Now that it is August, it’s the perfect time to finish the summer on a good note with some nutritional advice from the lovely and talented, Dr. Jana Klauer. Featured on JGB twice before (last summer and early 2013), Dr. Klauer continues to motivate, inspire, and educate all of us. So, thank you Dr. Klauer for sharing more wisdom and science, and helping us commit to a healthy and active lifestyle!
What are 3 or 4 of your “superfoods?”
When it comes to fruits and vegetables – we all know we need to eat more of them. But there are two important foods that you should eat every day: Leafy greens and berries – the darker the color, the better, for both! The dark color signifies a high concentration of protective plant nutrients.
* Leafy greens contain high amounts of vitamin A and phytonutrients. Lutein and zeaxanthin are green pigments that protect the plant against UV damage from the sun; when we eat leafy greens, lutein and zeaxanthin become concentrated in the retina of the eye, protecting our vision against oxidative damage. These mighty phytonutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, act as internal sunglasses! Choose dark green varieties like dark green or red looseleaf lettuce, dark green Bibb lettuce, arugula, and spinach. And don’t forget radicchio! Its flavor is slightly more bitter than the other leafs, but it is a nutritional powerhouse!
* Berries are low in calories, high in vitamin C, and have four times the antioxidant activity of the majority of other fruits, ten times more than most vegetables. Berries are low on the glycemic index and won’t spike your blood sugar. Blueberries appear to protect against age-related cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease. Blackberries are in season now and delicious. You may be interested to know: Cooking berries increases the antioxidant levels over fresh berries. Heat rearranges the molecular structure of the phytonutrients, making them more available. Eat them raw or cooked, but make sure to eat them.
* The cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, radishes, and turnips – contain unique sulphur-containing compounds, “glucosinolates”. When glucosinalates are eaten they produce active enzymes that act as scouts and soldiers against DNA damage that might create cancers. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduced risk for lung and gastrointestinal cancers. Brussels sprouts have the strongest anti-cancer property of all the cruciferous vegetables. It can be a challenge getting children to eat these important vegetables; but if they refuse, accept their decision. The, try offering the veggies again after a few weeks. Remember George Bush’s public declaration of broccoli hatred? I’ll just bet his mother forced him to eat broccoli, causing him to swear off broccoli forever!
What are 3 or 4 foods that people should never ever eat?
A great diet is not about deprivation or how little you can eat. Desserts? Of, course. Cheese? Sure. Wine? In moderation. But you need to avoid empty calories that have no benefit for your body. Here’s what works for me: No soda, diet or regular. Nothing out of a vending machine. I don’t eat processed foods. Avoid fakes in food category: the frozen, calorie free ice-creams (you know what I am talking about!) don’t qualify as food. In between meals, if I get hungry I will have some cheese or fruit or nuts. That’s it. I eat three meals and an afternoon snack. Simple to do, not hard.
What are your thoughts on stevia? Splenda? Natural sugar?
People recognize that eating too much sugar has a negative effect on their health and waistline; therefore, many have turned to calorie-free sweeteners. But, I must tell you, the science behind using artificial sweeteners to lose weight is not impressive. Some of the studies show some benefit while most suggest the artificial sweeteners make matters worse. What’s the problem? Eating naturally occurring sugars (which contain calories) results in a cascade of metabolic proteins being released in the stomach, small intestine and pancreas. These proteins are not digestive enzymes – instead they act as messengers. The net effect of the proteins is to signal the arrival of calories throughout the digestive tract and to the brain. When artificial sweeteners enter the digestive tract the metabolic proteins are not released; the sweet taste, which normally signals calories in sugar, is sensed but it is not followed by the normal physiological response. Over time, the result is a “weakening” of the signal. So, when normal sugars are eaten, there is less production of the metabolic proteins. Additionally, artificial sweeteners cause different responses within the brain from that of natural sugars; the brain activation patterns are changed by artificial sweeteners.
What I suggest is: Take it easy on the artificial sweeteners – they might not be such a sweet deal after all.
Everywhere you turn, people seem to have an allergy to peanuts, wheat, dairy. Is it really happening? If so, why?
You are correct – food allergies have increased! By the way, the increase is not just the US but worldwide. Food allergies affect 4-8% of children and 2% of adults. Eight foods are responsible for 90% allergies: cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. We do not know for certain why the incidence is increasing. An allergy is not the same as food intolerance. There are genetic predispositions to both conditions. Food intolerance can occur with the same foods that cause allergies. Allergies can be life threatening with symptoms of itchy eyes, swollen lips or face, hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing and problems swallowing.
Food intolerance causes digestive symptoms with bloating, diarrhea, and cramps. Milk products can cause lactose intolerance. Grains containing gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye can cause gluten intolerance (celiac disease).
As a true sugar addict, I need some advice that can help tame my sugar cravings!
Sugar cravings are a big problem. Often the problem starts when someone is too restrictive with their diet and goes for many hours without eating. In this situation, there are powerful metabolic signals generated driving the person to eat. Because simple carbohydrates are ubiquitous and provide an immediate elevation in blood sugar, that is what is eaten. Trouble is the sugar rush doesn’t last, leaving you tired and hungrier than before. It is obviously better not to get into this situation by eating regular meals, but hey, stuff happens! OK, we need to fix this; so this is what I tell my patients:
* Keep yourself on a 4-hour eating schedule. Three meals plus one or two snacks. You will learn to recognize your true hunger signals with the schedule. If you graze, you will gain. Stick with real foods on a 4 hour schedule.
* Drink water throughout the day. It keeps you hydrated and will prevent confusion of hunger with thirst.
* For your snack, include protein. Protein is more satisfying. Do you know that it is more expensive for your body to metabolize protein than carbohydrate? Your body requires three times the calories to metabolize protein than carbohydrate?
I know at one point, you had a popular workout drink that was dairy based. What are your beliefs on dairy post workout?
Yes, my Everyday Nutrition shake was amazing! Everyone loved it. (Maybe someday it will come back.) Consuming protein after a workout helps your muscles to repair the micro tears and damage caused by the workout. Studies show superior increases in muscle strength with post-workout protein consumption over water. Additionally, dairy protein contains the branched chain amino acids, which are essential for muscle repair. Dairy products help with weight loss. To get the most out of your workout and to stay slim: Try having a glass of skim milk or a container of yogurt, post – workout.
Thoughts on organic versus conventional foods?
A few years back I thought that organic foods were just hype and a waste of money. But it is very clear that pesticides in conventionally grown plants are absorbed into the human body and have been linked to numerous health problems, including Parkinson’s disease and autoimmune conditions. My suggestion is follow the Environmental Working Group’s list on the Dirty Dozen; the list ranks the conventionally grown produce in terms of how much pesticide remains. For busy city dwellers, I know it is difficult, if not impossible, to eat only organic foods.
Thank you so much, Dr. Klauer! I know that I always learn an incredible amount from her responses, and I know you all do too! if you have any further questions (or follow ups), please send them to me as I am highly likely to interview her again during the winter months. In the meantime, like her on facebook, and read her monthly columns here. Have a great week!