How to Protect your Pearly Whites with Nutrition

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As you grow older, maintaining healthy teeth and gums becomes imperative.  Nutrition is as important as flossing and brushing—it really is. And it’s not just about avoiding sugary food and drinks; it’s also important to eat foods that promote healthy gums and teeth. Do you want to know what they are? Here are my top recommendations!

  • Detergent foods

Am I asking you to put detergent in your teeth?  Of course not!  Dentists refer to foods that have a pretty low pH, are filled to the brim with water and fiber and have a crunchy texture as “detergent foods.”  These foods literally clean your teeth. Some great examples include cucumbers, celery, carrots, and apples. Eat them at the end of a meal to help clean those gems in your mouth!

  • High-calcium and phosphorous foods

Calcium is as awesome for your teeth as it is for your bones. Calcium and phosphorus is a dominant duo for your teeth. These two minerals can actually re-mineralize your teeth enamel. In fact, tooth enamel is almost entirely composed of calcium phosphate (Calcium + Phosphorous as you may remember from chemistry class).

Some great high-calcium/high phosphorous food choices include: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, dairy products, and fish bones (euu…gross…I know, but canned salmon is a great example…just crush the bones in it and you have an awesome calcium phosphorus action happening).

  • High vitamin C foods

Vitamin C manufactures collagen so it is an excellent nutrient for keeping your gums healthy. The best vitamin c choices include strawberries, kiwi, oranges, red peppers, and kale.

  • Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are natural anti-bacterial agents. Sautee your meat and veggies with garlic. Add both garlic and onions to soup. Red onions are delicious in salads. These two rock stars help prevent the leading cause of tooth decay, plaque buildup.

  • Green tea

Green tea is the ultimate powerhouse for your teeth. It lowers the acidity in your saliva (preventing plaque buildup), is a natural anti-inflammatory (very helpful for maintaining healthy gums), and it kills the microbes that make your mouth stink (so it’s a natural breath freshener).

There have been several studies indicating how incredible green tea is for your teeth. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology studied 940 men between the ages of 49 and 59 and discovered that the men who drank green tea regularly had far better oral health than those who did not.

Try applying at least a couple of these recommendations between now and your next dental checkup—I bet your dentist will see improvement!

 

Celebrate World Milk Day

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Today, I have chosen to #RaiseaGlass to celebrate #WorldMilkDay!

World Milk Day is a day established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food. It has been observed on June 1 each year since 2001.

I love milk because just one glass can deliver you some awesome nutrition. Here are just a few of the nutrients that make milk amazing and what these nutrients can do for you:

One nutrient that immediately comes to mind and that many of you know about is calcium. Milk is loaded with it; this nutrient is important for your teeth and your bones!

Milk also has phosphorous, which works in tandem with calcium for strong teeth and bones.

Milk is an excellent source of protein, which is absolutely essential for muscle growth, development, and repair.

Milk also has potassium, making it a great choice for keeping yourself hydrated!

Milk is rich in iodine, which is the most important nutrient for assuring that you have a healthy thyroid; it is also helpful in keep you energized!

Speaking of energy, the B vitamins in milk (B5, B2, and B12) are great for maintain great energy levels, keeping you focused and reducing fatigue.

I choose to give my girls milk for a bedtime snack. It keeps them feeling satiated throughout the night, giving them a good night’s sleep.

I also let them have chocolate milk for a snack! In fact, it is probably the healthiest sweet drink kids can have, especially when you make it with dark chocolate syrup (sans the high-fructose corn syrup) like I do!

#Raiseaglass with me today; milk is definitely something to celebrate!

By Kelly Spring, MS, RD, CDN

 

The Power of Processing: Local Family-Owned Dairy Farms + Innovation

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Kelly-SpringerNothing is better than fresh, pure milk products (milk, cheese and yogurt). We all know the slogan, “Milk—it does a body good,” but do you know why?

A Nutritional Powerhouse

First, dairy is an amazing source of protein, which is an important building-block of healthy muscle, skin, tissues, and blood. Several studies have shown that consuming milk products helps to maintain a healthy weight, most likely because of the protein. Milk is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which is important for building strong bones.

And here’s a fact not many people know milk has an abundance of electrolytes—it makes a great recovery sports drink for this reason!

Local Love

Most of the milk products you love come from local farms! For folks like myself in Central New York, we are lucky to have dozens of local, family-owned dairy farms. Team these local farmers up to create Cayuga Milk Ingredients and you get the freshest, purest milk products imaginable. Allow me the honor to introduce you to Cayuga Milk Ingredients.

Cow to Carton

Cayuga Milk Ingredients (CMI) is a 108,000 square-foot milk-processing facility in Auburn, NY. Each day, 2.3 million pounds of milk comes through this facility, all from within a 25-mile radius of the plant. A range of high-quality milk products are produced expediently—from the time that the cow is milked, the finished product manufactured at CMI can take less than nine hours to produce!

