Q: Are there any combinations that make sense if I choose to switch to a more high fiber, plant-based diet with less processed foods?

Sure, here are a few combinations to consider:

  1. Increase fiber, Increase fluids. Insoluble fiber from fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plant-based foods help the bowel regulate waste disposal from the body. Since fiber absorbs water in the colon, it is necessary to consume adequate amounts of fluids to reduce the possibility of constipation.
  2. Meat, bran and iron. Phytates are antioxidants found in grains, nuts, legumes and rice and in large quantities of bran. The phytates in bran inhibit iron absorption from meat, but this improves with the addition of vitamin C. So it’s a good idea to serve up your steak and rice meal with broccoli for added vitamin C.
  3. Iron and vitamin C. Whether you choose to get your iron from animal sources such as red meat or plant sources such as spinach, iron is much better absorbed by the body with vitamin C. Add a glass of orange juice to your meal or toss some tomatoes onto your spinach salad.
  4. Food-and-drug interactions. Always pay close attention to potential food interactions that may occur with any prescription or over-the-counter medications. Grapefruit, for instance, interacts with many medications used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol or allergies and can inhibit the effectiveness of these drugs.

Grapefruit Juice Can Interact With Medicines! Medical Author:

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

Jay W. Marks, MD

http://www.medicinenet.com/grapefruit_juice_and_medication_interactions-page2/views.htm

Wheat fiber, phytates and iron absorption.

Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1987;129:73-9.

Hallberg L

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2820048

 

Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis.

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Sep;53 Suppl 2:S330-75. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900099.

Schlemmer U1, Frølich W, Prieto RM, Grases F.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19774556/

Alkaline Diets
By Sonya Collins, Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on November 26, 2013

 

http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/alkaline-diets

Q: Can a change to a more alkaline diet prevent heart disease or Type 2 Diabetes?

Answer courtesy of Susan Hurd, RDN, LDN, Regional Nutrition Manager, Sodexo Education, Wellness Champion, Sherman Region

It’s suggested that a diet low in red meat and rich in nutrients from the addition of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, heart-healthy oils, low-fat dairy foods and whole grains may help to reduce inflammatory processes associated with disease. This type of diet is recommended for most people and is supported by many health agencies such as the American Heart Association, The National Cancer Institute and the American Diabetes Association. Many of the foods considered healthy fall into the alkaline listing. Limiting food groups such as low-fat dairy, eggs, or whole grains because they are not alkaline enough is shortsighted. These foods contribute to a healthy diet by providing nutrients such as calcium, iron, protein and fiber. The goal toward healthy eating is a balance of a variety of foods to ensure nutrients aren’t missing.

Q: Are there certain acid/alkaline food combinations that are better for me than others?

Answer courtesy of Susan Hurd, RDN, LDN, Regional Nutrition Manager, Sodexo Education, Wellness Champion, Sherman Region

The theory behind acid versus alkaline diet combinations stems from the idea that refined carbohydrates, red meat and processed foods contribute to increased acidity in the body, leading to inflammation and a multitude of illnesses, including effects on the brain and cardiovascular systems. Supporters look for foods that are more alkaline in nature to minimize this acidic effect. Research has shown that a diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lower in processed foods can benefit overall health. Whether this is related to the acid or alkaline content of food has not been determined. You can refer to the chart below for a comparison of “acid” versus “alkaline” type foods.

Some “alkaline” foods

Some “acid” foods

Fruits

Dairy

Vegetables

Meat

Legumes

Eggs

Soy

Grains

Nuts

Convenience/processed foods

Seeds

Alcohol

Water

caffeine

Q: I’ve read that the foods I eat can change the pH of my body and that this might be healthy. Is this true?

Answer courtesy of Susan Hurd, RDN, LDN, Regional Nutrition Manager, Sodexo Education, Wellness Champion, Sherman Region

Many proponents of alkaline or acid ash diets support the notion that eating certain foods can help change your body’s blood pH. Before delving into this, you should understand a little about the acid-base balance of the body. The term pH is used to refer to the acid or basic/alkaline level of something. A pH of 1-6 is acidic, while 7 is considered neutral, and a pH of 8-14 is basic/alkaline. The body is considered “slightly basic” as pH hovers near 7.4, a number the body works very hard to maintain. The stomach’s pH is around 3.5, but this acidic environment is necessary for the digestion of foods. Once food leaves the stomach, enzymes and digestive activity in the small intestine kick in to neutralize the acidic contents coming from the stomach. In actuality, shifts from 7.4 can have dire consequences. For this reason, the body works to maintain this level, therefore what you eat will not significantly alter blood pH.

