Every year the media and fear-mongerers want to let us know that this year is " the worst flu season ever", stirring up a lot of fear and panic in everybody. Well, here we are, on the precipace of the ramp up of flu season and now the coronavirus threatens a pandemic world-wide. Should you be scared? No! Should you be prepared? Yes, that's prudent. There are some pointers that I wanted to share with you to help protect you and your family - to help keep you healthy in the first place.
Let's talk supplements first, then check out the rest of the blog about practices to avoid illness:
SUPPLEMENTS- They help. I provide patients in my practice with access to high grade clinical supplements. Brands I trust that have third party testing for impurities and potency. I spend time vetting these brands/products. I will provide a link where you can purchase high quality supplements with 10% discount. I do make some money when you purchase from this site, if you choose to do so, I appreciate your support. I know you can purchase at your local Whole Foods, on Amazon or perhaps CVS, but if you make a purchase off this site you support my practice and ensure I can continue to bring you great information. Without further ado, my take on the daily things you should have your children taking during cold and flu season.
Daily multivitamin - This is the time of year to get a multivitamin in. You, your partner, your kiddos. If you question whether you eat enough fruit and vegetables, nuts/seeds, then this is a no brainer way to make sure you are getting what you need. The fact of the matter is our food system has been taxed by over production of single crops, and the nutrient values of foods are lower than they were 50 and 100 years ago, our soils are degraded and less rich in minerals. Choosing to supplement with a daily multi is like an insurance policy to make sure you and your kiddos are getting everything they need.
Here is a link to my dispensary. Free shipping on orders over $49 dollars, and remember 10% off everything. Once you create an account, click "go to the catalog" and look for childrens wellness recommendations.
And mama's that are breastfeeding: your breastmilk will contain all of the wonderful nutrients that you've taken for your own health, PLUS your body will make antibodies that will pass to your breastfeedng baby that will help him or her stay healthy, and will keep your baby hydrated, nourished, and to help him or her recover quickly should he or she become ill.
K, let's talk about everything else to do!
1) Pray and protect your mind. Pray. Don't listen to the news, it will always dramatize how bad it is, how many cases that are out there and how "horrible" it is. That really doesn't help keep us healthy to hear that - just the opposite actually, as it keeps us in fear and in greater danger of actually getting sick because we've doubled down on stress.
2) WASH YOUR HANDS. The most important thing to keep yourselves healthy is frequent hand washing with soap and warm/hot water. This is the time of year to pull out the legit sanitizing agents with alcohol and keep in your purse/car/diaper bag. Get those kill everything 99.9% lysol wipes and keep around your house, in your car, at your desk at work, etc. Actually spend 20 seconds washing hands with warm soapy water.
3) Avoid exposure. If you don't need to go to the movies, the store, the mall, etc. Spend some more time resting at home with family.
4) Stock up on food/water/supplies. This may be crazy to think, but if coronavirus hits your town, there may be mandatory quarintines. Make sure you have food at home, staples, shelf stable stuff, waters. Buy a few chickens, roast them, then make bone broth. That way if you end up with the cold, flu, coronavirus, you already have good quality bone broth to make soup out of.
5) Clean your cell phone. Actually sanitize your cell phone. They harbor so much germs.
6) Use a hand sanitizer when you can't wash your hands.
6) Do not touch your eyes, inside of your nose, or your mouth unless your hands are clean. Period.
7) Keep your sinuses moist. Dry air can cause dry sinuses. Keeping your nasal passages moist can help prevent symptoms such as pain and nose bleeds, and can even help prevent colds and sinus infections. Humidifiers are a great option.
8) Be sure to get as much sleep and rest as you can. A depleted body is more susceptible to illness than a strong body is.
9) Stress also depletes the body. Chill out friends.
10) Avoid sugar and alcohol. Both tank your immune system.
11) Drink plenty of water. Do your best!
School starts again in about a week here and while I don't have school aged children myself, many of my clients do and have started asking what they can do to avoid illness coming home with their kiddos.