Earlier this month, I had the amazing opportunity to tour the Cayuga Milk Ingredients manufacturing plant. This company, near my hometown in Central New York is the ideal representation of how to produce fresh milk products.

As I arrived at the plant, a truck load of milk from a nearby dairy farm came in. The milk is tested for antibiotics and bacteria before it even enters the plant! This assures that the milk is wholesome and clean when it enters the facility, so that contamination is not possible. The importance of hygiene in this plant was very apparent—the facility was immaculate.

Cleanliness is King

Kevin Ellis, the CEO of Cayuga Milk Ingredients, an operation with 70 dedicated employees, gave me the tour. His and his employees’ attention to detail, cleanliness and high-quality products is off the charts! To ensure superior hygiene, employees and visitors wear booties, hair nets, a smock, and remove jewelry, and are required to wash their hands and change their booties no less than four times when they move deeper into the facility.  Each increasing level of hygiene is strictly adhered to ensuring CMI’s products are of the highest quality.

Innovation

The way that the milk is processed is very innovative. Much of the production is computer-assisted to help reduce bacterial contamination and human error.

Both dried milk protein and liquid milk products are tested for quality assurance in this facility. The dried milk protein is held in the facility for 8-10 days with constant testing and retesting of microorganisms to assure that the finished product is as high-quality as possible.

At any given time, there are 2.5 million pounds of finished products, which include milk powders (used for…), and various milk protein powders. I am particularly intrigued by a product known as liquid ultra-filtered milk, which is produced with a high- pressure membrane system. This all-natural low-fat milk has double the amount of protein of standard skim milk and half the sugar! How cool is that?

I loved the approach of CMI’s CEO, Kevin Ellis: “Our employees are our most important resource. We’re dedicated to producing high-quality milk ingredients from our farmer owners’ high-quality milk, while simultaneously improving the dairy industry by raising the bar for high standards. We’re confident you’ll see that the finest products come from the finest ingredients. We promise to not only meet your expectations, but exceed them!”

To me, it is awesome to know that ultra-high-quality, nutritious and pure milk products are being produced by CMI in such a way that family-owned farms, where cows are treated humanely are part of the process.

 By Kelly Springer, RD, MS. CDN

Nutrition Labels to Become Easier for you to Decipher

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So often, clients come to be confused about nutrition labels. What should they be looking for? What should they avoid? Some basics are:

  1. Be careful about serving sizes. So often you may think “Wow, this product is low in calories, but if you look at the serving size and it is 2.5, you have to multiply the calories by 2.5.
  2. Make sure your food choice has at least a couple grams of fiber. So many processed foods have 0-1 grams of fiber. Not cool!
  3. Be careful about the sugar content. Keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar equals an entire teaspoon.

I actually have good news to announce about nutrition labels. The FDA is making some changes that will make label reading easier for you!

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Old label vs. New label

Though the new nutrition facts label will not be fully implemented until July of 2018, it is good to have basic knowledge about the changes. Here are the major highlights to be on the lookout for.

  1. New format and larger font. The nutrition facts label will now make it easier to read the serving sizes and calories by increasing and bolding the font.
  2. “Added Sugars” will be clearly labeled.Grams and percent %DV of “Added Sugars” will be added to the label.
  3. “Calories from Fat” will be removed.Staying consistent with current research, the types of fat seems to be more important than amount; therefore, “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will stay on the label.
  4. Serving and Package Sizes adjusted.Serving sizes will now be based on amounts people are actually consuming. Packaged items that have 1-2 servings will now have a food label that represents the whole package and not just the serving size or have a two columns, one column for single serving and another for the whole package.
  5. Updates for %DV.Sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D will have updated %DV according to recent research.
  6. Added gram amounts.Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium will now have gram amounts on the food label, in addition to %DV.
  7. No longer required on the label. Vitamin A and C will no long be required on nutrition facts label, but can be put on voluntarily.

Feel free to contact me if you need help in deciphering nutrition labels! I am looking forward to these new labels—especially the larger font!

 

Beat the Heat with Hydration!

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It’s been HOT lately so the topic of hydration couldn’t be any timelier. Hydration is a popular topic in sports nutrition; they need to be concerned that they replenish their electrolytes as so many are lost through sweating.  Hydration is not just important for athletes though; it is important for everyone who gets out in that hot summer sun!  You can become dehydrated by an hour stint of gardening for example.

Did you know that 2/3 of your body weight is water? Water is critical to all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and muscles. Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body.  A two percent drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking.

If you are dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work that much harder to make it circulate more efficiently. As a result, the brain becomes less active, more fatigued, and leads to exhaustion. This is precisely why you feel so tired after a day in the sun, but guess what?!

Water alone is not going to cut it when it comes to preventing dehydration in the summer. You need ELECTROLYTES! Some people think that electrolytes are simply salt, but there are actually seven different electrolytes and they are: sodium (“salt”), chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.

