All posts by keri glassman

Dive Into Antioxidants

keri july 2016 blog

Antioxidants. Free radicals. Two buzzwords thrown around as often as, we eat! But what are antioxidants and free radicals exactly, where are they found and what do they do to and for you?

Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Think of them as the "good guys" that protect you from the "bad guys", free radicals. 

Free radicals are produced when your body breaks down certain foods, from environmental exposures such as tobacco smoke and even from the sun. In science terms, a free radical is a highly reactive unpaired oxygen atom. While oxygen is good and essential for the body, it is meant to be perfectly paired in its balanced O2 form. Think of a free radical as a pinball careening around inside your body, constantly smashing into other cells, and inhibiting normal cell function—the cells can’t do their jobs properly because this little guy keeps storming the gates.They damage cells and contribute to aging and other health concerns.

The good news is that we don’t need to live in fear of free radicals. Our bodies are pretty amazing and we can fight them, even with the food we eat. Free radicals can be reduced by eating foods that are loaded with antioxidants. Now the whole “good guy” part is making sense, right?

Antioxidants help counter free radicals in your body (think squashing that fly with a swatter) in a variety of ways. For example, antioxidants lessen the deterioration of the skin’s vital components like collagen and elastin. They protect against long-term sun damage, like wrinkling and skin discoloration, and from UVB exposure by fighting the free radicals that result from sun and pollution.

My favorite foods which have been found to deliver some of the highest antioxidant power are foods such as blueberries, artichokes, black beans, lentils and dark leafy greens. But all fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes will provide antioxidants. Herbs and spices and tea and coffee are also a powerful place to up your intake.

It’s important to remember to mix it up when it comes to eating. So, no eating that same turkey sandwich every day. Eating a variety of whole foods will ensure that you consume a wide range of antioxidants providing your body with the most help it can get, and you’ll be more satisfied, too! Even when you’re eating a balanced diet, sometimes it’s near impossible to consume all of the vitamins and minerals you need. Supplementing your diet with a low calorie antioxidant blend can be as easy as adding it to a glass of water. With our Minerals & Antioxidants mixes, just pour, stir and immediately enjoy 11 different nutrient-dense super foods, while simultaneously contributing to your 8 recommended glasses of water a day!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

The Power of Protein

Omelette

You may hear the word protein and immediately think of a juicy bacon cheeseburger or a Sunday morning cheesy omelet. But, this macronutrient, famous for building muscle, comes in many shapes and sizes and has a whole lot of responsibility other than conquering cravings and “bulking” you up! 

Protein is made up of amino acids. There are more than 50 amino acids in the body, but 20 of them are responsible for protein building. There are 11 nonessential amino acids, meaning the body can create them on its own and 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot make by itself, meaning they must be ingested through foods. Most animal proteins, such as beef, eggs, chicken, fish and poultry contain all of the essential amino acids, and so they are referred to as complete proteins. Note: soybeans, hemp and quinoa are the only common plant-based foods that are complete proteins. Foods such as legumes, rice, beans and nuts do not contain all the essential amino acids and may be referred to as incomplete proteins. However, you can combine foods (think beans and rice) to get all of the essential amino acids and form complete proteins. And you don’t need to eat the incomplete proteins in the same meal! You need both essential and nonessential amino acids for your body’s cells to perform all of their functions.

Why is protein so important aside from helping us quash a burger craving? Protein is used in many bodily functions including cell maintenance and repair, blood clotting and the production of antibodies. It is the primary component of many body tissues such as skin, hair, and muscle.

Protein also provides satiety (feeling full). In other words, it is keeps us from diving into an ice cream sundae after... a bowl of pasta. One study(1) showed that people who ate 30% of their calories from protein versus 15% reduced total caloric consumption by 441 calories.

It is important to note that not all protein sources are created equal. We should aim to consume both plant and animal protein (if we’re meat eaters, of course). Animal protein should come from lean sources. It is recommended that approximately 15% of your daily calories come from this macronutrient to meet your basic needs. I believe a healthy diet may safely have as much as one-third of your daily calories from protein, and there is good reason to consume that much.

It’s easy to get into our own little adult food jags and eat the same omelet, burger or kale salad with grilled chicken again and again...and again. But, you should modify that breakfast for perhaps a protein-packed smoothie or tweak your lunch by nixing the grilled chicken for wild salmon or pork tenderloin. Switching up your protein will keep you from getting bored (and ditching your healthy ways altogether when you just can’t eat one more bite of chicken!). Also, when you eat different foods, you are consuming a wider variety of nutrients - especially if you swap out the rest of meal.

