Tag Archives: Nourishment of Health


Oats: An Amazing Whole Food
By Stephanie Davidson, Nutrition; 3rd Quarter DC; Nu Omega Honor Society

Oats began to be grown as a cultivated crop about 2,000 years ago in Asia Minor. The crop came to America from Europe at the turn of the seventeenth century and was first planted in Massachusetts, on the Elizabeth Islands. By the late 1800’s, the primary oat-producing lands were the mid-western states of the middle and upper Mississippi Valley; today, they are grown primarily in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Iowa. Oats are also grown throughout Europe and Canada.

According to Purdue University’s Center for New Crops and Plants Products, different oat varieties are planted and harvested at different times of the year: some in winter and some in spring. The plants are harvested with a thresher for both straw and grain. Livestock are fed with whole or ground straw and grain; only the grain is intended for human consumption.

The primary macronutrient provided by oats is carbohydrate, the human body’s primary fuel source, with eleven grams per one-half cooked cup (including three grams of fiber), but small amounts of protein and unsaturated fats are provided as well, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The primary recognized health benefit of oats is their ability to affect cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that this effect is a result of beta-glucans, a naturally-occurring carbohydrate compound with a specialized structure; the same studies showed that these compounds were more effective in whole, unprocessed oat products than when isolated. Another study showed oat products to be more effective against high cholesterol than even other whole cereal grains.

Another lesser-known benefit of beta-glucans is their distinctive immune-enhancing qualities. In laboratory studies, beta-glucans have been shown to improve the function of leukocytes, the white blood cells responsible for neutralizing pathogenic microbes, without increasing inflammatory response. These cholesterol-lowering and immune-enhancing functions combine to make oats a powerful dietary tool for lowering risk of many disease states.

Those going gluten-free can also enjoy the health benefits of oats. Although traditionally oats were grown side-by-side with wheat, due to increasing demand, these farming practices are changing. Several brands, including Bob’s Red Mill, now offer oat products that have been grown in fields protected from cross-contamination and certified gluten-free.

OatsThe nutrient intake is greatest when whole oats are prepared as a standard cereal grain by heating with water. This preparation can be made more “taste-friendly” by mixing in spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, fruits such as raisins or apples, or even nuts such as almonds or walnuts. These additions can be made at any point of preparation, depending on the desired outcome.

Another way to enjoy whole oats is by toasting them carefully in a stovetop skillet without fat. These toasted oats can then be added to trail mixes with fruit and nuts or used to make granola. The key to retaining oat nutrients is to use them whole, with bran included; further processing removes key nutrients by stripping the bran away.

The two key factors to consider in processed oat products are loss of bran and added sugars. Rolled oats are processed to remove the bran, thereby reducing protein, fiber, and several key minerals. An example of a rolled oat product would be old-fashioned oatmeal cereals, such as those widely available from Quaker and most store brands.

The other important factor in choosing an oat product is to consider added sugars. A typical chewy granola bar contains forty-two calories from added sugars, according to the USDA. These added calories, as well as those contributed by added fats, greatly reduced the health benefits provided by the few oats the finished product contains.

So go enjoy whole oats for your health!


By Nicole Garten, Dietetic Student

For the past few years, many of you have probably been hearing about the “craze” on gluten. With gluten-free aisles in the grocery stores, gluten-free options offered in restaurants, and gluten-free diets and recipes popping up everywhere you go, it is clear that a new market in the food industry has opened up. The term gluten-free has been advertised for not just the diseases it affects, but for becoming the new healthier way to eat for everyone. Here at Life University, health and wellness are our passion, which is why I thought it was important to understand why gluten has piqued the interest of the public. You might be wondering, “Who exactly benefits from gluten-free diets?” or “Will gluten-free diets really make us healthier?” But first, let’s begin with the question, “What is gluten”?

If you like to eat breads, pastas, cereals or chocolate chip cookies; then it is very likely you have consumed gluten. It is present in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is a protein made up of gliadin and glutenin, which combine with starch in a variety of grains. Glutenin is the main protein in wheat flour and Gliadin is the component that allows bread to rise and keep shape. Gluten is the key factor in giving dough its elasticity and giving bread its chewiness. But for some people, this protein can be harmful.