There is a lot that you can do with diet, lifestyle support and some helpful supplements to make sure your family has healthy immune systems. We also want to protect and prevent, but sometimes you get exposed to a cold or the flu and need remedies in hand. I'll try to cover both prevention and remedy/response in this post. Let's break this down by category:
1) Wash your hands. Yes, this is the most important thing we can do to help protect ourselves and our children. Help your children to remember before eating, after using the restroom, after sneezing (or picking a booger) to wash their hands. Also, as soon as they come home from school, the store, or the playground(really anywhere) they should go straight to the sink and wash their hands. While Because, let's be real it's easier to prevent illness than treat it. Who wants to be on antibiotics? Not me, or my kiddos.
2) Cut the sugar. Yes I said it. Sugar is the number one thing that tanks, yes TANKS your kids and your immune system. Now I don't mean cut fruit and I also don't mean never have sugar. I do mean lower your childrens' intake and pull desserts out of everyday if you have built cookies and ice cream dates into the usual routine. Remove juice and opt for the whole fruit. Eliminate all soda. Yes, ELIMINATE ALL SODA.
3) Tweak the diet. Increase leafy greens(even if it's just blended into a smoothie), like spinach, kale, swiss chard. Increase organic berries. Any berries are great blueberries, strawberries, etc. Make sure your child is eating some protein throughout the day. Include nuts and seeds (as long as your kiddo is not allergic) this is great way to get zinc by eating food instead of just supplementation. Zinc is really, really important for the immune system to fight viral infections.
4) Rest. Help your kids adjust those sleep schedules back to a normal time if they have been staying up late during summer months and will need to get up earlier to be ready for school.
5) Consider saying no to things. While it's fun for kids to be in drama productions, play volleyball, and be on the speech and debate team, maybe doing them all at the same time isn't necessary. What I'm saying is: lower your kids stress levels by limiting the amount of activities they are involved in. Allow for more play time and less productive/structured activity time because, hello homework. Sometimes saying no is hard, but it can relieve pressure and stress on the entire family.
Okay, now that this is out of the way... what else can we do to support healthy immune systems during cold and flu season.
SUPPLEMENTS- There I said it, yes supplements/vitamins. They help. I provide patients in my practice with access to high grade clinical supplements. Brands I trust that have third party testing for impurities and potency. I spend time vetting these brands/products. I will provide a link where you can purchase high quality supplements with 10% discount. I do make some money when you purchase from this site, if you choose to do so, I appreciate your support. I know you can purchase at your local Whole Foods, on Amazon or perhaps CVS, but if you make a purchase off this site you support my practice and ensure I can continue to bring you great information. Without further ado, my take on the daily things you should have your children taking during cold and flu season.
Daily multivitamin - If you question whether your kiddo eats enough fruit and vegetables, nuts/seeds your child may need more minerals and vitamins. The fact of the matter is our food system has been taxed by over production of single crops, and the nutrient values of foods are lower than they were 50 and 100 years ago, our soils are degraded and less rich in minerals. Choosing to supplement with a daily multi is like an insurance policy to make sure your kiddo is getting everything they need.
Zinc - can be liquid or a flavored lozenge. Using this for 3-4 months during the flu season. Dose this daily, it will help your kiddo avoid viral infections. (Food sources: nuts, beans, seeds, oysters). If you choose to supplement give this to your child with food as it can have some minor digestive effects if taken on an empty tummy.
Vitamin C - A highly regarded cochrane review study showed kids had less cold/flu symptoms when they took 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily. This study also showed children miss less days from school/day care when taking vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is the kind of vitamin C to take. This is another one worth taking with food as some people have GI side affects. Food sources of vitamin C include whole citrus foods (skip the juice), tomatoes, and strawberries.
Probiotic daily- lactobacillus and bifido bacterium strains have been shown to reduce incidence of fever, cough, runny nose, and days missed from school. This is a great option to obtain from food. Yogurt is an easy thing to incorporate into most children's diets. However, you can also double down and buy a probiotic for your kiddo.