Q: I know I should eat salads to be healthier, but I get bored of always eating the same ingredients from the salad bar. What can I do to add variety to my salads?

Salads are healthy because they provide fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and vitamins. Salads offer the opportunity to eat a variety of colors, flavors, and textures. The different colors of produce represent a different mix of nutrients.

Most salad bars have set line items as well as seasonal and rotated items. The line-up of beans/legumes, dairy, fruit, grain, and vegetables allow you to build a super salad. You can add items from other food stations such as the deli or grill.

Building a super salad is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step 1:   Choose a base

  • Beans/legumes
  • Grain (corn, pasta, rice)
  • Vegetable (beet, broccoli, carrot, cucumber, greens, potato, tomato)
  • Tuna

Step 2:   Add variety with multiple colors, textures and temperatures

  • Chewy (dried fruit)
  • Crunchy (carrots, croutons, seeds)
  • Hot (baked or grilled chicken or hamburger, roasted veggies, stir-fry tofu)
  • Smooth (cottage cheese, hummus, soft tofu, yogurt)

Step 3:   Dress it up

  • Dried Herbs (basil, cinnamon, cumin, onion powder, Italian seasoning)
  • Spicy (chili/hot sauce, onions, peppers)
  • Sweet (fruit, honey)
  • Tangy (lemon, steak sauce, vinegar)

Ask what herbs, spices, sauces & seasonings are available.

************************************************************************

Salad ideas:

  • Black Bean & Corn Salad with black beans, corn, red onion, dressed with olive oil, hot sauce, pepper and salt.
  • Chick Pea Salad with chick peas, corn, red onion, tomato, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, pepper and salt
  • Cucumber Salad with sliced cucumbers, red onion and salt, dressed with vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard.
  • Mixed Bean Salad with chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, corn, red onion, black olives, tomato, carrots, dressed with olive oil, vinegar and salt.
  • Spinach and Chicken Salad with leaf spinach, red onion, corn, tomato and grilled chicken, dressed with vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard.

Q: I have Type 2 Diabetes. Will Mindful by Sodexo help me with weight and blood sugar control?

Answer courtesy of Susan Hurd, RDN, LDN, Regional Nutrition Manager, Sodexo Education

We know that eating well to treat a chronic condition like Type 2 Diabetes can be challenging but it is the key to keeping your weight and blood sugars in check. Foods found in Mindful by Sodexo may help you take a step in the right direction. Keep in mind, though, the Mindful program is not a substitute for medications or medical advice. Rather it is a way to incorporate nutritious food into your daily quest for health and blood sugar control. Based on the latest science and leading health organizations recommendations, Mindful by Sodexo helps you understand what is in the foods you choose while providing you all of the taste, nutrition and goodness from whole food ingredients. Mindful foods are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates while being moderate in sodium and healthy fats–all important to someone managing Type 2 Diabetes. Whether you are monitoring calories, carbohydrates, fat, sodium or fiber, Mindful’s ingredient listings and nutrition facts are tools that can help guide your meal choices.

Q: Is grilling a healthy cooking method?

Answer courtesy of Beth Winthrop, RD, National Development Director for Wellness, Campus Services

Like any cooking method where fat drips away from food rather than being eaten, grilling can produce a lower fat and healthier meal. When grilling, avoid blackening or charring meats by trimming visible fat, and keeping a close eye on the grill. Charred meats may increase cancer risk.
Food safety is an important part of all cooking methods. When grilling, judge whether meat is done by using a food thermometer. Heat chicken to 73.9°C. Always remove cooked meats from the grill on a clean plate, and never return cooked food to a marinade that’s held raw meat. Grilling isn’t just for burgers and dogs. Many vegetables such as Summer squashes are fantastic on the grill, as are fruits such as pineapple. Also try grilling tofu, fish or shrimp on skewers or racks. Remember to keep those side salads on ice for safety and better flavor.

Q: Any suggestions for trying to eat more whole grains?

Answer courtesy of Beth Winthrop, RD, National Development Director for Wellness, Campus Services

That’s a great goal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend making “half your grains whole.” Whole grains have not had the bran and germ removed by milling. Whole grains are higher in fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. They also keep us feeling full, and help our gastrointestinal tract stay healthy. There are plenty of reasonably priced, delicious, and nutritious whole grains for you to try. Consider kasha, bulgar, millet, wheat berries, quinoa, millet, barley, and the many kinds of whole grain rice. Enjoy them as a hot or cold cereal, in muffins, salads, soups, side dishes, and even desserts. Enjoy!

Q: Is a gluten-free diet healthy for me?

Answer courtesy of Beth Winthrop, RD, National Development Director for Wellness, Campus Services

For people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is the only way to maintain good health. If you have a family history of celiac disease, gastrointestinal complaints, and/or other autoimmune disorders, read more at www.gluten.net, and consult your doctor before starting a gluten-free diet. Many people can benefit from reducing refined carbohydrates in their diets (white bread, cookies, white pasta) without necessarily eliminating gluten. If you do medically require a gluten-free diet, you’ll also need to avoid cross-contact with gluten-containing foods, learn to shop and cook differently, and learn to advocate for yourself in restaurants. With planning, a gluten-free diet can be healthy and delicious.

Q: How can I make my dessert recipes healthier?

Answer courtesy of Beth Winthrop, RD, National Development Director for Wellness, Campus Services

Well, you might want to stay away from recipes that start “first cream 2 sticks of butter with a cup of sugar.” Grain-based desserts (basically anything made with flour such as cookies and cakes) are the #1 source of solid fat in the American diet, and the #2 source of added sugars. The healthiest desserts take advantage of the natural sweetness of fruit, accompanied perhaps by low-fat dairy products or a light “crisp” or “crunch” topping. Try caramelized bananas topped with honey yogurt, fresh raspberries with a little low-fat chocolate mousse, or pears poached in spiced red wine. Rice and bread pudding can be made with low-fat milk and whole grains for a low-fat, high-fiber treat. For cookies, make crisp low-fat biscotti sweetened with dried cherries, apricots and cranberries. To satisfy your sweet tooth and warm up on a cold night, make your own hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa powder, nonfat milk and just 2 teaspoons of sugar per cup. When the weather warms up, make your own fruit sorbets in an ice cream maker with pureed fruit, juices, berries and even tea! Artificial sweeteners probably won’t harm you, but they don’t help you outgrow your sweet tooth and learn to appreciate the delicious natural sweetness of fruit.

Q: Help! I feel like my stomach has been hurting every day since I started at college. What’s going on?

Answer courtesy of Lawson, MS, RDN, CD, Dietitian for Dining Services at the University of Vermont

We know that eating well to treat a chronic condition like Type 2 Diabetes can be challenging but it is key to keeping weight and blood sugars in check. Foods found in Mindful by Sodexo may help you take a step in the right direction. Keep in mind, though, the Mindful program is not a substitute for medications or medical advice. Rather it is a way to incorporate nutritious food into your daily quest for health and blood sugar control. Based on the latest science and leading health organizations recommendations, Mindful by Sodexo helps you understand what is in the foods you choose while providing you all of the taste, nutrition and goodness from whole food ingredients. Mindful foods are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates while being moderate in sodium and healthy fats–all important to someone managing Type 2 Diabetes. Whether you are monitoring calories, carbohydrates, fat, sodium or fiber, Mindful’s ingredient listings and nutrition facts are tools that can help guide your meal choices.

Q: I heard that snacks that combine protein and carbs are best. Since I’m always on the go, what are some good combinations to travel well?

Answer courtesy of Sarah Nicklay, MS, RD, Sodexo dining services at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Smart snacking can be an important strategy to keep your energy high when your schedule is hectic. It is important to keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid reaching for a convenient sugary or salty treat. Snacking throughout the day can help stave off hunger in between meals and prevent you from feeling tired, sluggish and irritable. Getting too hungry in between meals can lead to overeating when you do get to your next meal. Combining healthy protein with complex carbohydrates with fiber, like whole grains, will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.

If you’re looking for on-the-go snacks that contain both protein and fiber, nuts and nut butters combined with fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the perfect solution. Watch your portion sizes as calories from nuts and nut butters can add up quickly. The portion size for nut butters is 2 tablespoons, the size of a ping pong ball, and the portion size for nuts is 1/4 cup, the size of an egg. Spread peanut butter or your favorite nut butter on whole grain crackers, bread, bagels, English muffins or rice cakes. Top with cut fruit, dried fruit, seeds or granola for a little extra pizzazz. Fruit like apples and bananas also go well with nuts butters and pack a nutritional punch. Try making “ants on a log” (peanut butter and raisins on celery) or make a nut butter dip for vegetables like a Thai peanut dip. Make your own snack mix with whole grain cereal, granola or lite popcorn, and nuts, seeds and dried fruit. The combinations of healthy munch mixes are endless! Also look for snack bars that contain at least 2 grams of protein and fiber, or make your own. Spiced and dried edamame and chickpeas also make great snacks that are packed with protein and fiber.

