Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Changes I Made Immediately After Attending The 2015 Annual Nutrition And Health Conference

Dr. Christine Gallagher and I at the 2015 Annual Nutritional and Health Conference in Phoenix, Arizona

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Health and Nutrition Conference 
Dr. Christine Gallagher and I became good friends while getting our doctorates; her in Natural Health and me in Holistic Nutrition. Although she lives and practices in Grand Junction, Colorado and I live in Sebastopol, California, we make it a point to attend a conference together as often as we can. This year we headed to Phoenix to attend the 2015 Nutrition and Health Conference hosted by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. 

As always, I came away inspired to share the latest nutrition research with my readers but I also came home with a list of things I wanted to immediately change in my life. In the weeks to come, I will write more about the details of the conference and post a few recipes from the classes I took there, but today I am going to share 5 important changes I made in my own life upon returning from the conference.

#1 - Make and Eat More Fermented Foods
There are trillions of microbes living in our bodies and they have a profound effect on our health and well being. To continue to introduce and replenish these important little bugs into our system, we should eat fermented foods every day. Examples of these are yogurt, kefir, miso, the sauerkraut and pickles you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, kimchi, and kombucha tea. Prior to the conference, I took the same probiotic supplement every day but I will now reduce my supplementation and get my microbes from a variety of fermented foods which should provide more microbial diversity. 

What to do now:
* I eat home-made soy yogurt every morning with fruit or blended into a smoothie.
* I buy raw sauerkraut and serve it with lunch and/or dinner. 
* I just made my first batch of sauerkraut from a recipe I learned at the conference. (I'll be sharing that soon).
* I've been enjoying kombucha tea that I bought at my local market.
* I loaded up on all the ingredients to make miso soup which I plan to perfect!

Load up on fermented foods

#2 - Feed your Bugs
The trillions of microbes that are colonized in your gut need to eat. Don't forget, 90% of the cells and 99% of the genetic material in your body are made up of these little guys so you have to feed them. They feast on microbiota accessible carbohydrates (MACs) or foods with high amounts of dietary fiber. Although I already have a pretty high fiber diet, I am paying more attention to every meal. You should aim for 25 to 35 g of dietary fiber a day or 14 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed.

Oh, and by the way, if you don't feed them, they will eat the mucosal lining of your intestines which cannot lead to anything good. So feed them or they will eat you!

What to Do Now:
* I am journaling my dietary fiber to make sure I'm getting about 30 g per day.
* I am making sure to eat lots of high fiber foods like whole grains, beans, fruits and veggie and to avoid all unprocessed carbohydrates like white rice, pasta or bread.

Note: If you are not used to eating this much fiber, introduce it slowly into your diet or you will explode!

Bugs LOVE beans and my pantry is full of them!

#3 - Get Moving
Sitting is the new "smoking" and can kill you. It is critical to do some form of exercise for 30 minutes a day. You don't have to run a marathon but even a 30 minute brisk walk can do the world of good. After my recent foot surgery, I was immobile for 6 weeks. In just that short period of time, I gained some weight and my energy level and mental clarity declined. 

What to Do Now
* I'm wearing my Fitbit and working myself back up to 10,000 steps a day.
* I use my recumbent bike or elliptical when watching TV.
* As soon as I my foot is completely recovered, I will get back to my Zumba classes.

You can buy fancier ones to wear on your wrist,
but I like this small fitbit that clips on my pocket.

#4 - Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins 
Dr. Victoria Maizes gave a presentation on "Eating Green and Clean". She pointed out that there are over 85,000 industrial chemicals on the market yet only 200 of them have been tested for safety with respect to human health. These chemicals are on our food, in our personal care products, in the lining of our food cans, in plastic containers, in our cleaning products, and in our drinking water. Many of the chemicals we are exposed to every day can cause unexpected health problems

What to Do Now
* I'm in the process of going through my medicine cabinet and discarding makeup, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen and any personal care products with questionable ingredients. Check out the EWG's Skin Deep website to see if your personal care products are safe.
* I'm attempting to get rid of all plastic in my kitchen (boy, is that hard).
* I'm not buying any cans with BPA linings. Check out Tree Hugger to see a list of BPA-free cans.  I avoid buying a lot of canned food by making my own beans from scratch.
* I'm trying to grow most of my food this summer but when I shop, I try to only buy organic food, especially if it is on EWG's "Dirty Dozen" List
* I am looking at my cleaning products and checking EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
* I'm checking all food products and vitamin supplements for food additives, like carrageenan.
* I'm trying to avoid my non-stick pans when possible even though I love them.

This is a big list and the hardest endeavor of all but I'll take it one step at a time.

#5 - Consume Turmeric with Black Pepper
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important in our diet as they reduce inflammation and the many degenerative diseases that are associated with inflammation. Vegetarians only get ALA from sources like hemp, chia, and flax seeds and other plant sources. EPA and DHA, the more important form of omega-3, are found in algae and animal sources like fish and grass fed meats. Vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in EPA and DHA - this deficiency can lead to a host of cognitive problems and other health issues.

The body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA but it's not very efficient and not much of it gets absorbed in the body. The good news for vegans and vegetarians is this:

* Eating sources of ALA together with Turmeric (curcumin being the main active compound) improves the conversion of rate of ALA to DHA, increases the absorption of DHA in the liver, and increases the levels of DHA in the brain.

* Consuming black pepper (piperine being the main active compound) with turmeric increases the bioavailability of turmeric by 2,000%. 

What to Do Now

* Although I am a pesca-vegan and get some of my DHA and EPA omega-3 from local salmon, I will also plan meals that include turmeric, black pepper, and sources of ALA omega-3. For example: Make a tasty curry (with both turmeric and black pepper) followed by a refreshing chia seed pudding. 
* I presently take Meriva SR from Thorne for my allergies. It is a time-released curcumin product. I noticed that there are a number of curcumin supplements on the market today that include black pepper extracts. This may be a better choice, especially for vegans trying to enhance the conversion of ALA omega-3 fatty acids to EPA and DHA.

I have a lot more to share with you about the conference but these 5 areas inspired me the most. More to come............


Phil M said...

Thanks for sharing Joanne ... great information!

Cynthia Lair said...

I agree with all of those! My work schedule gets in the way of my 10K steps but I"m working on changing that too.