Vitamin D3- I recommend supplementing this, especially in the school aged children. This is helpful to take in a liquid form. This can be added into water and doesn't affect taste at all. This does not need to be taken with food, but if you choose a liquid version, then add to water so it is easy to drink.
Vitamin D3 Dosage:
Echinacea is safe to be used daily for children. It is a cold prevention and a gentle herbal remedy. 2-5 years old- 1.5 tsp or 7.5 ml per day in divided doses - I would recommend the glycerin form instead of the alcohol base as it's sweeter and doesn't have a bite. For children 6 years or over - 2 tsp or 10 ml per day. This can be added to some water or given straight in the mouth. It prevents respiratory infections and helps ward off cold symptoms.
Elderberry syrup is the power house to help avoid viral infections. Everyone in my house takes this daily during flu season. It's one of the only compounds that can help destroy a virus. Bacteria multiplies on it's own, whereas viruses have to infect host cells to proliferate. The elderberry syrup helps to deactivate the part of the virus that breaks into the host cell. Children 2 and up can take 1 tsp of this daily. Increase to 1 tbsp daily if known exposure to someone with the flu or symptoms of flu or cold begin. Continue taking at this dose until the symptoms have completely resolved.
Here is a link to my dispensary. Free shipping on orders over $49 dollars, and remember 10% off everything. Once you create an account, click "go to the catalog" and look for childrens wellness recommedations.
Replenish your electrolytes with this simple health drink, no chemicals, just easy to absorb nourishing minerals, electrolytes and calories.
With flu season in full swing, I thought I'd share this recipe for a homemade health aid. It's like a gatorade without the chemicals, additives, food coloring, and high fructose corn syrup (YUCK!). Those things are not what you want fueling your body and resetting a balance in your body when you are sick. This is also safe to drink during pregnancy and would be great during labor to keep yourself hydrated.
4 cups Coconut Water
The juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I like to mix a grey and pink salt)
1/4 cup raw honey or maple syrup
1 tsp natural calm magnesium
You can mix all of the ingredients together in a blender. I just used a mason jar and shook it up real good.
Before labor and for friends that were having a home birth, I poured the health aide into an ice cube tray and froze the liquid as ice cubes. You could then add them to water or just defrost as needed when sick or in labor.
Hoping this flu season passes quickly, but you can be ready by having this prepped and in the fridge! Also, consider sending it to your childrens sports games instead of the high sugar, commercial varieties.
If you need access to the natural calm supplement, you can purchase off my online supplement dispensary: https://wellevate.me/caitlin-johnson
As always, in good health!
Caitlin Johnson, RD
New year and new resolutions, right? Wrong! I see patients in my practice every day that have been on every diet around and still have weight problems. I have clients referred from physicians on weight loss pills that have not worked and are robbing them of precious sleep. I have seen it all and take it from me, a new diet in the new year is not the solution to the extra twenty pounds or to your happiness. I know you are thinking 'wait a minute, you are a dietitian, don’t you put people on diets?' 90% of my clients do not go on a diet, they are taught a number of key principles of nourishing their body and energy balance. Read that again: nourishing their body and energy balance.
In my practice we go over things like hormone implications on health and weight, thyroid health, meal timing, composing healthy meals, shopping on a budget, planning meals for you and your family, cooking tips. A key component to managing healthy weight, fueling your body to have consistent energy, and avoiding chronic disease is education, the RIGHT education. With all of the diets, nutrition plans, smoothie replacements, and diet industry gimmicks, it is hard to weed through all of this and know simply: what to put on the table every night. That is why education is the number one thing I work on with patients.
The second key piece is INDIVIDUALIZATION. Not every body is the same (duh), because every single person has a lifetime of likes and don’t-likes, habits, even addictions (ie carbs, sugar, alcohol, starbucks, etc). Each household has different food budgets, schedules, and picky eaters. Taking key concepts and adjusting them to your health history, your health goals and your life right now is why seeing a professional is better than picking a brand new fad diet and implementing it for the next 30 days and then quitting and going back to your old lifestyle.
