Monday, April 18, 2011

Sailing With Nutritionist, Keri Glassman On A Mind, Body & Spirit Cruise - My Opinion Of Her High ORAC O2 DIet

Keri Glassman
Nationally recognized nutritionist and author

Follow Foods For Long Life on FACEBOOK !

Learning About Nutrition on a Cruise?
On Tuesday, I wrote about many of my favorite experiences on the Mind, Body, & Spirit Cruise that we recently took. Besides all the great activities like Zumba, yoga, ballroom dancing, stretching and massage, there were some very good lecturers, the best of whom was Keri Glassman. Since I am a nutritionist, it's not a surprise that I would enjoy the lectures about nutrition the most. But I must say, it takes a lot of guts to stand up in front of a bunch of people vacationing on a cruise and discuss nutrition! (Pardon me miss Glassman, could you speed up the lecture as it's interfering with the ice cream social on the Lido deck!).
Much to the credit of the passengers, the seats were filled and people were truly interested in learning more about nutrition. Much to her credit, she encouraged people to listen, enjoy the cruise and practice some of her ideas once everyone got home. Had she told everyone to avoid anything delicious while vacationing, they most certainly would have stop listening.

Lecture #1 - Living a Nutritious Life
In her first lecture, Ms. Glassman discussed the key elements of "living a nutritious life".  What was the most interesting was that the majority of the items did not involve food! In fact, she claims that the first thing she focuses on with new clients are the non-food items like sleeping more or drinking enough water. Here are the key elements that were discussed.

Key Elements to Lifelong Health, Wellness and Energy
* Drink Up
Since our bodies are mostly water, it's important to stay hydrated. Dehydration slows down your metabolism, makes you tired and makes it difficult to concentrate. Quite often, claims Ms. Glassman, people mistake hunger for thirst. She recommends drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day. Although she prefers drinking green tea, she did not discourage the consumption of a good cup of coffee as it has been shown to be a good antioxidant, prevent diabetes, liver cancer and Parkinson's while increasing your endurance. But, coffee and tea do not take the place of the eight glasses of water!
* Get Enough Sleep
Ms. Glassman points out that when a person sleeps less than 8 hours a day, their chances of obesity increases significantly. Sleeping only 6 hours increases your risk of obesity by 23%, 5 hours increases it by 50% and getting only 4 hours of sleep increases your risk as much as 73%! She claims that getting a bad night sleep leads to poor food choices and will result in a person eating 300 more calories the next day.
In addition, poor sleep decreases immunity and accelerates aging. Bottom line, get adequate sleep!
* Exercise Steady
Ms. Glassman encourages consistent exercise with the emphasis on CONSISTENT. She recommends scheduling exercise (just like we schedule dental appointments), setting athletic goals and alternating workouts. Goals don't have to be lofty - make them reasonable and achievable. 
Ms. Glassman reminds us that consistent exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression while improving bone health, reducing stress, improving sleep and increasing muscle mass. The benefit of increasing muscle mass is that you burn more calories even when you're resting.
* Stress Less
When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol which leads to hunger and the storage of fat. 
Continual stress leads to heart disease, GI problems, headache, fatigue, allergies, depression and a craving for carbohydrates. To combat stress, Ms. Glassman encourages meditating (if even for 5 minutes), taking a walk, eating whole grains (which promote a steady flow of serotonin), eating throughout the day and exercising.
* Your World
Ms. Glassman encourages us to better control things in our personal environment or in "our world". 
Simple things like eating on smaller plates, organizing our refrigerator to more easily display our healthy foods and placing plants around our house to clean the air. Pamper yourself by placing some lavender in your bedroom.
* Sex Ed
Sex burns calories (200 calories in 30 minutes), lowers blood pressure and increases oxytocin which Ms. Glassman states has beneficial antioxidant properties. My husband loved this part of the lecture.  I can see why she has a successful practice!
* Eat Empowered
When a person is "on a diet", they feel like they are depriving themselves of something. Ms. Glassman focuses her clients on "what they CAN eat" and not on "what they CAN'T eat". I cannot agree with her more which is why I focus most of my blog on delicious recipes that just happen to be healthful! 

Lecture #2 - The O2 DIet
Oxidative stress, or the generation of "free radicals"  has been associated with the development of many diseases and with the process of aging. Ms. Glassman points out that free radicals can come from many sources like UV exposure, pollution, stress, some foods (like transfats) and some medications. They are also a natural bi-product of the many chemical reactions in our cells. Antioxidants combat free radicals. In Ms. Glassman's  book, "O2 DIet", she encourages eating foods with lots of antioxidants. Specifically, she wants people to rack up 30,000 ORAC points a day.