I like to have coconut water as my drink of choice when I am out in the sun; it contains a high amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Some of my favorite hydrating foods are cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes. Your craving for salty foods may increase as you become dehydrated, but don’t reach for chips; instead choose something like GimMe Seaweed Snacks; they’ll fulfill that salty craving; they are so healthy for you, and the bonus is that they are loaded with electrolytes!

So how do you know if you are dehydrated?

Check out your urine! A large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.

You can also use the pinch test! Dehydration often reduces skin elasticity, so doctors often use this skin test to quickly check for dehydration. The best part is that you can do it yourself: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and pull it upwards. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

I beg you to please protect yourself from dehydration all the time, but especially in this heat; the side effects are brutal! You’ll overheat, which feels even hotter than the intense heat that the sun is already emitting! You’ll also want to watch your alcohol and caffeine intake because both are naturally dehydrating.

Have fun in the sun, the healthy way!

 

 

 

 

 

Boost your Bone Health Nutritionally

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Worldwide, an osteoporotic fracture takes place every three seconds. One in three American women over the age of 50 will experience at least one osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. Osteoporosis is far more common in women than in men. You can drastically decrease your likelihood of being diagnosed with osteoporosis through nutritional measures. And these are not recommendations that apply only to middle-aged and older women; even young women should seriously consider applying these bone-health boosting nutrition tips. In fact, research has proven that you can start preventing osteoporosis as a child. Here’s a nutritional protocol to follow to protect your precious bones:

  • The most important mineral for building healthy bones is calcium. Consume foods that are high in calcium. The odds are that you grew up in a society that marketed milk as the primary source of calcium. While dairy products contain calcium, the truth is that many leafy greens have even more calcium than milk; try adding kale, collards, bok choy, or chard to your salads or as a dinner side. Befriend sardines; they are loaded with calcium. Curious how to incorporate sardines into your meals; add them to a salad or try making an arugula and sardine pizza. As far as dairy products go, I recommend Greek yogurt as a great calcium source, but beware of the sugar content. Buy plain yogurt and sweeten yourself with a dab of honey; heighten the deliciousness by adding chopped figs and sliced almonds, both are also very high in calcium.
  • Get some sunshine! While I recommend sunscreen for most of the day, you should try to get a little bit of exposure without sunscreen so you can absorb some vitamin D. Few foods have vitamin D and 10 minutes in mid-day sun will give you a whopping 10,000 IU of vitamin D…so even in the freezing cold winter, get yourself outside, especially on sunny days! Vitamin D helps your bones to absorb calcium.
  • Don’t forget about eating foods that are high in vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to activate a bone-building protein called osteocalcin. Foods that are rich in vitamin K include leafy greens, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts for example), basil, asparagus, and leeks.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. While many people know that alcohol has a negative impact on your liver, chronic alcohol abuse is also detrimental to your bones, having a direct toxic effect. A glass of wine or two with dinner here and there is fine, but drinking every day or regular binge drinking could harm your bones.

Give these nutrition tips a go and your bones will thank you. In my next blog, I will discuss how exercise helps your bones!

 

 

Crazy for Kale…and other Leafy Greens

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As we mentioned in our blog about seaweed, April is Earth Month and we will be blogging about sustainable food choices. Load up your plate with leafy greens (kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach and chard are great choices) and you will be boosting your health and protecting the planet at the same time!

Leafy Greens for your Weight

Leafy greens are rich in fiber. When it comes to weight-loss, you must befriend fiber because it keeps you fuller longer and you will be less likely to have unhealthy snack attacks.

Leafy Greens for your Heart

Leafy greens are excellent for heart health. The fiber helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Many leafy greens are chock-full of potassium, which helps to manage healthy blood-pressure levels. Research indicates that folate, found in leafy greens, may protect against heart disease.

Leafy Greens for your Brain

Folate is also great for your brain. Research shows that folate may protect against memory also. And because folate produces serotonin, leafy greens may help ward off depression.

Leafy Greens for your Bones

You probably know that in order to maintain healthy bones, you need calcium. Did you know that many leafy greens have more calcium than milk? For example, one cup of collard greens contains 357 milligrams of calcium and a cup of milk has 306 milligrams.

Leafy Greens for your Skin

Leafy greens contain a lot of water, which helps to hydrate your skin. The ample amount of vitamin C in leafy greens produces collagen, which is essential for your skin’s elasticity. Vitamin C and vitamin E, both found in leafy greens, team up to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Leafy Greens for the Planet
Leafy greens grow more quickly than almost any other type of plant in most climates, making them an excellent low-impact food choice most seasons.

If you want to take up gardening, leafy greens are a low-maintenance choice to try! Give it a shot and let us know how it goes. In the meantime, load up on those greens—you will feel so vibrant!