Tune in this week as we examine the many health benefits of breast feeding for the newborn.
Next week we will examine the health benefits of breast feeding for the mother and how commercial formula compares to Mother Nature’s natural formula!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Medical Association, breast milk is considered the best form of nutrition when it comes to feeding infants. Breast-feeding is the gold standard, compared to commercial formula, due to the unlimited benefits provided to both the mother and the baby. However, despite the education and research available, many mothers continue to choose formula feeding over breast-feeding. Mothers from poverty stricken lower income communities often choose formula over breast milk because they lack access to education and support. Increasing access to educational information, resources, and training is a key to ensuring better health and nutrition for infants and mothers from low income families.
As research continues to develop, there are many reasons why the breast is considered best for babies:
Breast milk is made up of lactose, protein (casein and whey), and fat. It is easily digested by the infant’s immature digestive system. It contains all of the vitamins and minerals a baby requires with the exception of vitamin D.
It provides skin to skin contact between mother and baby creating an emotional bond. Babies have immature immune systems that make them susceptible to infections and the growth of bacteria and viruses. Antibodies are passed from the mother to infant through breast milk. The antibodies help to strengthen the baby’s immune system and provide a barrier of protection against ear infections, respiratory infections, meningitis and diarrhea.
Breast milk is cost effective because it is free and convenient. Babies who are breast-fed are less likely to experience an infection which means fewer trips to the doctor and less time mothers have to take off work to care for their sick infant.
A large variety of foods in the mother’s diet exposes the baby to new and different flavors through breast milk. This exposure can help an infant to become more accepting of solid foods when transitioning from breast milk to whole food.
Think about these recently published statistics pertaining to the prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) in the United States:
29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, have DM
DM remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States
The average medical expenditures among people with diabetes are 2.3 times higher than for those without DM
The total costs associated with DM represent $245 billion dollars ($176 billion for direct medical costs $69 billion in reduced productivity)
What if our gut bacteria could reduce the prevalence of DM, improve the quality and quantity of life and save our healthcare system billions of dollars? Current research shows a favorable association between healthy gut flora and a reduced risk of DM. In a recent study, participants with DM were given fecal transplants from participants without DM (i.e. treatment group). The control group, also diagnosed with DM, received transplants from their own stool. After six weeks, insulin resistance and triglyceride levels decreased for the treatment group (i.e. those who received gut bacteria from people without DM). No decline was observed in the control group (i.e. those who received a transplant with their own bacteria). Research using animal models also show an association. Germ-free animals implanted with gut bacteria from conventional animals not only gained body fat but also became more insulin resistant (i.e. blood sugar cannot easily enter the cells).
Given these findings, researchers are eager to learn whether probiotics can be used for the prevention and management of diabetes. Until more is understood about the relationship between gut flora and DM, support your gut flora via a high fiber diet (e.g. whole vegetables, fruits, beans and grains) as well as fermented foods (e.g. yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut). If you enjoy smoothies, try Dr. Hyman’s whole food protein shake. The shake is full of great nutrients and delicious! Here’s to the proper balance of your well nourished gut bacteria!
February is Heart Health Awareness Month! By knowing your numbers you empower yourself to improve the health of your heart! Your results indicate where you are now and help you set priorities for improving your health. Discuss your results with your doctor or health care provider if any of your values are outside of the normal range. Your numbers include weight, body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, medical waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol/HDL ratio and HbA1C. Once you know your numbers, now what? Here is a list covering some recommendations that can help you improve your numbers.
My Blood Pressure is High! –Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure due to the increased workload on your heart and arteries. A combination of both diet and exercise can help to naturally lower your blood pressure. A diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and higher in potassium, magnesium and calcium (i.e. DASH diet), combined with regular cardiovascular exercise can help improve your blood pressure reading. Stress is also a factor! Practice stress management techniques to help improve your values.
Body Fat Percentage, Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference –As your BMI, body fat percentage and waist circumference increase above the recommended level, your health risk increases for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain cancers. Losing five to 10 percent of your body weight via a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help to reduce your health risks.
Total Cholesterol– is the equivalent total of HDL and LDL. Increasing exercise, eating a healthy diet and losing weight will help lower total cholesterol.
HDL – also known as “Good Cholesterol”, can be improved by quitting the use of tobacco products, losing or maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and increasing monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fats in your diet. Look for Omega-3 fats in canola oil, olive oil, nuts and fatty fish such as
Blood Glucose and HbA1C – Glucose is a simple sugar that provides the body with its primary source of energy. Elevated blood glucose levels increase the risk for diabetes mellitus. Increasing exercise, eating a healthy balanced diet low in simple sugars and losing weight will help lower and regulate blood glucose
With the vast array of delicious options at restaurants it can be very difficult to make the healthiest selection. When evaluating which option to choose consider the amount of calories, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, protein and sodium. By enlisting the help of the food fights you can determine which dish is crowned healthiest for you.
The New Year usually brings about a fresh start with resolutions to change mindsets, attitudes, behaviors and actions. However, we often find ourselves wondering, am I really ready? Many times we set a goal but then find ourselves falling short of our ambitions. Consider your readiness to make changes and achieve your goals in 2015 by looking at the stages below and determining where you fit in. Continue reading →
Are you nuts for coconut? Coconut has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years, especially coconut oil, milk and water. Despite notable increases in sales, there is still some confusion and controversy regarding the health benefits of these products. Let’s take a closer look…. Continue reading →
At the turn of each year, I reflect on my most memorable moments – the brightest and darkest – of the last 12 months. For each one, I ask myself: What lesson have I taken from this experience? The lessons we learn – the beliefs that carve-out neural pathways – get reinforced over time. We walk through life and intentionally or unintentionally look for “proof” that they’re true, whether we’d say we want them to be true or not. If we “learn” that someone can’t be trusted or that people only care about themselves, we’ll likely continue to find “proof” that those beliefs are true, even though they’re not absolute. Searching for and dismantling faulty beliefs is important. Just as clearing out the cobwebs regularly takes much less of a toll than trying to clear out years of built-up gunk, such is our mind. So each year, after reflecting honestly on what lesson I’ve already taken from each experience, the question I ask is: What empowering lesson can I take from this experience?
For me there are two big ones this year:
LESSON #1 : We are snowflakes.
It’s no newsflash to say that we are all unique, but I came home to a deeper honoring of the unique gifts and expression of each person, and an appreciation for our natural spark. No doubt, much of the way we express is affected by our own fears, beliefs, and life experience, but underneath that there’s a thumbprint. I love that.
Lesson #2: We need one another.
We are not, and never have been, truly independent. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the houses we live in – all were contributed to by others. We are interdependent; we need one another. For us to live sustainably – financially, environmentally, emotionally, energetically – we need to move past our own comfort and convenience to be there for others and to receive their support, as all of humankind has, for all of history.
Many people have stopped setting New Year’s resolutions. That’s because traditional resolutions can feel tedious, punitive, uninspiring and overwhelming. Instead, many individuals have started selecting one word to encapsulate the upcoming year.
Picking a word helps you chart the path to living a life you’ve imagined for yourself, she said.
Think of your word as a flashlight that guides and illuminates your next steps. It is a word that inspires and invigorates you. It is a word that sums up how you’d like to spend your days.
In the past years Molinary’s words have included: thrive; flow; wholehearted; expansiveness; well-being and peace. She’s still deciding her word for 2015 but these words have been resonating with her: spark; shine; abundance; radiate; glow; manifest; and embody.
She also shared these other examples of words of the year: connect; commit; leap; grow; patience; simplify; explore; and now.
Essentially, your word of the year can be anything and in any form — a verb, noun or adjective.
Molinary suggested these prompts for helping readers identify their word of the year:
Reflect on 2014. What was its gift to you?
As you think about 2015, what feelings or ideas come to mind?
What feeling do you want more of in your life?
What shift or focus would bring you a greater sense of well-being or satisfaction in your life?
What would you like to experience in 2015?
What are some of the words you hope will describe your 2015?
As you consider these answers, what word makes sense to use as a touchstone and guide in 2015?
Here are other questions to ask yourself: What inspires you? What words feel true or meaningful? What would you like to surround yourself with in the New Year? Where would you like to focus your energy? What lessons have you learned in 2014? What would you like to focus your attention on in 2015?
Once Molinary has her word of the year, she considers these additional questions: “What will this concept bring to my life? How does living with the intention of this word make my life look? What kind of choices do I need to make to really live this word?”
She also considers her word before making critical decisions and identifies several actions that living her word encompasses.
According to Molinary, “Having a feeling front of mind for each year really does enhance how I approach most anything that comes at me during that time. It allows me to shape who and how I want to be in the world for that moment in time.”
Each year the holidays bring joy, laughter, fun and time with family. While we all enjoy and look forward to the holiday season, it can put a damper on our efforts to lose or even maintain our weight. As a dietitian, I often encourage clients to make their weight goal about maintenance over the holidays. Many of us dive head first into the season fully intent on not indulging the way we did last year only to find ourselves five pounds heavier by the New Year. Knowing there will be more temptations at every turn is not enough to keep us from the scrumptious goodies that tantalize our senses. In an effort to maintain your weight this holiday, consider some of these strategies below.
It’s Just Another Day: Following your normal eating patterns is one of the best ways to help keep portions under control. Continue your already established healthy habits of eating well balanced meals, drinking mostly water, limiting your intake of sugary foods and drinks and make low-fat protein, dairy and dessert choices. Also, following your normal exercise patterns is another great way to ward off weight gain.
Be a Mindful Eater: Don’t eat in a rush or hurry! Wait until you are able to sit down and concentrate on the plate in front of you. Chew and savor each bite and notice the smells, taste and texture. Also make sure to slow down while you chew. By chewing your food slowly and setting down your fork in between bites allows your body’s natural satiety cues to set in.
Don’t Be Afraid of Saying NO!: Don’t feel obligated to eat more! When you recognize that you are full or satisfied make a firm decision that you will not be pressured to eat past that point. We often eat to not offend the cook and end up eating until the point of being more stuffed than the turkey we just had. Some good strategies are:
Give compliments but say no thank you: “It looks delicious but I couldn’t eat another bite.”
Ask for Take Home: “I would love a piece but am very full, may I take a piece to go?”
Ask for the Recipe: “That looks delicious but I couldn’t eat another bite. May I have the recipe?”
Socialize: Being social away from the buffet of food will help keep your mind on friends and family and your hands out of the candy dish.
Don’t Be the Taste Tester: Many times when we are the cook we feel we need to taste test all of the dishes we have prepared. However, by taking multiple bites of a variety of dishes we often forget that those bites can add up to hundreds of calories. Ask a friend or family member to taste test some of the items and you test only a few as well.
The Rite For You Nutrition Center would like to wish you a joyous holiday season. We appreciate your patronage and greatly value your commitment to improving your health and well-being. We look forward to your continued readership and working with you to achieve your health-related goals in 2015! Below are some delicious dessert recipes you may want to try this holiday season. They are not only delicious but they are less than 100 calories per serving and include a fruit group! Enjoy!! From our kitchen to yours, we wish you and yours all the very best for a very happy and healthy New Year!