It is important during pregnancy to take care of yourself because, after all, you are growing a little person! That means: adequate sleep, ways to reduce daily stressors, an excellent fluid intake, a daily walk, and of course, attention to what and how much food you eat. It is very hard to get in all that you need if meals are skipped.
As pregnancy moves along, several nutrients are needed in higher amounts, including protein. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are going to release new advice for pregnant and breast feeding women, recommending MORE fish to be eaten each week. Here is the scoop:
Weekly Fish Recommendations during pregnancy and nursing: 6-8 ounces per week or 2-3 small servings per week of low--mercury fish.
Low-mercury fish: canned light tuna, salmon, tilapia, cod, shrimp, pollock, catfish, sardines, haddock, sole
AVOID these fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding – they are the highest in mercury content: shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
An FDA assessment of fish consumption data found that 21% of pregnant women had not eaten any fish at all in the previous month. Of course, part of that could be because of a dislike of fish, but many women restrict fish completely because they think the mercury content is too high. But research shows that reasonable servings of low mercury fish is important for the growth and development of the fetus, babies and young children.
So think about including a few more fish meals each week. An additional tuna salad sandwich or white fish chowder at lunch is quick to pull together. Salmon cakes or shrimp on the grill are tasty and easy additions to dinnertime menus.
Almost 6 million Americans have heart failure – this is a chronic condition where the heart does not pump blood as well. This results in physical symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath. Those everyday activities become harder to do. It is a progressive disease. Heart researchers from the Cohort of Swedish Men Study have found a dietary link with heart failure.
Swedish Men's Study on Heart Failure – started with 37,000 men who did NOT have heart failure or heart disease. They were followed for 12 years. The results? A high intake of processed meats = greater chance for heart failure.
What are processed meats? Bacon. Sausage. Hotdogs. Luncheon or deli meats.
Researchers aren’t sure why processed red meats increase heart failure risk. There are some suspicions. May be linked to a few things found in processed meats:
high sodium content,
use of various preservatives, phosphates and/or additives
the smoking, curing or salting process
Researchers strongly suggest avoiding the processed meats most of the time to reduce heart failure risk. Enjoy fresh fish, poultry and red meats; grains; fruits and vegetables. An earlier analysis of this same group of Swedish men found a 23% increased risk for stroke in those with the highest processed meat intake.
I think that most folks with diabetes- and that numbers over 20 million – know that they are at increased risk from many diverse health complications. They include retinopathy of the eyes; nerve problems especially in the feet; gum disease; kidney problems; and early heart disease and strokes. Diabetes is a progressive disease. That means that it will advance and get worse. More medications are often needed to keep things in control. But there is interesting research that shows that diet may slow things down.
An 8-year study compared a Mediterranean diet vs. Low-fat diet - both diets provided 1,500 calories for women and 1,800 calories for men. Interesting results.
The Mediterranean Diet was TOPS. Some of these folks with diabetes went into remission and had normal glucose levels. They went much longer before needing diabetes medications than the folk on the Low- Fat diet.
The Mediterranean Diet:
was high in healthy fats with olive oil as the primary fat source
provided whole-grains and LOTS of vegetables
red meats – higher in saturated fat – were replaced with poultry and fish
How to eat Mediterranean-style and have better glucose control?
Roast chicken with sweet potato and summer squash rather than a pot roast with white bread and white potatoes.
Whole-grain pasta with turkey meatballs and a large tossed salad – skip the white Italian bread
Fruit for dessert or snacks rather than bakery items made with white flour and sugar.
Nuts for snacking rather than chips or snack crackers.
All good healthy food changes for us too!!
It’s summertime – vacation time - and in our household that means trips to here and there to see family, friends and new and interesting sights. If your vacation or mini weekend getaways involve car time, then that probably means snack time. Car rides add munchies seem to go together. But if you are like me, you don’t want to spend way-to-much money for snack foods and drinks that carry loads of calories, refined sugar, the unhealthiest fats, and sodium. Making your own with healthy ingredients seems to be the best solution.