The other major role, or third place I see myself as a healthcare practitioner in nutrition is in providing accountability. I play the role of a friend to go to the gym with in terms of motivation, I provide guidance, and you can’t hide from the scale at my office (well you can). Studies show having an accountability partner will help you succeed when implementing new habits both in the kitchen and at the gym.
The right information, customized for your life and help holding you to your goals is the formula I have seen work for people.
Diets do not work for a number of reasons. The first being that they often lack long term sustainability. Ask yourself the question: Can I do this for the rest of my life without swaying from this diet for one meal, one day, one evening, one holiday? If you can not commit in that way, the diet will not work for you. Diets also do not work due to long term damage they often cause your metabolism. When severely restricting calories you slow your metabolism down and effectively teach your body to go into starvation mode. This is difficult to rehabilitate out of. Once you abandon said diet, and go back to your normal lifestyle, you return in a somewhat damaged state because you have slowed your metabolism down. Thus any weight you regain will return in the form of fat. So if you lose 10 pounds and gain back those 10 pounds, don’t think it is the “same” 10 pounds. You first lost muscle and fat, and now you have gained back almost all fat. Adipose or fat tissue is less metabolically active. This is the reason you will always gain back more weight.
The diet industry knows these principles and thrives off of them, because they make money every time they regurgitate to you a “new” diet that is just a slight tweak from one they have sold in the past. Don’t fall victim to this in the new year. If you need help, seek it out from someone qualified to support you through to the end of your goals. If you won’t seek help, at least do yourself a favor and don’t go on a diet.
You should also check out my post from last year: Dieting and broken metabolisms, why is it so hard for some to lose weight and keep it off.
To make this recipe it takes me about 15-20 minutes, depending on if I slow down to eat the first waffle. It also yields 8 large waffles in my waffle iron. It will depend on your waffle iron size.
2 cups oatmeal
(I used rolled oats - I have not tested the recipe with steel cut or instant)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup greek yogurt (you can replace greek yogurt with 3 additional eggs if sensitive to dairy) - if doing so, I recommend adding 2 tbsp maple syrup to mixture to overcome flavor of eggs
(Optional: coconut flakes, blueberries, cinnamon, almond extract)
Ready everyone? Easiest recipe ever. Take all of the ingredients and throw them in your blender. Blend until it looks smooth, there may be air bubbles, that is okay. I usually add the greek yogurt and eggs first, so the oatmeal doesn't get stuck at the bottom.
Heat your waffle iron to medium or medium high. Depending on size of iron, use a 3/4 to 1 cup measure to add mixture to iron. Let heat and make first waffle small, the first waffle is always a bit different texture than the rest of the waffles.
Options to serve with: peanut butter, (or any nut butter), butter and syrup (my favorite), fresh berries and syrup, or.... let me know your favorite!
I like to make a double batch and freeze the waffles for easy breakfasts. I just toast them in the toaster from frozen. This is a delicious, guilt free breakfast! Full of fiber, protein, good fat, and lasting energy. Give it a try and leave me a comment on how they turned out.
Picture credits: above, from when I made the recipe during pregnancy, below, from a friend who loves the recipe and makes for her two adorable kiddos (child approved!).
Preheat oven to 300ºF.
In a large bowl, stir to combine rolled oats, all seeds and nuts. In a separate bowl, stir to combine maple syrup, oil, and salt(and any additional flavorings - vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc). Pour wet ingredients over the oats, and mix well.
Grab a rimmed sheet pan and line with wax paper or a silpat baking mat. Pour granola and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring at least twice about the 15 and 30 minute mark through the baking process. I will either add coconut flakes and dried fruit halfway through the process or after the granola is cooled depending on if I want it raw or toasted. Let the granola cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
An inflammatory response is a mechanism (or tool) used by the immune system to protect from invaders, infection and injury. It is a good thing. In a healthy individual the response is limited in time and resolves after the infection has cleared or injury has healed. However, chronic inflammation can be negative as the impact is not on an invader or injury any longer, but the impact begins working on your own tissues and organs and may cause a cascade of negative health outcomes.
Understanding that inflammation is linked to most chronic diseases provides patients with avenues to pursue lowering inflammatory markers in their bodies. How can you do this? Increase anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, green tea, fruits and vegetables. How else? Consider removing foods and chemicals that may be causing inflammation in the body; in short - consider food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities are not the same thing as food allergies or food intolerances. Food allergies are reactions to a protein within a food and generally appear right away after eating a food. Think: itchy throat, hives, and anaphylaxis. These can be tested by an allergist utilizing a skin prick test. Food intolerances are a result of our bodies not having the ability to metabolize a certain food, this may be due to lack of a certain enzyme or genetic mutations. Think: lactose intolerance, when an individual lacks the enzyme lactase to break apart the sugar in milk products. Food intolerances are tested with different measures, sometimes hydrogen breath tests, blood tests or urine tests, depending on what the suspected offending food may be.
So what are food sensitivities and how are they different? These are generally marked by a delay in reaction, they are associated with the immune system responding with white blood cells releasing inflammatory agents and will manifest with symptoms like: diarrhea, arthritic pain, headaches and migraines. However, there are some cases where the reaction is dose dependent and may not lead to an obvious symptom in an individual. The inflammation related to food sensitivities takes more time to develop than typical food allergies and can target any tissue in your body. These can be particularly harmful if an individual does not know they are having this reaction to a food that is commonly in their diet. For example an individual might be sensitive to eggs and be accustomed to eating eggs multiple times a week or even every day. This daily intake of a food they are reactive to can be the cause of a constant immune reaction causing low grade inflammation in their body. This inflammation can begin affecting organ systems very distant from the gut, like the brain, joints, thyroid tissue and so on.
Some foods are common culprits in this inflammatory response. You may have heard of some of them: gluten containing grains, dairy, eggs, and soy (among others). There are many books and providers recommending eliminating these foods without testing. However, not everyone with inflammatory markers has an immune response to these foods. That is why testing for specific food sensitivities can be helpful for an individual to target the exact foods that are driving inflammation in their body. In other words, instead of unnecessarily removing entire food groups or foods out of your diet in hopes of lowering inflammation, use a guided approach that considers how you react. Once determining the reactive foods, it is necessary to remove them from the diet to avoid further inflammation. Using a blood test can guide this elimination protocol and help to make it more manageable (by only removing your specific reactive foods) and more effective due to this lab based method.
If after testing, it is found that you are reactive to a list of foods it is recommended to remove these foods from your diet. Depending on degree of reactivity, it can range from 4 to 6 weeks before reintroduction or 6 months to a year. Many food sensitivities manifest because of inflammation in the gut and compromised gut barrier function (food is getting into the blood stream undigested and it shouldn’t be). Working with a trained practitioner on how long to remove foods and what foods to focus on in the mean time to lower inflammation and restore healthy gut function is imperative. Removal alone isn’t always enough, focusing on healing the gut is also important. As foods are removed that are contributing to inflammation, patients often see increase in energy, decrease in headaches, aches, pains, arthritis, GI disturbances, and sometimes even return of absent menstrual cycles.
A question I receive in my practice often comes in the form of “Will I need to remove these foods forever?” I understand this, especially if an offending food is one of your favorites. The answer to the question is: sometimes. Many patients after restoring gut function and calming their immune reactions are able to reintroduce some of the foods they show reactive to. Oftentimes there is a limited list of foods that still produce symptoms when eaten. So it is on an individual patient basis and even with each different patient, it may depend on the food itself.
A note on tests: Not all food sensitivity tests are created equal. If you are interested in testing for food sensitivities, I recommend asking your medical practitioner if they offer a test that will monitor for type 3 AND type 4 food sensitivities. Many tests will only consider one immune reaction, yet both will drive inflammation in your body, so it is worth selecting a test that will cover both types of reactions. In addition to this, I would also request a list of the foods and chemicals that are tested. Many times we take medications quite frequently or even daily, like a baby aspirin or ibuprofen. Sometimes these chemicals in drugs, chemical preservatives in food or food colorings are what an individual is reacting to, so using a test that accounts for these common chemicals can provide additional guidance and help for an individual.