Here’s a delicious idea for a nutritious breakfast smoothie using Life’s Abundance Plant Protein powder. This 100% grain-free, plant-based protein powder is a nutrient-rich blend of clean, high quality proteins including pea, chia, pumpkin, hemp and quinoa. And at only 100 calories, it contains a whopping 14 grams of protein in every serving!

Green Smoothie

Avocado Banana Smoothie
Makes one serving with a prep time of 5 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 small banana, frozen
1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter
1/2 small avocado
1 handful spinach, raw
1 scoop Life's Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein powder

Place ingredients into a blender and blend until you get the desired thickness.

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

Reference:
1 Am J Clin Nutr July 2005, Vol. 82 No. 1 41-48.

A Probing Look at Probiotics

Girl doing yoga

After years of hearing about the benefits of probiotics, you probably think you know everything you need to. Chances are they were your friend to help you through the winter ambush of colds. To most minds, there’s probably no mystery left.

Given the nature of the good news plus more good news, you’re either in favor of probiotics or you’re like me, a totally pro-probiotic fanatic.

But regular doses of probiotics? Hmmmm. 

Even in the media, probiotics are discussed generically, rather than mentioning the individual helpful strains of friendly bacteria. Such overgeneralizations leave us unsure if you should be taking them, which ones to take, how often to take them, and (when you just get down to it) what exactly is it that probiotics do?

Well, I’m gonna break it all down for you, demonstrating, once and for always, just how awesome probiotics can be.

First, let’s see what “the authorities” say. Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, and YOU are the host the WHO is referring to in this instance.

But what exactly are probiotics, you ask? Well, stay with me here.

A complex ecosystem of bacteria, known as the “intestinal microbiota,” develops after birth, taking up residence in the intestinal tract. Yep, we have a whole ecosystem of bacteria shacking up in our gut. The intestinal microbiota contains both “good” and “bad” bacteria. When the “bad” starts to outweigh the “good,” which can be due to lack of sleep, excess stress, or a bunch of other causes, it may affect your digestive system and your overall well-being.

To level off any imbalances, taking a probiotic supplement can help this whole gut situation. Maintaining a consistent level of “good” bacteria in your intestinal tract may actually improve how well it functions. Take that, “bad” bacteria!

Having adequate “good” bacteria has been shown to help support a healthy digestive system, a healthy immune system and help maintain oral health.

But all probiotics are NOT created equally. This is where it gets tricky.

There are many strains of cultures that have probiotic potential. But, each strain does different things, and each has its own little suitcase of benefits. We figure all this out in controlled studies, and we also figure out if you need a little bit or loads of a certain strain to reap its benefits.

You may have seen something on a food label (think yogurt or sauerkraut) about live and active cultures. Live cultures are microbes used to ferment foods, but not all live and active cultures are probiotics (meaning they don’t all have studies supporting specific benefits.) The “Live Active Cultures” seal was established by the National Yogurt Association to help consumers distinguish between yogurts that contain a minimum level of live and active cultures versus those that don’t.

So, bottom line, should you take a probiotic supplement?

I recommend that most people include a serving of fermented food each day (for example, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut) and take a premium probiotic supplement as insurance for good gut health and overall wellness. When you do this and your best to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, including managing stress and getting the proper amount of Zzz’s, you may just become a pro-probiotic fanatic, too!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

How to Drink Your Greens

Girl Drinking Greens Blend

Many people assume a green juice is for other people. They claim they don’t like veggies. They fear the poison-colored concoction will taste even worse than it looks. They think die-hard green juicers seem nutritionally elitist and willing to compromise their taste buds in the name of super fuel.

While there is definitely a spectrum of green -- from beginner to advanced -- there is a place for you somewhere along the line. I promise. And I’m encouraging you to join the party, because nothing bad happens when people add more whole green foods to their diet. Nothing. Zilch.

There are a few ways to go about getting more greens into your diet, and I promise they’re way easier than you think. Best part? You don’t even need a fork. You only need a straw.

Here are three ways to drink your greens …

1) Hop on the green juice train. If you want to make your own juice, you’ll need a juicer but not necessarily the fanciest one on the market. Juicing is a process that extracts the liquid from whatever you put in it, and it leaves all the pulp out of your cup. The pulp is full of beneficial fiber, but if pulp isn’t your thing, you still get plenty of vitamins and minerals from drinking just the juice. Not into cooked broccoli, kale, collards or spinach? You may like them better in a raw juice. Sometimes the flavors are milder when raw and combined with other ingredients.