People who benefit from gluten-free diets are those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or who are allergic to wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where once the body detects gluten, it attacks it. During this process, the lining of the small intestines becomes damaged, so avoiding gluten completely is necessary for their health. Those with gluten intolerance can experience symptoms like stomach cramps or digestive problems, and people who are allergic to wheat can experience inflammation that can cause stomach problems, rashes or hives. Eliminating gluten from the diet can clear up these symptoms for people who cannot digest this protein properly. For most of us, gluten can be digested without any problems.

For people without these conditions, going gluten-free will not necessarily make you “healthier.” Gluten itself may not offer any special nutritional benefits but foods containing gluten do, like whole grains. Eating whole grains are important, since you gain a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber; Gluten2and, if you eliminate whole grains from the diet, it is possible you can become deficient in B-vitamins, iron and fiber. Because this protein is found in starch, consuming a diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in fruits and vegetables can be unhealthy; especially, if a majority of your diet comes from refined grains, like white bread, snack foods, cereals, or crackers. Gluten can also be found in many foods that contain preservatives and artificial flavorings, so eliminating processed foods from the diet can be beneficial. Just like foods that contain gluten can be unhealthy, foods not containing gluten can also be unhealthy. Some gluten-free foods are also high in calories, sugars, fats, and have fewer vitamins and minerals.

Eating gluten-free foods can be either beneficial or non-beneficial for you, depending on what you choose to eat. It is always important to know what is in your food, to eat things in moderation and overall, a balanced diet that contains whole grains, fruits and vegetables is what will make you healthier.

Harmonize Your Health

Harmonize Your Health
Listen to Your Gut
By Rachel Brower, Undergraduate Student

Did you know that 95% of your serotonin production is directly linked to your gut? I didn’t! Recently I attended a brief workshop at the Progressive Medical Center – the integrative healthcare facility I work at. The doctor was giving a presentation on the topic of depression, a word that’s heard way too often in our day and age. She had found huge success regarding patients she has seen with this condition, and all she mainly had to focus on was their gut!

In our culture, almost everyone has food allergies and intolerances. These can manifest in a vast array of symptoms, different for each person. Take the diet we currently have, the numerous TV ads for fast food, billboards for alcohol, and the fact that we humans are impressionable and habitual by nature, and you have a recipe for disaster. We have fallen prey to this food scandal. We are spending more than we are receiving. The majority of that food hardly contains any nutritional value, and does way more harm than good.

Gluten intolerances, celiac disease, dairy allergies, and other food problems and sensitivities are flaring up like you wouldn’t believe. Our gut is trying to fight back, but unfortunately, we don’t realize or pay attention to the signs – one of which is depression. Instead we unknowingly ingest the food, our body reacts to it causing inflammation, headaches, bone pain, muscle aches, fatigue, sleeping problems, and yes – depression. Not to mention our typical American diet massively encourages the growth of candida and bad bacteria colonies in the gut.

Because much of our brain neurotransmitters rely on the absorption spectrum of nutrients in the gut, we are not getting what we truly need to feed not only our imagesbodies, but also our minds. Taking food allergy tests is the first step toward getting better. Realizing what triggers your gut, as well as what feeds the bacterial imbalances, is the knowledge you will need to build yourself a life-changing platform. Write it down on a card, carry it with you, study up on the various processed ingredients that most likely contain irritants, and avoid the foods that we were never meant to ingest in the first place.

Some people get too overwhelmed at the amount of restriction in making a big diet and lifestyle change – but it’s only your choice to see it that way! Instead of a sense of limitations, choose to see opportunity and excitement. Get curious about your health and listen to your body. Become passionate about change. Clear your mind (and your palette) to both create and experience new delicious foods and recipes! Ultimately, the choice is yours.

I’ll spare you the lecture, but the doctor finished her session stating countless cases of depression success in a simple lifestyle alteration. With learning the truth, receiving encouragement, and making necessary changes for themselves, people were finally able to get off their medications and start to live a clean, happy lifestyle free from depression and all the baggage it brings! I am walking proof. And if I can do it, I know you can as well!

Chia Seeds – Hydration Powerhouses

Chia Seeds
Hydration Powerhouses
By Caridad Claiborne, Dietetic Program

Yay for warmer weather! After the long and icy winter had us stuck indoors, I’m sure we are all delighted to be able to enjoy the sun again. With nice weather, comes more opportunities for outdoor activities, sports, and exercises. Now if you are one of those outdoor loving people and spend most of spring and summer outside, there is one rule you must follow: Stay hydrated! When the weather is hot there is a risk of dehydration and an even greater risk for those who practice high intensity workouts and sweat profusely. Dehydration can set in when you have not taken in enough fluids or lose too many fluids through sweating. Symptoms such as lightheadedness, nausea, weakness, confusion, a decrease in urine, and fainting could occur. Though an increase of thirst could occur as well, you should not always rely on thirst alone as a sign of dehydration. It is extremely important to drink plenty of liquids, water being the most effective, as well as making sure you drink beverages to replenish electrolytes.

One of my favorite ways to stay hydrated during outdoor activities in hot conditions is consuming chia seeds. Yes, these are the same chia seeds used in the Chia Pets that where popular in the 80’s. Sing it with me now…”Ch-ch-ch-chia!” Chia seeds are just as fun to eat or drink, as the jingle is to say. So what exactly are chia seed and how do they keep you hydrated? Chia seeds are these edible little powerhouses that are grown in Mexico and have been a staple food in Mayan and Aztec cultures. The word “Chia” means strength and these tiny seeds are said to increase endurance and boost energy. MyPlate states that two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 138 calories, 5 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of dietary fiber, and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they are easily digested and have higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds. Chia seeds can slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars, which will fuel your body longer. Therefore, taking them before a workout can aid in endurance.

So how do you eat these black and white seeds that resemble marbled dinosaur eggs? You could sprinkle them into yogurt, oatmeal, over salad, or on toast. However, to use them to help with hydration you must first allow them to absorb liquid. Chia seeds have a hydrophilic property that allows them to absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid. This means it is important to place the seeds in plenty of liquid and allow them to soak up the liquid for 10 minute before consuming. This is also what helps them combat dehydration. When the seeds absorb the liquid a gel forms around them. If the texture of foods is important to you, this might be a slight issue, but I assure you it is worth it to forge through. Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor that won’t over power the taste of whatever you mix them with. Now that you have the complete background on chia seeds, here is a super hydrating and energy packed drink recipe to try before you next outdoor adventure:

Claiborne-chia22 tablespoons of chia seeds
2 cups of coconut water (you could use regular water but coconut water is packed with electrolytes)
the juice of one lemon (or 2-3 tablespoons of any fruit juice you like)

Let the chia seed sit in the water for 10mins. Add juice. Enjoy!

Kale Yeah! Intro to Juicing

Kale Yeah!
Intro to Juicing
By Trystanna Williams, DC Student

I am addicted to juicing. I absolutely love the delicious, natural fuel that provides long lasting energy to keep me focused and going all day long. So, what is juicing and why is it so amazing? Juicing is the process of extracting vitamins and minerals from raw fruits and vegetables. The process of juicing strips away solid matter from the produce thus leaving you with pure liquid (if you have a good machine). juice2This super liquid is loaded with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. Smoothies, on the other hand, contain a great amount of fiber providing satiety with the volume. Due to the juicing process, it lacks fiber. However, it still contains a similar amount of nutrients as smoothies, only WITHOUT the fiber. A small volume of juice aids the body’s natural detoxification properties. Smoothies are very easy for the body to digest and absorb nutrients just not as quickly as juices. For the purpose of juicing, lacking fiber is a good thing. It allows the body to rapidly digest and absorb the nutrients found in the juice as opposed to a smoothie, which slows the entire process down a bit. Through the juicing process, fiber is released allowing high concentrations of nutrients to directly enter our bloodstream in a quick and efficient manner.

It’s best to use organic fruits and vegetables when juicing. As a poor college student, I understand it may be difficult and expensive to purchase organic produce all the time. If you aren’t able to purchase organic, I would suggest buying local produce from the farmers market and try avoiding the dirty dozen. The dirty dozen is a list of twelve of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. As of 2013, this list included: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers.

I like to make vegetable based juices then sweeten it with some fruit. My go-to vegetables are dark leafy greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and kale. I also use cucumbers, celery, beets, and carrots. My favorite fruits are citrus, berries, apples, pears, pineapple, and grapes. I found out the hard way that bananas are not good to juice; I would save those for smoothies. However, you CAN juice the banana peel but you don’t get much juice.

Juicing is truly as easy as it sounds. Just wash the produce, remove the peel if needed, then pop them into the juicer and let it work its magic! As soon as your freshly made juice is exposed to air, it begins to oxidize thus decreasing the nutritional content. So, drink it within 20 minutes or refrigerate it ASAP. Fresh juice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. I prefer to store my juices in glass mason jars because they have tight-fitting caps and are relatively inexpensive.

I’ve included my favorite recipe below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

juice1Green Juice Recipe:
Large handful of spinach
Large handful of kale
4 celery stalks
1 cucumber
½ head of broccoli
2 large carrots
2 oranges, peeled
2 green apples
Add produce to juicer and enjoy!


Not Just an Alternative…

Not Just and Alternative…
Pivotal Medicine
By José Hernández, Dietetics Student

The synergy of nutrition and lifestyle interventions is fascinating. The food choices we make every day and our behavioral patterns play a critical role in the cause, prevention and treatment of the chronic disease epidemic, which has become the primary cause of death worldwide.

There is a powerful scientific foundation to shift the conversations at the core of the medical practice and the making of public health policies to listen to what nutrition and lifestyle interventions can do to transform the conventional approaches of Western medicine. Instead of being focused primarily in blocking, interfering, or excising the biochemical or physical manifestations of disease, there is a more intuitive approach where the body, once provided with wholesome nutrients within an environment free of stress and toxins, is allowed to heal itself.

Scientific evidence of the potential of nutrition and lifestyle over pharmacological interventions is growing continuously. A recent study from 2009 published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed more than 20,000 people’s adherence to 4 nutritional and behavioral variables (non-smoking, 3.5 hrs. /wk. of moderate exercise, healthy diet, and keeping a healthy body weight/height ratio (BMI)); for those who successfully adhered to the program, the outcomes were impressive: 93% of diabetes, 81% of heart attacks, 50% of strokes, and 36% of all types of cancers were prevented.

Another study searching for “Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease” from 1998, patients with existing conditions of CHD adhered to a program consisting in a plant-based diet, moderated exercise, smoking cessation, and management of stress therapy, found a 50 percent reduction of all disease related deaths.

The HALE project from 2004, is yet another exceptional study of individuals 70 years of age, who began a healthy lifestyle program pyramidand after 10 years of consuming a Mediterranean-style diet, moderate physical activity, non-smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption achieved a 70% reduction in mortality by all causes; what is exceptional in this study is that the first approach to a healthy lifestyle for these individuals wasn’t until they were 70 years old! Proving it’s never to late to start with a wholesome diet and a set of small and progressive improvements regarding our own attitude towards life.

More related scientific findings are continuously being published all over the world. Healthful dietary patterns like the Mediterranean-style diet – which includes a well balanced array of nutrients from fresh colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, fish, seafood and seaweeds, olive oil, and a moderate intake of animal products and alcohol – combined with regular physical activity, and an adequate management of all sources of stress are associated with improvements along the whole spectrum of chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus type 2 or insulin resistance, high blood pressure, obesity, strokes, and metabolic syndrome among the more relevant havoc around the globe.

Recently I heard somebody say you should be given statins along with your cheeseburger and fries every time you visit a fast food restaurant. It is inconceivable to expect having a good health if we keep eating an unhealthy and toxic diet, avoid any form of physical activity, and have no control over our psychological stress.

We are at the position -and have the power- to takeover our own health; we now have the knowledge to halt the domination of our veggieshealthcare system by the pharmaceutical industry. The best medicine can be found in a wholesome, well-balanced diet and elimination of toxins, and can be supported by regular exercise and a relaxing environment; all these are variables that simply should be under our control, if we provide our bodies with them, even if we don’t completely understand how it works, the innate intelligence of our bodies knows where to go from there, and the only side effects from this medicine are weight loss, better sleep, longevity, higher energy, and an increasing state of well-being along with notorious improvement, and eventual elimination, of all those annoying chronic diseases.

Today, the most cost-effective way to deal with the worldwide chronic disease epidemic is not conventional medication and surgery; although, it is still a matter of controversy and intense debate, nutrition and lifestyle interventions have proven to be much more than alternative medicine, instead, it is pivotal medicine.

Jose Hernandez is a senior in the BS Dietetics program at Life University and Editor of the Newsletter of the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society, chapter Nu Omega.

Ford E.S., Bergmann M.M., Kroger J., et. al. 2009. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. 169(15): 1355-62.
Hyman, M. (2010). Do statins cause diabetes and heart disease? Dr. Mark Hyman Blog. Retrieved January 12, 2014 from: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/09/12/do-statins-cause-diabetes-and-heart-disease
Knoops K.T., de Groot L.C., Kromhout D., et. al. 2004. Mediterranean diet, lifestyle factors, and 10-year mortality in elderly European men and women: The HALE project. JAMA. 292(12): 1433-9.
Ornish D., Scherwitz L.W., Billings J.H., et. al. 1998. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA. 280: 2001-2007.
Rimm E.B., and M.J. Stampfer. 2004. Diet, lifestyle, and longevity-the next steps? JAMA. 292(12): 1490-2.
Trichopoulou A., Costacou T., Bamia C., et. al. 2003. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and survival in a Greek population. N Engl J Med. 348(26): 2599-608.
Yach D., Hawkes C., Gould C.L., et. al. 2004. Global burden of chronic diseases: Overcoming impediments to prevention and control. JAMA. 291(21): 26

Nourishment of Health

Nourishment of Health
The third building block of health
By Vince Methot, DC Student

There are seven categories in which all factors that influence health can be included. This set of seven I call the ‘fundamentals of health’. You can find the basic overview of these on the Vital Source Blog. The third of these I call the nourishment of health.

Methot_Vince_Nourishment_Dec_2013Our bodies have certain requirements in order to build and maintain the structures needed and to function properly. These include macronutrients – proteins, fats and carbohydrates – as well as micronutrients – vitamins and minerals. These nutrients need to be provided by the foods that we eat. It is important for these foods to undergo the process of digestion in order to be received into the body properly. The condition of the gastrointestinal tract, from teeth to colon, is one good indicator of the quality of a person’s diet.

Foods change the pH of our body’s tissues, our internal environment. pH has been found to be a high indicator to the quality of our health; the reason for this may be due to the role that pH has in our first line of defense against foreign microorganisms, among other reasons.

The foods we eat need to have the proper ratio of nutrients for our needs. How different foods are combined has an effect on this. Also, the time that one food is eaten in relation to another will have an effect on which nutrients are absorbed and usable. How and where a food was grown or made has an effect on the ratio of nutrients. By choosing to eat primarily what is meant to be human food, these ratios will be in their proper proportion.

A plant-based diet, such as fruits and vegetables, is important to good health and healing. A mix of raw and cooked plants are good, especially when raw is the majority.Methot_Vince_Nourishment2_Dec_2013 Dark green foods are the most nutritious foods; but, having a variety of color in the food is effective for improving health and encouraging healing. Locally grown foods, grown in proper season, and in rich soil without toxins, are the best foods, possibly because they experience the same climate and atmosphere as those eating them.

Rare and occasional meat consumption can be good, especially during winter and famine, so long as the animals are healthy and eat what they are meant to eat. It is not until meat is indulged in too frequently that sickness and disease becomes most likely. Other animal products and animal parts can be very enriching to our health as well, with the same underlying assumptions of the animal’s health and diet.

Just because something is a plant or animal, or in its natural form, doesn’t mean that it is appropriate to be eaten. There are plenty of plants and animal parts that are toxic to the body. Also, there are several substances which can be considered ‘anti-nutrients’ because in their digestion they rob the body of needed nutrients. It is true that there needs to be moderation in all things, but with some foods a moderate amount is none.

Unnatural foods, in many cases, are stressors for the body; this includes processed foods with an unnatural proportion of nutrients and with chemicals that do not appear in nature. Different levels of processing can be good for a period of time, such as blending fruit and vegetable smoothies, juicing, or supplementing with pills. When these are used during a transition from a bad to good diet they can be very cleansing and allow for healing from the damage done. However, when they are used to try to compensate for a bad diet and rationalize continuing bad food habits they are used improperly.