I posted some photos of a yummy avocado chocolate bread I made a few weeks ago. I didn’t make it sweet enough, so I doubled the amount of maple syrup in the recipe I am posting. You can make it less sweet by only using 3 tbsp and then just sweeten the slices of bread with some additional honey and maple syrup as needed.
The texture of this bread was really dreamy, you would hardly know it was gluten free. You could also make it dairy free if you replace the melted butter with some melted coconut oil. I for one, love the taste melted butter adds.
Since my version wasn’t sweet enough, I would slice a piece of the loaf and spread a little butter, microwave for ten seconds and then add a little drizzle of maple syrup. However you indulge, please enjoy!
PS, you may need to obtain some ingredients you don’t normally stock in your pantry like coconut milk or almond flour, but I promise it is WORTH it!
WHAT TO OBTAIN:
2 Whole Avocados
3 Tbsp melted butter
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp coconut cream (this is what forms at the top of the a can of coconut milk – if you live in a warm climate you can leave in the fridge overnight)
6 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 cup pecans chopped finely
2 cups almond flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chocolate chips
PUTTING IT TOGETHER:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a food processor pulse the two peeled and seeded avocados until smooth and creamy. Next add melted butter, vanilla, coconut cream, maple syrup and eggs, mix until smooth.
In a large mixing bowl mix together almond flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt and chocolate chips.
Using a spatula, mix in wet avocado mixture with dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle some pecans and/or chocolate chips on top.
Bake 45-50 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick into the center of your loaf and it comes out clean.
Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes. Store bread in refrigerator in between indulgences.
Staying hydrated, or getting enough water throughout the day can be difficult for many of us. Most people don't wake up in the morning and set as a goal for the day to drink enough water and it really isn't the last thing most of us think about as we drift to sleep, "did I get enough H2O"? Few of us get into bed at night and think I should have actually eaten today. That's because eating food is generally a higher priority than drinking water.
I hear this a lot "I'm just too busy to remember to drink water" or "I already pee like 20 times per day, and I need to drink more water" or "if I drank more water then I would need to give up some of my coffee". I get all of the excuses, but when people really begin to understand how important hydration is, the excuses begin to melt away.
So why is hydration so important for us?
Our bodies are composed of more than 62% water and it is needed for nearly every chemical process in our body. Water helps transport nutrients into cells, carry waste out of cells and out of the body, cushion organs, support our blood supply, fight infection, and keep our skin elastic and glowing. Water supports other processes like sex (think natural lubricant), breast milk supply for those nursing mama's out there, kidney function and overall detox. I could keep going, but I will stop here: ENERGY. Water is so important for you to feel energized.
But how much water do I really need?
A good general rule is taking you body weight in pounds and dividing it in half. A good average for women is about 90 ounces and for men it would be about 120 ounces. That is 8 glasses of water for women and about 12 for men. This liquid includes water you would get from food sources too. Think about foods like cucumbers, watermelons, even soup. You can get a lot of water/hydration from these foods.
If you find it difficult to remember to drink enough water consider setting a reminder on your phone or keep a log of what you are drinking for a few days. Tally up glasses of water, make a note of what time of day you hit your hydration goal. If you review a few days logs, you may be able to find areas where you can improve. There are even water tracking apps like Foodstand, which allows you to log the number of glasses you consume throughout the day.
Water, is that it?
Nope, there are definitely some alternatives to choose from if water is just too boring for you.
-Try flavoring your water by adding some slices lemon, cucumbers or melons. You could also add fresh herbs like mint into a glass before filling it with water.
-Ice tea is a great way to sip you way to hydration goals. In truth hot tea counts too. Just make sure you aren't adding too much sugar to your tea, but that's a topic for another day.
-Kombucha! This is a great go-to. It is a bit more exciting than water and contains live probiotics which also aid digestion, mood, immunity, and it's just fun to say "kombucha".
-Eat foods that have high water content like melons, cucumbers, celery, fruit or jicama. I wouldn't solely depend on this for your water needs, but incorporating these foods into you diet will help with overall hydration health.
-Buy a cute/fun water bottle that you are happy to carry around because it makes you feel super hip. Then show off you amazing hydration skills by drinking all that water you keep putting in it.
Give it a try! Log for a few days your water intake and see if you can reach your ounces goal.
After years of being vilified as the macronutrient that will make you fat, I am glad to report most people are not as afraid of eating fat these days. To put is simply, it is much more likely that the sugar and highly processed carbohydrates we eat in high quantities are contributing to growing waist lines, higher overall weight and declining health. Fat is good for you and necessary to support healthy hormone balance, immune function, glowing skin and anti-inflammatory processes in the body. So let's look more closely at what fats can improve our health and which fats to limit.
Some people believe that the fat they consume is mostly contained in the oils they cook with or the salad dressings they throw on their salad. It's more than that. There is fat in meat, dairy products, nuts, and even some fruit (think coconuts and avocados).
Fats are made up of a number of different “fatty acids”. You have heard of these before, for instance “omega 3 fatty acids” or “omega 6 fatty acids”. Omega 6 fatty acids are highly concentrated in vegetable oils like sunflower, soybean, safflower and corn. Because these are cheaper oils and most can be heated to high temperatures many of our processed cereals, baked goods, and fast food companies tend to cook in these omega 6 rich oils. In America we consume more omega 6 than is best for our bodies. We also tend not to eat enough omega 3 or omega 9 rich foods to promote balance in our bodies. Omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to increase inflammation response. Whereas omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to promote anti-inflammatory processes.
Trans fat should be avoided altogether. You’ll find this type of fat in shortening and many shelf stable crackers and cookies in the supermarket. It is so bad for you that many other countries have completely banned this type of fat. It hides itself in many of our foods though, so sticking to whole foods is your best bet to avoid this type of fat. If you can’t do that make sure to scan the ingredient label for anything that says “partially hydrogenated oil”.
Saturated fats should be limited in our diets. They are found in dairy products and meat products. Choosing leaner cuts of meat and reducing the amount of full fat dairy consumed are the two best ways to avoid consuming too much saturated fat.
So what are healthy fats?
Those with a higher content of Omega 3 fatty acids, higher levels of Omega 9 fatty acids (conjugated linoleic acid or CLA), as well as fats containing medium chain triglycerides, because all of these types of fats have been shown to improve our health in one or multiple ways. It’s not so important that you remember these types of fat components but rather what types of foods to eat to maximize these healthier fats.
See my list below:
Wild caught salmon or other fatty fish: One of the best and highest sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. All fish contain these good fats, the colder water a fish swims in will increase the amount of Omega 3s it contains. Sardines are another great source or cod liver oil.
Grass fed beef has as much as 5 times more Omega-3s as a corn fed cow. It has much higher content of Omega-9 fatty acids as well. Cattle naturally graze on grass, you won’t find them in corn fields. Feeding cattle what is more natural for them yields healthier body compositions and in turn, improves the quality of meat we can source from these animals. You may have to adjust to a slightly less sweet, less fatty, and more gamey taste. Over time, grass fed beef will begin to taste normal to you.
Olive oil has been proven time and again in studies to improve cardiovascular labs like cholesterol and triglycerides. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish, olive oil and olives and many studies have been done to learn why this diet pattern is so beneficial.
Avocados are a fruit that is rich in oleic acid. Oleic acid is the same type of fatty acid in olive oil.
Walnuts have the highest omega 3 content of nuts. However other healthy nuts include pecans, peanuts, and almonds.
Organic eggs from pastured chickens are much higher in omega fatty acids.
Butter or ghee from grass fed cows contains a short chain fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties called butyric acid. They also contain omega 3s and up to 5 times more CLA than butter from corn fed cows.
In terms of cooking oils, olive oil is great at lower temperatures and avocado oil or ghee are great alternatives for higher cooking temperatures. All have wonderful health attributes and are great additions to an anti-inflammatory kitchen.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
110 N McClelland Street
Santa Maria, California 93454
Hours: Tues and Thurs 10-5 PST