’ve been wrongly convinced that we need sugar water to prepare for a workout and “refuel” after hitting the gym. In reality, exercise scientists recommend drinking water and eating or drinking 20 grams of protein, since studies suggest that helps recondition and build muscles.

Source: Business Insider

Canadian Brain Health Food Guide for Older Adults

See large image . . . . .

Baycrest scientists have led the development of the first Canadian Brain Health Food Guide to help adults over 50 preserve their thinking and memory skills as they age.

“There is increasing evidence in scientific literature that healthy eating is associated with retention of cognitive function, but there is also a lot of misinformation out there,” says Dr. Carol Greenwood, co-author of the Brain Health Food Guide, senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) and professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences.

There is not a lot of evidence about individual foods, but rather classes of foods, says Dr. Greenwood, who is also a co-author of Mindfull, the first science-based cookbook for the brain. Older adults are encouraged to eat berries or cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, rather than a specific type of berry or vegetable.

The easy-to-read food guide, co-authored with Dr. Matthew Parrott, a former RRI post-doctoral fellow, in collaboration with nutritionists involved with the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), provides the best advice based on current evidence.

Research has found that dietary patterns similar to those outlined in the Brain Health Food Guide are associated with decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 36 per cent and mild cognitive impairment (a condition likely to develop into Alzheimer’s) by 27 per cent.

Some tips suggested by the Brain Health Food Guide include:

  • Focus on an overall pattern of healthy eating, not one specific “superfood” for brain health
  • Eat fish, beans and nuts several times a week
  • Include healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and fish in one’s diet
  • Add beans or legumes to soups, stews and stir-fried foods
  • Embrace balance, moderation and variety

“The Brain Health Food Guide ties day-to-day diet advice with the best available research evidence on promoting brain health to older adults,” says Dr. Susan Vandermorris, a clinical neuropsychologist and lead of the Memory and Aging Program at Baycrest, a brain health workshop for healthy older adults who are concerned about memory loss. “This guide is a perfect fit for our clients seeking to proactively manage their brain health through healthy nutrition.”

Source: EurekAlert!

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Unscrambling The Nutrition Science On Eggs

Bret Stetka wrote . . . . . .

As more research suggests some degree of dietary cholesterol is harmless, if not healthy, the egg’s reputation is slowly returning. Yet some experts worry the science is being misinterpreted and spun.

Historically, when humans have sought a reliable source of calories — particularly one that can be readily nabbed from an unsuspecting animal with minimal exertion and zero horticulture skills — we have often turned to eggs.

We’ve pilfered the ova of countless creatures since Neolithic times. But it is the nutritive and symbolic capacities of the humble bird egg, primarily that of the chicken, that we have most consistently championed: reliable nourishment, a hangover cure, an emblem of rebirth — when necessary, a supreme projectile.

As P.G. Wodehouse asked in his 1906 novel, Love Among The Chickens, “Have you ever seen a man, woman, or child who wasn’t eating an egg or just going to eat an egg or just coming away from eating an egg? I tell you, the good old egg is the foundation of daily life.”

Yet in the late 1970s, our egg appreciation soured. Doctors realized that excess cholesterol in our blood predicts a higher risk of heart disease. Cholesterol is a fatty substance necessary for digestion, cellular function and the production of hormones. When too much of it shuttles through our blood supply, it can accumulate on artery walls and up our risk for heart attack and stroke. By extension, many physicians of the day assumed that eating high-cholesterol foods like butter, red meat and eggs was probably disastrous for our health and should be avoided. Fat phobia ensued.

We now know it’s more complicated than this.

Cholesterol no doubt contributes to heart disease by literally blocking our blood vessels. And eating cholesterol can raise levels of it in the blood, but, as a growing body of research has shown, not by that much. Consuming sugar, transfats or excessive saturated fat can be more harmful to cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself. Most of the cholesterol in our bodies we make ourselves in the liver, and total body levels are heavily influenced by genetics, gender and age.

As more and more research suggests that some degree of cholesterol consumption is harmless, if not healthy, the egg’s reputation is gradually returning. Yet some experts worry that the science is being misinterpreted and spun by the media, the egg industry and even opportunistic doctors. Diet science tends to be presented and perceived as black or white. Take butter: bad for us one day, not so bad the next. It’s an eternal cycle of self-help revenue. Unfortunately, health and science are rarely this simple. And neither is the egg.