If you can pack a lunch box with a freezer pack or will be eating your snack within two hours, there are even more possibilities. Try fat-free yogurt with fruit, granola or whole grain cereal or low-fat cottage cheese, string cheese or cheese wedges with whole-grain crackers or a rice cake. Half of a turkey sandwich or wrap is also a satisfying snack. Try hummus with vegetables, whole-grain crackers or pita wedges. Bean salads or dips with vegetables are a tasty source of vegetable protein. A hard-boiled egg or chocolate milk with your favorite whole-grain is another option. Lastly, tuna salad with whole-grain crackers is not only full or protein and fiber, but the tuna also contains healthy fats. Remember to snack consciously and practice moderation to incorporate snacks into your healthy lifestyle without overdoing it.

Q: What’s the one modification I can make to my diet that will give me the most benefit to my overall health?

Answer courtesy of Jacqueline Nester RD, LD, Sodexo Campus Services – Lehigh University

One of the most effective changes you can make to a diet is to downsize your portions. You can enjoy a variety of foods without feeling deprived by decreasing your portion size. Eating smaller portion sizes does not have to include measuring everything using measuring cups and spoons. An easy way to portion items is to use your hand! Use the following tips as accurate portion size tools:
• The palm of your hand is about the size of a protein portion (poultry, fish, meat, etc.)
• Your thumbprint is about 1 tablespoon, which is good for portioning sauces and/or salad dressings
• A fist is about the size of a cup, which is a serving of carbohydrates (pasta, rice, oatmeal, cereal, etc.)

Q: What fruits and vegetables pack the most health benefits?

Answer courtesy of Justin Heaton, RD, LDN, Sodexo Campus Dietitian, Northwestern University

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is shown to provide us with many health benefits. It may reduce risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. Dark green veggies, like Brussels sprouts, are low in calorie and high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin D. Sweet potatoes contain a high level of vitamin A which is great for vision and skin health. Fruits like blueberries are high in antioxidants that work to neutralize free radicals. This may help to lower the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Dried fruits, like figs, are excellent sources of potassium, calcium, iron and fiber. There is no magic fruit or vegetable that will provide all the health benefits our bodies need. So, my advice is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables – all colors of the rainbow!

Q: Is corn a healthy vegetable to eat?

Answer courtesy of Beth Winthrop, RD, National Development Director for Wellness, Campus Services

Like all vegetables, corn is a healthy addition to your diet. Eat corn (and other vegetables) without added fats like butter, cheese and creamy sauces. Fresh corn on the cob is a delicious treat without butter. Fresh plain air-popped popcorn is a crunchy treat thatss much healthier than most chips. Because corn is higher in calories and carbohydrates than most other vegetables, portions can add up. However, corn is also high in filling fiber and can replace higher fat meat in dishes such as chilies, soups and stews. Corn is also gluten-free. For 10 great ways to enjoy corn, check out Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Corn.

Q: How much fiber do I need and what are the best sources for it?

Answer courtesy of Jeanne Molloy, RD, Sodexo Education, Fordham University

Dietary fiber that occurs naturally in foods may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. That’s reason enough to get the recommended amount of dietary fiber daily – 14 grams per 1,000 kcal, or 25 g for adult women and 38 g for adult men. To meet the recommendation for fiber, Americans should increase their consumption of beans and peas, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts with naturally occurring fiber. Whole grains vary in fiber content so check the Nutrition Facts label to compare whole-grain products and find choices that are higher in dietary fiber. Always be mindful to hydrate properly, but especially when following a higher fiber diet.

Q: What are the best sources for lean protein?

Answer courtesy of Justin Heaton, RD, LDN, Sodexo Campus Dietitian, Northwestern University

Protein plays an important role in every essential function of the body. It helps to build new cells, maintain tissues and create new proteins. It’s important for building and protecting our muscles. We find protein in a variety of food sources, both animal and plant-based. The best sources of lean protein are low in saturated fat and calories. Fish, like salmon, is a low-fat, high-quality lean protein that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help maintain a healthy heart. Poultry meat also makes an excellent source of protein. However, eating the skin doubles the amount of saturated fat – so go for the skinless, white meat for your best option. Eggs also make an excellent low-calorie, low fat source of lean protein. For animal-free sources, try beans, nuts, seeds and other whole grains. Team black beans up with brown rice for a complete protein source that is low in fat, and high in fiber and iron. Even beef can have its place in an overall healthy diet. Just go for the lean versions, like sirloin or top round. Lean proteins can easily become “unhealthy” proteins, so avoid frying, high-fat sauces and toppings, and aim for the baked, grilled or boiled varieties that will keep your food healthier!