Make Own Dips to keep in the cooler:
hummus with raw veggies
black bean dip & salsa with baked chips
roasted red pepper dip made with sour cream, and served with raw veggies
cinnamon yogurt dip with fresh fruit chunks.
Other healthy munchies to pack in the cooler:
fresh fruit in season
cut up veggies (carrots, celery, cukes, etc.)
cheese sticks & cubes
mini containers of yogurt (don't forget the spoons)
Crunchy munchies for vacation travels:
homemade popcorn cooked in olive oil
mini rice cakes
mixed nuts and seeds
Other car snacking ideas:
make your own snack mix with assorted whole-grain chex-type cereals, dried fruits and nuts
whole-grain wraps spread w/ peanut butter or hummus can be cut into smaller snack-size sections
Have a sweet tooth?
mini fruit muffins to bring along
low-sodium vegetable juices
Skip the sweet sodas which can have as much as 12 teaspoons of sugar per can. Yes, it does take a little extra time to make and pack up your own travel snacks, but your health is worth it.
Water makes up about 60% of an adult’s body weight – can you imagine? It is in every cells, tissue and organ of the body. The kidneys need water to filter wastes from the blood in the form of urine. Water lubricates and cushions our joints. And it lubricates the digestive and respiratory tracts. And water helps to maintain a healthy body temperature.
The bottom line is this: adequate hydration is so important.
Daily fluid needs: Men: 13 cups
Women: 9 cups
You will need much more when you exercise!
Fluid Sources: water and flavored water, tea, coffee, sodas, sparkling water, milk, juices and soups.
Other sources of your daily fluids: cabbage, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, carrots; grapefruit, strawberries, and apples.
There are problems with even mild dehydration:
dry mouth and throat
low energy and weak
not sharp mentally
decreased physical or athletic performance
increased body temperature
There are certain situations where fluid requirements are even higher:
in hot weather
certain medications like diuretics
increased physical activity
pregnancy and breastfeeding
blood loss or after surgery
Staying consistently low in fluid intake increases your risk for
kidney stones and infections
urinary tract infections
bladder and colon cancers
Do you know what the 4th leading
cause of death is in the U.S.? Stroke. And of course, as you would suspect, it
is a leading cause of disability.
A review of previous research – 20 worldwide
studies spanning 19 years of >760,000 adults - shows that eating more fruits
and vegetables protects people from having a stroke. That is hopeful news for
folks, especially if you have high blood pressure which is a significant risk
for having a stroke.
How much produce should we be eating? LOTS!!!! 3-4 Fruits and 4+ Vegetables.
Fruits and Vegetables at Breakfast:
Add fresh diced fruit
into hot cereal (apples, pears, etc.).
Add berries to cold cereal.
vegetables before adding into an egg omelet.
Fruits and Vegetables at Lunch:
Now, it seems simple to eat more fruits and
vegetables but the truth is that most Americans are not too strong in this
department. I think that you will need to make them a priority each and every
day. Get them in before other foods.
Need a snack – think of fruits. Pack them up for your workday so that
you are not without.
Every Monday I bring in a bag of small apples,
and then fill in each day with other seasonal fruits. And I think of my dinner
menu based on the vegetables that I plan to serve- and I really try for half of
my plate filled with non-starchy vegetables. Fruit and vegetables before all
In this year alone, ~ 1 million people in the
United States will have a heart attack! Fortunately many receive prompt
attention, and they will survive their heart attacks. What these folks do with
their lifestyle habits can determine if they lead long healthy lives, even
though they have experienced a heart attack.
Harvard researchers find that a good fiber intake may reduce risk of death after a heart attack.
This Harvard Study included 5,000
men and women who had experienced a heart attack. Those with the highest fiber after their heart attack had the lowest risk of death from any cause. Reminder: there
are three dietary fiber sources….. vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Researchers found that GRAINS offered the greatest protection from
having another heart attack. Whole-grains include barley, oats, whole-grain
rice, whole-grain wheat, and whole-grain rye.
How much total fiber should we be taking in?
The Dietary Guidelines suggest at least 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Slowly begin to make some fiber switch-outs at home.
Get a fiber boost: Have you tried the
Barilla multi-grain pasta when serving baked ziti or spaghetti? It is such an
easy and delicious replacement. If you are feeding children unaccustomed to
these whole-grains, just begin to make change at your meals. Perhaps mix
regular pasta and multi-grain half-and-half. It’s a good start.
Memorial Day is the unofficial
beginning to summer - relaxed meals and cooking on the grill become the norm.
Besides remembering safety tips around the grill, there are a few nutritional
reminders, too. Cooking meats in certain ways can actually cause the formation
of cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines or HCAs.
Tip for grilling protein: don’t char
or burn beef, pork and poultry; fish and shellfish. Try veggie burgers and Portobello
mushrooms which do not have harmful HCAs.
Reduce cancer risk when grilling
meats - microwave then first to minimize grilling time; use low heat for
grilling; and cook only to medium-rare.
Reduce cancer risk overall …. focus summertime menus on fresh produce (from your garden and
local Farmer’s Market), whole-grains, and healthy oils.
Colorectal, pancreatic and breast
cancers have all been linked to eating well-done, fried or barbequed meats
often. Also, stomach cancer risk is increased threefold with over-grilling
animal protein. As you enjoy easy meals
on the grill, think healthy cooking: lower heat, shorter time, and don’t char
or burn the meat. Also plan on healthy side dishes such as red skin potato
salad, baked beans, coleslaw, berry fruit salad, fresh peach slices, and
watermelon chunks -in other words, take the attention OFF of the meat!
Have you heard of Interstitial
Cystitis? Maybe you have heard it mentioned as bladder syndrome or painful
bladder? Millions of folks suffer from this condition where the lining of the bladder is irritated. The symptoms range from
annoying to painful, and you’ll need to see a urologist to treat them. You
might have urinary frequency, pain when you have a full bladder, and even low
back pain as a symptom.
Food choices may have an impact on Interstitial Cystitis, and can bring on symptoms. You will want to learn which beverages and foods affect you.
Common trigger foods and beverages for
coffee & tea, soda (especially diet), alcohol,
citrus & cranberry juices
soy foods such as veggie burgers, tofu, edamame, tempeh and soy milk
cured or smoked meats
many preservatives, additives and MSG
What foods are usually okay for
grains such as rice, barley, pasta and quinoa
fresh lean protein
such as eggs, cheese, fish, poultry and lean red meats
It may help to keep a journal and
when you experience Interstitial Cystitis symptoms, you can write down the foods or
beverages that were consumed when you experienced those symptoms. This helps you know which items to avoid in the future.
It’s such a great time of year, isn’t it? Gardens are being
planted, and the Farmer’s Markets are now open with early season veggies. So
what is the health-deal with vegetables, because as you know, every health
organization in this country suggests that you eat several servings of
vegetables each day? And of course, that
is a reoccurring theme in my chats with you – I sound like your mom, but I will
continue to say, eat your vegetables. Here is more about this super star of
All vegetables provide fiber to bind cholesterol in the intestinal tract.Great Fiber
Colorful vegetables provide carotenoids to reduce inflammation and reduce cancer cell initiation. These include sweet
potatoes, carrots, beets, purple cabbage, and colorful peppers.
All vegetable provide the mineral potassium for blood pressure control The highest in potassium include white and sweet potatoes,
legumes, greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens,
and all tomato
vegetables offer protection from colon and rectal cancers: bok choy,
broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
The other great thing about fresh vegetables is
that they are all naturally low in sodium. Many frozen vegetables do not
have added sodium. The canned vegetables will have sodium added, unless you buy
those marked No Salt Added.
Fortunately the non-starchy vegetables are very
reasonable in calories with only 25 calories per ½ cup. The starchier
vegetables such as corn, green peas, potatoes and lima beans have 80-100
calories per ½ cup.
The bottom line? Eat your vegetables! Strive for 2 to 3 cups each day!!
Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She has worked in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for 35 years, working with patients and their family members to help guide healthy food choices.