Monday, September 29, 2008


By: Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD, Your Livitician

Stress can increase nutrient needs and decrease nutrient absorption, jeopardizing your strength and optimal function. What we eat can influence our brain chemistry, improving the way we feel! The anterior hypothalamus, an area of the brain has a special nerve network that generates a sense of wellbeing and encourages us to repeat behavior that has previously caused its stimulation. Sweet foods, for example, have historically been safe, so the anterior hypothalamus makes us seek more sweet foods. Substituting ripe fruit for candy will create a sense of wellbeing without the highs and lows, which induces fatigue.

Certain food combinations raise the brain’s levels of serotonin (“happy hormone”). Tryptophan- an amino acid (a building block of protein) converts to serotonin. Turkey is rich in tryptophan, which can improve your mood. Having some carbohydrate in the same meal, such as whole grain bread or fruit helps the brain to use tryptophan. Milk also supplies plenty of tryptophan and since warm foods release endorphins (other feel-good brain chemicals), warm milk acts as a mood-enhancing drink. Starch (high fiber sources: whole grain bread, green peas, yams, brown rice) triggers a slow release of insulin, which lowers blood levels of most large amino acids and increases blood levels of tryptophan = Long term increase in brain serotonin levels.

Vitamin B6 – aids in the manufacture of serotonin. A deficiency of this vitamin reduces serotonin production and affects mood and food cravings. Dietary sources of B6: Banana, avocado, chicken, wheat germ, collard greens, spinach, tomato, brown rice, green peas, broccoli, nonfat or 1% organic milk, orange, all natural peanut butter, apple, whole wheat bread.

A lack of iron, which is found in red meat, fish, sesame seeds, dried apricots and fortified breakfast cereals, has also been linked to low moods.

A magnesium deficiency raises stress-hormone levels, cortisol and epinephrine, resulting in stress-related depression and irritability. Magnesium rich foods: peanuts, bananas, low-fat milk, wheat germ, Phytotherapy supplement (available at Whole Foods -calcium, magnesium, and Vit. D supplement).

Antioxidants: Vitamin C, E, and Beta-Carotene: help regulate the immune system. Both emotional and physical stress increase your need for antioxidants. Aim for 7 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day: Have fruit twice per day and vegetables with lunch and dinner. As an insurance policy: take Juice Plus™ whole food nutrition supplement, available on -select the products tab, then juice plus.

Overall stress relief: Do deep breathing, breathe in the count of 10, and exhale the count of 20, a couple times a day. Fit moving into your day, ideally 6 days per week, minimum 4 for 30 to 45 minutes, e.g., walk, dance, go up and down stairs, bike, swim, have walking meetings, turn on the music and dance when you get home-fit moving in wherever you can, do calf raises while you are waiting in line. Eat within an hour and a half after waking up and every 4 hours throughout the day. Keep sipping water; bring a water bottle with you wherever you go. Eat predominately a vegetarian diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low fat dairy and legumes.

Relax and Enjoy Liviting!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Go to any local grocery store right now and you will find the fresh produce aisles plentiful with plums. Plum is a fruit that is related to the family of peaches and cherries. It is one of those fruits which are rich in dietary fiber that is effective in improving the digestive system. There are thousands of varieties of plums that are available throughout the world, ranging in colors like red, blue-black, purple, yellow, green or amber. Plums are believed to have originated in Asia and since then have been grown all over the world. The fresh and juicy taste of the plum makes it refreshing to eat on a hot summer day!

Nutrition Benefits of Eating Plums
Plums (the dry form is prune) are high in unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid. Their function is that of an anti-oxidant and is of much benefit.
Consumption of plums helps in the production and absorption of iron in the body, thus leading to better blood circulation in the body, which further leads to the growth of healthy tissues.
Regular consumption of plums will prevent macular degeneration and any other infection of the eye in the long run. Your eyes will be healthy and strong for long time and you can also retain a sharp eye-sight.
Researchers have found that plums have anti-cancer agents that may help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the body.
Eating plums also reduces your chances of contracting a heart disease in the long run. Plums have certain cleansing agents that keep the blood pure and also prevent complications of the heart.
Plums have high content of Vitamin C, which means it helps protect against health conditions like asthma, colon cancer, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Nutritional Value of EGGPLANT!!!

Long prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty as well as its unique taste and texture, eggplants are now available in markets throughout the year, but they are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.

Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. They grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. While the different varieties do range slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture.

In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. In animal studies, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform.

One may wonder how to chose an eggplant in the grocery store. Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.

The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not.

Although they look hardy, eggplants are actually very perishable and care should be taken in their storage. Eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold and should ideally be stored at around 50 degrees Farenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Do not cut eggplant before you store it as it perishes quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed.

So how should one eat an eggplant?
When cutting an eggplant, use a stainless steel knife as carbon steel will react with its phytonutrients and cause it to turn black. Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends.

Most eggplants can be eaten either with or without their skin. However, the larger ones and those that are white in color generally have tough skins that may not be palatable. To remove skin, you can peel it before cutting or if you are baking it, you can scoop out the flesh once it is cooked.

To tenderize the flesh's texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it. After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking.

Rinsing the eggplant after "sweating" will remove most of the salt.

Eggplant can be baked, roasted in the oven, or steamed. If baking it whole, pierce the eggplant several times with a fork to make small holes for the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 177 degrees Celsius) for 15 to 25 minutes, depending upon size. You can test for its readiness by gently inserting a knife or fork to see if it passes through easily.

Some delicious eggplant eating tips include;
-For homemade babaganoush, purée roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Use it as a dip for vegetables or as a sandwich filling.

-Mix cubed baked eggplant with grilled peppers, lentils, onions and garlic and top with balsamic vinaigrette.

-Stuff miniature Japanese eggplants with a mixture of feta cheese, pine nuts and roasted peppers.

-Add eggplant to your next Indian curry stir-fry.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I mentioned in the previous post different sources of Vitamin D. Today I came across an article about men not getting enough vitamin D, so I thought I would write another blog about a study that was done.

New research published in the June 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine links low levels of vitamin D -- the "sunshine vitamin" -- with a higher risk of heart attack in men.

AS mentioned previously, you can get vitamin D by drinking milk and eating foods fortified with the vitamin. But the body also makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Studies have shown spikes in heart disease-related deaths at higher latitudes and during the winter months - areas and times of less daylight -- and decreases in such deaths at lower latitudes and during the summer.

For the current study, Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, of Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and colleagues reviewed medical records and blood samples of 454 men aged 40 to 75 who had heart attacks and survived or who had died of heart disease. They compared the information with similar data from 900 living men who did not have a history of heart disease, also noting the men's diet and lifestyle factors.

The researchers learned that men who had vitamin D levels of 15 ng/mL or less in their blood samples -- an indication of vitamin D deficiency -- had an increased risk for heart attack compared to those whose vitamin D level was considered sufficient (30 ng/mL). The twofold increased risk remained significant even when adjusting for other factors known to contribute to heart disease, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease.

Men with intermediate levels of vitamin D also were more likely to have a heart attack than those with adequate vitamin D levels.

"Vitamin D deficiency has been related to an increasing number of conditions and to total [death]. These results further support an important role for vitamin D in [heart attack] risk," the researchers say in a news release. "The present findings add further support that the current dietary requirements of vitamin D need to be increased to have an effect on [vitamin D] levels substantially large enough for potential health benefits."

The typical American diet often does not provide enough vitamin D since few foods naturally contain the vitamin. Eating plenty of vitamin-D-fortified foods, such as milk, cereals, and certain brands of orange juice, and getting lots of sunshine are key to maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.

Some people may need to take vitamin D supplements, especially those over 50. Older adults have a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency because aging itself makes it harder for the body to make vitamin D and convert it to a useable form.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vitamin D and Healthful Diets

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. In certain cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful sources of one or more nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less than recommended amounts. However, dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet."

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes a healthy diet as one that:

-Emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.

-Milk is fortified with vitamin D, as are many ready-to-eat cereals and a few brands of yogurt and orange juice. Cheese naturally contains small amounts of vitamin D.
Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.

-Fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are very good sources of vitamin D. Small amounts of vitamin D are also found in beef liver and egg yolks.

-Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
Vitamin D is added to some margarines.

-Stays within your daily calorie needs.

For more information about building a healthful diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans ( and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food guidance system, My Pyramid (