How the Great Outdoors Makes you Healthy

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My boyfriend Greg and I have been hiking in the Adirondacks quite a bit this summer. We love Lake Placid; the restaurants cater to health enthusiasts like us with hearty, delicious, and healthy food choices and there is something uplifting about the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains.

What I truly love is that just by being outside I am taking awesome measures to take care of myself—yes, even as healthy as I am, I am improving my health. Here are

my favorite scientifically proven benefits of the outdoors.

  • Vitamin D Rocks!

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Soak in those rays for at least 20 minutes a day without sunscreen to reap the benefits. Vitamin D boosts your immune system, collaborates with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K to protect your bones, and it can even help prevent diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease.

  • Super Slumber

Sweet sleep feels so amazing…and when you are outside often, you keep your circadian rhythm working the way it was meant to, helping you to sleep when it is dark and rise when it is light. Nature has been proven to help prevent insomnia as well-an awesome bonus. See, there are psychological and physiological reasons you sleep better just by spending time outside!

  • Bright Eyes

Most of us wear sunglasses in the summer and that’s important for protecting your eyes, but even with those shades on, do you being outside helps your eyes? Artificial light and constant staring at electronic devices inside literally kills your eyesight. Get outside often to rest those eyes!

  • Maintainin’ a Healthy Weight

Being outdoors generally forces you to move your body more…and that exercise is awesome for maintaining a healthy weight. You don’t need to hike mountains like me; even a nice walk around the block is literal steps in the right direction!

  • Helpin’ my Heart

A recent study in Australia found that just 30 minutes of exposure to nature each week can reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by nine percent. Imagine if you spent 30 minutes outdoors a few times each week?!

  • Marvelous Mood

Exposure to nature has been proven to boost your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels! Sometimes when you are feeling blah, a step int the Great Outdoors can spark the joy we all need!

Time to pull yourself away from the electronic device, step outside, take in a deep breath, and delve into all the benefits that nature offers us!

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

Why I Love Olive Oil

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It seems like every week, different oils become trendy: flax oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil. These oils certainly have their benefits, but I mostly stick to my time-tested favorite, olive oil. I have blogged about the Mediterranean diet before and how I feel it sets the stage for a heart-healthy lifestyle—olive oil is just one of the reasons why this diet rocks! While I touched on olive oil in that blog, I am going to delve deeper here! You ready to learn to love olive oil? Here we go!

Olive oil is a type of monounsaturated fat—yes one of the healthy fats your body loves! The specific form of monounsaturated fat in olive oil is called oleic acid. Several studies have found that oleic acid helps reduce inflammation…and inflammation is the precursor to nearly every single disease—including cancer!

A lot of research has proven that oleic acid protects against heart disease; it lowers your LDL (BAD!) cholesterol, improves the function of the lining of the blood vessels, and may also help prevent blood clotting.

Olive oil is also loaded with antioxidants, which also help reduce inflammation. For example, one study found that the antioxidant, oleocanthal, found in olive oil, was as effective at reducing inflammation as ibuprofen.

Some of my clients are terrified of any fat, fearing that it will make them fat. But healthy fats like olive oil, are necessary for proper brain function and it is also necessary to help you absorb fat-soluable vitamins (vitamin D, K, A, and E). And as far as olive oil goes, a Spanish study examined college students consuming  olive oil for three years and they did not gain weight! My recommendation is to use it combined with balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use it as opposed to butter why you scramble your eggs or make your omelets.

You don’t need tons of it, a tablespoon here and there is the perfect amount.

Be sure that you are using extra-virgin olive oil; this type is pressed most naturally and has the highest level of antioxidants and can withstand heat better for cooking. Also, make sure it is in a dark colored bottle so that light doesn’t impact the oil—otherwise, it can go rancid rather quickly.

Cheers to your heart, your brain, and your overall health!

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!

 

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!