Our collective fear of cholesterol and other fats in part traces back to results from the famous Framingham Heart Study. Launched in 1948 and still going today, the study began by tracking the lifestyles of 5,209 people from Framingham, Mass. The results, which began to appear in journals in the early 1960s, led to our current understanding of heart health and how it’s affected by factors like exercise, smoking and diet.

Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Nutrition Department, was one of the first physicians to realize that while the Framingham findings showed that cholesterol in the blood is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, no studies at that point had shown that cholesterol consumption actually increased blood levels.

Willett and his colleagues have since studied thousands of patients for years and have found no evidence that moderate dietary cholesterol or egg consumption increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, except in people with a strong genetic risk for high cholesterol and possibly people with diabetes.

His findings echo those from a 2013 study published in BMJ reporting that eating one egg per day is not associated with impaired heart health.

“There is now general consensus that dietary cholesterol, primarily consumed in eggs, and to a lesser extent in certain seafoods like shrimp, has a relatively small effect in raising blood cholesterol,” explains Dr. Bruce Griffin, who studies the links between nutrition and cardiovascular disease at the University of Surrey in England. Griffin’s own study from 2009 found that overweight people prescribed a low-calorie diet that included two eggs a day actually saw a drop in cholesterol levels.

The renaissance around cholesterol is not lost on guideline committees, many of which are softening their stance.

In 2013 the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association rattled the medical community by releasing new cholesterol guidelines that abandoned the long-standing goal of keeping our “bad cholesterol” — our LDLs — under 100. The guideline authors based their decision on the lack of randomized-controlled trials supporting a specific target. Too many LDLs tumbling through our bloodstream are no doubt bad, they acknowledge, but dangerous levels in one person might be tolerable in someone else. Also, chasing a specific target through overtreatment could subject patients to drug side effects, which need to be considered.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans — co-developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — also broke with tradition. General clinical dogma had previously held that total cholesterol should be capped at 300 milligrams per day in healthy people, roughly the amount found in 1 1/2 average-sized chicken eggs. Yet the new guidelines don’t include a specific numerical goal. As the authors wrote, “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and [blood] cholesterol … Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

But some nutrition scientists worry that this softened official line on cholesterol sends the wrong message.

“The lack of dietary cholesterol recommendations in recently released … guidelines is controversial,” says Dr. Wahida Karmally, director of nutrition at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Columbia University. “This should not be interpreted as an affirmation to ignore dietary cholesterol, since there is clear evidence that it does increase LDL-cholesterol,” she says.

And it does. But by some estimates, only by around 10 percent.

Karmally also points out the danger in generalizing study results to the entire population. She notes that a significant portion of population — up to 30 percent, some estimate — are thought to be “hyper-responders,” meaning they experience abnormally high spikes in blood cholesterol as a result of consuming cholesterol. Most experts agree that hyper-responders need to be especially diligent about limiting cholesterol consumption.

Dr. J. David Spence, a professor of neurology and clinical pharmacology at Western University in London, Ontario, a known egg detractor, is livid at how the 2015 guidelines were interpreted.

“The egg industry and the media seized on the first paragraph of the media release of the new guideline, which said there is not strong data on which to base a specific numerical limit to a dietary cholesterol intake,” he points out. “But if we read on, the guidelines recommend that cholesterol intake should be as low as possible and part of a generally healthy diet.”

The report also cautions that foods high in cholesterol are often also high in saturated fat, which itself increases blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Spence likens Big Egg to Big Tobacco in its loose interpretation of scientific data in the interest of profit.

In December 2016, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported that people who eat an average of one egg a day have a 12 percent lower risk for stroke compared with those who eat fewer eggs. The study also found no link, whether positive or negative, between egg consumption and coronary heart disease.

Yet note the fine print: The study was partially funded by something called the Egg Nutrition Center, a self-described “nutrition education division of the American Egg Board (AEB), a national checkoff program on all egg farms with more than 75,000 hens.”

“I am not trying to put egg farmers out of business,” says Spence. “[But] the propaganda of the egg industry rests on a half-truth.”

He is referring to the fact that many past studies funded by the egg industry that support egg consumption measured fasting cholesterol levels rather than levels after a meal. Most of us spend a good portion of our day in a post-meal state, when our cholesterol climbs to higher levels — and when it presumably does more damage to our arteries. What’s more, by not measuring cholesterol after meals, researchers are unable to identify the hyper-responders, for whom consuming cholesterol poses added health risks.