Immediately after the juice is made, it starts losing its nutritional powers, so you’ll want to grab a straw STAT. Green juice is sensitive to time (how long from when it was made until it is consumed), temperature (heat can diminish some of the vitamin potency) and storage (air and clear glass containers can also make the juice less potent). But even not-so-fresh juice is better than no juice at all, so don’t let this deter you. Just make sure to put in the fridge and drink within 24 hours if you’re not drinking as soon as you make it. Here’s a great beginner recipe if you’re just getting your feet wet:

Keri’s Beginner Greens Juice

● ½ head of romaine lettuce
● ½ cucumber
● ½ cup spinach leaves
● 1 green apple

Clean all produce well. Toss in the juicer in order and drink immediately.

2) Get your smoothie on. If you don’t have any more room on your kitchen counter for yet another appliance, then your handy blender is waiting for you to let it make a smoothie. A blender can’t separate the pulp from the juice, which is why by definition smoothies are thicker and well, smoother. The smoothie crowd is just as cool as the green juice crowd, and some would even argue smoothies are even healthier than juices because of that pulp stuff I mentioned.

My formula for the perfect smoothie is incredibly simple … 1 cup milk (cow’s, nut or seed-based milk), 1 fruit, a handful of greens, 1 healthy fat, an extra (call it a flavor wild-card) and protein powder.

One of my fave healthy fats is coconut because it’s loaded with health-promoting properties, flavor and, of course, healthy fats. The fat in coconut is mostly MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) and although they are a type of saturated fat, they are not the same saturated fat as you’ll get from say fatty meat.

3) Add a green supplement to your drink. Think green juices and smoothies too much work for you? I’ve got you covered. At Life’s Abundance, we’ve created a Greens Blend that is jam-packed to the brim with nutrients. All you have to do is mix with water. Yep, it’s that easy. Add a scoop to water and mix. The Greens Blend is made of organic greens (picked at peak nutrient density) and an organic mushroom blend for overall health. The best part? It doesn’t have that I-just-ate-dirt-from-the-yard taste. It has a yummy, berry flavor. You can add to water, your morning smoothie, baked goods like zucchini muffins or even to yogurt. Most important, just drink up. Greens are the master of the health universe. 

Salad Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

The 411 on Fat

Salad

Fat is not your enemy. I can’t stress this enough.

But, so many of my clients are still sailing past the avocado bin at the grocery store or grabbing powdered peanut butter instead of the real thing, all in an effort to avoid eating anything “fattening.” 

Well, here’s the deal with fat, and listen closely. Consuming too much of anything will make us fat. But when you eat the right amount of food overall, fat by itself does not pack on the pounds. Studies have even shown low-fat diets can actually make that number on the scale CLIMB AND CLIMB!

Why do I love fat so much? It tastes good (think, guacamole), helps you absorb vitamins (yes, the dressing on your salad ACTUALLY helps you to absorb nutrients), helps you burn fat (it’s true, fat indeed burns fat!) and helps you to feel satiated after eating (i.e., keeps you feeling full). But, truth be told, not all fats are created equal.

Saturated and trans fats are both solid at room temperature (think lard and butter), but there is a big difference between saturated fat and trans fat.

Saturated fat has been labeled as a dietary no-no for a long time, but there IS room in your diet for it if you’re getting it from real, healthy foods like dairy, coconut … even dark chocolate.

Trans fat on the other hand is a definite diet devil. You’ll find it in packaged, highly processed foods that you already know you should be avoiding. Just no.

Now let’s talk about the angels of the fat world: monounsaturated fats (like those found in avocado, nuts and seeds) and polyunsaturated fats (also in nuts and seeds, as well as fatty fish). These “good” fats have been shown to have many, many health benefits! For more than a decade, the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been studied by researchers all over the world.

You want to make sure you get enough of all these good fats - so stop avoiding the avocado bin already, and drop by the seafood counter for some salmon. In fact, salmon and walnuts in particular are two of the richest natural sources of omega-3s. If you’re not a flax, salmon or walnut junkie, a supplement could be just what you need to ensure you’re getting sufficient fat in your diet. I actually recommend an ultra-pure, ultra-concentrated Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement to all of my clients as insurance.

Salad Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN