Nourishing Your Body for Better Health

Archive: March, 2017

Spring cleaning

Foods to avoid

Mindful eating class

Low FODMAP products

It’s almost Spring, which is a great time to clean out the old…and bring in the new.

A few things to purge:

Anything (everything) with trans fats. This includes Girl Scout cookies, like Thin mints and Tagalongs. Due to evidence of effect on mood, heart health and even memory, trans fats will be restricted as of 2018, but they’re still on the shelves now. Yes, the label says 0 grams of trans fats, but that’s because it contains less than .5 grams, and they’re rounding down to zero. So if anything you see says “partially hydrogenated xyz”, just put it down.  Normally, I advocate for moderation, but not here. Even small amounts can have a physical impact. So if you want to support Girl scouts, just donate.

Other products with trans fats: a range of crackers, cookies, and snack foods.

Artificial sweeteners: Diet coke drinkers, I’m looking at you. For years, diet drinks were pushed as a way to have your cake and eat it, too. But there are a range of concerns. Studies indicate that artificial sweeteners may affect gut health because they may alter the kind of bacteria in the gut. They’re linked to thyroid dysfunction—including Splenda, BTW. Additionally some studies have linked diet sodas with increased cardiovascular health risk.

Need an extra reason? The strangest study I think I’ve ever read was one where rats were given the option of saccharine or cocaine. They chose the saccharine. Ever heard someone say diet drinks feel like an addiction? It raises some questions, for sure.

BPA, and the replacements: BPA (short for Bisphenol A) is everywhere, and if you’re not going out of your way to avoid it, it’s most likely in your diet.  It’s found in can liners, which includes canned vegetable, soup, or soda and more. It is in many plastic or polyurethane containers, water bottles and even on cash register tape. (Whole foods and Mom’s use BPA free receipts). The hypothesis is that the chemical mimics estrogen, and can affect hormonal systems in the body.

There’s growing evidence that BPA is problematic.  A study came out from JAMA showing that BPA seems to be linked to obesity in children. Moms with more BPA in their urine during pregnancy seem to have children with more emotional issues at the age of 3. Certainly there is considerable speculation that it may be linked to cancer, too. Also, for reasons that are not clear, women with PCOS (a common endocrine disorder) seem to be more sensitive to BPA and have higher levels, and there is some speculation that BPA may even cause PCOS.

But are the replacements actually better? There’s growing concern that the BPA free bottles may be just as bad, or even worse.

My vote? Get a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead. We know those are  non-reactive, and the stainless steel ones are light weight and sturdy. Ball jars like the ones pictured are a great replacement for Tupperware. You can buy them easily locally, especially during the summer, and crafts stores and Wegmans’ generally carry them. If that’s not logistically possible, you can store your food in plastic, and reheat on paper or glass.

Mindful eating workshop: Looking for new good habits? Join me for a workshop on Mindful eating this Saturday, March 25th at Empower Fitness in Fairfax, which is just across the parking lot from my Fairfax office. As some of you know, I’ve been practicing and teaching on mindfulness for over a dozen years. We’ll be talking about practical tips to incorporate mindful eating into your life. Sign up here: http://www.harriswholehealth.com/classes

Also, for those of you on a low FODMAP diet. As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free Beer & more

Gluten-free beer
Mindful eating class
New low FODMAP products at Wegmans!

Happy sort-of-Springtime! In honor of St. Paddy’s day, let’s chat about gluten-free beers.

There have been gluten-free beers on the market for quite a few years, and they’re made from non-gluten containing grains like sorghum or rice. But there was a huge fuss and a lot of excitement when manufacturers announced that they had figured out how to make a beer with barley, and then go through a special process to remove the gluten fragments in order to make it safe for people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. They even tested these special “gluten-removed” beers with state-of-the art testing equipment, and they came up clean.

Sounds spiffy, but here’s where it gets fuzzy, even if you haven’t had a few. The normal tests for gluten are generally not designed for fermented foods like beer. During fermentation, some of the strands of protein are broken down into their parts, also known as amino acids. The ultimate goal here is to figure out if the amino acid sequences that are toxic to people with Celiac are still present in the beer. The essence of the debate is not if the tests give the answer of zero, but whether the tests are actually looking at something meaningful, and can accurately assess the presence of these harmful fragments.

A new small 2017 study done by the Gluten Intolerance Group showed that 1/3 of the blood samples of people with Celiac disease may still bind inappropriately to the protein fragments to the barley fragments.

The powers that be in the U.S. and Canada still have doubts on the safety of these gluten-removed beers. The U.S. head honchos in charge of booze, also known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, have required disclaimers such as: “Product fermented from grains containing gluten and [processed or treated or crafted] to remove gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten;” or “This product was distilled from grains containing gluten, which removed some or all of the gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten.” They released a statement in that specifically states the beers can’t currently be labeled gluten-free without the disclaimers, because it’s confusing and misleading to consumers.

So … I know many people see these beers and assume they’re safe. Until or unless we find out otherwise, I do encourage my gluten-free clients to steer clear of the “gluten-removed” beers, and instead choose other alcohol or beer from non-gluten containing grains. There are a bunch of truly, 100 percent gluten-free beers on the market, including Redbridge, Bard, New Grist, Green’s, New Planet and more. Locally, Total Wine seems to be the best spot to get a good selection.

And stay tuned! Studies are ongoing.

Mindful eating class:
Want to see how eating mindfully can help your health? Join me March 25th @11am for an hour-long workshop in Fairfax, an learn some simple strategies to get started. Register here.

Calling all nutrition pros: I’m teaching on Food Allergies & the new 2017 guidelines for food introduction on March 14th from 3:30-5pm. More info here, and to sign up see Dietitian Central.

Are you on a low FODMAP diet? As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.