Spence’s true gripe lies not with the egg itself, but with the yolk. One jumbo egg yolk contains around 240 milligrams of cholesterol, nearly as much as an entree I was frightened to Google: the “2/3 lb. Hardee’s Monster Thickburger.” In an email, Spence recommended I try his omelet and frittata recipes while writing this article. Both are made with egg whites, which he cedes is a healthy source of protein.

Cholesterol aside, Willett points to other possible health benefits of eggs. They contain some unsaturated fats, associated with a lower risk of heart disease; also iron and a number of vitamins and minerals. And a new Finnish ­study — one not affiliated with the egg industry — even suggests that eating one egg a day could improve long-term cognitive function.

“Overall it is hard to say that eggs are good or bad,” says Willett. “They’re almost certainly no worse than sugary breakfast cereal or a bagel with cream cheese — probably better. In terms of health, they seem to be in the middle somewhere.”

However, in the interest of a healthy breakfast, before cracking into an egg, Willett says to consider fruit, nuts and whole grains, all thought to lower blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

“A bowl of steel cut oats topped with nuts and berries will almost certainly reduce risk of heart disease compared to a breakfast centered on eggs,” he says. “That’s what I have most mornings, sometimes adding a bit of yogurt. But eggs are clearly not a poison pill.”

Source: npr

Can Combined Exercise and Nutritional Intervention Improve Muscle Mass and Function?

A study of the combined effect of exercise and nutrition intervention on muscle mass and function in seniors finds that exercise has a positive impact, with some possible additive effect of dietary supplementation.

Although progressive muscle loss is a natural part of ageing, sarcopenia is generally identified when muscle mass and muscle function falls below defined thresholds. Sarcopenia’s impact can be enormous as it affects mobility, balance, risk of falls and fractures, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. Given the ageing of populations worldwide, public health and clinical recommendations to prevent and manage sarcopenia are urgently needed.

The new systematic review ‘Nutrition and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia’ summarizes the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of interventions combining physical activity and dietary supplements on muscle mass and muscle function in subjects aged 60 years and older.

Following up on a previous study, the new study looked at a total of 37 RCTs. The studies were heterogeneous both in terms of protocols for physical exercise and in regard to dietary supplementation. The various supplements used included proteins, essential amino acids, creatine, β-hydroxy-β-methylbuthyrate, vitamin D, multi-nutrients and others.

Professor René Rizzoli, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at University Hospitals of Geneva, stated: “

Previous trials have shown that physical activity, and primarily resistance training interventions, have a positive impact on muscle strength and physical performance. Other studies have suggested that certain dietary supplements play a role in muscle mass or function. However, more needs to be learned about the synergistic effects of these two interventions.”

The review concluded that:

  • In 79% of the studies, muscle mass increased with exercise and an additional effect of nutrition was found in 23.5% of the RCTs.
  • Muscle strength increased in 82.8% of the studies following exercise intervention and dietary supplementation showed additional benefits in a small number of studies (22,8%).
  • The majority of studies showed an increase of physical performance following exercise intervention (92.8%) and interaction with nutrition supplementation was found in 14.3% of these studies.

Physical exercise was found to have a positive impact on muscle mass and muscle function in healthy subjects aged 60 years and older. The greatest effect of exercise intervention, of any type, was observed on physical performance (gait speed, chair rising test, balance, SPPB test, etc.). Based on the included studies, mainly performed in well-nourished subjects, the combined effect of dietary supplementation on muscle function was less than expected.

Professor Elaine Dennison, Professor of Musculoskeletal Epidemiology and Honorary Consultant in Rheumatology within Medicine at the University of Southampton, noted:

Among the challenges in carrying out this study was the great heterogeneity in the RCTs, including in the exercise protocols and in the dosage of supplementation, all of which contributes to the variable findings between studies. Nevertheless, the results of the systematic review show the overwhelming positive impact of exercise interventions. One should also bear in mind that the majority of studies included in this systematic review looked at primarily healthy older subjects. It is likely that populations with nutritional or physical deficiencies would benefit more from nutritional interventions than well-nourished populations.”

The study authors point to a need for more well-designed studies assessing the impact of a combined exercise intervention and dietary intervention in frail and sarcopenic populations, and in populations suffering from nutritional deficiency or at risk of malnutrition. Furthermore, future studies should include rigorous documentation of the subjects’ baseline exercise levels and nutritional status prior to the implementation of intervention regimens.

Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation

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