Ms. Glassman discusses her book, O2 Diet
What's an ORAC?
ORAC stands for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and measures the degree to which a food can destroy free radicals. For a comprehensive list of foods and their ORAC values prepared by the US Department of Agriculture, check out their Latest Report

The O2 Diet
Ms. Glassman encourages people to "Eat Empowered" and focus on what you can eat, not what you can't. She feels that people will be more motivated to eat healthful foods when they realize their capacity to do good. And what more can a food do than squash those nasty free radicals that have been associated with disease and aging! She claims that the antioxidant power of the blood increases 10 to 25% when you consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC points a day. There are antioxidants in fruits, veggies, herbs, whole grains, good fats, tea and wine.
Some of the foods she encourages eating (along with links to Foods For Long LIfe recipes that include them) are:
* Blueberries (9,700 ORAC per cup) - high in anthocyanins, good for memory and balance.
* Cinnamon (7,000 ORAC per teaspoon) - cures fatigue, increases alertness and eases frustration.
* Pumpkin  (600 ORAC per cup) - high in vitamin A, good for skin and elastin, reduces signs of aging.
* Artichokes (7,900 ORAC each) - lowers cholesterol and is anti-inflammatory.
* Green tea (3,000 ORAC/cup) - good for weight loss as it burns calories and lowers body fat.
* Lentils (7,500 per 1/2 cup) - a lean protein high in fiber, B vitamins, iron and zinc.
* Rosemary (400 ORAC/ teaspoon 
* Avocado (700 ORAC in 1/4 avocado) - contains glutathione that blocks absorption of bad fats.
* Sweet potatoes (2,400 ORAC per potato) - has over 400% of RDA of vitamin A.
* Spinach (2,400 ORAC/ cup) 
* Cherries (3,500 ORAC per ?) - anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol.
* Dark chocolate (5,900 ORAC/ ounce) - high in flavonoids, excellent for heart health.
* Pistachios (1,000 ORAC in 18 nuts) - high in plant sterols, good for the heart.
* Oatmeal (600 ORAC per serving) - helps produce seratonins and help overcome stress.
* Orange (3,000 ORAC per orange) - high in vitamin C, helps reduce stress.
* Plums (4,100 ORAC per serving) - lowers anxiety and helps reduce depression.

Should we Focus on ORAC?? My Opinion
My opinion of this diet only comes from her lecture as I have not read the book. The foods she recommends are certainly great foods and I totally agree with her about focusing on the wonderful and healthful foods you CAN eat and not those that you cannot. 
The only issue I have with the O2 diet is the idea of making sure you eat 30,000 ORAC points per day based on the foods she has in the book. First of all, her book is based on the older ORAC list of only 277 foods but even the latest release only contains 326 foods. So there are LOTS of wonderful foods that do not have ORAC ratings and I would hate for you to avoid them just because they won't help you get to your daily 30,000 points! Also, for those of you who have looked up ORAC lists in the past, you will agree that there is a lot of conflicting data out there. The Department of Agriculture list should be the ORAC bible but the ORAC measurements are per 100 grams, not more useful measurements like "per teaspoon" or "per cup". In any event, use the list to point out the good foods but don't avoid things you inherently know are healthful just because they have not yet been evaluated. 
My rule of thumb for a healthful diet is to fill your plate with lots of colorful fruits and veggies - the more color the better as that is an easy way to determine the amount of healthful plant chemicals in your meal. That's a lot easier than counting ORAC points. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Glassman's two presentations. I think it's important to be reminded that things like drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, exercise and sex, and doing things to reduce your stress level are critical to weight loss as well as general health. I often forget to drink enough water and I'm too hyperactive to meditate. But she said even 5 minutes of meditation would help reduce stress. I think even I can pull that off!
I think her O2 diet presentation was probably targeted to meat eaters who may not have a very good diet (like many of the people who were on the cruise). Anyone who is presently eating the typical American diet full of factory farmed meat and processed foods would greatly benefit from switching to the O2 diet or any other diet that promotes eating more whole grains, fruits and veggies. If you are a  raw food vegan, you're most likely getting your daily 30,000 ORAC points in your morning smoothie! OK, maybe that's an exaggeration but starting the day with a blueberry, pear and spinach smoothie will certainly give you a good start! 
All in all, if Ms. Glassman's book is as good as her lectures, I think it will be a worthwhile read. 

No comments: